One of the highlights of the second day of the CSW event was on Women's empowerment in agricultural production. The UN Women's Executive Director Michelle Bachelet led the United Nations agencies -central of which were FAO and UNDP - in declaring its strategies for accelerating women's empowerment- especially the rural and small scale farmer woman - in agricultural production as a means to achieving gender equality by 2015. Building on a wealth of its work across third world countries, key investment strategies the United Nations will now employ to speed up gender equality in agriculture include partnership building for gender focused law and policy formulation and implementation at national level; and facilitating women's access and ownership to agricultural assets including credit, land, agricultural machinery and others. Central will also be instituting women centered financial institutions -such as cooperatives -and enabling membership of women and their organizations. The success of women's ability to optimize opportunities is dependant on their capacity to increase production, market their products and optimal sale making women's capacity development central to successful interventions. Women's participation in governance processes at community to national level and ensuring their consultation in development planning and investment is critical. As the rural woman is the primary household and ultimately community food security provider, they must be consulted in infrastructural planning e.g. where roads, factories,financial institutions and others should be established.
Civil society organizations looking at perspectives for agricultural and environmental development of rural women echoed the need for the UN selected strategies and exhibited successful case studies on training rural women and men leaders and farming projects in Zambia, Kenya and Brazil where organic farming was cited as the a must for women farmers due to its nutritional and environmental benefits. It is also central to the life ethic - food sovereignty. Women farmer and community education programmes on organic farming was highlighted as critical as it will facilitate demand and subsequently supply.
Adding to the agricultural action oriented mood at the CSW56 this Tuesday, FEED THE FUTURE -The U.S. Government's Global Hunger & Food Security Initiative and partners (USAID, International Food Policy Research Institute [IFPRI] and The Oxford Poverty and Human Development initiative [OPHI]) launched the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI). The interesting and dynamic tool is designed to track positive and negative developments in women's development levels. Based on a three county pilot research in Bangladesh, Guatemala and Uganda, focusing on U.S. funded initiatives, the Index looks at the five areas of Production, Resources, Income, Leadership and Time. The quantitative assessment is centered on ten indictors comprising input in production decisions; autonomy in production; ownership of assets; purchase, sale, or transfer of assets; access to and decisions on credit; control over use of income; group membership; public speaking; workload and leisure. ACORD's agricultural based programming and advocacy can well adapt aspects of the well-defined and process oriented monitoring tool for effective data collection, programming and ultimately results based advocacy.
ACORD Team at CSW56
Of mention, is the new and increasing used buzz term by UN agencies and civil society organizations at the CSW - women's "social reproduction"! This is used to mean the sum total of a woman's empowerment and self-articulation influenced by factors including food and nutrition, education, housing, health, career opportunities, employment, recreation, leisure, fulfilling relationships and the right to individual choices.
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