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Summary of women farmer leaders workshop

Posted by Roxanna Samii Monday, February 15, 2010

We delegates to the Global Farmers’ Forum 2010 – 61 participants from 27 countries and four continents – IFAD staff and observers, gathered during the Preparatory Workshop to the Farmers’ Forum on Promoting Women’s Leadership in Farmer’ Organizations held on February 12-13, declare the following:

We, women farmers, fishers and pastoralists, call attention once again to the glaring disproportion between women’s roles in all aspects of agriculture across the developing world and the limited recognition, rights, resources and services provided to us. We also raise an alarm over the effect that climate change and the financial crisis are having on us women as they result in increased poverty and food scarcity. Because of poverty and lack of services in rural areas, our sons and daughters do not wish to be farmers and continue to migrate to urban areas. This raises a critical question: How can the profitability and sustainability of farming be secured so as to ensure a future for the next generation of women and men farmers?

Effective and representative producer organizations can provide a powerful instrument to make rural women’s voices heard, so that we can have a greater influence over decisions that affect our lives and livelihoods. But as of yet, our voices have been heard too rarely in our organizations.

The economic empowerment of women and their increased knowledge and skills are essential preconditions to improve our status and livelihoods, and for us to be able to assume effective roles in producer organizations. We therefore urge IFAD and other donors to bring new and significant resources to support the economic empowerment of women farmers. We need these resources to strengthen our knowledge, skills and leadership in order to produce and process food more effectively and sustainably, for our families and also for the markets. We urge IFAD and other donors to direct resources to women’s structures in farmers’ organizations and to require quotas that are respected.

We also specifically call upon IFAD to:

  • continue and increase efforts to enable women to increase their access to and control over productive assets including land and water
  • support the development and provision of financial services suitable to agriculture, and to enable women’s incomes to grow;
  • in addition to mainstreaming gender equality concerns throughout projects and programmes, wherever feasible earmark funds for women in IFAD-funded programmes as an affirmative action measure – for example under community development funds, and in training;
  • use grant funding for women’s capacity building – including child care facilities where needed – when it is not possible to finance such activities through a loan;
  • where IFAD-funded programmes support access to land and other kinds of property, seek to negotiate for joint titling, supported with legal advisory services to enable women to defend their rights;
  • in the context of a much-needed focus on rural youth give attention to the specific situation and needs of young women.

In the context of IFAD’s engagement with farmers’ organizations we recommend that IFAD:
  • open spaces for women farmer leaders to participate in country and global policy processes, and also in IFAD country strategy consultations;
  • in the design of the projects and programmes that work with farmers’ organizations, establish quotas for women (where possible, not less than 30 per cent, with a view to reaching 50 per cent over time), provide incentives for producer organizations to achieve the targets, and monitor their implementation;
  • invest more grant resources in increasing capacity of farmers’ organizations to address gender issues and empower women, and to strengthen women’s leadership – where possible channelling funds directly to women’s structures within organizations;
  • involve women leaders of farmers’ organizations in the supervision and monitoring of development programmes.

Finally, we note with satisfaction that the 30 per cent quota of women participants recommended at the last meeting of the Farmers’ Forum has been exceeded this year. We urge that the current proportion of 40 per cent be maintained in subsequent meetings, with a view to further increasing over time.