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Women Empowerment, Nutrition and Commercial Agriculture Conference

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Rede Feto partnered with TOMAK to hold the Women’s Economic Empowerment, Nutrition and Commercial Agriculture Conference on March 14, 15 & 16 2017 at Joao-Paul, Comoro, in Dili. It was a great success with over 160 participants from groups from all over Timor-Leste learning from each other and from leaders in the field. 

This is the beginning of an on-going partnership between Rede Teto and TOMAK.

Conference Recommendations:

  • That Rede Feto member organisations and TOMAK continue to resource women’s producer groups with a focus on information on nutrition and business skills. 
  • That initiatives are developed and resourced that integrate women’s economic empowerment, gender issues & nutrition and are resourced with accounting and business management training with continued technical support, coordination and collaboration.
  • Cooperation is reinforced and strengthened between agencies and institutions for the economic development of women in rural areas.
  • Women producers are involved in key decision making on Agriculture.
  • A National Nutrition Plan developed and promoted,
  • The Presidential Nutrition Awards be continued.

Conference objectives: To

  1. Share the experiences and new analysis coming in from nutrition and market development initiatives over the last year with women’s organisations and groups.
  2. Explore approaches that are working to both create changes in nutrition and women‘s access to markets, while also challenging gender inequality.
  3. Increase the mobilisation of women’s organisations, groups and leaders within this sector for change. Strengthen networks and collaboration between SEM, Women’s organisations, sector actors and local women agriculture and nutrition groups.
  4. Explore common advocacy, policy and support initiatives required for women organisations and groups to be able to more confidently engage as leaders and decision making in this sectors at all levels.

Background

 Women’s organisations and groups are involved in all levels of agricultural production, processing and marketing. Their members’ contributions are equal to and in many aspects, exceed the workload of men. As individual women, they carry the extra workload of house hold food preparation, nutrition and the care of young children. Their individual contribution is impressive but their collective contribution in these sectors is powerful.

In 2016 TOMAK undertook key Gender, Market and Nutrition analysis process. Amongst many findings, the analysis particularly highlighted the enormous contribution of women’s organisations, groups and leaders in supporting both male and female farmers in Timor Leste. A finding also collaborated by the Presidents Nutrition’s Award and SEM, who support and see the contribution and potential of women groups and women leaders in promoting food security, nutrition, agriculture and market development across the country on a daily basis.  

The engagement of women’s organisation and groups in these sectors have evolved over time and are responding to the direct needs and priorities of rural women and families. In many cases, these organisations operate in isolation from current market information or linkages with agriculture and market support services. Correspondingly, mainstream market actors and agricultural service providers are often unaware of the contribution, depth and breadth of the work undertaken by women’s organisations and groups in these sectors.

This Conference provided the space and opportunity for women’s organisation and key women’s groups involved in food security, nutrition, agriculture and market development to come together to increase their knowledge, collaboration, action and networks. In so doing increasing the visibility of their contribution and their potential as key actors and decision makers in these sectors going forward.

Key Organisers- Rede Feto as the National Women’s Network and a member of the President’s Nutrition Award (PNA) Panel and the KONSSANTIL Secretariat were the organisers and host of the conference. SEM and KONSSANTIL were the Government sponsors. Technical support was provided by TOMAK and the PNA Secretariat/Nutrition sector leads from the Australian Aid Program. Financial support was provided by TOMAK.

 

Opening speech: Rede Feto, SEM, MAF, KONSSANTIL

Participants: SEM reps, Women producer groups, REDE FETO member organisations, Other Women’s organisations, Presidents Nutrition Awards Women Groups representatives plus Reps from Government departments, development agencies & NGOs who are active on women’s empowerment & nutrition and or women’s empowerment & the market system.

Workshop activities:

  1. Presentation of technical analysis and or models of change with promise-good balance of technical information and what works well in challenging social norms in gender relations in this sector.

Topic 1: Organising and advocacy-Supporting women farmers and producers

  • SEM - Presented information on their recent evaluation of groups
  • Rede Feto and Rede Feto member APSC-TL 
  • UNWOMEN- Policy initiatives with in these sectors to promote gender equality

Topic 2: Agriculture, Nutrition and Market information - New analysis

  • TOMAK – information coming out of analysis period on market system with gender perspective
  • Ministry of Health & MDF - Nutrition analysis and feedback on Nutrition sensitive approaches

Topic 3: Raising public awareness and support for improved nutrition, food security and markets and women roles with thin these areas

  • The Presidents Nutrition Awards- reflection on who this approach is raising awareness on nutrition in rural areas and women’s role within in it.
  • Alola Foundation
  • IADE-Presentation on the Business innovation awards

Market place session: There were 16 market stalls of participating organisations and some non-participant organisations. Sessions encourages people to walk around through the market place talking to stall holders and sharing information on projects or organisations. 

Break out groups on specific topics (may bring in guest speakers):

  1. Mobilising women in the market system TOMAK & MDF.
  2. Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture new approaches and success & relevance to Timor context-Mercy Corps, WVI and PNA representatives.
  3. Vision for increasing Women’s coordination and leadership in the nutrition and agriculture sector – HAFOTI (Rede Feto member) & HASATIL
  4. Integrating violence against women awareness into approaches to agriculture, nutrition, market systems and women’s economic empowerment - FOKUPERS, SEM & TAF

 Group planning with participants: Planning around common support and action areas such as advocacy & capacity building requirements

Media and communications: TVTL - 2 sessions televised plus FaceBook updates and 

Post workshop field visits - over 60 participants traveled together to make site visits to HASATIL, HAFOTI & K'MANEK supermarket