Bangkok, 18 October 2023 (TDI): On the International Day of Rural Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific convened a webinar to address the critical issues surrounding rural women’s roles in agrifood systems and the need for gender equality, improved resource access, and financial inclusion to support the 2030 Agenda.

This event aligns with the theme for this year’s International Day of Rural Women. Rural women across Asia and the Pacific are vital contributors to agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, forestry, and livestock sectors.

However, they often face significant challenges, including limited access to resources and wage disparities. Statistics show that, in wage employment within agriculture, rural women earn only 82 cents for every dollar earned by men.

According to FAO’s 2023 ‘Status of Women in Agrifood Systems’ report, bridging the gender gap in farm productivity and the wage gap could boost global gross domestic product (GDP) by nearly USD 1 trillion, reducing food insecurity for millions of people.

Empowering rural women with better access to financial services can enable them to invest in their farms, diversify their income sources, and attain economic independence.

The FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific is committed to addressing these gender disparities through its gender-responsive policies and programs.

This includes promoting financial inclusion and breaking down barriers that limit access to credit, savings, and insurance for rural women.

The FAO Regional Gender Strategy and Action Plan 2022–25 supports these efforts, aligning with FAO’s dedication to achieving “Four Betters” – better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all.

Also read: Pakistan seeks FAO assistance to bolster agriculture expertise

During the webinar, Robert Simpson, Special Adviser to the Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, emphasized the importance of addressing gender issues in policies, programs, and investments in agriculture and food systems.

FAO recognizes the potential of rural women and men in achieving food security and is committed to overcoming gender inequality in the region.

The event featured distinguished speakers, including Miguel Rafael V. Musngi, ASEAN Secretariat’s Assistant Director; Sara Duerto Valero, UN Women’s Regional Advisor on Gender Statistics; Prasun Kumar Das, Secretary General of APRACA; and Jam Muhammad Khalid, FAO Pakistan’s National FFS Specialist. Their insights and experiences contributed valuable perspectives to the discussion.

FAO’s efforts to empower rural women in Asia and the Pacific through gender equality and financial inclusion align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 1 (End to Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), through the transformation of agrifood systems.

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