Reports on country gender assessments of agriculture and the rural sector for Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu have been launched in Samoa.
The reports were compiled by the Pacific Community(SPC) in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and strives to improve understanding of gender perspectives of agriculture and rural sectors, in order to develop effective strategies to support food security for Pacific people.
Samoa deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, said that the launching of the reports are part of the Pacific Community’s gender analysis and mainstreaming work.
“It provides the evidence and knowledge our governments need to inform policies and decision making across sectors,” she said.
The reports also provide information to help understand the gender dimensions of development across the different sectors, through the application of people-centred approaches in the states’ scientific and technical programmes in agriculture, climate change, and fisheries.
She congratulated FAO for its leadership role globally on supporting food security, and in ensuring that small islands states have the capacity to lead sustainable agriculture and food security.
“In the Pacific, women play a leading role in agricultural production whether it might be subsistence farming to feed their families or growing cash crops to earn an income. And women’s labour in agriculture is a crucial part of food production and consumption in our communities,” she said.
“A literature review undertaken in 2012 on Rural Pacific Island Women and Agriculture, showed that the ways in which our Pacific women participate in agriculture vary by island and local cultural norms, yet women’s critical contributions in planting, tending, and harvesting crops and edible marine life sustain the majority of families throughout the region.”
Despite these findings about women’s prominent role in agriculture, the Deputy PM said research also indicates that women continue to be constrained by unequal access to land.
“Limited access to training, credit, and job opportunities compared with their male counterparts, as well as an unequal time burden in which women are expected to engage in agriculture on top of their normal household responsibilities,” she added.
“The theme for the Pacific Week of Agriculture is “Enhanced Partnerships for Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry Systems in the Pacific” and from a gender perspective, the increasing global concerns and our own challenges at regional and national level for food security is becoming more urgent due to the impacts of climate change.
“It is because women are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change.”
The Deputy PM said that it is important to assess the gendered aspects of agriculture and rural life on an ongoing basis, within the spirit of durable and sustainable partnerships applied in the context of the Samoa Pathway, in line with the theme for the Pacific Week of Agriculture.
“As heads of agriculture, we need to make sure the assessments support the goals and objectives in our gender and agriculture strategies, to support women’s roles in agriculture,” she added.
“And to eliminate barriers that hinders their potential and maximise our capacity as a collective to promote sustainable agriculture and food security.
“One thing that we know from experience is, advancing our gender outcomes as a region and as national governments is not the job of one organisation or Ministry or sector. It is the collective responsibility of all across Government and at all levels, with partnerships with the private sector and civil society organisations.”
The Deputy PM said that gender equality is not just about women; it is about men and women and boys and girls of all diversities.
“Therefore it cannot be left to the Ministries of Women alone to pursue this work.
“For the agriculture sector, the launch of these gender assessments in agriculture reflects a strong recognition of the need to apply a gender lens to our work, and we will look to Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu to take the lead in translating these findings into concrete policies and action to advance the role of women in agriculture.”