AMNet engages MPs on Gender and Investments in Agriculture and Food Security
Golden Tulip, Aberdeen, Freetown, Tuesday 3 November 2020 Advocacy Movement Network (AMNet) with support from Food and Agriculture Organization, International Institute for Sustainable Development and Oxfam, has commenced a three-day engagement with Members of Parliament on Gender and Investments in Agriculture and Food Security at Golden Tulip in Freetown.
Over 60 MPs from five oversight committees including agriculture and forestry, lands and country planning and mines and mineral resources are attending the capacity development activity.
Addressing MPs and Civil Society Activists, *CEO of AMNet, Hawa Sally Samai* said the project was part of a larger project titled “Establishment of Parliamentary Alliances on Food Security and Nutrition” that’s being implemented at continental, regional and national levels.
“This specific project, ‘Strengthening of Parliamentary Capacities’ is managed by Women in Law and Development in Africa (WLIDAF) at the regional level, and AMNet is the Sierra Leone representative”, she added
CEO Samai continued: “We believe that the advocacy approach is sustainable due to the collective action of individuals and groups to improving the policy environment and hence a sure path to destroying the vicious cycle of inter-generational poverty and injustice”.
She emphasized that the training of MPs and other key stakeholders on the relevant themes for agricultural investment and supply chains in Sierra Leone and the one-day multi-stakeholder high-level policy dialogue on gender equality and women’s empowerment in agriculture and food security, would enable their voices to demand a gender-responsive engagement in investment in agriculture for the country.
Speaking on behalf of the United Nations’ Resident Coordinator to Sierra Leone, Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, Food and Agriculture Organization Representative, Nyabenyi Tito Tipo said the initiative builds on FAO’s long-standing work with Parliamentarians since 2009, believing in their important legislative, budgetary and policy oversight roles to address issues related to food security and nutrition for zero hunger.
She pointed out that the first Parliamentary Front Against Hunger emerged in the framework of the FAO regional initiative ‘Latin America and Caribbean without hunger’ as a political platform to thrive legislative changes to achieve food security and nutrition in the region.
“This capacity development event for Parliamentarians is taking place at a critical time. On one side, the COVID-19 outbreak showed how vulnerable are our food systems and how important it is to strengthen multi-stakeholder cooperation and action to address the multi-sectoral challenges that impact unequally women and young girls”.
Ms. Tipo maintained that at a political moment, they are in preparation of the Food System Summit that will take place in 2021 to address the constant increase of hunger aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that the food security and nutrition situation has further deteriorated in most parts of Africa since the outbreak, with very detrimental impact on women and girls, and on vulnerable households.
She noted that Parliamentarians were critical actors to achieving gender equality, given their legislative, budgetary and policy oversight roles, adding that MPs play a significant role in establishing an enabling political and legislative environment and to raise at the highest level of the political agenda the issue for gender equality.
UN Women-SL Representative, Dr. Mary Okumu said she was excited to see Members of Parliament looking at the investment opportunities within the agricultural sector with a gender lens, stressing that women’s role and contribution in the National Gross Domestic Product was very significant.
She called on MPs, especially the Budgetary Committee, to elevate budgetary allocation to reflect government’s priority of gender equality and empowerment of women as per the Medium Term National Development Plan, calling on FAO to continue investing in Agriculture.
Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Clerk of Parliament Honourable Umar Paran Tarawally, Senior Legislative Staff Finda Fraser told the gathering that taking clear and timely action is imperative to tackle the current economic situation that the country is facing, including the persisting gender inequalities that prevent Sierra Leonean women from contributing to and benefitting equally from the opportunities offered by the agro food sector.
“A recent food security analysis conducted by World Food Programme, shows deterioration in food security in Sierra Leone compared to February 2019, with a total food insecure population increasing from 34 to 47.7%. This means that almost half of the nutritional population is not consuming enough nutritious diet to live a healthy life”, Mrs. Fraser cited.
She continued by saying that evidence shows that investment in agriculture is essential in ensuring economic growth and wellbeing of the country, pointing out that enhancing private sector competitiveness in agriculture by promoting investments in commercial farming and collaborative skills is a fundamental strategy for stimulating inclusive and pro-poor economic growth in the country.
The Director of Department for Parliamentary Assistance Coordination further said Agricultural Investment conducted under various business models can have differentiated implications on the affected population, explaining that women due to existing structural gender inequalities in access to and control over key assets most notably land and decision making are generally disadvantaged in terms of access to labour and contract farming opportunities.
She stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has further undermined the livelihoods of rural and urban populations. She said for policy making to be as inclusive and efficient as possible, mapping and securing the participation of both men and women was crucial.
Finda Fraser ended by saying that the promotion of dialogue among Parliamentarians and other key relevant actors will contribute to create gender awareness and mutual understanding of what needs to be done to make agricultural investment more inclusive and gender sensitive.
Day two of the engagement will focus on gender equitable agricultural investments, Gender and land rights and promoting gender sensitive value chains. The final day will host a Policy Dialogue on ‘Parliamentary Action for Gender and Investment in Agriculture and Food Security’.
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