If development is to be effective, it needs to empower rural women and men equally. IFAD-supported projects and programmes address inequalities by enhancing women’s access to productive resources and increasing their participation in decision-making. Over 30 years of existence, IFAD has placed increasing importance on gender equality and women’s empowerment, both as objectives in themselves and as instruments for poverty reduction. In IFAD’s experience, women can become a powerful force in transforming the lives of their families and communities when programmes acknowledge the specific needs and constraints of both women and men, and when women have concrete opportunities.<br /> <br /> ‘Non-timber forest products’ is a sector that offers great promise for women, but to enhance the effectiveness of poverty reduction programmes, opportunities for the greater involvement of women are essential. Obviously, they should be activities that can accommodate the constraints of traditional domestic duties and recognize gender differences in knowledge of natural resources, biodiversity and conservation. Recognising the importance of NTFPs in promoting food security and rural poverty reduction, IFAD has invested significant financial resources in this sector and is a supporter of the recently launched Global Partnership Programme on NTFP, which brings together stakeholders from the public and private sectors.<br /> <br /> Through its programmes and projects, IFAD has accumulated valuable knowledge on how to encourage broader and more significant support to the NTFP sector and to adopt measures that enable women and men to benefit equally from its development. Women producers operating in the informal NTFP sector in developing countries face discrimination and many obstacles. This publication highlights approaches used by IFAD and other agencies to support women more effectively. It emphasises the multiple dimension of the challenges – in division of labour, differences in access to credit and market information, and environmental issues – and presents ways to expand the role of women as agents of change in this sector .<br /> <br /> This publication is the result of an initiative by IFAD’s Technical Advisory Division to promote better methods of enabling poor rural people, and especially women, to benefit from the NTFP sector . It takes stock of past experience and demonstrates that there are many opportunities to invest in NTFPs in support of rural livelihoods.