Gender mainstreaming critical to reaching agricultural goals -must be included in policy making – Minister Walrond

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, M.P, said gender equality in agriculture is critical to reducing the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) food import bill by 25 percent by 2025.

Minister Walrond was at the time delivering remarks at a panel discussion on Gender and Agribusiness in the Caribbean during the final day of the Agri – Investment Forum and Expo at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) on Saturday.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), if women had the same access to productive resources such as men, their farm production could increase by 20 to 30 percent, leading to a 12 percent decrease in hunger.

“Our regional target is 25 percent by 2025. The aim is to reduce our food import bill within the region by 25 percent. We have little time and the study would confirm that our countries cannot achieve our objective without the full gender parity,” Minister Walrond stated.

The Minister explained, like many other sectors, there is a gender gap in terms of deriving the benefits in agriculture. In fact, research has shown that around the world, women face major obstacles that exacerbate gender inequality in agriculture including; access to land rights, productive resources, labour and participation in decision making.

The extent of these constraints, Minister Walrond stated, should be examined by CARICOM nations, and appropriate strategies to address them must be crafted in keeping with international standards.

In the case of Guyana, the minister said that while the country has in place the necessary framework in place including, strong land management systems and legal framework for occupational safety and health, it has much to build on in order to achieve gender parity within the agriculture sector.  

“With appropriate attention paid to gender impact and gender mainstreaming in our policy making, we can build on our institutional framework to attack at least three of the constraints that were identified in women in agriculture, namely, land rights, employment issues and decision making,” she old the participants.

Minister Walrond made reference to a number of projects including the black belly sheep initiative being pushed by the government which allows farmers to access support for sustainable agriculture production. This she said, addresses the issue of financing, which has been identified as a critical contributor to the gender gap in agriculture.

“Here again, while we pay attention to financing as a whole, we must incorporate gender mainstreaming into policy making in order to achieve the gender equity outcomes…it goes without saying that country by country we must go through this process of examining our environment, identifying the obstacles to gender equality and setting up systems to ensure that we eliminate the gap,” the minister emphasised.

She reiterated that gender equality will not be achieved by accident, it requires deliberate intervention to make it happen and therefore, CARICOM nations must consider gender impact in each of their policies and put in place initiatives to address them in order for the achievements to reflect fair outcomes for women.

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