USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project has hosted the first Unleashing Women Economic Potential: Women in Agribusiness Timor-Leste. The conference was held on February 18-19, 2016 and will brought together government representatives, non-governmental organisations, women entrepreneurs, farmers, community leaders and donors to identify and strengthen the ability of women to start and run agribusinesses. Women are vital for economic development. The UN estimates that if women had the same access to productive assets, agricultural output would rise by an estimated 4%. Yet women remain an under-utilised economic resource. In Timor-Leste, over 60% of women are engaged in agriculture, and bear the majority of the burden of production. In the agricultural value chain, women face similar obstacles to men. They lack market information, are unable to access affordable finance, purchase inputs, and have poor knowledge on effective growing techniques. In addition, women entrepreneurs are burdened with reproductive activities raising children and household duties, reducing the amount of time they can spend on their businesses. To empower women, an ecosystem of support needs to be developed that will provide women with tools they need to strengthen their ability to participate in commercial agricultural value chains. Creating an ecosystem of support will require a collaborative approach with donors, government institutions and civil society. The goal of the Women’s Economic Empowerment conference will be to develop an Action Plan that will be owned and implemented by all these stakeholders. The conference will be held over two-days and will include presentations by women entrepreneurs, presentation of regional best-practices, and a presentation of the recently approved government Economic Empowerment strategy. USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project is a 5-year horticulture value chain effort aimed at addressing the key challenges of rural poverty, natural resources degradation, food insecurity and under-nutrition in Timor-Leste. The Project will aim to increase incomes for about 33,000 women and men across 250 communities, improve nutritional practices and increase farmer’s ability to manage their economic assets.
Lucky us that our Intern Arquimedes Key Bernat Plewe from Southern Cross University and mana Rosita from our women group were able to join the conference and hopefully will help creating a better future for the women of Timor-Leste.