Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

FAO: rural women are critical human capital for food security and poverty reduction in Asia

the Lao People's Democratic Republic, 31 Aug 2004 -- Vientiane – Rural women in Asia are critical human capital for achieving food security and poverty reduction in the region, an FAO statement said today.
Opening a meeting on the advancement of rural women in the Beijing+10 era, Leena Kirjavainen, FAO representative in Laos, stressed that “family and public investments in education and technical training for girls and women remain minimal and largely hamper their economic and social participation in development”.

Policies and programmes often overlook the crucial contribution by women to household and national food security. “Day after day, rural women’s labour and knowledge provide essential inputs for agriculture and rural enterprises in Asia. In addition, women and girls have care giving tasks in the household, and carry the largest burden of the impact of HID/AIDS on family labour distribution. These realities are sure signals of the need to emphasize rural women as critical human capital for achieving food security and poverty reduction in Asia” Kirjavainen said.

The meeting comes as the momentum gathers in the global development community to review the implementation of the 1994 Beijing Declaration on the advancement of women. According to FAO, the education of girls and the advancement of rural women are important indicators of women’s empowerment and the achievement of the UN millennium development goals related to gender equity.

Poor rural infrastructural development in Asia impedes not only the productivity in agriculture and rural economies, but also increases hardship to rural women in their access to services and markets, FAO said.

“We should confront the existing social and legal barriers that undermine women’s access to resources in rural communities”, added FAO’s Revathi Balakrishnan, senior officer in gender in development, based in Bangkok. “I propose multi-front approaches, such as moving beyond analysis about women to communicating with rural women for generating policies and programmes that directly benefit them”, she concluded.

Titled “Policies and programmes for advancement of rural women in Beijing+10 era: innovations and constraints”, the four days FAO sponsored meeting is held in Vientiane from 31 August to 3 September. It brings together gender experts from 11 countries of the Asian region (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand) as well as resources persons from development partners such as ILO, UNESCAP, UNICEF, SEARSOLIN and Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University.

The purpose of the regional consultation is to explore the achievements to date for the advancement of rural women and examine persisting constraints challenging rural women’s progress in Asia. As a result, recommendations will be adopted for national policies, programmes, strategies and legislatives measures and for regional collective actions for the advancement of rural women.

The FAO meeting is hosted and co-organized by the ministry of agriculture and forestry of Laos.

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