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Gender on the agenda in 2015

August 13, 2015

Looking back on the year to date, CTA is privileged to be working with so many organisations that recognise the importance of gender issues in development and are demonstrating their commitment to women’s empowerment.

Written by Tarikua Woldetsadick, CTA

As we approach September and the meeting of the United Nations that will agree the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide future action, it is worth taking stock of progress to one particular goal. SDG 5 calls for gender equality and empowerment for women. Women’s empowerment is at the heart of CTA’s Gender Strategy, revised and adopted in late 2014, but having a single SDG dedicated to the topic is a reminder to everyone that we still need to make specific efforts to build gender sensitivity into all that we do. At present, for example, only 20% of development funding is expressly aimed at the needs of women, so funding is a focus of attention. Beyond funding, however, 2015 has seen some notable gains in mainstreaming gender concerns. 

In May, for example, the European Union reiterated its commitment to gender when it adopted its Conclusion on Gender Development, calling on Member States and the EU Commission to allocate “more funding to the issues of gender and development and in particular women’s empowerment”.

CTA’s regions of interest strengthened their commitments too. Heads of State from the Caribbean, at their meeting in early July, linked gender and climate change as two of the important challenges that required global support to enable developing countries to meet their development challenges. 

In the Pacific, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has been using the Beijing Platform for Action as a focus for discussion. The Platform, established at the fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, sets out 12 strategic objectives for women. The SPC took advantage of a 20-year review of the Platform to promote public discussion of the issues, with a powerful set of video interviews as one concrete outcome.

And in Africa, the African Union (AU) declared 2015 the year for African Women’s Empowerment – a significant move considering that 50–60% of Africa’s women depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. The AU Commission wants to partner with other international organisations to negotiate more funding for the needs of women.

While the African Union, the Caribbean Community and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community have made the headlines, the year has also seen a huge number of smaller initiatives that together add to the growing importance of gender.

July 2015: investing in value chains

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CTA partnered with FAO and the Secretariat of the ACP Group of States to organise a side event at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The side event highlighted the way that “creating and facilitating entry to decent jobs for women and men, including for vulnerable groups” is a profitable way to invest in the development of sustainable value chains and food systems.

Another side event on Promoting Regional Trade and Agribusiness Development, in Nadi, Fiji, was co-organised with the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) and the SPC. Notably, half of the young, social media reporters at the side event were women. Women agricultural producers from the region were represented by Women In Business Development (WIBDI), based in Samoa.

June 2015: financing climate change

In June, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) granted CTA status as an Intergovernmental Organisation (IGO) under the Convention. This new visibility as an observer will enhance the access of CTA and our partners to climate change negotiations, pushing, for example, to earmark climate-linked funds specifically for the needs of women.

May 2015: connecting young women

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The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in May 2015 saw two projects in which CTA is closely involved nominated for prizes. CTA’s youth-focused programme Agriculture, Rural Development and Youth in the Information Society (ARDYIS) took first place in the e-agriculture category. An estimated 30% of CTA’s ARDYIS beneficiaries are young women under 35 years old. And in the e-learning category, the Information Management Resource Kit (IMARK) global programme, of which CTA is a founding member, was shortlisted.

April 2015: innovating for food and nutrition security

Education and research are crucially important in efforts to improve food and nutrition security, and in April CTA drew attention to a couple of successes. A publication and CD on Agricultural Innovations for Sustainable Development: Contributions from the 3rd Africa-wide Science Competitions for Women and Young Professionals in Science featured winners of a competition on Feeding 1 Billion in Africa in a Changing World. The publication showcases the research of these young women scientists to resolve Africa’s challenges in food security and nutrition.

CTA is working on a major collaborative effort to ensure that food and nutrition security, with an emphasis on gender considerations, finds its rightful place in university-level education. This partnership resulted in the release of an innovative open-source tool – the Auditing Instrument for Food Security in Higher Education (AIFSHE) – which is being piloted in 10 ACP universities to help them undertake self assessments. A follow-up regional workshop in Fiji in June 2015 resulted in further buy-in from universities, eager to promote teaching on food and nutrition security.

March 2015: joining hands for women

Each year, 8 March sees the global celebration of International Women’s Day, which gives the month a special importance in advocacy for women. Accordingly, CTA partnered with diverse organisations to mark this special day with a mixture of reflection and celebration. Staff and colleagues shared their thoughts about what women’s empowerment means to them personally as well as about why they feel women in agriculture are particularly important.

Magdalena300February 2015: reducing the gap in gender data

CTA stays abreast of new trends and topics that are important to agriculture in ACP countries. In February, a Brussels Development Briefing at the ACP Secretariat turned its attention to the question of Data: The Next Revolution for Agriculture in ACP Countries? The briefing contrasted big data with open data and acknowledged that gender plays a role in data gathering and analysis. A presentation by Magdalena Anna Kropiwnicka, of Food and Climate Consulting, tackled open data and improved land governance in the context of the open-access website landportal.info, demonstrating how improved gender data can result in greater impact.

January 2015: putting women’s issues in the spotlight

One way that CTA promotes greater empowerment, as set out in our new gender strategy, is to provide women with the information they need to effectively advocate for policy changes and interventions.  

An important channel for this information is our magazine Spore/Esporo. In January, Spore/Esporo restructured its editorial committee to include a gender expert, and a new editorial policy now requires information specifically relevant to women in the magazine’s major content. The result is that Spore/Esporo has integrated gender issues in its information, just as CTA’s gender strategy calls for gender issues to be integrated across the entire portfolio.

Stay connected

We will continue to keep you updated about forthcoming CTA gender-sensitive activities and any gender-related news arising from the implementation of CTA programmes.


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About the author

Tarikua is CTA’s Programme Coordinator for Learning, Monitoring and Evaluation. She is an expert on gender issues and is passionate about topics ranging from agricultural and rural development to post-conflict development.