Gender Equality and Agriculture in Sweden’s Development Policies


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On Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 SIANI had the pleasure of coordinating the opening seminar to a four day writeshop on “Why Women Matter in Agriculture: Overcoming Gender Barriers to Agricultural Development”. The event, open to the public, and attended by over 50 participants, was designed as a kick-off for the writeshop deliberations which followed with a smaller group of invited experts.

The event took place at Sida Headquarters in Stockholm. It brought together speakers from Eastern and Southern Africa to discuss the role of women and the importance of gender in the contemporary agricultural development discourse.

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Gender Equality and Agriculture in Sweden’s Development Policies

  1. 1. Ministry for Foreign Affairs SwedenGenderEquality and Agriculturein Sweden’s DevelopmentPoliciesPrudence Woodford-Berger, Senior AdviserMinistry for Foreign AffairsDepartment for Development Policy
  2. 2. Ministry for Foreign Affairs SwedenSweden’sapproach in development cooperation - pointsofdeparture• Policy forglobal development (coherence, goals, poor people’s perspectiveson developmentand human rightsperspective)• genderequality is botha goal and a prerequisite for long-term democratic development to reduce poverty andachievean equitableand sustainable global development• genderequality and women’s empowerment, like poverty, have many dimensions and face many challenges;entrenched resistance• despitesome improvements, many countries are experiencingan increase in poverty levels and weakening ofsocial protection mechanisms,especially for women and girls and their enjoyment of humanrights• Slow progress towards several of theMDGs particularly MDG 5 but also MDGs 1 and 3• Women and girls areoverrepresented among thepoorest people.• Gender equality is not a women’s issue. Responsibility to achieveit concerns menas well as women, and bothgirls and boys.
  3. 3. Ministry for Foreign Affairs SwedenEffectsof the crisesthat can particularly affectwomen andgirls• loss of employment/economic buffers, decreased livelihood security• insecurity of food production and provisioning leading to malnutrition, anemia andcompromised immune systems• less access to financial markets and services, and to other resources, particularly forthose in rural and coastal communities• increase in unregulated ‘informal’-sector work• increase in unpaid and care work• increase in gender-based violence
  4. 4. Ministry for Foreign Affairs SwedenThe centralityof Agriculture – some key issues• MDG 1 – eradication of extreme poverty and hunger• crucial rights such as to food, health, non-discrimination, participation, education,work; article 14 in CEDAW on rural women• Challenges such as food insecurity, poor nutrition (both undernourishment andmalnourishment)• the role of biodiversity, food sovereignty and seed reserves for survival, sustainablelivelihoods and resilience at individual, family, local community, district, national andregional levels• monoculture systems; export-oriented agriculture models that often exclude small andsubsistence farming
  5. 5. Ministry for Foreign Affairs SwedenGender,agricultureand rural development• Rural and peri-urban women and girls must be seen and their voices heard as drivers and agents of social change and development, not just asrecipients and consumers but also producers• Visibility of women farmers’ knowledge, skills, experience, aspirations and visions for themselves, their families and communities• Donors must strive to maintain ODA levels and enhance donor coordination with respect to the agricultural sector and rural development,particularly at country level• dialogue with partners to mobilize and sustain commitment to gender equalityand women’s empowerment, and increase support to buildwomen’s and girls’ capabilities in rural and agricultural development processes• women’s and girls’ health including sexual and reproductive health and rights• promotion of rural women’s mobilization for collective action and effective participation in political decision-making and policyimplementation• support to gender-aware agricultural research and to rapid vulnerability assessments in specific countries for better knowledge with the help ofembassies and in-country missions in partnership with women’s networks and rural women’s organizations• Meeting women’s needs and rights w r t land and other property,infrastructure, agricultural techniques and new technologies includinginformation and communication technologies, market economy incentives, and freedom fromviolence and sexual harassment.
  6. 6. Ministry for Foreign Affairs SwedenSidaEvaluation 2010:3– Gender-awareapproaches inAgriculturalProgrammes• women make up a majority of farmers in many developing countries, but the male farmer continues to constitute theconceptual norm for agriculture development planning• resources and incomes controlled by women are more likely to be used to improve family food consumption and welfare• men must be strengthened in their roles as providers of household food security and well-being in order to reduce the burdenof responsibility upon women• programme impact affected by gender perspectives not mainstreamed in the programmes studied in Ethiopia, Kenya,Mocambique, Nicaragua and Zambia. Women benefitted less than men. Despite some activities targeting women, theirperformance generally not strengthened. Negative effects on productivity nationally as these countries have high femaleparticipation in the agricultural sectors.• However, the Agricultural Support Programme (ASP) in Zambia provides some evidence that fully involving women farmersdoes indeed result in increased production, productivity and overall farm resilience.• necessary to build capacity and competence in ministries of agriculture and with regard to extension services.
  7. 7. Ministry for Foreign Affairs SwedenSweden’spolicy for gender equalityand the rightsand roleof womenin developmentcooperation(2010)Goal: gender equality, greater influence for women and greater respect for women’srights.4 main areas, all of which are relevant for agriculture:• Women’s political participation and influence• Women’s economic empowerment and working conditions• Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)• Women’s security, including combating all forms of gender-based violence and humantrafficking
  8. 8. Ministry for Foreign Affairs SwedenAddressinggender inequalities• Policy coherence (not just agriculture but a range of other policies – social, financial,trade, legal etc)• Rights perspective, power perspectives• Women and men, responsibilities and decision-making• Knowledge and evidence are key• Dual point of departure:individuals’ capacity and choices but also necessary to changeinstitutions and structures• women’s legal empowerment and access to justice, not least w r t family law andwomen’s rights in marriage and with regard to children and to property
  9. 9. Ministry for Foreign Affairs SwedenGenderequalityand women’s rightsand empowermentrelatedto agricultureexplicit in othergovernmentpolicies• HIV and AIDS (2008)• Economic Growth (2010)• Environment and Climate (2010)• Humanitarian Assistance (2010)