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Women Need Greater Empowerment in Agriculture

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Women play important roles in the agriculture and forestry sector but women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender roles is still limited, particularly in rural areas.

Different sections within the agriculture and forestry sector, especially some departments, divisions and some projects implementing policy in the field, still lack understanding of women’s empowerment and the meaning of gender roles.

Head of the Women’s Empowerment and the Mother and Child Division under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ms Sisomphet Souvanthalisith, highlighted the issue at a meeting in Vientiane last week.

The coordination of women’s empowerment and gender role activities at each level is not yet adequate, especially amongst staff and some coordinators in the field, Ms Sisomphet said.

Some staff don’t understand the role of the Women’s Union or comprehend women’s empowerment activities, she added. Gender policy implementation through to planning and inspection has not progressed while the use of gender role information and statistics in each activity is not being effectively promoted and the number of women participating in decision making is still limited, she added.

However, through women’s empowerment and gender role implementation in previous years, the Women’s Empowerment and Mother and Child Division has enjoyed some success in including more women in decision making.

Women in the sector have also received training on various topics and techniques to assist in their empowerment.

The ministry’s five year Gender Equality Strategy Plan from 2011-2015 advised that the number of women staff and farmers participating in the formation and discussion of documents should reach 60 percent of total participants.

The number of female staff and farmers participating in training was targeted at 35 percent, while the actual number hit 35.90 percent last year.

The division also planned that the number of women farmers participating in technical and occupational training for skill development should be at least 45 percent, with the actual figure coming in at 45.2 percent.

The strategy also planned to increase the percentage of female staff in each entry level role that go on to attain a decision-making position to 15 percent, while the figure attained exceeded the target at 19.6 percent.

The division now aims to create opportunities for at least 30 percent of female staff at every level to develop their education in the years ahead.

At the meeting, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Khambounnat Xayanon, stressed that each sector under the ministry should pay more attention to promoting women’s empowerment and gender roles in order to increase women’s participation. He noted that this could be achieved through closer cooperation and coordination.

Some 115 people participated in the meeting, of which 69 were women from different divisions of the agriculture and forestry sector around the country.

Source: Vientiane Times