Press Release 97/44
On the occasion of World Rural Women's Day, FAO EMPHASIZES THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAINING AND ACCESS TO INFORMATION FOR RURAL WOMEN
Rome, October 15 -- "For a long time it was believed that the training and information received by men would just naturally be passed on to women. However, all our studies now show that this is not the case," according to Henri Carsalade, Assistant Director-General for Sustainable Development at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking at a symposium to celebrate World Rural Women's Day.
The symposium, at FAO Headquarters, which focused on the theme: "Invest in Rural Women through Training and Information" and "Towards Food Security - Invest in Rural Women" came one day ahead of World Food Day, which has a similar theme this year: "Investing in Food Security."
World Rural Women's Day was launched at the fourth United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995 by Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) which selected October 15 as the date.
In developing countries, rural women produce as much as 80 percent of basic foodstuffs, but receive very limited agricultural training. Women agricultural extension workers are few and illiteracy among women is even more widespread than among men, says an FAO report.
Yet, as a recent study in Kenya showed, yields among rural women could be increased by 24 percent if all women farmers completed primary school. In Kenya, following a national information campaign targeted at women under a National Extension Project, yields of corn increased by 28 percent, beans by 80 percent and potatoes by 84 percent, the report said.
Noting the important role of rural women in agricultural production, Mr. Carsalade said that FAO recommends that national programs of member countries address the needs of women as well as men.
The FAO Assistant Director-General stressed the importance of work in the field by FAO's partners, saying, the different NGOs which already play an important part in community television and local radio, also have a role to play in changing men's attitudes by persuading them to share the means of modern communication with women, for example.
Mr. Carsalade also said that women represent a long neglected source of traditional agricultural knowledge about plant varieties and specific animal breeds that exist in their regions.
The information collected from women should be developed and regulated, because it is just as important as the flow of information going to rural women in helping them increase the quality and the amount of food they produce, according to FAO.
For training to be most effective, it must be adapted to the needs of women. FAO is testing a program of "Socio-Economic Analysis according to Gender" to assist its member countries with planning and training programs that serve men and women on an equal footing.
FAO also announced today that the Organization's Women in Development Service has just published "Rural Women and Food Security, the Current Situation and Perspectives."
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* For further information on the Women in Development Service of FAO, please contact: Ms. Marie Randriamamonjy, tel.:57053932; fax:57042004; Email:Marie.Randriamamonjy@fao.org