Empowering ASEAN Women in Agriculture, a roundtable celebrating the International Women’s Month

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for the agricultural sector highly impacting women stakeholders. The pandemic threatens to not only stagnate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals but has the potential to reverse the gains made in recent years, thus jeopardizing our shared promise to ‘leave no one behind’.    

This roundtable will explore the challenges and promote solutions in the agriculture sector in ASEAN, with focus on women’s economic empowerment and gender equality. 

In celebration of the International Women’s Month last March, the ASEAN Secretariat, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (United Nations ESCAP) through its sub-regional office for Southeast Asia, Grow Asia, the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA) and Oxfam organized a roundtable dialogue on Empowering ASEAN Women in Agriculture last April 7 via Zoom and Facebook Live.

The multi-stakeholder event presented an opportunity to exchange views and collaborate on agricultural development to strengthen and increase production, supporting all stakeholders, including women and men smallholder farmers and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). 

Dr Sita Sumrit of the ASEAN Secretariat started the panel with her presentation on WEE that is focused on answering the questions, “What is the status of WEE (Women’s Economic Empowerment) policies and programs in ASEAN? How do these policies address women’s empowerment in the region especially in agriculture?” followed by Mr Chayachai Saengin, Director of Foreign Affairs Division of the Ministry of Interior (SOMRDPE Thailand). Ms Erin Sweeney of Grow Asia shared how does the Responsible Investments in Agriculture or RAI address women’s empowerment in agriculture. And lastly, ISEA President, Dr Marie Lisa Dacanay how the proposed Guidelines on Transformational Partnerships and WEE in Agricultural Value Chains (GTP WEE in AVCs) address gaps in ASEAN policies on WEE in agriculture and AVCs.

Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, H.E. Kung Phoak opened the event with his inspirational remarks, while Regional Director for Asia delivered the closing remarks. The event was moderated by Ruhimat Soerakoesomah, Head of Sub-regional Office for South East Asia of UNESCAP.

The roundtable discussion was participated by government representatives from ASEAN Member States, ASEAN bodies concerned with agriculture and women, academe, farmers organizations, social enterprises, inclusive businesses and civil society promoting inclusive and sustainable agriculture and women’s economic empowerment. 

If you missed the webinar, you may check the recording in this link: https://youtu.be/13VWEOCxIow