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The Pan-Arab Gathering on Rural Women and Food Security: Half of the agricultural workforce in Lebanon is female with no budgetary allocations to support them || Newspapers (Arabic)

09-10-2012

The Arab Organization for Agricultural Development and the Arab Women Organization organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture a conference entitled “The pan-Arab gathering on rural women and food security”.  The event which was started on Monday October 8th for two days included the presentation 22 papers from 11 Arab countries covering various women’s experiences in rural areas.  
According to the Al Safir newspaper, the discussions focused on clarifying various scenarios for promoting the participation of rural women in food security whilst noting the absence of official statistics on the number of women working in rural areas and the extent of their participation in agro-processing and in the GDP. Participants also noted that they key challenge that rural women face is the lack of awareness resulting from low educational levels as well as limited official efforts to allow rural women to access resources.  The Conference highlighted the general weakness of women organizations and CSOs in developing a vision to integrate rural women in agriculture and development.  Some mention was made of related on-going initiatives such as the “smart programme” in Lebanon which resulted in the creation of 42 cooperatives affiliated to the Ministry as well as the National Observatory of Rural Women (NOWARA) which is also under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and which seeks to develop sustainable economic development in rural areas through strengthening women’s participation.
Al Safir also noted the relatively limited level of participation in the event and the quasi absence of rural women from the conference and raised serious doubts about the various initiatives that Arab states have launched to support rural development.  The head of the food industry department in the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture also raised a key question as to why there is no official policy to promote rural women in the Arab world or to support the agricultural sector.  She went on to say that whenever such decisions are made, they normally serve narrow political and electoral interests.  For his part, the Lebanese Minister of Agriculture noted that there is no special budget allocation for rural women although there are circa 100,000 women working in the agricultural sector.
 

Source: Almustaqbal, Assafir

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