Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

UNDP-FAO project meeting
Gender responsive technology framework for poverty alleviation

Opening remarks

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Wednesday, 26 November 2003
Prince Palace Hotel, Bangkok

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and on my own behalf, I welcome you all to this meeting. This occasion marks a successful conclusion to the collaboration between the Royal Government of Thailand, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and FAO on the project Gender responsive technology framework for poverty alleviation. The interagency partnership focused on gender equality aspects that are globally recognised as an important dimension of poverty alleviation. FAO recognizes the key role played by rural women in the social and economic development of Thailand, and their vital contribution in overcoming food and health insecurities at household level. However, very often their efforts are undermined due to insufficient access to the right technology and the right information at the right time.

During the World Food Summits in 1996 and 2002, a special place was given to women in both the Rome Declaration and the Plan of Action. The numerous Heads of State and Government who pledged to reduced hunger by half by 2015 declared that "equal participation by men and women is essential to achieve food security for all".

In 1998, the year of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, World Food Day was dedicated to women "who feed the world", so as to pay tribute to those women often not recognized by decision-makers, statisticians and the media, who struggle daily to ensure their families’ food security. This priority is also reflected in the FAO Strategic Framework. In addition, women represent the majority of the beneficiaries of the Organization’s Telefood projects, which aim at strengthening the national capacity for agricultural production in order to ensure food security at household and national levels.

FAO has emphatically promoted gender mainstreaming and advancement of rural women as a key to improving global food security. This commitment is implemented at the institutional level through the FAO Gender Plan of Action for 2002 to 2007. The plan requires that all relevant technical activities in FAO promote gender mainstreaming approaches and strategies for the empowerment of women. In FAO, empowering rural women to be effective partners to combat food insecurity and poverty is defined to include access to agricultural support services and technology.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The UNDP funded project focused on poverty alleviation technologies for rural women. It conducted extensive research using participatory methods with government officials, rural community leaders, and men and women in rural areas. The research also included policy review. The work was lead by FAO, with intensive contributions by Thai national experts. I thank and congratulate the team for bringing the project to a successful end with tangible outputs. I also thank the UNDP Bangkok Office for its support, and the many men and women who participated in our research activities.

The outcome has resulted in four publications, which we are sharing with you today. But the sharing is a means, not the end. We expect you to implement the policy recommendations to promote gender mainstreaming and empowerment of rural women in your own work. For this purpose we are pleased to provide technical assistance to your efforts in Thailand to promote gender responsive technologies for poverty alleviation.

Hence, we should expand our interagency collaboration to work with you all to achieve the dual aims of sustainable food and livelihood security. We look forward to your continued cooperation with the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific to achieve the common purpose of gender responsive technologies for poverty alleviation.

I would like to close by reiterating that the Organization is committed to work on these challenges and help make equal opportunities for men and women a reality at all levels. It is not possible to reach sustainable development without peace, social justice and equal respect for men’s and women’s human rights.

Again, I thank you for being with us today.