Azerbaijan launches rural advisory services for women

An FAO project aims at equal access to rural services for women, along with gender-sensitive agricultural extension services and personnel.



If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, productivity could increase by 20 to 30 percent, according to FAO data. Yet females – who make up 43 percent of the agricultural labour force globally – are often viewed as unpaid family labour. Their contribution goes unrecognized, and they lack access to the rural services enjoyed by their male counterparts.

In Azerbaijan, things are starting to change. Equal access to rural services for women, along with gender-sensitive agricultural extension services and personnel, are goals of an FAO project now active here. The initiative is financed by the Government of Turkey, and benefits from the technical expertise of FAO and Turkey. The three-way collaboration among Azerbaijan, Turkey and FAO falls under the FAO-Turkey Partnership Programme.

This week, 35 experts working in rural advisory services are undergoing training in Baku. The workshop is the second of its kind, focused on evolving the experts’ understanding of gender relations and how they influence socio-economic conditions in rural areas. The emphasis is on developing tools and methods for designing demand-focused programmes that respond to the needs of both women and men farmers, while recognizing and addressing the specific needs of women.

“It is vital to involve women in rural areas to lead the way,” said Tarana Bashirova, Assistant FAO Representative in Azerbaijan. “Training experts in rural development, and giving them the tools to analyze gender roles, will lead to improved gender relations and productivity on the farm. We have seen this with similar projects in Italy that had success with their advisory methods.”

The project in Azerbaijan will focus on three provinces: Guba, Samukh and Salyan. Pilot training for women farmers will conclude with a workshop in June involving representatives of the Turkish and Azerbaijan ministries of agriculture and others. Together, they will discuss common challenges for gender-sensitive rural advisory services and identify good practices for overcoming those challenges.


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