Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

Opening Remarks
by
He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
Delivered at

Gender and women in agriculture and rural development –
Subregional Resource Persons’ Network Meeting

23 to 26 October 2005




Distinguished participants,
Colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen

I am pleased to welcome you all on behalf of FAO as well as on my own personal behalf to this network meeting. I also thank you all for responding to FAO invitation and to your contributions. The meeting focus is “Subregional gender and women in agriculture and rural development resource persons’ network”. Under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) framework FAO professes primary responsibility to the aim of eradication of extreme hunger and poverty. At the same time the organization also recognises linkages among other goals to achieve eradication of hunger and poverty. As relevant to this meeting the associated goals are empowerment of women, access and application of information technologies for development and partnership.

The main purpose of this meeting is to expand the learning on gender responsive human resource management in agriculture and rural development. The cumulative knowledge from the past decades on gender and women in agriculture is not widely recognised or effectively applied. There is a widely prevalent knowledge divide among those who advocate gender equality in rural societies and technical specialists who offer sector specific development strategies. There is need to build a communication space of commonly shared knowledge among stakeholders in development organizations.

Among others, one reason is that knowledge on gender has been reduced to gender analysis. The contradictions and complexity of gender concerns in rural communities as well as policy and programme alternatives for advancement of rural women are not fully explored. A barrier to common sharing is the diverse and dispersed sources of information in this area. The search cost for information and paucity in national skills to synthesize the information to develop pragmatic strategies impede gender responsive planning. FAO plays a catalytic role in knowledge production, synthesis and dissemination of gender equality of empowerment of women in rural societies.

In today’s development milieu the information and communication technologies could be effective tools to bridge the knowledge gap. The agenda on information and communication technologies for development includes social dimension beyond access to technology and infrastructure. The social purpose is to promote knowledge among development stakeholders through appropriate content and applications. In this instance the application is to improve the understanding of social equity concerns through IT based learning resources.

FAO has taken up the pilot process to expand the options on relevant content available on IT medium for development. The CD ROM, “Gender and women in agriculture and rural development” – published by FAO in Bangkok – is an outcome of such content development initiatives. This meeting will further explore appropriate applications of this CD ROM for building capacity for gender responsive planning by national organizations.

Partnership for capacity building in national organizations is a key element for achieving sustainable gains in gender equality. The meeting has brought together experts who are familiar with FAO programmes and projects in the region, particularly on advancement of rural women. The aim is to build a network among you all around a common information source and knowledge base on gender and women in agriculture in the region.

We have also requested you to explore the resources available within your countries to expand our information base for capacity building. We hope this strategy of regional networking will encourage leadership for gender mainstreaming among national experts and institutions. The responsibility and skills for gender responsive development strategies should be vested within national organizations promoting agriculture and rural development. Through such an organizational capacity building process, we call upon you to be FAO partners to achieve the goals of food security, elimination of poverty and social equity.

Therefore, within the overall framework of the MDGs that compliments FAO’s mission, the resource persons’ network meeting will aim:

  • To contextualize gender concerns and modalities for advancement of women in agriculture and rural development strategies within the national development framework;
  • To strengthen regional expertise to use IT based learning resources to sustain and enhance the organizational capacity for advancement of rural women through national policies and programs for agriculture and rural development; and
  • To build a sub regional network of resource persons to effectively support FAO technical mandate on eradication of extreme hunger and reduction of poverty through empowerment of rural women.

I am sure that the august assembly of resource persons from the region will lead to a productive process on networking centred on ICT based learning resources. More importantly you who are assembled here will build on this process of networking within the region beyond this meeting. We are facilitators, but you are the stakeholders who will carry forth the commitment and skills to realize gender equality agenda in agriculture and rural development sectors. Once again, it is my privilege and pleasure to welcome each of you to the FAO Regional Office as well as to Bangkok. I wish you all productive deliberations, a constructive outcome and an enjoyable stay.