Woman in rural Nepal. The United Nations has launched a program meant to empower women living in rural areas. Photo by: Nyaya Health

In the next five years, the United Nations’ contributions to efforts to empower women living in rural areas will be coordinated through a new program focused on economic integration and food security.

The Accelerating Progress toward the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women was officially unveiled Sept. 27 at a side event of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, USA. The program, which is set to run through 2017, will be led by U.N. Women, the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agriculture and Development.

The launch of this program was among commitments submitted by U.N. Women at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development held in June in Brazil. It will be piloted in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Liberia, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda and Kyrgyzstan.

U.N. Women and its partner agencies aim to achieve four objectives: improve food and nutrition security in rural areas, boost rural women’s access to financial services, empower rural women to become more economically and politically engaged, and catalyze legal, budgetary, land and policy reforms that support women.

Michelle Bachelet, the executive director of U.N. Women, identified some of the activities and strategies that will comprise the new initiative. The program, she said, will work with governments to give women more access to better agriculture tools, host awareness campaigns, and provide policy assistance to help countries mainstream gender equality in relevant sectors.

“The program taps into the respective strengths of our agencies: FAO’s policy assistance on agriculture and food security; IFAD’s rural investment programs; WFP’s food assistance innovations; and UNWomen’s technical expertise on women’s economic empowerment,” Bachelet explained at the launch event.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.