Representatives from the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME), ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), Senior Official Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (SOM-AMAF) and ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network gathered to discuss a holistic, cross-sectoral, national and regional strategy framework to empower ASEAN female farmers and unlock their entrepreneurship potential in the agriculture sector.

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At this online event, ACCMSME launched a background report on Strengthening Women’s Entrepreneurship in Agriculture in ASEAN Countries, with technical assistance from the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and inputs from ACW and SOM-AMAF.

The report discusses factors hampering the economic prospects of women in the sector, which are magnified by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and proposes a multi-façade policy framework to address them.

It highlights agriculture as an important source of employment for ASEAN women. On average, 26.7 percent of all working women in ASEAN are employed within the sector.

In her opening remarks, Dato’ Suriani Dato’ Ahmad, Chair of ACCMSME and Secretary-General of the Malaysian Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives, shared that empowering women entrepreneurs has always been a component of the MSME development agenda in ASEAN. She also stressed that close cross-sectoral collaboration is needed to achieve this objective.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Mojadeddi, First Secretary of the Mission of Canada to ASEAN, stressed that understanding the economic and social potential of women in agriculture helps contribute to ASEAN recovery.

On his part, Alexander Bohmer, head of the OECD South and Southeast Asia Division, affirmed the importance of the agriculture sector in ASEAN and shared the outcomes of several OECD reports highlighting the need to increase the productivity and value-added of the sector.

The outcomes of the Policy Dialogue are expected to be integrated into a set of high-level policy guidelines for governments and policymakers, so as to strengthen women farmers and entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector.

The dialogue is an initiative under the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016-2025, organized in collaboration with the OECD and supported by the Canadian government through the Canada-OECD Project for ASEAN SMEs.

Source: VNA