News, Pacific

Women in Pacific play vital agricultural role

The leading role of women in agriculture throughout the Pacific must be recognised and supported says the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.

In her keynote address at the launch of the Country Gender Assessments of Agriculture and the Rural Sectors (CGA-ARS) in Apia, Samoa Ms Mata’afa said women’s critical contributions in planting, tending, and harvesting crops and edible marine life sustained the majority of families throughout the region

Ms Mata’afa said despite their prominent role in agriculture however research also indicated that women continued to be constrained by unequal access to land; limited access to training, credit, and job opportunities compared with their male counterparts, as well as an unequal time burden with their normal household responsibilities.

Women were also disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, she said.

“From a gender perspective, the increasing global concerns and our own challenges at regional and national level for food security is becoming more urgent due to the impacts of climate change.

“One thing that we know from experience is, advancing our gender outcomes as a region and as national governments is not the job of one organisation or ministry or sector. It is the collective responsibility of all across Government and at all levels, with partnerships with the private sector and civil society organisations.

“There is clear evidence that food and nutrition security and other benefits such as poverty reduction and increased socio-economic wellbeing are within reach when we use a gender lens to make sure the whole population is engaged in the primary sector,” said Ms Mata’afa.

The Gender Assessments will be conducted in Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu and will be led by the Pacific Community – SPC, in collaboration with FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation).