16 December 2016

Mauritius President: role of rural women is key in climate change-threatened island states

The President of Mauritius, Ameena Gurib-Fakim, today met FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in talks that focused on the crucial role played by rural women in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Citing her own country as an example, President Gurib-Fakim said climate change is increasingly putting food security and nutrition at risk and women represent the “key means to improve and secure livelihoods.”

The President met Graziano da Silva at the sidelines of a high-level event on rural women co-organized by FAO, the European Commission and the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Women.

At the event, Graziano da Silva noted that achieving gender equality and empowering women is not only the right thing to do but is a critical ingredient in the fight against extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

Women, the backbone of work in agriculture

About 80 percent of the food consumed in developing countries comes from family farming, a crucial sector in which almost 45 percent of the labor force is formed by women. The figure rises to 60 percent in parts of Africa and Asia.

Noting how droughts, floods, and other extreme climate events related to El Niño and La Niña have particularly hit SIDS countries, President Gurib-Fakim said that the knowledge and experience gathered by FAO through the years is needed to assist  rural communities, especially women, to address the challenges.

FAO’s expertise in  water harvesting systems and technologies to improve seeds and farming systems, is particularly valuable she said. The President and FAO’s Director-General also discussed the importance of technologies to give women access to information through mobile phones.

Achieving resilient food systems

Graziano da Silva noted how FAO supports SIDS countries to achieve food systems that can cope with shocks and can adapt in the face of new and emerging challenges. This includes those related to nutrition security, social protection, sustainable natural resource management, disaster risk management, resilience, climate change and agricultural trade and investment.

With FAO’s support and following the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Samoa Pathway - an action plan to address food and security challenges facing the SIDS- countries are developing a Global Action Plan for Food Security and Nutrition.  

In this context, Graziano da Silva praised President Gurib-Fakim’s efforts in championing research, science and innovation in Africa with a focus on women. 

Watch President Ameena Gurib-Fakim's remarks:

President speech on the occasion of the High-level Event “Step It Up Together with Rural Women to end Hunger and Poverty” organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

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