By Oluchi Chibuzor
The President of the United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gilbert Houngbo, has said global food supply will be at risk if steps are not taken to start prioritising rural women during the pandemic.
“It is unacceptable that rural women, who play such a vital role in growing our food and building thriving economies, are at greatest risk during the pandemic,” said Houngbo on the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women.
“Our global resilience depends on governments paying greater attention to the disproportionate socio-economic impacts on rural women and stepping up their investments to protect them.”
There are approximately 1.7 billion women and girls living in rural areas, representing more than one-fifth of all humanity.
He noted that rural women make up 43 per cent of the agricultural work force in developing countries and are responsible for much of the world’s food production.
However they have less access than men to technologies, markets, financial assets and agricultural resources, making them far more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19.
According to him, restrictions on movement have limited the ability of rural producers to grow and sell their produce.
Rural women, who are often employed informally with no social protection, have faced higher job loss than men, whilst also experiencing an increase in unpaid domestic workloads including caring for sick family members and children not in school, he said.
“Rural women – the people who have the greatest responsibility for feeding and raising the next generation – have been neglected through this crisis,” Houngbo added.
“It is time to elevate the important contribution they make to their families, communities and the economies of their nations, and ensure that they are supported and protected through this unprecedented time.”
“While much progress has been made in the 25 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action which provided a framework for addressing women’s empowerment, achieving gender equality in rural areas has been challenging. Women aged 25-34 are still 25 percent more likely than men to live in extreme poverty.”
Nigeria Elected into ARSO’s Standards Management Committee
Nigeria through the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has been elected into the first-ever six-member Standards Management Committee (SMC) of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO).
In a keenly contested election involving 13 member states, Nigeria came first with 27 votes.
Other elected members states into the SMC were Kenya with 19 votes, Burkina-Faso, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.
The SMC was approved as a component of the revised procedures for harmonization of African Standards (ASHAM) by the 61st Council meeting of ARSO held in November, 2019 in Lusaka, Zambia.
It is charged with the responsibility of coordinating the management and timely execution of the procedures, due process and Standards harmonization programmes of ARSO.
SON’s Director of Standards Development, Mrs. Chinyere Egwuonwu, represents Nigeria on the SMC.
The committee would amongst others also be responsible for establishment and dissolution of Technical Committees (TCs); appointment of chairpersons of TCs; allocation or re-allocation of secretariats of TCs.
Also, in some cases, it shall oversee sub-committees (SCs) approval of titles, scopes, programmes of work of TCs; approval of the establishment and dissolution of SCs by TCs; recommending Final Draft African Standards (FDARS) proposed by TCs for approval by Council; coordination of the technical work, including assignment of responsibility for the development of standards regarding subjects of interest to several TCs etc.
The secretariat of the SMC according to the ARSO secretariat, would be held by regional Economic Communities (REC) on a rotational basis for a period of three years each.
Commenting on Nigeria’s election, SON Director General, Mallam Farouk Salim reiterated the organisation’s commitment to promote the nation’s continual relevance in regional, continental and international standardisation, especially in view of the imminent implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
This, according to Salim, would ensure that Nigeria benefits optimally from being a signatory to the agreement as well as similar international trade treaties.
Nigeria was a founding member of the continental standardisation body and has twice headed the Secretariat as Secretary General as well as held the office of ARSO President.
Picture – Representatives of ARSO Members Countries at the 25th General Assembly. Nigeria’s Mrs Chinyere Egwuonwu is 5th from left.