Baku, October 12, AZERTAC
This week the global community celebrates the International Day of Rural Women (15th October) and the World Food Day (16th October).
According to the FAO Country Office in Azerbaijan, as part of global awareness campaign, a series of events are being held in the country to promote attention on the vital role that empowered female farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders need to play so that women can contribute on equal terms to establishing a sustainable agri-food systems, food security and rural/regional development.
The events are organized jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Ministry of Agriculture, Agrarian Credit and Development Agency (ACDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in close collaboration with the Azerbaijan Rural Women Association.
On 11th October, a conference “Building Rural Women’s Resilience in The Wake of COVID-19” has been held in Tovuz city, the north-west of Azerbaijan. The event brought together a diverse range of stakeholders to identify a role of women in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in particular in transforming agri-food systems as well as to learn about government’s support and international initiatives to empower women in rural places.
About 50 participants, mostly presented by beneficiaries of the two major projects – “Women’s Empowerment” of the FAO-Azerbaijan Partnership Programme (FAPP) and “Women in Associations” component of the USAID Private Sector Activity, as well as ARWA members attended the event that was held in Tovuz "ASAN Service" Center.
In his opening remarks, Assistant FAO Representative in Azerbaijan Bariz Mehdiyev said that FAO was analyzing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers and especially how it affected rural women and their economic opportunities. “It is a moment to thank all Food Heroes, everyone who produce, plant, harvest or deliver food, as well as to recognize the need to support our rural women - farmers and workers throughout the food system. Women are responsible for half of the world’s food production, one-third of women employed in Azerbaijan is engaged in agrobusiness sector. Still, more progress is needed in key areas of gender equality, including reducing the gender wage gap, increasing access to knowledge, finance, lands, etc. and promoting rural women’s participation in decision-making process. Our partnership with Azerbaijan government is aimed at strengthening gender equality and accelerating economic empowerment of women in rural places,” he added.
USAID Private Sector Activity (PSA) Head of “Women in Associations” component Shalala Kamilova said: “Our goal is to strengthen collaboration with Azerbaijani partners to support the Azerbaijani economy and enhance the business environment. Through our activities, we collaborate to develop women-focused and women-led businesses and organizations, as well as to assist promote an economic reform agenda that includes women's entrepreneurship as an essential driver of the nation’s economy. Critical pillars of our efforts include women's economic participation, with a focus on agricultural and rural economic activities, capacity building for business support services, and reducing barriers to the growth of micro, small, and medium businesses (MSMEs).”
ACDA Deputy Chairman Leyla Mammadova said: "Today, for the first time, we are celebrating the International Rural Women's Day in Azerbaijan and this day is of great importance for our country. Economic empowerment of women in all sectors of national economy, including agriculture, is one of our priorities. The main goal here is to ensure the employment of rural women in the agricultural sector and to strengthen their voice in society through increasing the participation of women in agricultural sector. We want every successful woman to be an role model to other rural women, so they are able to write own success stories in future.”
“A collective businesses model based on establishing groups of self-employed women contributes to increasing incomes of women engaged in food production, fruit and vegetable processing. In addition, women’s joint business give rural women an opportunity to socialize, as well as provide economic support their families,” Chairwoman of the Azerbaijan Rural Women's Association Gulbaniz Ganbarova said.
Round-table discussions were organized on the topic “Women in Development” to explore the effects and opportunities of development programmes and projects on strengthening rural women's engagement and leadership to ensure that rural women's voices are heard.
Women entrepreneurs engaged in agri-food sector presented their products at the fair that was organized within the event as well as had a chance to exchange their experiences with each other.
Five women’s groups from Gazakh, Aghstafa, Tovuz, Aghdam and Gadabay formed under the FAPP’s “Women Empowerment Project” have been granted laptops, printers and modems which will contribute to improve rural women’s computer literacy, access to information and digital marketing skills as well as help them to strengthen the independence of their businesses and increase their profits. Through the Women Empowerment Project FAO directly works with more than 270 women engaged in agri-food activity in 12 regions of Azerbaijan and supports rural women in getting an access to information, knowledge, finance, inputs and market.
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