The three United Nations Rome-based agencies are spotlighting the role new innovations in information and communications technologies (ICTs) can play in expanding opportunities for rural women, who often find themselves “on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

In Rome on Thursday, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) are leading the talks, which explores how women’s empowerment and greater equality are inseparable from achieving sustainable development.

"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, IFAD President in his opening remarks at the IFAD-hosted event – highlighting how women’s empowerment and greater equality are inseparable from achieving sustainable development. “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, IFAD President, in his opening remarks at the event, which the agency hosted. Only 41 per cent of women in low- and middle-income countries own mobile phones, compared to 46 per cent for men. 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 often lack access to health care, education, decent work and social protection.

“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, leaving them more likely poor and vulnerable to economic and climatic shocks,” explained FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

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