13th March 2012, New Delhi
Her Excellency Smt. Margaret Alva, Governor of Uttarakhand suggested that specially focused capacity building programmes for women in agriculture may be initiated to refine skills with appropriate technologies. Agricultural tools and machines should be ergonomically designed to reduce drudgery of farm women and they should be empowered with farm knowledge through distance education, community radio and other effective means. She was delivering Presidential Address in the inaugural session of the Global Conference on Women in Agriculture (13-15 March) organized here.
Smt. Alva suggested that women should be acknowledged as the core food producers and processors and banks should recognize them as entrepreneurs. Laws banning women from performing operations like stone breaking, pulling carts, spraying insecticides, carrying loads on the head etc. must be put in place together with social security and welfare measures. She said that this global conference is a forum that can set the tone for change by empowering women for inclusive growth in agriculture. It will, I hope, develop a clear framework for action, she added.
Smt. Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister, Delhi State, while speaking as Chief Guest on the occasion, highlighted the important role of women in agriculture and said that there is a need to revisit and redesign our agriculture education, research and extension policies and programmes. She appreciated women centered Self-Help Groups and said, “Now, we have to harness the full potential of these SHGs by channelizing all agricultural support services such as training, extension, information, credit, inputs, marketing etc through these groups. ‘I think women development must be viewed as part of the development of the total community, and it must be provided with adequate resources at all levels’, she added. Smt. Alva and Smt. Dikshit released publications especially published on the occasion.
Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, noted thinker and Parliamentarian said that we are quite aware of the problems which women face in farms and fields. However, at this juncture we require in-depth analysis of the problems followed by the appropriate actions. Suitable technologies must be delivered to the farm women for change and empowerment. Other practical steps may also be taken up to help and support farm women. He suggested that a special fund may be created at national level to address gender specific issues.
Prof. Monty Jones, Chair, Global Forum on Agricultural Research emphasized the need of gender equality in agriculture and close the prevailing gender gap. He said that gender equality is on global agenda and we need to design a gender policy for empowering women in agriculture as a means towards improving the livelihoods of all.
Dr. R.S. Paroda, Executive Secretary, APPARI and Co-Chair, IOC elaborated on the theme, objective and agenda of the conference which has the overarching goal of ‘Empowering Women for Inclusive Growth in Agriculture’. We want to spread three messages through this conference; first, empowerment of farm women; second, attain inclusive growth in agriculture; and third, to achieve sustainable development in agriculture, he added. Speaking on the expected outcomes, he said that we want to build a network of global initiatives and continuity of this conference.
Earlier, Dr. S. Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE and Director General, ICAR and Chair-IOC welcomed guests, dignitaries and participants and elaborated upon the important role of women in agriculture and allied professions. He also highlighted some of the noted initiatives of the ICAR for women in agriculture. He hoped that the output of this Conference will be instrumental for all stakeholders to design and implement the suitable action plan in the years to come.
In the video message, Smt Michelle Bachelet, Head, UN-Women emphasized the need to prioritize gender equality and highlighted that farm women need policy interventions for economic empowerment.
Dr. K.D. Kokate, Deputy Director General (Agricultural Extension) and Chair, NOC presented vote of thanks.
The first ever Global Conference is being jointly organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (AAPARI) with support from The World Bank, GFAR, UK-Aid, CGIAR, TAAS, USAID, ADB, Australian Government, ACIAR, IDRC-Canada and RAGA. About 450 participants including researchers, academicians, research and development manager, experts and women innovators from more than 50 foreign countries representing national and international organizations are attending the three-day Global Conference. Senior Officials of ICAR and representatives of national and international organizations are also participating in Conference
(Source: NAIP Sub-Project on Mass Media Mobilization, DKMA)