EMPOWERMENT of women is a pre-requisite for achieving inclusive growth. The United Nations Decade for Women, 1975-1985 set in a process of learning, deliberations and negotiations for identifying and addressing gender inequalities in different facets of development and empowering women through policies and projects at various levels. But the pace of progress has been skewed across countries and sectors. Agriculture, which is an important sector for livelihood and employment of women and sustenance of many others, too suffers from many gender based inequalities in areas of access to inputs, resources, services, technology and sharing of benefits. This has cost us heavily in terms of low level of productivity, poor standard of living and welfare for vast sections of the society. Realizing the critical importance of women in agriculture, the GCARD 2010 too emphasized on making the needs of women producers central to agricultural research and rural development processes and urged all the stakeholders to work together to reshape the agriculture agenda to better meet the needs of rural women. Towards this end, the Global Conference on Women in Agriculture held on 13-15 March, 2012 at New Delhi provided the stakeholders a platform to understand the efforts made by national governments, UN agencies, research organizations and community based organizations to discuss gender issues at length and identify action points to improve the conditions of women in agriculture and suggest a way forward for global action.
The three day Conference was inaugurated by Smt. Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi as Chief Guest and Her Excellency, Smt. Margaret Alva, the Governor of Uttarakhand was the Chairperson in the Inaugural Session. Her Excellency Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, the President of India was the Chief Guest in the Valedictory Session which was chaired by Shri Sharad Pawar, Union Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries. The other components of the Conference were oral presentations, poster presentations and an Innovation Market Place. The oral presentation category, the conference had policy level discussions under Policy forum I & II, six parallel technical sessions on different theme areas and four on important areas involving experts from different countries. In the poster session, 243 posters in six different thematic areas were presented. The Innovation Market Place showcased the art, skill and knowledge of women from different parts of India and abroad in developing marketable products and good agricultural practices and demonstrated the rich cultural heritage of India.
The Conference brought out important recommendations for implementation by researchers, development practitioners and policy makers.