International organization representatives maintain that intensive joint cooperation efforts are needed to foster and fund integrated care systems that empower rural women
San Jose, 23 August 2023 (IICA) – Representatives of international organizations stressed the importance of cooperation actions in fostering integrated care systems targeting rural women, which would assist in closing the gender gap.
Thus, they underscored the importance of providing adequate funding for women small farmers, who routinely perform unpaid work.
These discussions were part of the IV Forum of Female Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Senior Officials of the Americas, organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and held at its Headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The meeting sought to make strategic inroads in a traditionally male dominated sphere. Thus, the forum will be invaluable in building a hemisphere agenda on agrifood systems.
The event included a panel discussion on international cooperation, with the following participants: Alejandra Mora Mora, Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women, CIM/OAS; Ana Güezmes García, Director of ECLAC’s Division for Gender Affairs; Claudia Brito, Policy Officer, Gender and Social and Institutional Systems expert at the FAO; Patricia Cossani, Specialist in Care and Social Protection at UN Women; and Priscila Zúñiga Villalobos, Manager of IICA’s Gender Equality and Youth Program.
Moreover, the panel discussion on funding featured Jyotsna Puri, Associate Vice President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); Gloriana Jiménez, Executive of Financial Institutions and Strategic Programs at the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI); Joanne Catherine Gaskell, Senior Agricultural Economist at the World Bank; Laura Margarita Fernández Lord, Head of Sustainability, Equity and Inclusion at the BBVA Microfinance Foundation; and María Teresa Villanueva, Senior Specialist in the Gender and Diversity Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Puri stressed the need to facilitate investments that enable women small farmers to boost their productivity and resilience to the impacts of climate change.
“IFAD is developing mixed funding packages with various instruments, such as loans and grants. We are also trying to collaborate with agrotechnological companies, to enable them to support women small farmers”, she explained. Puri pointed out that one of the key questions that must be posed in the agrifood sector is why there is so little financial mobilization, and she went on to explain that to a great extent, this is because rural areas are often quite small, with very few economies of scale. Moreover, smallholder farmers in rural areas are often not organized into groups.
Inequality and discrimination
“I believe that we live in the most inequitable region in the world”, said Alejandra Mora Mora. “And those of us who are working with women’s affairs on a daily basis view the care economy with the framework of the new wave of feminism. It is a disruptive approach that compels us to discuss the interrelationships and interdependence among people as opposed to the individualistic world view. Men also need to take a different look at what is happening within the family”.
Claudia Brito from FAO remarked that, “If we attempt to put a face on hunger, overweight and obesity in Latin America, it would be the face of a woman. Access to land ownership will prove essential in overcoming the discrimination that rural women still face”.
Ana Gûezmez García of ECLAC warned that women devote three times as many hours to housework and care activities as men. This phenomenon occurs across the board in all countries in the region. Women work longer hours and in rural areas that difference is much greater”.
Gûezmez García underscored the need to “overcome the sexual division of labor; recognize care as a right and to develop regulatory frameworks, but to go much further than that by viewing care policies as a transformative force. In other words, to view them as a bold, civilized, decisive move that countries can make”.
On the other hand, Priscila Zúñiga Villalobos explained that IICA’s Gender Equality and Youth Program seeks to support States in developing a new generation of public policies and programs that strengthen the gender perspective and, most importantly, give greater visibility to the role of women in agriculture.
IICA considers working towards a care economy to be a priority, while recognizing the need to direct efforts towards achieving gender equality in rural areas.
In closing, she stressed that, “The mandate of IICA’s Gender Equality and Youth Program is clear-cut and it is to strengthen the inclusion of the gender perspective and support for rural youth, so as to ensure that we achieve the substantial equality in the Americas that we so desire”.
Institutional Communication Division.