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Gender issues highlighted at Cape Town Conference on agricultural investment

©FAO/Riccardo Gangale
14/07/2014

For the first time ever, gender was the central theme of an international conference on land-related agriculture investment and inclusive business organised by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 5 to 7 March 2014, the "Multi-stakeholder Conference on Agricultural Investment, Gender and Land in Africa: Towards inclusive, equitable and socially responsible investment" served as a platform for hundreds of representatives from different African countries to share their perspectives, experiences and ideas about the promotion of gender equality as the key to achieving positive and sustainable development outcomes.

Empowering women

Private enterprise representatives recognized that engaging women in their business is essential, but not always straightforward. It was highlighted that specific measures to promote women´s participation are frequently needed, including developing products and services that take women’s needs and constraints into account; providing facilities and adopting measures to support women’s participation and reaching out to partners who can support private enterprises to engage more women, among others.

There was a broad consensus among participants: that in order to put in place sustainable, inclusive and gender-equitable investment models, strong collaboration and partnerships among the various actors is necessary. In this light, NGOs and producers’ organizations were identified as strategically equipped to facilitate mutually beneficial relations between private enterprises and female and male small producers.

The next step

The discussions among conference participants on the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders involved led to a series of recommendations to ensuring more equitable and gender-sensitive agricultural investments in the future.

These recommendations and other conference-related publications will be widely disseminated at relevant events worldwide such as the Kilimanjaro rural women’s summit (April 2015), Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments negotiation process (CFS- RAI) (May 2014), Pan African Parliament seminar on making agricultural investment work for Africa in Johannesburg (June 2014) and a continental conference on land policy organized by the AU (November 2014).