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Women in Pacific Island countries play an important role in agricultural and natural resource management and in contributing to food and livelihood security. Yet, programmes and policies related to agriculture, fisheries, forestry, natural resource management and rural enterprises do not always take women's roles sufficiently into account given the scarcity of relevant gender-differentiated and sex-segregated information. In order to better address food security issues, it is therefore necessary to understand the status of women as compared to men and to strengthen women's roles in agriculture and natural resource management. This requires the availability of relevant information.

This report examines existing policies in the areas of agriculture, natural resource management, fisheries, forestry and rural enterprises in three Pacific Island countries, namely Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa. The focus is on their relevance to women and their impact on food and livelihood security as a means to analyse the current status of gender integration in these policies. On the basis of this review and analysis of existing policies, the report identifies relevant sex-disaggregated data needs at both the national and community level, as well as appropriate sources and data availability. Strategies for capacity building in the identification, collection and tabulation of sex-disaggregated data are subsequently discussed as a means of enhancing database development in agriculture, natural resource management and rural enterprise development.

While acknowledging the importance and complementarity of qualitative data, such as detailed studies of gender roles or gender sensitive case studies of farming systems, the focus of the report is on the quantitative data required to understand the roles of women in agriculture, rural development and food security. Sex-disaggregated data are a crucial prerequisite to the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes aimed at enhancing the role of women in agriculture, natural resource management and rural development. However statistical data of this nature are not readily available in Pacific Island countries. In this context, the report identifies data needs as well as appropriate data sources for the three countries in the study. Data needs are grouped into seven broad areas: i) economic activities; ii) access to means of production; iii) time use and productivity; iv) decision making; v) income and expenditure; vi) food security; and vii) education and training. Within each area, a range of data requirements at the community and/or national level are defined, data availability or unavailability is discussed, and sources or proposed sources are identified.

The report is cognisant of the importance of database development as a means to strengthen policy formulation and planning in the areas of agriculture, natural resource management, forestry, fisheries and rural enterprise development. It discusses how database development involves defining data needs, collecting and tabulating required data and organizing data such that they are available to users. In addition, it recognises the need to foster effective communication channels between data users and data producers.

On the basis of the analysis of existing policies related to agriculture and natural resource management in Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa, the report reiterates the absolute necessity of according full attention to gender-disaggregated and sex-segregated information in database development. In this context, four strategies for capacity building in gender-disaggregated database development are identified and discussed. Firstly, the need to increase gender awareness among both users and producers of databases in order to enhance recognition and definition of data needs, and to improve communications between them. The second strategy recommends capacity building in gender-disaggregated database development for users in order to increase their statistical awareness given the tendency for users concerned with women in development issues to be unfamiliar with data collection. The third strategy focuses on the need to increase skills in farming systems database development, not currently well developed in the Pacific Region, given their appropriateness for gathering community level information. For instance, in many cases much of the data required at the community level could be best obtained through research and extension activities carried out within communities. Finally, the fourth strategy advocates the need to enhance skills in computer-based data compilation, through training in database management and software use, given the great benefits and potential of electronic technologies for database development.

The report illustrates the value and potential of gender-disaggregated database development as a tool for the effective formulation and monitoring of agriculture and natural resource policies. Although the focus of this report is on three Pacific Island countries, Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa, it nevertheless provides a guide to strengthen database development in other countries in the region.

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