Category Archives: Issue: Women

Event: Regional Dialogue on Women’s Inclusion in Landscape Management in Asia (October 7-9, 2014, Chiangmai, Thailand)

 

AFA Marketing and Enterprise Development Officer Victoria Serrato represented AFA in the regional dialogue organized by WOCAN and its partners. The dialogue focused on understanding the current debates on women inclusion/exclusion at the regional and international levels, building communities of practice and promoting women’s inclusion and gender equality in debates around the future role of women and the value of forests in relation to food, fuel and fiber and contributing to regional approaches of “The Forests Dialogue in Asia and International.” AFA shared the existing mechanisms on how women are included in the processes and the assessment of the role of women involvement in the sustainable enterprise and agriculture value chain. In addition, AFA was able to build new networks/linkages with other CSOs in Asia and beyond, and with community-based forest and management networks and learned from their experiences that can be used as input in developing tools and technical support in the implementation of the Forest and Farm Facility project.

 

Harnessing the power of women farmers

Our world is today reeling from four interrelated crises – food, energy, financial and climate change. And the hardest hit by these crises are farmers, fishers, pastoralists and indigenous peoples, as they comprise the majority of the world’s most poor and vulnerable.

These global problems have brought opportunities to re-examine agriculture. After three decades of neglect, agriculture is back on the international agenda, with stakeholders reviewing its role in poverty reduction and sustainable development. Leading think tanks, governments and international organizations have realized that the key to sustainable rural development is the small-scale farmer, particularly women.

Why should there be a special focus on women in agriculture?

First, women comprise around 50% of the farming population in developing countries; small-scale family farms produce as much as 70% of the foods consumed locally.

Second, women in many developing countries are farmers too; as much as 50-90% of the work on farms is done by women.

Third, women ensure there is food to eat on the table. Before they sleep, they think of what the family will eat the following day, where they will get money to buy food or what plant they will harvest. It is their burden and their task to perform “some magic” whenever their crops fails, whenever the money is not enough. It is also their burden to fetch water, sometimes from far distances, for cleaning and drinking purposes.

Fourth, women are primarily caregivers. When a family member gets sick, it is the mother who drops everything to aid the sick; she takes care of the health and nutrition of her family and community.

Fifth, women are teachers. In most families, including farming families, it is the mother who mainly helps the children with their schoolwork, attends school meetings and imparts family values and traditions.

And finally, women farmers are not “housewives waiting for their husbands to give them money”. Many women market the family’s crops and fish catches. Many have engaged in various income-generating activities to augment the incomes of her family.

If we are to reduce hunger and poverty in this world, we have to recognize that women farmers have the potential and are the solution to bring their families out of poverty, and thus should be at the forefront of agriculture. Women spend their earnings on family basics: food, health and education. Extensive research reflects the gains to be achieved in terms of productivity and income, by focusing development efforts in empowering women and their organizations.

Empowering women is a long and challenging journey. It starts with helping women reflect on their situation, inspiring them to realize their human dignity and their rights, and sharing experiences with other women in similar conditions. Organizing, capacity building, leadership formation, training and helping women become more economically empowered will be key programmes as well.

Farming can greatly help women gain support from their husbands and male community leaders to desensitize traditional dynamics of gender. Farming can help women fully reach their potential.

Author: Estrella Penunia is Secretary-General of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) in the Philippines.

The New Vision for Agriculture: Transforming agriculture through collaboration

Image: A Vietnamese farmer walks in a rice field outside Hanoi. REUTERS/Nguyen Huy Kham

SOURCE: https://agenda.weforum.org/2012/10/harnessing-the-power-of-women-farmers/

AFA participates in global conference on women in agriculture

Today, there is a growing realization and commitment of the global community to achieve more sustainable and broad-based agricultural growth by addressing gender-related issues in agriculture through national, regional and global initiatives and partnerships.

The Road Map of the Global Conference on Agricultural Research and Development (GCARD) too has called for a radical reorientation of the agricultural research agenda to overcome the existing gaps and to face the emerging challenges of sustainable development and livelihood of resource-poor smallholder farmers, especially the women farmers. Urgent efforts are, therefore, needed to overcome the gender gap by empowering women in agriculture.

In view of this, the first Global Conference on Women in Agriculture (GCWA) was held last March 13-15, within the premises of the National Agricultural Science Complex (NASC) in New Delhi, India. The conference was organized by the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAAARI) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), with the support of various regional and international institutions such as ADB, GFAR, WB, CGIAR, AusAid, Canada Fund, UKAid, among others.

During this conference, four plenary sessions on (1) Reforms in Empowering Women in Agriculture, (2) Institutional Changes for Capacity Building and Partnerships, (3) Strengthening Capacity Building and Partnerships and, and (4) Towards More Effective Joint Action were held. Six parallel sessions were likewise held: (1)Assessing Women Empowerment in Agriculture, (2) Agricultural Innovations for Reducing Drudgery, (3) Linking women to markets, (4) Role of women in household and food security, (5) access to assets, resources and knowledge, and (6) climate change related risks and uncertainties.

AFA Secretary General Esther Penunia was a panelist in the first parallel session together with six other speakers. Her presentation higlighted the initiatives of many AFA members in empowering their women farmer members. (Click here for the paper and click here for the powerpoint)

The synthesis report, made by the GCWA team and GCWA secretariat , and presented by  Ms. Uma Lele, said that evidence shows investment in women has huge benefits in terms of social, economic, productivity and nutritional/food security and other outcomes. Some evidence has pointed out that production and food availability does not necessarily lead to nutritional outcomes, and that increased education does not necessarily lead to increased voice in decision making, even at household levels. The Report highlighted though that we need more and contextual evidence.

Also, the Report identified five emerging priorities to drive change towards women’s empowerment:
-make women’s issues more visible
-generate evidence and knowledge to address women’s issues in agriculture
-foster collective action and leadership of women and men
-promote women’s ownership and control
-secure women’s rights more broadly

Another output of this conference was the formal launching of the Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP). It was welcomed as a global initiative embracing all actors involved in gender and agriculture. Between now and the GCARD 2 (Global Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development, to be held in Paraguay this September 2012), the GAP and its priorities will be developed in a participatory process with individuals, institutions and investors. The next GCWA will be held in 2015, to be hosted by FARA (the regional agriculture research fora in Africa).

Click here for the synthesis report presentation.

For more information, visit www.gcwa.in

(Photo credit: www.gcwa.in)

Women Farmers and Food Security

On the occasion of the fifty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from Monday, 27 February to Friday, 9 March 2012, AFA is re-posting this article that first appeared in the special issue of World Rural Forum’s New Earth in celebration of World Rural Women’s Day on October 15, 2010.

Our world is now reeling from four interrelated crises – food, fuel/energy, financial and climate change. The hardest hit by these crises are the small scale women and men farmers, fishers, pastoralists and indigenous peoples, as they comprise the majority of the world’s most poor and vulnerable. These global problems brought opportunities to re-examine agriculture. Now, after three decades of neglect, agriculture is back in the international agenda. Its role in poverty reduction and sustainable development is again being harped. But it is now agriculture with a much different system and focus , or “away from business as usual” . Respected rural development think tanks and intergovernmental organizations have realized that it is sustainable, integrated, diversified agriculture done by small scale farmers, with a particular focus on women, that is a key measure for longer lasting rural development.

Continue reading Women Farmers and Food Security

The Role of Farmers’ Organizations in Empowering and Promoting the Leadership of Rural Women

(Paper presented by Esther A. Penunia, Secretary General, Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), to the UN expert group meeting on “Enabling rural women’s economic empowerment: institutions, opportunities and participation?” organized by UN Women in cooperation with FAO, IFAD and WFP on Sep 20-23, 2011 in Accra, Ghana.)

This paper would like to discuss how FOs can empower small scale women farmers, the issues and challenges FOs face in their work to empower their women members, as well as some priority issues for intervention. In so doing, the paper will cite some examples from the following (a) from the experiences and observations of this writer as she works for and with FOs in Asia who have both women and men, and women-only as members; (b) the outputs of the “Special Session on Promoting Womens’ Leadership and Rural Producers’ Organizations” organized by IFAD last February 12-13 in Rome, Italy ; and (3) the current activities being undertaken through the Rural Women Leadership Project, being implemented by Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and NRM (WOCAN), with support from IFAD.

Continue reading The Role of Farmers’ Organizations in Empowering and Promoting the Leadership of Rural Women

AFA Secretary General to attend UN women expert group meeting

AFA Secretary General Ma. Estrella Penunia will attend the UN women expert group meeting on ‘Enabling rural women’s economic empowerment: institutions, opportunities and participation’ to be held in Accra, Ghana, from 20 to 23 September 2011.

The expert group meeting is part of the preparatory process for the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (2012), which will consider as its priority theme ‘The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges’. The expert group meeting, organized by UN Women in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) will contribute to a fuller understanding of the issue and assist the Commission in its deliberations.

The EGM will explore a wide range of strategies that can enhance the economic empowerment of rural women, and will focus on the following critical areas:
• Rural women’s strengthened role in agriculture;
• Rural women’s access to productive resources, technology markets and financing;
• Decent and productive employment and income-generating opportunities for rural women;
• Infrastructure and service-delivery that benefit rural women;
• Rural women’s role in natural resource management and climate change adaptation;
• Effective institutions and enabling policy environment that promotes gender responsive rural development.

In the News: Women’s greater role to help tackle challenges

Ensuring greater role of women in development policy-making and equal access to resources can help address the challenges of poverty, ecology and extremism, observed South Asian experts yesterday.

As South Asians, women must forge cooperation and learn from each other’s best practices to uphold their rights and create opportunities to use their potential the best way, they said.

The observations came at the third conference of South Asian Women’s Network (SWAN) styled “Women of South Asia and the Green Economy”. South Asia Foundation, Manusher Jonno Foundation and Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi organised the two-day conference that began yesterday at BIAM auditorium in the capital. Around 70 participants from South Asian countries are attending the programme.

Read more

AFA holds sharing and learning session and 25th Execom meeting

The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Development (AFA) held a sharing and learning session and 25th Executive Committee meeting in Kampong Cham, Cambodia last April 5-7, 2011.

The back-to-back activities were hosted by Farmer and Nature Net (FNN), an AFA member in Cambodia.

It was attended by nine farmer organizations from seven countries such as TWADA and TDFA (Taiwan), KAFF and WAFF (Korea), VNFU (Vietnam), SORKORPOR (Thailand), FNN (Cambodia), API (Indonesia), and PAKISAMA (Philippines). AINOUKAI (Japan) could not send a representative due to the nuclear crisis that has affected some of its members from Fukushima who had to evacuate to AINOUKAI in Mie.

The sharing and learning session, held on April 5, allowed farmer leaders to share problems and initiatives related to sustainability, water, women, youth, and marketing issues.

Mr. Uon Sophal, FNN President, welcomed all participants to Cambodia and AFA members said a prayer for AINOUKAI and all the Japanese people during the opening session.

The Execom meeting, on the other hand, was held on April 6 and led to several decisions on important matters such as AFA’s strategic plan for 2011-2015, annual plan for 2011, AFA’s membership at the World Rural Forum and Civil Society Mechanism on CFS, as well as its participation in the Medium Term Cooperation Program.

Mr. Tsai, Shun-Te, TWADA Chairperson, presided over the Execom meeting for the first time since he was elected as AFA Chairperson last April 2010 in Taiwan.

On April 7, a field visit was made to a village in Kampong Cham where farmers were being victimized by land grabbing.

Women Farmers and Food Security

In celebration of World Rural Women’s Day on October 15, AFA contribute the following article to the special issue of World Rural Forum’s New Earth.

Our world is now reeling from four interrelated crises – food, fuel/energy, financial and climate change. The hardest hit by these crises are the small scale women and men farmers, fishers, pastoralists and indigenous peoples, as they comprise the majority of the world’s most poor and vulnerable. These global problems brought opportunities to re-examine agriculture. Now, after three decades of neglect, agriculture is back in the international agenda. Its role in poverty reduction and sustainable development is again being harped. But it is now agriculture with a much different system and focus , or “away from business as usual” . Respected rural development think tanks and intergovernmental organizations have realized that it is sustainable, integrated, diversified agriculture done by small scale farmers, with a particular focus on women, that is a key measure for longer lasting rural development.

The Many Roles Women Farmers Play

Why should there be a special focus on women in agriculture ? First of all, women comprise around 50% of the farming population in developing countries, since farming is usually a family farm activity, consisting of the husband, the wife and the children. Small scale family farms produce as much as 70% of the foods consumed locally.

Secondly, women do farming too. Generally, when reference is made to ‘farmers’ we say ‘he’. But farming is done not only by men, it is also done by women. In fact, in many developing countries, as much as 50-90% of the work in the farms is done by women. Indeed, in rice farming for example, only plowing is not usually done by women.

Thirdly, women ensure there is food to eat on the table. Before they sleep, they think of what the family will eat the following day, where they will get the money to buy the food or what plant will they harvest . It is their burden, and their task, to perform “some magic” whenever their crops fails, whenever the money is not enough. It is also their burden to fetch water , sometimes from far distances, for cleaning and drinking purposes.
Continue reading Women Farmers and Food Security

Asian women leaders raise their voices at the global farmers’ forum

Women leaders from Asia, representing AFA, La Via Campesina and other farmers’ organizations, participated in the Global Farmers’ Forum held in Rome on February 15-16, 2010.

The women leaders included Ms. Kong Sokchhoin (FNN, Cambodia), Ms. Flora Caya (PAKISAMA, Philippines), India Smitha (SEWA, India), Ms. Amalia Pulungan (API, Indonesia), Ms. Esther Penunia (AFA), Ms. Marlene Ramirez (AsiaDHRRA), among others.

Together with other women leaders from all over the world, they raised the issues and concerns of small scale women and men farmers. Ms. Caya also talked about the impact of mining corporations on women farmers.

The third global meeting of the Farmers’ Forum was held in conjunction with the Thirty-third session of IFAD’s Governing Council. The Forum brought together more than 70 farmers’ leaders from around the world, representing millions of smallholders and rural producers from all over the world who interacted with IFAD staff and selected partners. The Forum was opened by the President of IFAD, Kanayo Nwanze. Its closing session, in the afternoon of Tuesday, 16 February, was open to the members of IFAD’s governing bodies (Source: IFAD website).

Following a recommendation of the 2008 Forum meeting, a special effort has been made by participating farmers’ organizations to increase women’s presence and voice in the event. A preparatory meeting was held on 13 February to reflect on how to promote women’s leadership in farmers’ organizations. The commitment to have at least 30 per cent of women farm leaders participating in the Forum has been achieved (Source: IFAD website).

(Photos and information courtesy of Ms. Amalia Pulungan, API, Indonesia.)

Get more updates from the IFAD website and the IFAD social reporting blog

AFA Secretary General pleads for more support to women at Global Farmers’ Forum

AFA Secretary General Estrella Penunia is in Rome to attend the Third Global Farmers’ Forum from 15 and 16 February 2010 in conjunction with the Thirty-third session of IFAD’s Governing Council. The Forum will bring together more 70 farmers’ leaders from around the world, representing millions of smallholders and rural producers from all over the world who will interact with IFAD staff and selected partners. The Forum will be opened by the President of IFAD, Kanayo Nwanze. Its closing session, in the afternoon of Tuesday, 16 February, will be open to the members of IFAD’s governing bodies.

The following is an excerpt from IFAD’s social reporting blog:

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”.

Read more at at the IFAD Social Reporting Blog

AFA conducts participatory gender study on understanding the gender dimensions of food security and climate change

The important role of women in ensuring food security and in coping with climate change cannot be denied. Thus, it is extremely important that the gender dimension not be left out in any analysis, discussion, and programs that seek to achieve food security and address climate change.

Last year, through its researcher, Ms. Riza Bernabe, AFA conducted a participatory gender study supported by IFAD in 5 countries – Philippines, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Thailand — in order to seek out this perspective. The research was informed by village, district and national consultations, as well as secondary data gathering.

The initial findings of the research show that: women indeed play very important roles in ensuring food security; climate change impacts women and men differently, with women bearing the brunt of the negative impacts. The research was also able to seek out the different food security initiatives and climate change coping strategies of small scale farmers, especially women farmers, in Asia.

Continue reading AFA conducts participatory gender study on understanding the gender dimensions of food security and climate change

AFA conducts participatory gender study on understanding the gender dimensions of food security and climate change

The important role of women in ensuring food security and in coping with climate change cannot be denied. Thus, it is extremely important that the gender dimension not be left out in any analysis, discussion, and programs that seek to achieve food security and address climate change.

Last year, through its researcher, Ms. Riza Bernabe, AFA conducted a participatory gender study supported by IFAD in 5 countries – Philippines, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Thailand — in order to seek out this perspective. The research was informed by village, district and national consultations, as well as secondary data gathering.

The initial findings of the research show that: women indeed play very important roles in ensuring food security; climate change impacts women and men differently, with women bearing the brunt of the negative impacts. The research was also able to seek out the different food security initiatives and climate change coping strategies of small scale farmers, especially women farmers, in Asia.

Continue reading AFA conducts participatory gender study on understanding the gender dimensions of food security and climate change

AFA holds regional consultations on food sovereignty, climate change, and marketing

The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), a regional alliance of nine national farmers’ organizations, in eight countries in Asia, representing ten million farmers, held a consultation-workshop, entitled “Farmers’ Voices, Farmers’ Choices: AFA Regional Consultations on Food Sovereignty, Climate Change and Marketing”, last October 6-10, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand.

This consultation was part of AFA’s continuing efforts to deepen the understanding of small scale men and women farmers on regional and global events, especially their implications on small scale men and women farmers. It was held parallel to the UN Intersessional Meeting on Climate Change, also held in Bangkok last September 27-October 9, 2009.

There were two main AFA events:

1) On October 6-8, AFA conducted a regional consultation on “Asian Women Farmers’ Reclaiming Space for Food Sovereignty Amidst Climate Change”. Women farmer leaders came together to understand the Asian and global dynamics of the climate change negotiations, to share their initiatives in ensuring food security and in responding to the effects of climate change.

2) On October 9-10, AFA conducted the “Regional Knowledge Sharing on AFA Members’ Marketing Initiatives: Basics in Engaging the Market”. This knowledge sharing gave the participants additional knowledge and insights on how to develop/improve their marketing strategies of identified focus crops. During the workshop, a framework for commodity based organizing was formulated to guide farmers’ groups in forming commodity-based groups.

The event was hosted by SorKorPor, with the support of Agriterra.

Click here for the overall program: http://asianfarmers.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/ProgramDesignGenericV2.pdf

Click here for the women’s consultation workshop program: http://asianfarmers.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/WomenConsultationWorkshopV2.pdf

Click here for the marketing consultation workshop program: http://asianfarmers.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/MarketingConsultationWorkshopV2.pdf

AFA calls for gender-sensitive policies and capacity building for women on climate change

Women leaders from farmer organizations belonging to AFA called on international leaders involved in climate change talks to craft policies with a gender and agriculture perspective and to support capacity building for women on climate change adaptation.

In a consultation entitled “Asian Women Farmers Reclaiming Space for Food Sovereignty amidst Climate Change” held last October 6-8, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand, the women leaders shared experiences and views on the effects of climate change and how they adapt to it.

Click here to read more: http://asianfarmers.org/?p=745

RESEARCH BRIEF: Participatory Gender Study: Understanding the Gender Dimension in Food Security and Climate Change

The attached research brief was distributed during the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, where AFA was represented by Ms. Riza Bernabe, who was part of the Philippine delegation and who worked closely with CSOs looking into agriculture in the UNFCC negotiations. Ms. Bernabe’s participation in the event was supported by WOCAN (Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture & NRM).

Click here to download the research brief in PDF

AFA calls for gender-sensitive policies and capacity building for women on climate change

Women leaders from farmer organizations belonging to AFA called on international leaders involved in climate change talks to craft policies with a gender and agriculture perspective and to support capacity building for women on climate change adaptation.

In a consultation entitled “Asian women farmers reclaiming space for food sovereignty amidst climate change” held last October 6-8, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand, the women leaders shared experiences and views on the effects of climate change and how they adapt to it.

Climate change is seen as a real global issue affecting small scale farmers, and Asia is one of the most affected areas, where unpredictable and extreme weather conditions are now being felt.

Continue reading AFA calls for gender-sensitive policies and capacity building for women on climate change

Women share experiences and perspectives on the food crisis

[The following is from the flyer of ISIS about its new publication to which AFA contributed articles as follow: “Pursuing Organic Farming in Cambodia” (by Kong Sokchhoin, FNN); “A Case for Cassava in East Nusa Tenggara” (by Nuruddin); “When Survival of the Self is the Survival of Others” (by Ryoko Tsuboi, AINOUKAI); “Bracing the Burdens of Bulan” (by Mela Gipanao, LAKAMBINI/PAKISAMA); “Accessing and Accounting ASEAN” (by Esther Penunia, AFA).]

In 2008, the world was alarmed by the shortage of food especially staples such as wheat, rice and corn. This crunch was further aggravated by the soaring prices of fuel and now, by the gripping economic and climate crises.

But the food crisis is not the result of the unavailability of food sources. Instead it exposed the flaws of the neoliberal model that has created various forms of scarcity amid abundance in the name of profit — resulting to captive politics, massive poverty, environmental degradation and even cultural homogenisation.

Moreover, the food crisis has left of its mark on women’s lives and bodies, which borne much of the pressure to access the already limited resources for the poor and provide for their families.

Continue reading Women share experiences and perspectives on the food crisis