Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING REMARKS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

ADB-FAO-WOCAN
Asia and the Pacific Regional High-level Consultation on
Gender, Food Security and Nutrition Ensuring the Other Half Equal Opportunities

Bangkok, Thailand
24 to 26 July 2012

 

H.E. Yukol Limlamthong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand,
The Honourable Ahmed Shafeeu, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, the Maldives,
H.E Fathimath Sheereen Abdulla, Minister of State for Gender, Family and Human Rights, Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights, the Maldives,
The Honourable Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Minister for Agriculture, Sri Lanka,
Ms Shireen Lateef, Senior Adviser (Gender), Asian Development Bank,
Ms Jeannette Gurung, Executive Director, Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management,
Dr Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
Distinguished participants and resource persons,
Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to each honorable representative of the participating country institutions to Thailand and to this first regional consultation organized in collaboration with ADB and WOCAN on Gender, Food Security and Nutrition. FAO would like to first acknowledge and thank the Asia Development Bank (ADB) for initiating the idea of this important gathering and for the generous resources extended to support it.  We would also like to acknowledge the supportive role of our partner WOCAN in advancing gender equity in food and nutrition security programming in the Asia-Pacific Region.  We are very pleased to have forged this three-way collaboration on promoting gender equality for enhancing food and nutrition security. Last but not least, I would like to acknowledge the inspiration for this event – the report by our colleague, the UN Special Rapporteur for Food Security, Dr. Olivier DeSchutter, which will be launched together with a press briefing today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The main objective of this High-level consultation is to strengthen awareness and knowledge of the gender dimensions of food and nutrition insecurity and their implications for national agriculture and rural development.  Our goal is to identify the short and mid-term priority actions to enhance food and nutrition security, in a gender and socially equitable manner, and we have a model for a consensus document based on the UNGA Resolution 66-129 that was adopted by the sixty-Sixth Session of the General Assembly in 2012.  I am pleased to note that participants for the workshop come from some 18 countries covering the entire Asia-Pacific region.  Exchanging your experience and expertise on the most effective policy and programming frameworks over the next three days will help us to forge a collective effort to improve food and nutrition security in our region.  I encourage you to share openly and be equally open to the viability of replicating and upscaling Good Practice from each other’s country experiences. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Asia and the Pacific Region continues to share the highest proportion of 62 percent of the world total chronic hunger population. The vast majority of them live in developing countries and they became increasingly vulnerable to food price hike and external shocks. In addition, micronutrient malnutrition, or so-called “hidden hunger” is also affecting additional two billion people worldwide with serious public health problems, especially children and women in developing countries. The immediate causes of malnutrition are complex and multidimensional. They include inadequate availability of and access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food; lack of access to clean water, and inappropriate child feeding and family diets to which women may play a key role at the household levels. Gender inequality is an important underlying cause of women’s under-nutrition and is further exacerbated by poverty and lack of access to resources. Addressing malnutrition, therefore, requires integrating gender dimension into action and complementary interventions in agriculture and the food system in general as well as in broader policy domains.

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 last year of the FAO Gender Equality Policy, and its endorsement during conference in June of this year.  Gender mainstreaming in all areas of its work is also ensured as a cross-cutting objective in FAO’s new Strategic Framework.  FAO prioritizes the strengthening of our member countries’ capacities to integrate gender in all agriculture, food and nutrition security efforts and to work toward gender equality in policy, programme and project efforts. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

The agenda of this consultation should offer you many opportunities to share and to enable learning from each other on strategies and techniques for enhancing gender equality.  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 promote gender equality and enhance food and nutrition security situation across our countries and the region.

I wish you the pleasant stay in Bangkok.