Press Release
March 7, 2012

Legarda Echoes Call for Empowerment of Rural Women
to Abate Hunger and Poverty

As the world celebrates International Women's Day on March 8, Senator Loren Legarda today expressed support over the call for empowerment of rural women to end hunger and poverty.

Legarda said that rural women are key players in securing food sufficiency and in countryside development, however, their vulnerability to climate change hinders them to fully contribute to these endeavors.

"It is reported that in developing countries, 43% of agricultural workers are women, and if they are given access to productive resources, this will result to a 20 to 30% increase in their farm yield; a national agricultural output that is 2.5 to 4% higher; and, a 17% decline in the number of people who experience hunger worldwide," she pointed out.

"Rural women are the main, and the more prodigious, producers of staple crops, at the same time, they bear the brunt of climate change's savagery. Any extreme weather event that affects agricultural production - whether it is a drought or rampaging floods - gravely affects the women tillers of the land," the Senator stressed.

Legarda noted that some women's organizations have been silently but effectively working on programs on sustainable and climate-resilient farming and fishing.

The Amihan, an organization of Filipino peasant women in Montalban, Rizal, has been practicing a farming procedure that can adapt to the prolonged rainy season--they plant fruit trees and vegetables on the borders that separate the rice paddies.

Meanwhile, a group of women fisherfolk, the Ladies in Unity with Men Onward to Development, employed a strategy to ensure continued availability of fish stock in a 19-hectare fish sanctuary in Mahaba Island, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. Every night, two families were assigned to guard the fish sanctuary. They also reforested a total of 136 hectares of mangrove areas to protect their settlements from storm surges and secure an additional source of food for their families.

"Women are powerful agents of change in the overall climate change adaptation efforts. We know this and we have a track record to prove this. We must invest in rural women, provide them equal access to resources, craft programs that are responsive to their needs and make them part in decision-making as they are significant contributors to sustainable development, and their role in countryside development is a critical aspect in building community resilience to disasters," Legarda concluded.

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