Woman! Run the world!

‘In farmers’ cooperatives and enterprises, women are often appointed as treasurers’, Maria Hartl from IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) said today. Being a treasurer is not about wearing a saree and bling-bling to look like a treasure. It is rather more about being accurate and collecting valuable seeds as well as genetic materials, as Nêmora Müller Reche from Syngenta pointed out.

However, women’s strength and capacities are often ignored all around the world. A woman is often discouraged by society. Nonetheless, women have the power to bear a child. They spend most of their time caring for the children, who look up to her. The future is defined by how this woman is treated by her husband or by society!

If you just think about your own male family members, do they know how to cook or can they do the household properly? Even in western countries, not everyone would say yes to this question. So, how are we going to empower women in agriculture, especially in developing countries?

Women like Malala or Rosalind Franklin are examples who show that if a woman wants to achieve something, she can achieve more than a man and even change a part of the world no matter what her current situation is. But as was the case of Rosalind Franklin, they might have to wait a long time before their work is acknowledged.

How can we change this situation? What ideas exist? How easy are they to implement if they exist? Think about it!

Mostly it depends on society, the culture and the mentality of the women themselves. These are factors that cannot be changed overnight However, as Maria Hartl highlighted during the afternoon session, cultures and societies are constantly evolving. That means that change is possible in the long term, although only step by step.

Those of us at the conference that discussed the field of women in agriculture (there were as many men as women in the group) came up with several solution approaches that doesn’t only empower the women but also contributes to increased gender equality.

One suggestion was to give scholarships in the field of agriculture or in general earmarked for women. Thus, she will attain higher level of education, become more confident and believe that she can achieve as much as a man. At the same time, men won’t feel discriminated.

Another proposal was to educate children differently by highlighting the contribution and value of women in agriculture to them. You could do this for example by establishing school gardens managed by women.  While the children help in the garden, they’ll see and learn how a woman manages a plot of land like that. Furthermore, stories about inspiring women could be told to them during classes.

Another idea was to facilitate collectives of women who can share their housekeeping duties and babysitting so that each woman would also be able to do external work.  As a group, they might be able to spend more time in rethinking their everyday life and how they can avoid food waste and other social problems of the day.

The last but far from the poorest idea, was to raise awareness of strong women in agriculture who can act as role models for other women. This is mostly done by using the tools of our today’s modern life, such as social media, but also by promoting these role models through posters and the like.  Choosing a special day that is dedicated to empowerment and equality of women, was one of concrete suggestions that came up during the discussions.

Whatever the future will bring, we are not short of ideas! If you wish to know more about these, keep following our posts and live streams on the YouTube channel IAASworld.

Blogpost by Vanathy Erambamoorty, #ICYA2017 Social Reporter vanathye@student.ethz.ch

Picture courtesy of http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Treasure-Chest-Gems-Decoration-Box-Treasure-242306

This post is part of the live coverage during the #ICYA2017 – The International Conference for Youth in Agriculture, organised by IAAS (The International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences).  

This post is written by one of our social reporters, as part of their training on social reporting, and represents the author’s views only.

The #ICYA2017 social reporting project is supported by GFAR, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research.