Subregional Office for Central Asia (SEC)

Women empowerment through enhancing agricultural extension services in Turkey and Azerbaijan

(Ankara-15 April 2014) Despite the high employment rate of women in agricultural labour in Turkey and Azerbaijan, women are categorized as self-employed but in fact are not paid for their work. By the same token, there is need to develop the capacity of rural women and women’s organizations in both countries through trainings and awareness raising on a wide variety of subjects such as food security and production methods of hygiene food.

By strengthening training and extension services for rural women in Turkey and Azerbaijan, FAO has launched a new project with the aim of improving women’s socio-economic empowerment and their inclusion in the paid employment sector. 

“At the end of the project, I expect that women who work in rural areas will have their social protection” said Cennet Ekim, farmer representative and livestock producer joining the workshop from Antalya. “I had been the leader of a cooperative for eight years. However, I still don’t have social security. We have never been regarded as ordinary workers like men.”

Half of the population’s labour is unseen

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) 2012 data, the share of agricultural employment in total employment is 25 percent. Another striking data indicates that women in Turkey are mostly employed in the agricultural sector, at 41.7 percent.

Azerbaijan statistics lay out a more compelling data, based on the State Statistical Committee of Republic of Azerbaijan 2010 (AZESTAT). The women are mostly employed in agricultural sector, at 47,2 percent. Furthermore, the women’s overall labour force participation rate is higher than that of men.

“If a nation is willing to make a positive change in its sustainable agricultural production, it cannot ignore its half of the population” said Hajnelka Petrics, Gender and Development Officer from FAO Headquarters in the opening workshop of the project titled “Capacity Development Support to Rural Women on the Socio-economic and Gender Aspects of Sustainable Rural Development”.

“Even though women have an important role in taking initiatives in agriculture, we can say that there is still gender inequality which refrains women from being important economic actors in the sector.”

Pilot provinces selected

The workshop has been started off in Ankara with the broad participation of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Ministry of Food, Livestock and Agriculture (MFAL), Azerbaijan delegation, farmer representatives, members of the parliament and national media.

Within the scope of the project, FAO will support the development of a need analysis and training strategy in three pilot provinces in Turkey; Kastamonu, Antalya and Kars and Samukh, Khachmaz and Salyan in Azerbaijan. The provinces have been selected based on the regional differences, agricultural production patterns and capacity of women’s organizations in those cities.

“It is expected that 90 women in three pilot provinces in Turkey will be trained under the guidance of project experts” stated Nimet Kaleli, Coordinator for Women Services in Rural Areas of MFAL. Moreover, 30 trainers will also be trained on effective training tools and technologies. At the end of the project, strengths and weaknesses of the relevant departments of MFAL and MOA (Azerbaijan Ministry of Agriculture) will be analysed.

“Our main objective is applying gender–sensitive approaches in agricultural extension and rural advisory services” said Tomasz Lonc, Senior Policy Officer at FAO Sub-regional Office for Central Asia (SEC).

“Based on FAO’s previous experiences and practices we will derive from this project, we expect that in the long term this method can be adapted and applied to extension and rural advisory activities in other regions as well.”

FAO will share its experiences with national extension service staff in undertaking gender-sensitive needs assessment. Giving its support for designing and providing training that targets the specific needs and priorities of rural women, FAO is being one of the leading actors promoting empowerment of rural women, food security and livelihoods.

The project is also closely related to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly MDG 3 which advocates the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women.