Guest Blog Post by Cindy Lim, Head Sustainable Productivity, APAC, Syngenta
SINGAPORE - Last year when I attended the Responsible Business Forum (RBF) on Sustainable Food and Agriculture in Jakarta, I was struck by the discussion panel on Empowering Women in Agriculture which Grow Asia chaired, and the seemingly daunting challenges associated with it. I knew I was not the only person to feel this way as an audience member raised the question: “As organizations working in agriculture, what can we do [sic] to change the status quo?”
Women in Agriculture Roundtable
That’s why, one year later, I was delighted to be involved in Grow Asia’s Women in Agriculture Roundtable at this year’s RBF event in March 2017, which convened over 50 stakeholders to identify clear actions and initiatives to address the issue.
Grow Asia’s ability to convene participants from organizations across various sectors to help catalyze action is an important step forward. Working together to develop specific and practical examples of gender-specific initiatives was important for participants to see the possibilities of what could be pursued collaboratively.
The discussions at the Roundtable helped deepen my understanding of issues pertaining to women in agriculture and how different organizations are taking action by developing solutions that can also have positive business outcomes. At Syngenta, we have been helping farmers to become more productive by enabling access to technology, knowledge, markets and finance. If we can help enable the same level of access to women in rural communities, it could ultimately raise millions of people out of hunger. However, the sheer complexity and nuances of gender issues can cause “action paralysis” and make it difficult to know where to begin.
Report: Transforming the Gender Gap into an Opportunity
Most importantly, I felt inspired by the creativity and the breadth of potential initiatives identified and quite simply, to gain a better understanding of the gaps and biases that women face in our own value chains. Grow Asia’s Outcome Report, “Transforming the Gender Gap into an Opportunity”, summarizes the group’s discussions and the ideas for action generated on the day.
I hope this report can galvanize many more organizations, not just those that attended the roundtable, to get involved in the initiatives that make the most business sense for them. We hope that the report will be a point of inspiration for everyone to collaborate on solutions that are beyond the moral imperative but part of a real business opportunity that leads to tangible benefits, not just for women, but for our industry as a whole.
Grow Asia would like to hear from organizations interested in contributing to women’s empowerment in agricultural value chains. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest in any of the initiatives identified in our report.