By Doris Esa
The federal government inaugurated the National Steering Committee on Gender Equality for the implementation of gender equality policy in the agricultural sector to improve food security.
Dr Ernest Umakhihe, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known in a statement issued Wednesday by Ms Juliet Okeh, senior information officer at the ministry, in Abuja.
Umakhihe, while inaugurating the committee, said the initiative would promote and ensure the adoption of gender-responsive approaches, plans and programs so that men and women have equal access and control over productive resources.
He said that the availability of the policy document was supposed to address the vulnerability of women to prejudices in the agricultural sector, integrate gender perspectives into national planning; create more jobs for women and financial empowerment.
“The ministry is committed to mainstreaming gender issues in the agricultural sector to achieve food security, eradicate poverty and hunger in Nigeria,” he said.
Umakhihe said the national gender policy in agriculture is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders at the United Nations summit in New York, United States, in September 2015, which underlined the vital role played by agriculture in sustainable development.
“In addition, it is important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)of eradicating poverty (SGG-1), eradicating hunger, achieving food security (SDG-2), ensuring healthy lives (SDG-3) and empowering All Women and Girls (SDG-5)to bridge the gender gap and improve food security.
“The agricultural sector has been repositioned as a business through value chain development and as an alternative to crude oil, therefore efforts should be directed towards the implementation of policies and programs to carrying out the initiatives and programs of this government, ”he declared.
He called on the members of the committee to fulfill the heavy responsibility assigned to them to ensure the full implementation of the 11 elective goals of this policy document to a positive outcome.
The director of special tasks at the ministry, Ms Fausat Lawal, said the policy document was a development strategy for poverty reduction and was supposed to empower smallholder farmers who were predominantly women.
“Women small-scale farmers make up about 70 to 80 percent of the agricultural workforce and they produce most of the food for home consumption,” she said.
The National Director of ActionAid, Ms Ene Obi, commended the ministry for seeing fit to inaugurate the National Steering Committee on Gender and ensure that relevant stakeholders are members of the committee.
Obi said the implementation of a gender policy had been an issue with government policies and therefore praised the ministry’s efforts to identify gender gaps in agriculture through the document.
She called for the inclusion of executives from smallholder farmers in the committee and pledged ActionAid’s continued support in implementing the policy.
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