Agenda 21 recommends promoting global action for women towards sustainable and equitable development, and that:< (a) UNIFEM should establish regular consultations with donors in collaboration with UNICEF, with a view to promoting operational programmes and projects on sustainable development that will strengthen the participation of women, especially low-income women, in sustainable development and in decision-making;< (b) UNDP should establish a women's focal point on development and environment in each of its resident representative offices to provide information and promote exchange of experience and information in these fields;< (c) bodies of the UN system, governments and non-governmental organizations involved 43 the follow-up to the Conference and the implementation of Agenda 21 should ensure that gender considerations are fully integrated into all the policies, programmes and activities.
The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) provides direct support for women's projects and promote the inclusion of women in the decision-making processes of mainstream development programmes. It supports efforts of women in the developing world to achieve their objective for economic and social development and for equality, and by so doing improve the quality of life for all. UNIFEM works with NGOs and within the UN departments and organs, supporting access and participation of NGOs to the UN and working through them to achieve the incorporation and empowering of women in the development process, as well as working in close collaboration with the gender in the development office, regional bureaux, other organizational units and field offices of UNDP. In 1994, UNIFEM has over 150 on-going projects in more than 90 countries, concentrated in 3 priority areas: agriculture and food security; trade and industry; macro policies and national development planning. There are 3 regional sections: Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, with total programme expenditures of US$ 12 million. UNIFEM, The Women, Environment and Development Programme, set up 1990, promotes integration of women and development concerns in the global environment debate.
UNIFEM and the Union Nationale des Femmes du Mali (UFM) helped establish the Women's Cooperative for Education, Family Health and Sanitation (COFESA) in 1989, in Mali. UNDP's Promotion of the Role of Women in Water and Environmental Sanitation (PROWWESS) trained 20 female graduates in family health, sanitation, and small enterprise management. In 1989, two new trucks were purchased with funding from UNIFEM, and COFESA members started a daily garbage collection service for 1,500 families which proved very successful. A fund for the creation of other enterprises was established, and training materials on sanitation and family health were produced with the revenues generated by selling locally constructed garbage can.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) promotes the importance of women in development. It seeks to improve women's access to credit, land, agricultural inputs and training, while encouraging governments to adopt appropriate measures to expand women's opportunities and protect their rights. FAO also endeavours to identify obstacles to women's participation and collective action in economic, social, educational and political activities.
UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) supports national women's organizations and non-governmental organizations in many countries, notably as a major channel to improve women's participation in and benefits from national development programmes.
One success story is of a group of Mexican rural women who successfully broke away from their rural poverty trap and farm work, and made the transition to managing their own factory. They asked the local FAO office for training and with funding from UNDP, meetings and workshops were organized and a loan fund set up to launch them in small business. From successes in pig, sheep and poultry farming, crop production, and aquaculture, they branched two years later into livestock feed milling and meat processing, then linked up with grassroots groups to establish in 1987, Mexico's first regional women's organization. The organization received finances from UNIFEM with participatory efforts to strengthen its capacities, and emphasis on reducing women's burdens through the dissemination of appropriate technologies, particularly maize mills and handpumps. With further financial support in 1989, women were trained in a metalworking programme, and a technology centre introduced a prototype handpump as a potentially viable product for them to manufacture. In 1991, about 250 women from 11 different groups were involved in the project and 20 specialists engaged in a handpump factory, which is envisaged to eventually produce 5,000 units a year for sale in Mexico and for export.
In 1993, the Bolivian Campesino Development Fund was approved a loan by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to promote women's access to land, credit and technical assistance and support their participation in local development projects such as agroforestry and soil and water conservation. The IDB's Small Projects approved in the same year is estimated to benefit 17,722 women, or 53% of all beneficiaries.