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FAO, IFAD and WPF: digital divide penalizes women

United Nations organizations call for a more active role for women in agri-food systems

Inclusive access to digital technologies and education is key to reducing gender inequalities and empowering women workers in the agricultural sector. This was underlined in a joint note by the three food and agriculture agencies of the United Nations: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the world food (WFP).

The three bodies recognized that while digitization alone cannot solve all the gender-related disadvantages women face, if given equal access to digital technology and education, women can play a more active and effective role in our food systems.

"Of course, it is disheartening to celebrate International Women's Day at a time when we are backsliding on gender equality and seeing a widening gender gap in science, technology and innovation", said Beth Bechdol , deputy director FAO General. “When we invest in rural women, we invest in resilience, in the future of our communities and in creating a more inclusive and equal world, a world where no one is left behind.”

"Without increased access to digital technology and innovation, rural women and girls will continue to face socio-economic barriers and disadvantages, making it more difficult for them to participate fully in rural economies", said Jyotsna Puri, associate vice chair of the Department Strategy and Knowledge of Ifad. "Gender inequality and the urban-rural divide will only get worse if we don't create a more inclusive and prosperous society for all".

“Food security for families and communities is in the hands of women. It is only through the empowerment of women that we can build a world in which no one goes to sleep hungry", said Valerie Guarnieri, deputy executive director of WFP. "Putting resources in women's hands is child's play and with that comes the transfer of knowledge and skills, including digital literacy, to help these women realize their full potential".

A note from the FAO reports some data on the digital divide between men and women globally: 69% of men use the Internet compared to 63% of women. Women in low- and middle-income countries are 16% less likely to use mobile internet than men, while progress in narrowing the mobile internet gender gap has stalled. Recent statistics show that this contrast is even more marked in rural areas, where women are disadvantaged in accessing technologies, due to constraints such as affordability, illiteracy, user skills and discriminatory social norms.

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EFA News - European Food Agency