FAO Ghana organises parliamentary forum on gender equality, agriculture investments

– The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has organised a two-day policy dialogue focused on promoting gender equality and investments in agriculture to support sustainable food systems to address the zero hunger challenge.

The issue of ‘zero hunger’ entails ensuring that there are no children less than two years old who are malnourished, that all people have year-round access to an acceptable amount of food, that all food systems are sustainable, and that there is a 100 per cent improvement in the productivity and income of smallholder farmers.

Parliamentarians, particularly agriculture committee members, government officials, women’s networks, and civil society groups, discussed the importance of tackling gender inequality and women’s empowerment in food system transformation to achieve zero hunger.?

In a speech read on behalf of Mr Charles Abani, United Nations Resident Coordinator, he commended the FAO for providing an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss ways of achieving inclusive economic transformation, equitable services, and durable peace.

He highlighted the importance of the agri-food sector, emphasising that ‘if we are to see the transformation of Ghana’s economy into a self-reliant one, value chains in agriculture must be transformed and made more inclusive.’

Despite progress in some sectors with regard to food systems and investments in agriculture, he noted that gender inequalities underpin persistent food and nutrition insecurity and require greater policy attention.?

‘Gender equality can make a substantial contribution to a country’s economic growth and is an important determinant of food security,’ he said.

In Ghana, women form an estimated 52 per cent of the agricultural workforce and grow 70 per cent of food crops, and this disparity could be addressed by specific legislation and programmes.

Thus, Mr Abani said legislators were essential to Ghana’s food transformation strategy because of their legislative, budgetary, oversight, and governance functions and stressed the need for engaging them.?

‘We need to engage with and strengthen the capacities of parliamentarians so that they can advocate for and adopt laws, policies, and budgets that meet women’s needs and priorities in agri-food systems.’

He said they could transform systems that uphold discriminatory societal norms, practises, beliefs, and exclusionary laws, policies, processes, and services.

Mr Yurdi Yasmi, FAO Representative in Ghana, also addressed the conference, emphasising lawmakers’ responsibility in creating?an enabling environment for?women and men to benefit from agricultural and food system economic prospects.

He said 828 million people go to bed hungry every night and the world is not on pace to eliminate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition by 2030.

In Ghana’s agricultural sector, 62.6 per cent of women are working, but just eight per cent own land, compared to 15 per cent of males, and 43.3 per cent of women are food insecure, compared to 39.4 per cent of men.

Additionally, the gender gap in financial access is eight per cent, and women spend 3.68 times more time on unpaid domestic and care work. Besides, women in Ghana work 9.7 hours per day, compared to 8.4 per cent of their male counterparts.?

‘We need to address this gap,’ Mr Yasmi stated, and he pointed out that a healthy agri-food system

should guarantee the success of sustainable businesses and livelihoods while also ensuring a steady supply of food that is sufficient, safe, accessible, and nutritious for all.?

‘Ghana will need to reduce its reliance on imports and produce food domestically,’ he added, ‘and to do so, the role of women will be crucial.’?

In a speech read on behalf of Ms Lariba Abudu, Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, emphasised that the forum would help to educate the public about the need for gender equality and empowerment and involve women, children, and the most marginalised groups in decision-making processes.?

She said despite Ghana gender policy’s (2015) widespread adoption, gender disparities continued, especially for rural women, who account for the majority of the agricultural workforce.?

She noted several examples of gender discrimination, including rural women’s inability to exercise their rights to food, good jobs, and land due to their disadvantageous social status and society’s gender norms.

She stated that Ghanaian women farmers face several barriers to accessing information, extension services, and training due to male-dominated communication channels.

Despite gender awareness and sensitization efforts, Ms Abudu said more work was needed to dispel gender mainstreaming misunderstandings.?

She urged legislators to ‘grow gender equality’ in their work on legislation, budgeting, oversight, and community leadership towards the eradication of gender inequality in agrifood systems to reduce rural poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.

Source: Ghana News Agency