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Press Release 97/9


ROME, 12 March 1997 -- On the occasion of International Women's Day, Dr Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), expressed the hope of seeing "equal opportunities" for the two sexes established in employment, nutrition and access to culture.

"Mainstreaming Women as Agents of Food Security" was the theme chosen for International Women's Day, which was celebrated today at FAO headquarters in the presence of eminent Italian women, representatives of FAO member states and non-governmental organizations, and also a large number of international officials.

The day was marked by different ceremonies in the FAO Headquarters and by messages from the Director-General of the Organization, Professor Rita Levi Montalcini, Nobel Laureate for Medicine, Senator Susanna Agnelli, former Italian Foreign Minister, and Ms Mariapia Fanfani, member of the WHO commission for the health of women in the world and President of the "Insieme per la pace" Foundation.

In his message, Dr. Diouf highlighted the fact that the Final Declaration of the World Food Summit (Rome, November 1996) had recalled that the vital part played by women in food production, especially in low-income food-deficit countries, must receive its due recognition.

Dr Diouf added that the Action Plan adopted by representatives of 186 countries at the same Summit specified that women must receive the financial and technical help they deserve, and also have the benefit of good legislative, administrative and associative training.

The Director-General of FAO also recalled that he had recently nominated women to important positions of responsibility within the Organization, noting that he had increased the number of women at director level from six to eleven during his first three years in office.

The ceremony was followed by a lunch prepared by the African group of the United Nations Women's Guild, with profits going to development projects in Africa.

The programme for International Women's Day also included an exhibition of photographs and infographs on women's participation in development, projection of videos on rural women, and a seminar on such diverse topics as women's employment in FAO, women's nutritional education, and extension programmes for women farmers.

In celebrating International Women's Day at its headquarters for the second year running, FAO wanted, so to speak, to officialize this event, thereby indicating its wholehearted commitment to the cause of rural women.

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