Standing Cmte on Women and Agriculture

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   This document has been made available in electronic format  
            by the Committee for the Promotion and 
               Advancement of Cooperatives COPAC
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            STANDING COMMITTEE ON WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE

                        19th April 1996

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                             REPORT
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                    Chair : Randi BRAATHE (Norway)

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Follow up to the Fourth World Conference on Women
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The meeting was well attended by women and men farm leaders, by
women associated with farmers' organizations from both
industrialised and developing countries, by representatives of
ACWW and CIDA, as well as by the Founder/Director of the
Women's World Summit Foundation.

The President of IFAP, Mr. Graham Blight, addressed the Committee
and actively participated in its works. He recalled the IFAP
policy for the recognition of the professional status of women
farmers and their greater involvement in farmers' organizations. 
He pledged his personal commitment to these objectives and
encouraged women to contribute to the Conference debates,
especially on food security and the role of farmers'
organizations.

In her opening remarks, Mrs. Randi Braathe reviewed the
activities of the Standing Committee on Women in Agriculture
during the past biennium.  They were focused on making an
important contribution to the Fourth World Conference on Women
in Beijing as it was requested by the Committee in its previous
session in Istanbul in 1994.  She reported on the initiatives
undertaken during the preparatory phase and at the Conference
itself in collaboration with many farmers' organizations and FAO,
and expressed satisfaction on the work done and on the results
achieved for the recognition of the roles and requirements of
women farmers.  The solution of women's issues, she said,
requires an equal partnership between women and were, as another
Norwegian woman stated in Beijing "The world of humanity has two
wings : one is women and the other men.  Not until both wings are
equally developed can the bird fly".  Mrs Braathe quoted the
closing sentence of the statement she presented on behalf of IFAP
to the plenary session of the Beijing  Conference ; "IFAP and the
farming community it represents, working alongside with
governments and intergovernmental organizations, can make an
important contribution to the achievement of the goals of the
Conference : Equality, Development and Peace for all".

She sketched the lines for future work, including continued
cooperation with FAO especially in view of the preparations for
the World Food Summit in Rome in November this year.  She invited
women to study the document prepared by IFAP "Farmers' Strategy
for Agricultural Development and World Food Security" and take
full advantage of the debates at the World Farmers Congress.

The Committee benefitted from two special interventions made by
the Swedish State Secretary for the Minister of Labour, Ms. Pia
Enochsson, and by the President of the National Committee of
Women Farmers of the French Farmers' Union (FNSEA), Mrs.
Maryannick Mehaignerie.

Ms. Enochsson dealt with the issues of the professional, economic
and social position of women in agriculture in developing
countries and in Sweden.  Mrs. Mehaignerie reported the step by
step progress of French women farmers towards the full
recognition of their professional status - an issue  which will
be debated in the Parliament during the same days of the World
Farmers Congress.

In their statements, both speakers included issues related to
food security, rural development and North/South solidarity, as
well as to the key role of women in these areas.  All these
issues were kept in mind and referred to during the discussions.

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Follow-up to the Beijing World Conference on Women 
         Evaluation and Workplan
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In presenting the document on the above subject, which was the
major theme of the meeting, the Secretary of the Standing
Committee, Giuseppina Pela, noted that the new message of the
Beijing Conference was that while, in the past, measures aimed
at promoting women were taken within the context of social
policies, equal opportunities should now be a fundamental
principle in all spheres of life : economic, scientific, social,
political etc.  In more general terms, equality is a prerequisite
for the achievement of sustainable development and peace (and not
a by-product).

Detailed information on the preparatory phase and on the Beijing
Conference from the women farmers' point of view had been widely
distributed by "IFAP Monitoring" No. 6-95 and 16-95 respectively.

The implementation phase of the Beijing Platform for Action has
already been initiated in many countries.  In order to play an
active role in such implementation women farmers' representatives
can adopt various approaches such as:

i      seeking representation in ministerial women's units or in
       other relevant bodies;
ii     putting forward proposals and promoting  initiatives;
iii    establishing linkages with other sectors such as
       universities and research centres, financial institutions,
       development agencies and the media.

It was recognised that the World Conference on Women in Beijing
was a rich and empowering experience with far-reaching effects.

Even though women farmers' situations greatly differ from country
to country and even within the same country, common objectives
can be found.

To keep the momentum of the Beijing Conference numerous comments
and ideas were put forward and activities already undertaken were
reported.  These can be grouped under the main headings of the
Programme of Work of the Committee for the next biennium, as
follows :

       a.    Worldwide Campaign for the Recognition of the
             Professional Status of Women Farmers

The achievement of such recognition is of vital importance to
women in developing countries, as well as in many industrialised
countries.  It would have far-reaching implications regarding
access to land and other means of production, inheritance of
property, access to credit, training and information, to
marketing and support services, to social security and also
membership in agricultural organizations.  The goal of the
Campaign is to enable women farmers to continue their profession
with dignity and profitability, as equal partners in the family,
on the farm and in civil life.

The recognition of women as farmers on their own rights will also
help women to overcome the poverty trap and improve food
security.  Greater attention should be paid to the growing number
of households headed by women.

Many changes are taking place all over the world; cutbacks and
savings in public expenditures, deregulation, liberalisation of
markets, privatisation of services.  All these factors have had
negative effects especially on women but have also stimulated
positive  reactions such as a new awareness of the need to make
better use of natural resources, protect the environment, promote
and diversify on-farm and off-farm activities.  In several
countries, women have proved to be active agents of innovation 
e.g. Australia Belize, India,Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden). 
A new optimism had emerged in certain rural areas supported by
the spirit and achievements of the Beijing Conference.  A growing
number of women in agriculture now consider farming a profession
of their choice and undertake new entrepreneurial initiatives on
the farm and in the Community.  For this purpose women need 

-      new policy, new infrastructures, new services and measures
       to alleviate the workload of women, especially in
       developing countries;
-      a more equal partnership with their menfolk;
-      a greater participation in farmers' organizations and in
       leadership position;
-      increased influence in all important  bodies.

This process of innovation is actually already taking place in
many countries but should be further speeded up with the full
commitment of farmers' organizations and the support of public
authorities.

Even though  measures must be country-specific some of the action
reported may be useful to other countries as well.  It was noted
that most of these activities have contributed to promote better
understanding between men and women and have helped overcome
cultural barriers.  They included :

-    promotion of legislative measures (e.g. for land rights in
     the Philippines; for the recognition of a professional
     status for all those who work on the farm and share
     responsibilities (France), reform of Family laws (France,
     Italy).
-    lobby and pressure within and outside the organization
     (e.g. Australia; by youth groups in France and Norway;
     through a "Women Farmers' letter" to institutions by
     Italian women farmers).
-    contacts with the media and other economic sectors (Italy,
     Sweden);
-    seed money to support self-help initiatives of women's
     groups (Kenya);
-    promotion of women's groups that provide collateral to
     members (Zambia);
-    special events organised for women farmers, e.g. "Women
     Can" biennial exhibition in Sweden; "Women Farmers Day" in
     Italy and other European Union Countries";  
-    Seminar on Development of harmonious  partnership of  men
     and women in Development - the first initiative to follow
     up the Beijing conference in Indonesia; 
-    agricultural input bags provided for a period of 3 years
     and then passed to other needy women (Zambia);
-    training and education, using formal and non-formal
     channels, e.g.:
          - women's gatherings with invited speakers who provide
          cultural stimuli (Australia);
          - field day demonstrations to introduce new varieties,
          agricultural methods and technologies, they also
          provide opportunities to exchange views and
          information (Zambia);
          - study-groups built on traditional get-together of
          rural people (in Sweden they have led to a broad range
          of new activities and mobilisation of resources :
          cooperative production, coop. shops, child care
          services, accommodation for old people etc);
          - community based discussion groups to identify needs,
          priorities and solutions (Zambia);
          - women's extension groups, in France, have not only
          provided new technical and managerial skills, but have
          also generated ideas and innovation.

Networking among women at national, regional and international
levels was considered an necessary vehicle to bring about change
and recognition.  In this connection, the unique role of the IFAP
Standing Committee on Women in Agriculture, was emphasized
especially with regard to obtaining better recognition of women
farmers and favouring greater participation of women in
decision-making  positions at all levels.  It was noted that
communication lines with women farmers should be further improved
both with IFAP and within farmers' organizations.  The
publication of a Women's Newsletter was also suggested.

       b.    World Rural Women's Day

The celebration of a Rural Women's Day, which was proposed by
representatives of women farmers and rural women in Beijing
received great support from the Committee. This was considered
an effective way of obtaining recognition and support for rural
women who are mostly farmers and rural entrepreneurs.

The proposed day of 15 October (the day before the World Food
Day) was considered appropriate and officially adopted , even
though it could be used with some flexibility, according to local
circumstances.

For this celebration, initiatives should be undertaken by
farmers' organizations at all levels, involving other groups,
public authorities, institutions and the media.

The Day should also be used to promote exchange / visits with
women in other countries and favour solidarity action, especially
between the north and the south, as well as with eastern
countries.

At international level, IFAP will send a memorandum to all member
organizations to encourage members' action.

       c.    Women Farmer's meeting prior to the 
             World Food Summit in Rome, November 1996

It was proposed that in 1996 the celebration of the Rural Women's
Day should be closely linked to the preparations for the World
Food Summit.

IFAP was encouraged to  continue its efforts for organising a
special event in Rome in collaboration with FAO and the Italian 
Farmers' organization.  The objectives of this event will be 

     i.  to discuss the gender dimension of food security on the
     basis of positive examples provided by participants and,

     ii. to ensure that a firm commitment to improve the
     situation of rural and farming women is included in the
     plan of action to be approved by the world food summit.

All member organizations are invited to provide information to
the secretariat on food security issues from a women farmer's
perspective, highlighting positive examples of their
contribution.

       d.    Prize for Women's Creativity in Rural Life

The Founder/Director of the Prize, Ms. Elly Pradervond, who
actively participated in the works of the Committee reported on
the great success obtained in Beijing and provided further
information on the Prize.  This annual prize of US$ 500 each is
intended to honour the creativity and courage of rural women. 
In 1996, 50 prizes will be awarded to women in the Third World
and also in Europe where rural women often lack recognition.

She encouraged IFAP member organizations to make nominations
accompanied with a brief history, press clippings and pictures,
all things which may impress the jury.

The deadline for nominations is 1 June 1996. Prize winners will
be announced in Geneva on 8 September.  

She suggested, however, that, at the national level, the
announcement could be made on 15 October as a contribution to
the celebration of the Rural Women's Day.

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FAO Plan of Action on Women in Development
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The Committee received a brief presentation of the revised FAO
Plan of Action for Women in Development which was adopted by the
FAO Conference in November 1995.  The new plan represents the FAO
response to the recommendations on women in agricultural and
rural development found in the platform for action of the Beijing
World Conference on women, and also builds on the results of the
other recent international events (e.g. in Rio, Vienna, Cairo and
Copenhagen).

In order to address the root causes of persistent poverty and
food insecurity among rural women and their families, as well as
the factors contributing to degradation of the environment, the
plan pursues three  strategic objectives :

*      to promote gender-based equity in the access to, and
       control of productive resources; 
*      to enhance women's participation in decision and policy
       making processes at all levels;
*      to promote actions to reduce rural women's workload and
       enhance their opportunities for remunerated employment and
       income.

The plan outlines a framework for integrating a gender
perspective within all FAO programmes and activities for the
years 1996 through 2001.

FAO will utilize participatory approaches to involve rural women
in the policy formulation process as well as facilitate a mutual
learning process between rural women and all those who design and
deliver agricultural services. A special concern will be the
promotion of women's organizations and networking through the
exchange of information and expertise.

Thanks was expressed to FAO for the very interesting material
provided.

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Election of officers
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Mrs. Randi Braathe was confirmed as Chair.

Mrs. Elisa A. Gusago (Philippines)
Mrs. Juliet Makato-Howard (Zambia)
Mrs. Linda Reinhardt (USA)

were elected as Vice-Chairpersons.