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Women farmer leaders meet in Rome to discuss their challenges and opportunities

Posted by Roxanna Samii Saturday, February 13, 2010

The workshop on promoting womens' leadership in farmers' organizations kicked off the Third Global Farmers' Forum. This workshop is very unique, so unique that even the weather decided to do something unique. On Friday, it snowed in Rome!!!

The workshop brings together some 40 women and men farmer leaders. In most developing countries, women perform a large part of the agricultural work and produce the bulk of the world’s food crops. The productivity of women farmers is constrained by the same factors that affect small agricultural producers in general, which are in turn compounded by gender-specific factors. These include:

  • lack of time and limited mobility due to multiple domestic and productive responsibilities;
  • women’s more limited access to assets and services (including extension);
  • illiteracy;
  • low participation and limited decision-making in producers’ organizations; and
  • socio-cultural factors affecting their mobility and participation in public decision-making.

On the other hand, women have a unique base of experience and knowledge that can be used to increase the productivity of smallholder agriculture in the broadest sense. Without a significant investment in improving the livelihoods, assets and decision-making power of rural women, the Millennium Development Goals of reduced poverty and food insecurity are unlikely to be achieved.

The workshop will discuss the importance of maintaining the focus on mixed farmers’ organizations, while recognizingthat women must have their own space within these confines. During the workshop, the participants will discuss challenges and opportunities for women farmer leaders such as:

  • constraints of lack of self-esteem and low levels of education
  • capacity-building as an important means to promote gender equality for rural women;
  • the need to concentrate on increasing women’s negotiation skills, self-esteem and leadership capacities, and put in place supportive measures such as child care facilities during training sessions
  • involving men in gender-related activities and enlisting men as champions of women’s
    increased leadership roles are important approaches to gain their support
  • gender-sensitization training, aimed at challenging gender stereotypes and norms and the
    perpetuation of traditional gender roles should be provided to women and men
  • sharing knowledge, exchanging experiences and networking among women are critical for
    women’s empowerment

Estrella Penunia, gave a passionate keynote address, in which she said: "Women farmers will not remain victims, we're key solution providers, nothing about us without us". She made a plea to move away from gender stereotypes and reminded the participants and audience that women should be at the forefront of the agriculture. She said: "If we earn more, we can spend more on food, education, health." Estrella then continued to say "Women perform magic to put food on the table".

In her keynote address, Estrella shared with the gathering that "in many developing countries women cannot owe land, yet we are the one who cultivate the land and take care of land."

She continuted to say that "50-90% of work in farms is done by women and women ensure food security when crops fail."

Estrella Penunia and other women leaders such as Elisabeth Atangana, Kati Partanen and all the women farmer leaders showed passion in their interventions. Elisabeth remarked: "If women don't have economic power, they can't do very much. Women need access to financial resources, and access to land".

As Estrella said: "Women work with personal touch, we need to help more women farmer leaders to further unleash their potential".

Makanjuola Olaseinde Arigbede took the floor and made a passionate case for empowering women. He said: "there is gender discrimination: If women choose farming, their possibility of marriage diminishes". "Men should recognize women as an effective farmer and a partner", he said.

Stay tuned on this channel! The social reporting team will be bringing live soundbites and stories from this workshop and from the Third Global Farmers' Forum. Follow us on Twitter (@ifadnews) and on this social reporting blog (http://ifad-un.blogspot.com).

1 Responses to Women farmer leaders meet in Rome to discuss their challenges and opportunities

  1. Women are powerful forces for change, This is evident when every time a family has good food to eat and clean water to drink, every day that a child arrives at school or a sick person makes it to the clinic, it’s usually a woman, Strengthen women in their own struggles, helping them to unleash their own potential to change the world and Yes the have more power to alleviate poverty