Press release…

The three-year project, “Leaving No One Behind: Greater Involvement and Empowerment of Rural Women in Türkiye and Central Asia”, aims to improve the socio-economic status of rural women by supporting inclusive agricultural and forestry policies and programmes in Türkiye, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan…

22 August 2022, Ankara – The first regional workshop for the project “Leaving No One Behind: Greater Involvement and Empowerment of Rural Women in Türkiye and Central Asia”, was held on 3 August in Ankara, within the framework of the FAO–Türkiye Partnership Programme on Food and Agriculture. The project will work towards eliminating gender-based discrimination and exclusion in rural areas of Türkiye, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan by providing learning and income-generation opportunities and promoting inclusion. In Türkiye, the project will support the establishment of pilots in at least three provinces, while in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the focus will be on building knowledge and strengthening the capacities of decision-makers to formulate and implement policies and projects based on evidence and sound gender analysis. The project will bring together beneficiaries from all three countries to share best practices and lessons learned about socially inclusive agri-food systems and women’s empowerment in rural areas.

The inception workshop was the first step in this process. Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Türkiye and ministries of agriculture of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, FAO, experts, development practitioners, civil society members and other stakeholders met to discuss the project’s concept, approach and planned activities, reach a consensus and commence implementation.

Evidence generated by FAO across the globe points to a strong correlation between gender inequalities, poverty and poor performance in agricultural sectors. Improving gender equality by expanding economic opportunities for women has multiple positive impacts for women, men, and their families and communities. Emphasizing the systemic barriers that women, and especially rural women, face in access to resources, education and employment opportunities, Viorel Gutu, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Central Asia and FAO Representative in Türkiye, affirmed that FAO is “committed to supporting rural women’s access to knowledge and skills”, and notied that “we also provide policy advice to institutions involved in formulating and implementing agriculture and rural development policies to help them be more responsive to the needs of the disadvantaged groups.”

Viorel Gutu

Nimet Kaleli, Head of the Extension and Publication Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and National Project Coordinator, explained that women in Türkiye and worldwide lead agricultural production while providing for their families and communities, and that women’s empowerment will therefore play a crucial role in poverty reduction. Kaleli also added that “Women across the globe have proven that, whenever the right opportunity, necessary means and support are given, they are capable of taking the lead in socio-economic development processes for their communities.” Nimet Kaleli emphasized that the project aims to develop an important model for eliminating gender-based discrimination and exclusion. She explained: “In three pilot districts in Türkiye, we aim to empower rural women who produce, process, join forces through local organizations such as women’s cooperatives, and market their branded production through local value chains. In this sense, our partnership with FAO represents a unique opportunity for countries worldwide who intend to create an inclusive agricultural eco-system where women drive and lead the change in sustainable development.”

Nimet Kaleli

Participants from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan joined the workshop online. Jabbor Nosirzoda, Deputy Minister for Agriculture of the Republic of Tajikistan, underlined the importance of the project for Tajikistan where around 60 percent of workers in the food and agriculture sector are women. “However, the important role that women play remains to be recognized and women face systemic barriers, discrimination and exclusion, when compared to men”, he added. The Deputy Minister for Agriculture also expressed his confidence that overcoming rural women’s exclusion in rural areas, while providing them with equal opportunities to improve their livelihoods, will contribute to overall food security.

The Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan was represented by Nabira Djumaeva, Deputy Head of the Department of the National Centre for Knowledge and Innovation in Agriculture. Djumaeva expressed her appreciation for FAO’s leading role and expertise in promoting gender equality in rural communities and was confident that providing equal economic opportunities to rural women will also help the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Inception Workshop also provided an opportunity for the FAO project team to meet with the representatives of provincial directorates to discuss first steps for practical implementation of the initiative.

About the “Leaving No One Behind: Greater Involvement and Empowerment of Rural Women in Türkiye and Central Asia” project

The project is funded by the Government of Türkiye. The overall objective is to provide policy support, capacity development and knowledge generation in order to accelerate gender equality and rural women’s economic empowerment, reduce rural poverty, and empower rural communities and organizations to access productive resources, services and markets.

The project will focus on the capacity development of key stakeholders to help them better understand the concepts of gender mainstreaming. It will address rural women directly by selecting value chains in the pilot areas of Türkiye, and bring together ministries of agriculture by providing a regional space to share policy solutions, best practices and challenges related to implementing agriculture and rural development policies and programmes that are gender responsive and meet the needs of disadvantaged groups among the rural population.

Furthermore, the project aims to improve rural women’s access to economic opportunities, and thus, improve their livelihoods as well as the livelihoods of their families.

About the FAOTürkiye Partnership Programmes

The objectives of the FAO–Türkiye Partnership Programmes are to provide support to ensure food security, rural poverty reduction and sustainable forest management; combat desertification; and to preserve ecosystems in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and other countries of mutual interest.

Established in 2007, the first phase of the FAO Türkiye Partnership Programme on Food and Agriculture has benefited from trust fund contributions totalling USD 10 million, financed by the Government of Türkiye and represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. During the first phase of the programme, 28 projects were implemented in 16 countries between 2009 and 2015.

In 2014, Türkiye and FAO commenced the second phase of the FTPP along with the first phase of the FAO–Türkiye Forestry Partnership Programme, with additional funding of USD 20 million, bringing Türkiye’s total contribution to USD 30 million.

About İsmail Uğural

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