FAO in Türkiye

FAO delivers social gender and communication training to Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry employees

Photo: © FAO

Edremit, Balıkesir –Achieving gender equality is a core component of FAO’s work. To ensure that staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry are equipped with the necessary knowledge, awareness and tools to attain this goal, experts from FAO and UN WOMEN delivered gender equality and communication training to staff operating in the forest and agriculture sectors of the Edremit District of Balıkesir.


The training workshop was organized within the scope of the project “Strengthening the Conservation of Biodiversity and Sustainable Management of Forest Landscapes in Türkiye’s Kazdaglari Region, carried out in collaboration with the General Directorate of Forestry and the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks, and financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).


The two-day training workshop was attended by a total of 78 participants, including 32 women, and commenced with an opening speech delivered by FAO Project Coordinator, Erdoğan Ertürk. “Throughout the project”, he explained, “we aim to consider the perspectives of all segments of society at every stage of implementation, including in biodiversity conservation, sustainable forest management, and our efforts to promote improved agriculture and organic farming”. He continued: “The key to achieving a balance between conservation and utilization in nature and creating rational and sustainable solutions lies in the establishment of gender equality. Within this framework, we will prepare strategies for necessary measures for nature conservation and support the agricultural activities of local communities and other stakeholders, focusing particularly on non-timber forest products and ecotourism.”


In his speech, Ertürk emphasized the pivotal role of women in the production and sale of agricultural and non-timber forest products: “Women play a key role in the value chain”, he said, “taking on responsibilities from the production to the packaging and sale of products. Through the support of cooperatives within the scope of the project, we aim to encourage women’s empowerment, access to income-generating activities and involvement in decision-making processes.”


The workshop continued with a speech given by Deputy Regional Director of Nature Conservation and National Parks, Yunus Aydemir, who underlined the importance of gender training, noting the differences in how men and women approach nature, and emphasizing that conservation requires not only state involvement but also the effective education of individuals.


The opening speeches concluded with remarks by Director of Forestry for Balıkesir, Kemal Kayıran,who explained that: “with global warming, disruptions to forest ecosystems pose a threat of extinction to many plant and animal species”. He further stated that “the capacity of these projects to increase awareness is immense.”


The training sessions conducted by FAO Gender Equality Specialist Neşe Çakır focused on fundamental concepts such as gender-based discrimination and its consequences, gender-based division of labour, gender equality, stereotypes and gender roles. The sessions also included group work on topics like gender-based roles, daily time usage between women and men, gender analysis and seasonal calendars, encouraging a participatory approach.


Participants’ opinions were sought on understanding women’s economic participation, what gender equality entails, and the crucial role it plays in both women’s and men’s lives and work. Participants also discussed how gender analysis is conducted and understood, as well as options for mainstreaming gender equality.


A gender-sensitive analysis delved into the different roles of women and men in the forestry and agriculture sectors in order to better understand what they do, the resources available to them, and their needs and priorities within specific contexts. Recommendations were developed through group work on possible actions to address the specific priorities, needs and responsibilities of women and men affected by the project’s outcomes, which will in turn impact biodiversity conservation and the sustainability of forest management. The effectiveness of the training will be measured through pre-tests and post-tests.


UN WOMEN Programme Officer Mustafa Çadır delivered a comprehensive presentation on gender-responsive budgeting to the participants, providing information on strategies, plans, programmes and laws related to gender equality, and highlighting measures to improve the education and entrepreneurship levels of women and young people in rural development. He also emphasized the importance of including and prioritizing gender equality and women’s empowerment in all planning, programming, policy development and implementation processes, including the Twelfth Development Plan (2024–2028). Planned efforts will aim to increase women’s entrepreneurship and technological literacy in rural areas; establish social spaces for women; provide good quality, affordable and accessible care services; and formalize and register women working as agricultural labourers.


Ayşe Ayata, Chair of the METU Political Science and Public Administration, discussed the results of a recent 2023 Evaluation of Gender Equality in Rural Areas, highlighting the problems faced by rural women and explaining how the demographic structure of rural populations in Turkey has changed over time. She discussed the profiles of rural women, and addressed gender issues in family farming, agriculture and forestry, as well as access to financial and agricultural production resources and agricultural extension services. She also underscored the needs of women entrepreneurs and cooperatives, and provided related recommendations.


The event concluded with a training session on the “Power of Communication” given by FAO Communication Specialist Şafak Toros.