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Incorporate gender perspective in the voluntary sustainability standards: Dr Smita Sirohi, Principal Scientist, ICAR, Former Joint Secretary (G-20), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare

Dec 20, 2023

NEW DELHI. 20 December 2023: Dr Smita Sirohi, Principal Scientist at ICAR and Former Joint Secretary (G-20), Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, stressed the incorporation of gender perspectives into voluntary sustainability standards at the FICCI Conference on Advancing the Role of Women in Agriculture Supply Chain. 

Dr Sirohi spoke on the importance of creating an enabling environment through both public and private governance mechanisms. She highlighted the role of international instruments such as the UN's guiding principles on business and human rights, and the OECD due diligence guidance for responsible business conduct in promoting gender equality in value chains. “Can we integrate these principles into voluntary sustainability standards?” Dr Sirohi proposed, emphasising their role in increasing gender participation but also bringing gender empowerment along the supply chain. 

Dr Manju Gerard, Principal Scientist, ICAR, underscored the transformative role of women in Indian agriculture, recognizing them as both key producers and emerging entrepreneurs.  Gerard drew attention to the increasing feminization of agriculture due to male migration to urban areas. She noted that women, who are involved in 80% of agricultural work, often don't receive adequate recognition or benefits from government and other sources. "This is a concern that needs urgent attention," Gerard stated, emphasising the need for better acknowledgement and support for women in agriculture. Ms Neha, Gender Lead Asia at Solidaridad, emphasised the crucial role of women in transforming agriculture, particularly in the context of a rapidly feminising sector because of increased male migration to urban centres. She noted the rising number of women in agriculture, now accounting for 63 per cent of the labour force, a significant increase from the previous 48 per cent. She highlighted the feminisation of agriculture due to increased male migration to urban areas and the subsequent challenges women face in gaining recognition and benefits. She underlined the need to redefine the concept of a farmer to include women. 

On occasion, Ms Anuja Kadian, Chair of the FICCI Taskforce on Sustainable Agriculture and Government & Industry Affairs Director, Asia Pacific at Corteva Agriscience, emphasised that to ensure long term competitiveness of Indian Agriculture, it is critical to upskill and upgrade women participation in Agriculture Workforce. For Viksit Bharat, we need women centric policy design, process and multistakeholder approach to create and sustain this momentum.


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