Communications technologies vital for empowerment, success of poor rural women

Rome, Italy (PANA) – The role of information communications technologies in supporting rural women's economic empowerment, voice and status, will be the focus of discussions at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on 8 March, International Women’s Day.

IFAD, together with United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), will highlight the role that innovations in information and communications technologies (ICTs) can play in expanding rural women's opportunities in value chains and enterprise development, while increasing their access to education and information.

In a statement on Wednesday, IFAD said that many women, particularly young rural women, lack access to productive resources such as land, credit and technology. Women lag behind in terms of their access to ICTs, with only 41 per cent of women in low-and middle income countries owning mobile phones compared to 46 per cent for males.

According to the UN agency, nearly two-thirds of women living in the South Asia and East Asia and Pacific sub-regions do not own a mobile phone. Rural women regularly lack access to health care, education, decent work and social protection. As a consequence, they are more likely to be poor and they are vulnerable to economic and climatic shocks.

ICTs can go a long way to boosting economic opportunities for rural women, it said, noting for example, how mobile and smartphones provide access to real-time information on prices in different markets and allow more informed choices about where and when to buy and sell.

Studies indicate that when women earn money, they are more likely than men to spend it on food for their families and the education of their children.

“At IFAD we have seen how information communications technologies can be powerful catalysts for political and social empowerment of women, and the promotion of gender equality if rightly designed, accessible and usable,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said: “The global rise of information has deeply affected rural women in poor countries, who often find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide: because they live in developing countries, in rural areas, and because they are women.

"If the interests and needs of rural women and girls are addressed, there is significant potential for information and communication technology to foster gender equality and the improvement of rural livelihoods.”

David Beasley, WFP Executive Director, said: “Digital technology can transform lives if we get it into the hands of the people who need it, and that’s why we’re working hard every day to help increase access for rural women. And every time one of those women farmers uses a WFP app to sell her crops, the prosperity of her family and her community improves and we’re another step closer to gender equity.”

The event will include interactive sessions focused on sharing knowledge and experiences about how innovative tools and technologies can contribute to the empowerment of women and girls.

Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank and a keynote speaker, will highlight how rural women can overcome exclusion patterns and actively participate in the economy using ICTs.

In addition, the event will provide an opportunity to discuss policies and enabling legal frameworks that can facilitate access to, and good use of, ICTs in rural development.
-0- PANA AR 7March2018

07 mars 2018 18:19:20

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