Resilient planning and budgeting for agriculture needs to include women
Through an online event “COVID-19 - Agriculture and Rural Development” the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina presented the results of two assessments highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture and rural development, to representatives of the authorities and international partners.
On October 1, FAO presented the results of the “Economic impact assessment of COVID-19 in the agri-food sector” that highlight the COVID-19 effect on the agricultural sector in the Western Balkans including: production, costs, demand, supply, trade, etc. as well as the livelihoods of the rural population for which agriculture is still the main economic activity. Also, it has been emphasized that in the context of post-pandemic efforts towards sustainability, climate smart agriculture, agroecology, agroforestry, nature-based solutions are important approaches through which FAO can support countries to build sustainable and climate-resilient food systems. Agriculture is an engine for economic recovery after COVID-19.
UN Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina presented the results of the Country Gender Assessment on Agriculture and Rural Development in BiH, created in cooperation with FAO. This is the first ever gender analysis on agriculture, done according to FAO methodology, which aimed to analyze how gender issues intersect with agriculture, rural livelihoods, nutrition and food security and the management of natural resources. This assessment for Bosnia and Herzegovina provides perspectives about the most prominent gender gaps in the agricultural sector and concerning rural livelihoods, in order to provide recommendations for the institutions and suggest areas for future work by FAO and UN Women.
“This Country Gender Assessment is a one-of-a-kind endeavor for Europe and Central Asia region. As a potential candidate for EU accession, BiH is implementing the necessary measures and activities to meet the required EU standards in this field. One example is that, through its gender-responsive budgeting initiative, UN Women BiH focuses on the development of capacities of ministries to produce, use and monitor gender disaggregated data, conduct gender analysis, and design measures which would benefit women and adopt budgetary measures addressing equally the needs of women and men. The results of this work in agricultural sector show that, for example, the share in absorption of agriculture budget in Republika Srpska has grown for women headed households from 5,45% in 2014 to 6,5% in 2019,” said David Saunders, UN Women Representative in BiH.
“Sociocultural norms and gender roles often restrict ability of women from rural areas to participate as decision makers in the design and implementation of response and mitigation strategies. Equitable participation of women and men in decision-making is crucial to ensure that their specific priorities are considered and shape development efforts, policies and programmes. Policy responses should consider women’s key roles in agri-food systems and household food security and nutrition, as food producers, farm managers, processors, traders, wage workers and entrepreneurs,” said Vlado Pijunović, National Programme Coordinator at FAO BiH.
Some of the conclusions of this assessment reflect that agriculture is not the primary employer for either men or women. However, 20.5% of employed women do work in this sector as compared to 16% of men. Agriculture is an even more significant employer for women in Republika Srpska, where 33.9% of all employed women work in this sector, as compared to less than 10% in FBiH. Also, in rural households, women who are considered housewives frequently undertake non-paid agricultural work in addition to housework (while men seldom take on housekeeping activities). The gendered division of labor largely reflects stereotypes about the types of activities that are “acceptable” for women and men to perform. Women are less engaged in processes that are higher along value chains, such as dealing with marketing, and are concentrated at levels that involve less decision-making and control over income earned from agriculture. One more significant conclusion is that for the country as a whole, the proportion of women registered as heads of family farms increased from 10% in 2016 to around 18% at present.
The Country Gender Assessment provided recommendations for future activities in BiH related to gender, including ensuring availability of sex- and age-disaggregated data and analysis for monitoring gender-related impacts; establishing measures to reduce gender inequalities in food security and nutrition; adopting special measures to support rural women’s economic activities in the agri-food value chains; adopting programmatic and policy-oriented measures to address gender-based violence, and investing in women’s leadership and supporting their formal and informal networks.
The assessments conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina are part of the integrated support package that the United Nations is leveraging across its agencies, funds and programs. Over 30 cross-sectoral assessments aim to shape a strong, substantive programmatic response to the COVID-19 impacts in BiH, for which approx. 28 million USD has already been reprogramed, with additional 9 million USD indirectly contributing to related programs. For the United Nations in BiH, the overall focus is on how to best support and contribute to the important efforts by the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to build back better, fairer, green and inclusive with a focus on Agenda2030 and ensuring no one is left behind.