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Within the Asia-Pacific, with due recognition of the vitality of distance education and distance learning programmes and the availability of distance-learning resources, but with attention to varying quality issues of distance education and acknowledging the immense potential for using these resources to accelerate the advancement of rural women and girls, it is recommended that the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific explore relevant regional activities to sustain commitment and to expand the initiative endorsed by the consultation.

A few specific pilot initiatives that could be explored are:

  1. Support a forum of selected experts from open and distance-learning systems and agricultural education and extension systems in exploring and enhancing application of distance-learning resources for the education and socio-economic advancement of rural women and girls.

  2. Develop a regional strategy document in the area of distance-learning resources for rural women and girls.

  3. Support resource-mapping exercises in selected low-income, food-deficit and transitional countries in the region to provide a database to facilitate development of distance-learning initiative and activities at the regional level.

  4. Explore the options for extra budgetary resources to strengthen the SDWW initiative in the area of harnessing ICT for the accelerated advancement of rural women and girls, beginning with the distance-learning resources.

  5. Explore the possibility of organizing a regional event to address the ICT distance education for rural women and girls. Focus the event on the global context of the Beijing Plus Five review follow-up, the FAO mandate of a Hunger-Free Millennium and SDWW Gender Plan of Action that is being proposed to the FAO Conference. Identify extra budgetary resources and appropriate institutional collaboration.

6.1 Closure of the consultation

The consultation closed with a note of appreciation from the participants for the efforts of Ms Revathi Balakrishnan, RAP Rural Sociologist and Women in Development Regional Officer, for organizing the meeting and for the excellent arrangements and support given by the FAO RAP Women in Development staff. The technical officer expressed her grateful acknowledgment of the contributions made by the participants to the deliberations and to the final document.

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