First Ever Global Conference on Women in Agriculture, New Delhi, India – March 2012 – Report By Emily Rowe

27 Apr

Global Conference on Women in Agriculture

13th – 15th March 2012

Emily Rowe

Dr Patricia Hamilton and Emily Rowe,

NASC Complex, New Delhi, India.

Bursary funded by Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula

Meyra nam Emily hai. Meyra parivar machli palan karta hai.

My name is Emily and I am from a fishing family.

I travelled to New Delhi, India to attend the first ever Global Conference on Women in Agriculture with a contingent of 9 Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA) members. AWiA had the largest contingent at the conference and also the youngest delegates.

We travelled to India 3 days early. This enabled us to sightsee in New Delhi and Old Delhi, travel to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and take part in a village tour.

The tour of the local farming community was by an organisation named the Institute of Rural Research and Development (IRRAD). IRRAD has a vision to empower and motivate rural people across India to make their lives more secure and prosperous through education, better health, improved skills and supportive governance. Their Sustainable Integrated Village Development was impressive and proved that extension to rural men and women can work in the correct format.

Sitting on the mat at the village face to face with smiling Indian women who wore most beautiful clothing was something that will remain in my memory forever. Despite India being a developing country, it was evident that women around the world are alike in farming communities; they are the support mechanism that holds the family together.

As the translator passed the conversation back and forth, the more understanding and respect we gained for the women of rural India and the work that IRRAD did, making a difference to small rural communities through their education and extension programmes.

The conference was held on our final 3 days in New Delhi. It was held at the NASC Complex, just a short bus ride from our Hotel where we stayed with the majority of the conference delegates. Each day had a full programme, each session working toward the overall goal; to ‘empower women for inclusive growth in agriculture.’

There were women and men from around the globe who took part in the sessions, enabling us to leave with clear understanding to ensure that the first Global Conference on Women in Agriculture will promote:

  1. Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture,
  2. Agricultural innovations to reduce Drudgery,
  3. Linking Women to Markets,
  4. Highlighting the role of women in Household Food and Nutrition Security,
  5. Allowing Women access to Assets and Knowledge, and
  6. Addressing Climate Change related Risks and Uncertainties.

One of the most outstanding facts learnt was that by allowing women equal access to assets, global food production could rise by 6% – that is without the added benefit to household and extended communities. At a time when food production and food security is a vital international issue, this figure was astonishing, and brought home how important empowering women in agriculture is for countries around the world.

We submitted and displayed a poster that highlighted how AWiA weaves networks throughout Australia to connect and educate rural women. There was positive feedback from the judges who were pleased with AWiA’s first ever poster session. Cathy McGowan a member of our AWiA contingent was a guest speaker in a panel session on strengthening capacity building and partnerships. She gave a presentation on the work of AWiA and a call to the audience – “Nothing about us without us, strength in numbers.”

On the final day we discussed research, education and extension and how these are necessary to enable more effective joint action. The Indian Prime minister, H.E. Phatibha Devi Singh Patil closed the conference and we headed to the Australian High Commission for a reception to discuss Australia’s connection with India.

At the conference and while travelling, I managed AWiA’s Twitter and Facebook pages to connect with AWiA members. I have since conducted several radio interviews, including ABC and local radio stations 5CC and Magic FM as well as sending media releases and have had articles printed in the Port Lincoln Times and The Stock Journal. I have written reports for Australian Women in Agriculture, Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community and will now seek guest speaking opportunities to share my experience with other young female community members. This will be done through my connection to the Port Lincoln High School Mentoring Programme, West Coast Youth and Community Services and my local Federal and State Members.

My appreciation is extended to the following:

  • Australian Women in Agriculture for accessing the funding for the bursary and for the opportunity to submit an expression of interest to travel to India,
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as well as Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula for supplying the bursary to attend the Global Conference on Women in Agriculture.

Without this bursary I would not have been able to attend.

I now have a love for and a greater understanding of the land of contrast – India.

These wonderful memories and lessons learnt I will share by connecting with other young women in my community and in particular those engaged in primary production.

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