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24 March 2021

A Holistic Approach to Women’s Economic Empowerment – Findings from the UN Joint Programming

Join the presentation of emerging findings from the UN Joint Programme ‘Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women’ (JP RWEE), implemented by FAO, IFAD, UN Women and WFP since 2014.

Photo: Ron Hansen / Unsplash.

This virtual side event will be hosted as a video webinar through the Zoom cloud platform. The event will be divided into two parts. The first part will include a presentation of emerging findings related to the JP RWEE holistic, partnership model, and its potential for scale-up and replication in different contexts.

The second part will focus on the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and the ways in which, despite the challenges and the impact on the lives of rural women, JP RWEE participants were able to both show resilience and to take an active role in participating and leading in the response to COVID-19 at the household and community levels. This will include a focus on telling the stories of JP RWEE beneficiaries, including a short film compilation of rural women from all seven participating countries recounting their experience. Following this, there will be a moderated discussion with relevant stakeholders about how to move forward with such a programme model in the context of COVID-19 and climate-related challenges. This will be followed by a question and answer session.


Keynote speaker: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women

Moderator: Kawinzi Muiu, Director of Gender, WFP

Speakers and Panelists:

  • Bjørg Skotnes, Norway’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Organisations in Rome
  • Eva Johansson, Lead Policy Advisor for Gender Equality, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
  • Susan Kaaria, Senior Gender Officer, FAO
  • Steven Jonckheere, Senior Technical Specialist on Gender and Social Inclusion, IFAD


In order for rural women to achieve their full economic potential, a holistic approach to women’s economic empowerment is needed. This involves addressing the root causes of gender inequality by working to overcome patriarchal systems and discriminatory social norms which act as barriers to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Together, through the implementation of the Joint Programme “Accelerating Progress Towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women” (JP RWEE), FAO, IFAD, UN Women and WFP are addressing social norm change and increasing women’s participation and leadership in local governance linked to rural women’s improved economic livelihoods in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Liberia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis and rural women’s increasing susceptibility to the impacts of climate change and other disaster related risks, such a holistic approach, achieved through partnership, is more critical than ever. Emerging evidence from the impact of the JP RWEE reveals important insights and recommendations for building resilience and supporting efforts to build back better.

FAO, IFAD, UN Women and WFP have been implementing the Joint Programme “Accelerating Progress Towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women” (JP RWEE) since October 2014. This is a pilot initiative that takes a holistic approach to women’s economic empowerment by providing a sequenced package of interventions for rural women. The partnership capitalizes on each participating agency’s mandate, comparative advantage and institutional strength to generate lasting and broad-scale improvements in the livelihoods and rights of rural women. The programme, with the overall goal to secure women’s livelihoods and rights in the context of sustainable development, has four key objectives: (1) improve rural women’s nutrition and food security; (2) increase production and access to income; (3) build leadership skills and political empowerment; and (4) promote gender-responsive policy environments for rural women’s economic empowerment.

A well-coordinated governance mechanism at both the global and national levels ensures efficient and effective implementation of the programme. As the current pilot phase approaches completion, emerging evidence of impact and results demonstrates how the programme strategy and approaches have contributed to achieving both empowering and transformative changes for rural women. A planned second phase of the programme will build upon these learnings and scale up the successful JP RWEE model in differing contexts. The evaluation findings, including country-level case studies, will serve as a basis for discussion and debate on holistic approaches to rural women’s economic empowerment at this event and set the stage for exploring new opportunities for partnership.


From 24 March 2021 at 13:30 to 24 March 2021