Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer for Global Women’s Issues today underscored that unleashing women’s potential by closing that gender gap in the agricultural sector is a win-win strategy.
At the Afghan Women Conference in Netherlands, Ms. Rice said one of the key sectors for women’s economic participation is agriculture.
“According to USAID, agriculture represents one third of Afghanistan’s economy and 75 percent of its population is engaged in farming – and that includes between 30 -60 percent of women, depending on the region they are from and what the season is.” -Ms. Rice
She said Afghan women are playing an extremely important role in all dimensions of agricultural production. She cited that Afghan women are increasingly their role is growing in livestock production and processing of dairy products.
“And today increasing numbers of women are being trained in veterinary fields as more and more Afghans own their own livestock. The United States development and agriculture programs have focused on improving food security, increasing agricultural productivity and rural employment and to improve family incomes and well being.” -Ms. Rice
She noted that FAO study shows that when women are provided with equal resources they can produce yields equal to those of men, if not greater. She said Because there is a gender gap in access to resources in everything from seeds and fertilizer to training, the opportunity to improve overall productivity has been limited.
“We also know from the World Economic Forum’s Annual Gender Gap Report that in the countries that are closer to closing the gap between men and women on 4 metrics, including economic empowerment, those countries are far more economically competitive and prosperous.” -Ms. Rice
Ms. Rice stressed that there’s a need to do better in world’s collective efforts to focus on women in the agricultural sector, as well as to ensure that they are getting a greater percentage of resources than they are currently.
“Afghan women’s contributions are critical, whether in the peace process or advancing economic opportunity and greater productivity in the agricultural sector. They are leading the way. And with our support, they can go that much farther and do that much better.” -Ms. Rice