Based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Emerging ag, a training seminar will be presented at UN Headquarters in New York, on 6 March, 2018, to raise awareness of the pivotal role played by agriculture as a sector and by farmers, especially women farmers, to achieve sustainable development. The upcoming 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 62) and its focus on rural women makes this initiative most timely and relevant to ongoing efforts to achieve the SDGs, and in particular Goal 2 and Goal 5, highlighting the fact that sustainable agriculture and farmers must be central to policy decisions that affect food security and nutrition.
CSW 62 will take place from 12-23 March, 2018, with the priority theme of Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. This theme speaks to the essence of Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. With the growing evidence of the feminization of agriculture it is crucial that awareness is raised and support increased for the critical role women and girls have played and continue to play in the achievement of Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere; and Goal 2-End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. CSW 62 presents an ideal opportunity for such awareness raising efforts.
Toward this end, the training module will explore the six principles that underpin sustainable agriculture and will speak to the policy imperatives that could operationalize them.
The international community and, in particular, the UN system is engaged in bringing to fruition the 2030 Agenda that was adopted in September, 2015 as the transformative blueprint for sustainable development in all countries during the 15-year period of 2016-2030. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are at the heart of the Agenda are all inextricably linked and demand the attention of all stakeholders if they are to be achieved within the set timeframe.
The SDGs place people-centred approaches at the core of the development aspirations of the UN. Accordingly, agriculture programmes are needed that are ‘farmer-centred and knowledge-based’ so that the full potential of farmers, both men and women, can be harnessed. Farmers need access to land, water, knowledge, inputs, and credit to grow a crop and they need functioning markets to sell their products. Agriculture begins with primary producers and touches every person on the planet.
In 2012, CSW 56 treated the priority theme of the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges. The Commission was not able, however, to formulate any agreed conclusions that prompted the issuance of a Chair’s Summary stating: “Rural women are recognized as, inter alia, leaders, decision-makers, producers, workers, entrepreneurs and caregivers. Their contributions to local and national economies, agriculture, including farming, pastoralism, fishing, and forestry, and household livelihoods must be fully acknowledged and appropriately valued since they are prerequisites for their empowerment as well as for inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development. Investing in rural women and girls accelerates progress toward eradicating poverty and hunger, improving health outcomes, and achieving the internationally agreed development goals….”
In light of this precedent, stakeholders are hopeful that the outcome of this year’s CSW will be a compendium of Agreed Conclusions that can be operationalized to the benefit of rural women, in particular, and to rural communities as a whole.