Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality

This article is a contribution to a blog series on how Partners Agriculture and Food Security programs contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This week’s blog highlights what Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers have been doing towards SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Around the world, women and girls play a crucial role in creating sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families. However, minimal access to land, credit, training, and leadership positions due to gender-based inequities all too often limits their economic opportunities.

For our USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer and Haiti Nutrition Security programs, family spending dynamics play a crucial role in livelihood development. A growing body of research shows that when women have control of familial income, they invest more money in their children’s education, health care, and overall wellbeing. Not only does this dynamic produce positive health and wellness outcomes, but it elevates women’s social status and gives them decision-making power in other areas. Nonetheless, the question remains as to how to successfully tackle gender inequalities that exist across the globe despite the fact that women live and work under diverse socioeconomic conditions.

Our Agriculture and Food Security programs aim to achieve SDG 5 in Latin America and the Caribbean using methods tailored specifically to the communities they serve. By including women in agricultural trainings, improving maternal and child health, and working with women-run cooperatives, we are especially focused on achieving 3 targets for gender equality: 

1. Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life

Haitian women participate in a community training
on infant and child nutrition.
During 2013-2016, Partners’ Haiti Nutrition Security Program increased opportunities for women by engaging them as food security leaders in their Haitian communities. The program centered on the role of Mother Leaders in visiting local households to direct discussions on diet diversity, food groups, and best practices related to the nutrition and health of children under five. This strategy was highly effective because it encouraged women to learn from other women whom they trusted and understood as neighbors. Women were provided with resources and education to take on leadership roles in public and familial decision making when it comes to one of Haiti’s most pressing problems – nutrition insecurity.

2. Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws

Panamanian women plan the implementation of a local bank
for people commonly excluded from the financial system.
Education and leadership are only a few pieces to the puzzle that gives women greater decision-making power in their everyday lives. When women can earn an income and access financial resources like banks, they cultivate sustainable livelihoods that are more resilient to economic and environmental shocks. For women in rural Panamanian communities, this service is absolutely vital, as illiteracy, transportation costs, and a lack of paperwork prevents many from accessing a commercial bank. Greater financial inclusion is one step towards achieving land tenure for women agriculturalists, who still face significant challenges in obtaining rights to the acreage they farm. Learn about how F2F volunteer Ian Robinson built upon community collateral to train women in creating a local savings and credit institution.

3. Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women

F2F volunteer Ellen Lewis knows that the value of information technology in achieving gender equality cannot be understated. During her most recent work in Nicaragua, Ellen 
conducted several workshops with F2F hosts on systems thinking - a method used in a variety of fields to address large, complex social problems with a variety of stakeholders. She applied feminist theory to F2F activities and built a group of young facilitators trained in gender equity, systems thinking, and protecting the environment. By building the capacity of local organizations to address systematic gender inequality, Ellen’s work formed the foundation for F2F's gender equality strategy in Nicaragua and elsewhere.

Keep an eye out over the coming weeks for more features on how Partners Agriculture and Food Security team is working to reach SDG targets in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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