A THREE-DAY training aimed at addressing some of the gender challenges women face in the agriculture and rural sector was held from 27-29 July 2021 at the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara.
Focused on gender equality, analysis and mainstreaming, the training provided an opportunity for 12 females and 18 males Solomon Islands Government staff from the ministries of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs (MWYCFA), Public Service (MPS) and Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) to learn more about gender mainstreaming and strengthen their capacities on how to apply a gender perspective when working on policy, planning, programming and budgeting processes within their sectors.
In a joint statement issued by FAO-EU /FIRST, SPC, MPS, MWYCFA and MAL, it said gender mainstreaming is a priority of the Solomon Islands Government especially in the areas of agriculture and food systems where women perform many important but sometimes not-so-visible functions on production, processing and marketing of agricultural products, as well as other connected roles such as the management of natural resources or those related to food and nutrition security.
“Acknowledging the complexity of the food system and the need to address its different elements from a multi-sectoral perspective, the training followed a collaborative approach that explored synergies and shared understanding of the different issues among participants to generate coordinated solutions.
“The workshop was conducted in partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and European Union’s (EU) ‘Food and Nutrition Security Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation (FIRST) Programme’, the Pacific Community (SPC) together with the Institute of Public Administration Management (IPAM) of the Ministry of Public Service and MWYCFA.
“It was designed with a practical approach that will allow the participants to identify new ways of performing their current duties in a way that acknowledges some challenges that women face in agriculture and the food system, and addresses current gender gaps through women empowerment and the provision of equitable opportunities for all.
“The gender training modules used in this training were developed by SPC, for IPAM as the training arm of government, and complemented by specific chapters on agriculture and the rural sector designed by FAO-EU/ FIRST.
“To provide the participants with appropriate and relevant examples, the training modules built on the findings and recommendations of the FAO/SPC ‘Country Gender Assessment of Agriculture and the Rural Sector in Solomon Islands’ published in 2019,” the statement said.
Speaking during the opening part of the workshop the PS for Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Dr Cedric Alepedava, during his key note address implies at how important gender equality is for Solomon Islands Government staff and was quoted as saying, “Because we have issues of growing inequalities and high incidence of violence against Women and Girls in Solomon Islands, the government is very supportive of such a gender training workshop as this one.”
He also said that “Gender equality is not a women’s issue only but should also concern and fully engaged men, women boys and girls”.
Three SIG staff participants, Rieka Kwalai from Fisheries, McDonnell Hiva and Frank Odona from Agriculture also expressed their appreciation of the workshop.
“We appreciate attending this gender mainstreaming training workshop because it has given us new insights on how to identify vulnerable gender groups, knowledge and understanding of what gender equality, gender analysis and other gender terms mean and how they can be applied at work,” they say.
“It is envisaged that at the completion of the training, staff will have received improved knowledge, skills and competencies that will enable them to address gender mainstreaming, gender awareness and gender equality issues among farmers and the public in Solomon Islands, and will begin implementing the recommendations from the agriculture gender assessment.
“The training is an integral part of the FAO-EU FIRST Programme and Progressing Gender Equality in the Pacific (PGEP II) project implemented by SPC,” the statement said.
Speaking during the closing ceremony before issuing certificates to the participants Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) Ethel Frances congratulated everyone for a very successful workshop and quoted from the Bible, “Genesis chapter 1: as the basis of the gender equality, it is written that since men and women were created from each other they should support and help each other as that’s what God requires from them”.
The Director of the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Vaela Ngai in her closing remarks stated the implication for the productive sector in gender, is quite critical and important – especially the need to be gender sensitized, to ensure that all our recovery efforts do not overlook the most vulnerable groups in our societies – the women, girls, elderly, and people with disabilities.
The training was conducted both virtually and face-to-face with support from the MWYCFA, FAO and SPC technical officers.