Dr Heena Gavit, MP and chairperson of the Standing Committee on Women Empowerment (centre), at a debate on women's rights in New Delhi
Women’s rights are exactly the same fundamental rights promised to every human being on earth. The right to live free of violence and discrimination; to own property; to be educated; to earn a fair and equal wage; to vote. Yet, these are some of the basic rights that women are often denied in many parts of the world even today.
Supporting the United Nations’ theme, Solidaridad Asia advocated #EachforEqual during the International Women’s Day 2020. Through a series of events, it called for action on gender equality to prevent discrimination of any form against women and restore balance in society through gender inclusivity.
Envisaging an ‘equal world’
‘An equal world is what we all should strive for’: This was the primary theme of a debate on women’s rights organized by the UNDP and supported by Solidaridad Asia in New Delhi, India, on 11 March. It was a perfect opportunity for a discussion on generation equality.
With men and women across diverse age and socio-economic backgrounds among the panellists, participants and audience, the event lived up to its theme of envisaging an 'equal world'.
Shoko Noda, resident representative of UNDP India, and R. Ramanan, mission director of Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, were among the first speakers. They shared heart-warming anecdotes celebrating the cause of women.
Only quality education can transform society towards gender inclusivity” - Argentina Matavel Piccin, UNFPA
The most urgent needs in the battle for equality
Among the other speakers, Dr Heena Gavit, MP and chairperson of the Standing Committee on Women Empowerment; Argentina Matavel Piccin, UNFPA representative, and Nishtha Satyam, deputy representative of UN Women, echoed on the need of the hour – dismantling gender stereotypes through the inclusion of both men and women in the battle for gender equality.
Argentina Matavel Piccin insisted, “Only quality education can transform society towards gender inclusivity.” She added, “A comprehensive education on sexuality is important for girls to be aware of their sexual and reproductive health.
A platform for women champions of all ages
Eight-year-old climate activist Licypriya Kangujam appealed to the audience to support making climate change a compulsory subject at school. Several women champions from less-privileged parts of society shared stories of hurdles and successes in carving out a niche for themselves. They explained how their journey towards a sustainable life as working women was strewn with social and cultural stigmas.
The event was followed by a photo exhibition on strengthening the ecosystem for female entrepreneurs through market access, presented by Solidaridad Asia. Portraits of women farmers, leaders and entrepreneurs – impacted through Solidaridad’s intervention – from across India were put up for display along with their stories.
Recognizing women's role in food and nutritional security
In Madhya Pradesh, India, Solidaridad Asia celebrated International Women’s Day through an activity-packed week. The aim was to raise awareness about gender equality in agriculture, to recognize women’s participation and rights and to promote food and nutrition security of women farmers.
Various capacity-building activities including training programmes and exposure visits, involving both men and women farmers and farmer groups, were organized. Solidaridad Asia and the Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering organized a Nutri Fair at the Institute’s premises in Bhopal on 6 March.
Women play the most important role in providing food and nutrition security at home. That's why the events aimed to address the issue of malnutrition, and increase food and nutritional security, particularly among women and children.
At the International Women's Day Nutri Fair in Bhopal
Training for women sugarcane farmers
The majority of women in sugarcane are limited to cutting and cleaning of the cane and not involved in mainstream farming. They are also paid less than men. Societal barriers restrict them from attending training programmes, limiting their growth prospects.
In Uttar Pradesh, India, Solidaridad Asia organized 16 programmes with the theme of ‘Women, agriculture and entrepreneurship: leave no one behind’. This included over 600 sugarcane farmers (mostly women) in a weeklong series of events. DCM Shriram–Sugars and the International Finance Corporation partnered with Solidaridad Asia in organizing the events. In five programmes at Shahjahanpur, the state government of Uttar Pradesh also joined hands with Solidaridad Asia.
In Maharashtra, India, female sugarcane farmers were offered residential training sessions at the Vasantdada Sugar Institute. The sessions were organized by Solidaridad Asia in collaboration with OLAM Agro, International Finance Corporation and Pepsico under the aegis of a climate-smart agriculture programme.
Over 100 women farmers were trained in sustainable, climate-smart farming techniques including:
soil fertility management using soil mapping, organic manuring and use of biofertilizers
disease and insect management
The sessions also covered the importance of linkages with markets, agri-allied activities, credit institutes and more.
Recognition of rights
In Bangladesh, Solidaridad Asia focused on connecting women entrepreneurs with market players and other stakeholders promoting women empowerment. The events, which took place in Khulna and Noakhali districts, included rallies, debates, cultural programmes and award ceremonies for selected women entrepreneurs. The events saw more than 500 members participating in various activities.
Women at the Bangladesh International Women's Day celebrations
Hope for Generation Equality
The events helped bring together and influence different players involved in the economic development of women. They also provided a platform for women entrepreneurs to be recognized and enhance their knowledge, and helped mobilize women in rural areas to take up income-generating activities.
International Women’s Day is the best time to recognize the efforts of women who otherwise remain ‘hidden’" - Neha, Solidaridad Asia
Bringing women into mainstream agriculture
“Solidaridad Asia has been working towards gender inclusivity as a theme across all its programmes,” says Neha, assistant manager for Gender at Solidaridad Asia. “International Women’s Day is the best time to recognize the efforts of women who otherwise remain ‘hidden’. Occasions like these provide an opportunity for raising concerns and awareness on different issues impacting women and thus be more committed to working on gender inclusivity.”
Solidaridad Asia is on a mission to bring about transformation in the socio-economic structure of the agriculture sector through sustainable agricultural practices. The organization inherently believes it is impossible to achieve success without bringing women into mainstream agriculture.
Keeping in mind that women play a critical role in the growth of agriculture and industry, equality will remain an ever-present theme across all programmes of Solidaridad Asia.