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FAO holds validation workshop on gender assessment of agriculture

November 28, By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

With the aim of improving women’s participation in the agricultural sector, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on Friday 25th November, 2016 held a validation workshop on the country’s gender assessment of both the Agricultural and Rural Sector in Sierra Leone.

Making his opening remarks at the one day workshop  held at Hotel Mariam, Aberdeen,   Assistant FAO Representative in Charge of Programmes, Joseph Brima, said the seminar was jointly organised  by  the ECOWAS Commission for Gender and Social Affairs and the FAO  under the framework of  the Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) on Gender Responsiveness  of  National and Regional Agricultural Investment Plans for meeting the zero hunger challenge in the ECOWAS region .

He said the project was launched on the 16th March, 2016 during a high level interactive session of ECOWAS, Minister of Gender and Women Affairs on the margins of the 60th Session of the commission on the status of women.

He said the initiative exemplifies the unique and special partnership between FAO and the ECOWAS Commission in advancing gender equality and women empowerment in agriculture, rural development, food security and nutrition policies and programmes.

He disclosed that West African countries have developed National Agricultural investment Plans to align their agricultural policies and sector strategies with the principles of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), with a view to consolidate increased investment in agriculture for growth, transformation and poverty reduction.

The FAO representative further stated that as plans were underway to channeling support and investment in the agricultural sector, they would provide an important entry point for addressing policy, programmatic and investment gaps for gender quality and women’s empowerment in agriculture, food security and nutrition and the rural development interventions.

He said in November, 2015 the international conference on ECOWAS+10 and prospects for 2025 held in Dakar for  a ten year review of the ECOWAS Agriculture Policy (ECOWAP), highlighted weak consideration of gender in the first generation of national and regional agricultural investment plans, and that the regional partnership pact for the implementation of the ECOWAP/CAADP 2025 adopted during the conference made commitments to improving  the governance of agricultural policy by strengthening compliance with the principles of gender equality, equity and accountability.

Mr.Brima continued that FAO and ECOWAS were collaborating to undertake country gender assessment of the Agricultural and Rural sectors to identify gender gaps and provide a strong baseline to inform the elaboration of the 2nd generation of regional and national agricultural investment plans currently being developed in all ECOWAS member countries.

Also, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, Marie Jalloh, thanked FAO for their support in boosting agriculture in Sierra Leone, noting that women were the main contributors in the food sector but little had been done to promote their participation in the sector.

She said for agriculture to be prospective in the country, they should mainstream the process and see how women can be included.

She continued that if women famers were empowered, they could be able to take care of their children, feed their homes and make a change in their respective communities and the country as whole.

Meanwhile, participants recommended the strengthening of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs, effectively mainstream gender across all line ministries, and making the ministry part of the taskforce on agriculture and general focal point for each ministry.

They also recommended that the relevant authorities should highlight the role of the local councils in enhancing gender equality and improving women access to agricultural resources, examining and acknowledging the role of the private sector and, if possible contact key institutions in the NGO world and cross-check with the respective line ministries about who was doing what, where and when.

In her presentation, International Consultant for  FAO, Dr. Fatmata Sesay Kebbay,  said the purpose of the Country  Gender Assessment was to analyse the gender dimensions and inequalities that exist in agriculture, food and nutrition security, natural resources management and rural development,  access to and control over productive resources, services and markets,

She said they provided policy recommendations for expanding women’s opportunities in inclusive agricultural growth as a pathway to rural poverty reduction and informed the formulation, implementation, financing and monitoring of the 2nd generation of the National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP) from a gender perspective.

She said they provided  a solid baseline for monitoring the implementation of the Regional Agricultural Policy for West Africa (ECOWAP 2025), the Malabo Declaration on “Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods” and the Sustainable Development Goals.

She said the methodology used for the preparation of the country gender assessment included desk review and interview of key informants, as well as the review of existing documentations including international, regional, and national instruments, declarations, conventions, strategic plans, laws, policies and many more.

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