Distinguished participants, the training team and colleagues,
Welcome and warmest wishes on behalf of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. I wish to acknowledge the team at the Animal Production and Health Division (AGA), the Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division (ESW), and the GCP/RAS/244/ITA Environmental Animal Health Management Initiative project for organizing this training. I also wish to thank the training and facilitation team from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for having contributed to the design of the training tailored for the region.
I am very pleased to note that participants from FAO country teams, governments and partners are taking part in this training.
Let me first put this training within the context of the situation in Southeast Asia. In Southeast Asia, more than half of the population of (305,421,000) (51.8 percent) resides in rural areas. 46.8 percent of the economically active rural population engages in agriculture for living. Rural women represent 42.5 percent of them, contributing significantly to livestock farming, agriculture and rural development as a whole. Despite their major involvement in agriculture, however, women tend to face a number of constraints that limit their contributions to agriculture production, economic growth and the well-being of their families, communities and countries.
International development discussions have however increasingly recognized women’s crucial role in agriculture, acknowledging the major contribution that rural women provide in achieving household food security and overall wellbeing. Moreover, the specific role of women in livestock farming is gaining recognition worldwide and it’s being supported by consistent research showing that empowering women livestock keepers must be seen as a key step of any effort to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty.
Gender equality is considered a central component to the FAO’s mandate to achieve food security for all by raising levels of nutrition, improving agricultural productivity and improving the lives of rural populations. FAO can achieve its goals only if it simultaneously works toward gender equality and supports women’s diverse role in agriculture and rural development. In 2012 FAO’s DG, Graziano Da Silva, officially endorsed the first corporate policy which defined the Organization’ gender equality goal and objectives. The FAO Policy on Gender Equality – Attaining Food Security Goals in Agriculture and Rural Development provides the Organization with a framework for guiding its efforts to achieve gender equality in all its technical work, and for assessing results; it calls on the whole Organization to contribute to these efforts, including FAO staff and Member States, delineating an accountability structure for ensuring policy oversight and achievement of results. Within this policy, FAO has prioritized to address gender equality in all areas of its technical work, specifically on food and nutrition security.
In 2010 AGA carried out a stocktaking exercise on gender mainstreaming in the Division’s work. During this exercise, the group acknowledged that women and men of different ages often have diverse and quite specific knowledge about, and responsibilities for, various aspects of animal husbandry and livestock. Depending on the livestock sector, women and men have specific tasks and responsibilities and failure to take into consideration these differences may lead to unsuccessful or underperforming programmes and projects and to the further marginalization of a large part of the agricultural workforce. Thus, understanding the importance and addressing gender issue in livestock projects, programmes, activities and strategies is necessary to enhance the quality of project and programmes design and implementation and to achieve the desired result.
Moreover, issues related to pathogenic emerging diseases undermine the health of both humans and livestock, causing consistent economical losses and consequent food insecurity for those rural households and communities who heavily rely on livestock management for living. It is essential to include occupational health and safety issues as well as food safety measures and practices in sector training initiatives, explicitly targeting women’s inclusion in these courses. Mindful of the aforesaid issues, I hope that the training will build knowledge of the main gender issues in livestock management, equip you to carry out gender analysis to effectively and efficiently work with rural men and women to respond to their different needs, priorities and constraints at the community/household level and provide a solid understanding on how to integrate these specific social component in livestock projects and programmes.
With these, I wish you fruitful discussions and a pleasant stay in Bangkok.