Women play a significant role in agri-food systems all over the world. Their multifaceted roles in crop production, food processing, and the preparation and distribution of food are helping sustain their families and communities. Despite their labor often being underpaid and undervalued, our research shows that women in agriculture are great innovators and are a powerful force in climate action and achieving food security.
Women farmers of Datu Saudi Ampatuan during the AGREE Workshop in Maguindanao.
Case studies under the ASEAN Green Recovery through Equity and Empowerment (AGREE) Project reveal the stories of resilience and challenges faced by women farmers in Mindanao. Recommendations from the AGREE Project’s gender and climate study emphasize the need for climate-resilient corn varieties, a green national corn policy, and heightened recognition of women's roles in climate change mitigation. With these in mind, Grow Asia and the Philippine Partnerships for Sustainable Agriculture (PPSA) launched the Women's Cohort to help advance and promote an enabling environment for women in agriculture to thrive.
“PPSA recognizes the value of uniting diverse groups of stakeholders in agriculture to create a platform for best practices and innovation, with women in agriculture at the center. With this initiative, we hope to empower women by addressing the unique challenges they are facing,” shared PPSA Programs Manager Monica Milano during the launching of the Cohort.
WOMEN LEADING THE CHANGE
Led by women leaders from the PPSA Network, Morination Agricultural Products President Sharon Jean Gonzalez-Gulmatico and Agriterra Country Representative Maria Theresa Tumbali highlighted the Cohort’s goal to ensure women farmers’ active participation in agriculture and creating new opportunities by championing women’s economic empowerment through multi-stakeholder collaboration.
Gulmatico highlighted Morination's commitment to advancing women empowerment and encouraged all stakeholders to join the movement. She shared,
“Morination recognizes the importance of moving the gender equality agenda forward and empowering women in agriculture. We call upon all stakeholders to join us in harnessing the power of women's leadership for a future where women thrive and play a pivotal role in nation-building.”
Tumbali echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the need to advocate for women in agriculture and capacitate them for inclusive gender practices. Drawing from Agriterra’s global initiatives, she encouraged everyone to join and engage the cohort,
“I encourage everyone to be a champion of this cohort because I believe that we can bring forth positive change and improve the overall well-being of our Filipino farmers and our efforts have the potential to bring a lasting impact on the lives of women farmers,” said Tumbali.
The launch also featured the inspiring story of Salvacion Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SMPC) General Manager Tarcila “Tacing” Bunayog, a corn-farmer and community leader from Bukidnon who shared her experiences and challenges. Bunayog shared how SMPC saw the opportunity in corn farming, especially for women in their cooperative who hope to be financially dependent and contribute to their family’s income. She called on relevant agencies and organizations for support,
”We look to corn farming to improve the quality of our lives. We hope to get more support especially in regulating the price of corn so we corn farmers can earn a decent income.”
SHAPING A BETTER FUTURE FOR WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE
True to the spirit of amplifying women’s empowerment, the Women’s Cohort will develop diverse projects and initiatives focusing on skills development, health, and women’s well-being. For its next steps, the Women’s Cohort will work on its roadmap outlining its strategic plans to drive sustainable advancements for gender equality in the agriculture sector, identify activities for the year, and organize a Women’s Month event that will recognize the contributions of women in agriculture.
Key stakeholders also echoed the Women’s Cohort’s mission of amplifying women’s role in agriculture by committing to making green technologies accessible, initiating and supporting capacity building initiatives for women, and encouraging a policy environment that institutionalizes women’s participation in research and development. They also pledged to support the implementation of policies, programs, and investments in women's empowerment that will ensure women have equal access to education, productive resources, and knowledge development in food and agriculture.
In her closing remarks, PPSA Country Director Angel Bautista emphasized the role of multi-stakeholder collaboration in building resilient and sustainable agri-food systems. She shared,
“Today’s discussions remind us that the path to sustainability is one that we must travel together. Whether we're concerned about climate change, resource depletion, food security, or economic development, we know that a shared vision, collective action, and mutual support are the keys to success.”
Reiterating the importance of multi-stakeholder platforms in shaping a better future for women in agriculture, Milano urges PPSA members and partners to engage with the Cohort,
“Together, let’s create an environment where women’s contributions are acknowledged, their rights are protected and women’s economic empowerment is a cornerstone for progress of our agricultural sector.”