On June 30, 2011 Cristina Visconti Gorajski, Representative to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) for BPW International and the Ad Hoc Group Coordinator, hosted a side event “The Vital Role of Women in Agriculture and Rural Development” at the FAO Conference on “The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA)”.

The SOFA 2011 report “Women in agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development” was presented by Marcela Villarreal, Director of the FAO’s Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division, not only moved the audience, but also supported what many have thought all along: “We need more women in Agriculture”. The findings on “Women in Agriculture: Closing the gender gap for Development” demonstrated that proper access to resources and a major improvement in the policies and laws to cover the gender gap, will have a long-lasting impact on economic growth. Closing the gender gap in development will reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent which will translate into 100 to 150 million people lifted out of poverty. This hard work which aligns with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will require great collaboration among governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and agricultural sectors.

The Ad Hoc Group which included members from the IFBPW, Rotary International, Soroptimist International, Lions Clubs International, International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, International Catholic Rural Association, Federation Internationale des Femmes des Carrières  Jurisdiques, ActionAid, Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and NRM (WOCAN), International Federation for Home Economics and 16 Catholic development organizations (CIDSE) all agreed with the SOFA report. The participants shared their messages, comments, projects, developing activities and suggested possible solutions.

The message to spread was clear: closing the gender gap in development means social and economic well-being of the society not only today but, more importantly, in the future. The event also echoed the newly launched BPW International triennium theme “Empowered Women Leading Business”. “Bringing the voice of women to business” through the Women’s Empowerment Principles and effective collaboration will not only spread the message, but is sure to improve conditions in the world.

For more information please see:

www.ahgingos.org and www.fao.org/publications/sofa

Your Young BPW International Representative (2011-2014),

Anastasia Victoria Safarian

Cristina Visconti Gorajski, Marcela Villarreal, Anastasia Victoria Safarian and Annarosa Colangelo

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