Distinguished participants and resource persons,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to extend to you a warm welcome to Thailand and to the FAO Sub-regional workshop on “Sex-Disaggregated Data in Agriculture and Rural Development for Southeast Asian Countries”. The main objective of this workshop is to strengthen awareness, knowledge and skills to ensure the production of the needed evidence base through sex-disaggregated data to support gender targeted agricultural policies and programmes to ensure improved agricultural productivity.
I am pleased to note that participants for the workshop come from 11 countries covering not only Southeast Asia but also China, Mongolia and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. You are all professionals having expertise and experience relating to statistics and that through this workshop greater attention can be promoted in your ministries as well as your countries and the region to gender related statistics. So do make use of this opportunity to learn from not only the resource persons but from each other through your technical contributions and discussions. Particularly important will be your role in the needed follow-up.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In Southeast Asia, more than half of the population of (305,421,000) (51.8 percent) reside in rural areas of which 46.8% of the economically active population engages in agriculture of which 42.5 percent are women. As such, women contribute significantly to agriculture and rural development. Despite their contributions, however, women tend to face gender-specific constrains that limits their contributions to agriculture production, economic growth and the well-being of their families, communities and countries. In Vietnam for instance, 75 percent of male - and 62 percent of female - headed households in the rural areas have access to agricultural lands. There, female - headed households own an average of 0.48 hectares of land compared to 0.66 hectares for male - headed households, which represents about 27 percent less land per female-headed households. In the case of Lao PDR, male farmers own an average of 5.5 heads of cattle compared to only 4.8 heads of cattle for female farmers. Extrapolating from these two example, while the size of the gender gap differs for different resources and between countries, the underlying causes for the gender asset gap –social norm- is something that is frequently seen across the region.
A positive is the fact that internationally, women’s role in agriculture is now receiving much more attention.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In FAO, gender equality is considered a central component of FAO’s mandate to achieve food security for all by raising levels of nutrition, improving agricultural productivity and improving the lives of rural populations. Further support to this was the roll out during the International Women’s Day held in March this year, in a form of the FAO Gender Equality Policy. Within this policy, FAO has prioritized to address gender equality in all areas, specifically on food and nutrition security. Having said this, fundamental pre-requisite is “availability of reliable sex-disaggregated data”. Therefore, we also aim to ensure that by 2015 all major FAO statistical data bases will have incorporated sex-disaggregated data. Efforts will also be made to collect and disseminate gender-disaggregated data. FAO’s priorities also includes strengthening the capacity of our member countries to develop, analyze and use sex-disaggregated data in policy analysis and programme and project planning and evaluation as sex-disaggregated data provides essential evidence for decision making and for understanding gender issues including for monitoring progress.
I also wish to mention that FAO is currently collaborating with partner agencies such as UN ESCAP, ADB and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in developing a regional implementation plan of the Global Strategy to improve rural and agricultural statistics. The Global Strategy, will provide a framework to enable national and international statistical systems to produce the basic information needed to guide decision-making. Gender as a cross-cutting issue would certainly be an important dimension of such efforts.
Your contribution and inputs for these national, regional and global efforts are therefore extremely important and we need your strong support, and we count upon!
The agenda of your workshop should offer you many opportunities to share and to enable learning from each other on strategies and techniques for sex-disaggregated data collection and analysis. As I have already mentioned, I hope you would make use of this opportunity and, more importantly, to transfer the knowledge and skills back to our countries so that together, we can address the gender statistics needs of our countries and the region.
With these few words, I wish you fruitful discussions and a pleasant stay in Bangkok.