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Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

November 2019
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Tuesday, 12 November 2019
It is often said that 'the latest technologies always reach the rural poor last'. When we consider the remarkable improvements made in new biological and information technologies in the past decades, this saying seems quite justified. Additionally today there is a 'digital divide' that adversely affects women who make up the majority of the rural poor in developing countries. Compared to men, rural women in African, the Caribbean and the Pacific regions are much less likely to access new agricultural technologies because they are generally less educated and hold less economic and political power relative to men. Women however, play a major role in agricultural production and rural livelihoods. Gender issues are therefore fundamental concerns for agriculture, food security and rural development and inevitably, the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in these areas.

In 2002, through a set of initiatives CTA ensured that gender would be taken into account in its work to make information and communication for agriculture and rural development more accessible and beneficial for ACP nations. These efforts have started to build valuable capacity within CTA, and new and important partnerships within and among the ACP regions. The 5th CTA Observatory Meeting, ‘Gender and Agriculture in the Information Society’, was a major step forward in creating a dialogue among ACP countries and with other regions of the world on the role of ICTs in helping rural women overcome the obstacles that they experience daily in their lives as farmers, entrepreneurs and agents of community and national development. These efforts are supported by a continuous work on the economic, legal and institutional environment which affects women in rural areas.
Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, today announced that a new European Institute for Gender Equality will be set up to support the EU institutions and the Member States in promoting equality between women and men and combating sex discrimination.
Hailing the decision, Mr Spidla said: "What better way to celebrate International Women's Day than to propose the creation of a specific agency dedicated to equality for women and men? Gender equality is a fundamental right under the Treaty and a priority policy of the Union. The Institute will play a vital role in providing the expertise needed to develop equality policies across the EU-25. We know that, although progress has been made, more needs to be done, for example, to tackle the gender pay gap which still stands at 15 per cent."
The Institute will be an independent centre of excellence at European level. It will gather, analyse and disseminate reliable and comparable research data and information needed by policy-makers in Brussels and in the Member States. It will have a documentation centre and a library which will be open to the public.

The Institute will stimulate research and exchanges of experience by organising meetings between policy-makers, experts and stakeholders and it will raise awareness of gender equality policies with events including conferences, campaigns and seminars. Another vital task will be to develop tools for supporting the integration of gender equality into all Community policies.

The creation of an institute for gender equality was requested by the European Council in June 2004 and has also been demanded by the European Parliament. It will start operating twelve months after the regulation establishing it has been adopted by Parliament and Council and should be up and running in 2007. It will be funded by the Commission, with a proposed budget of 52.5 million EUR for the period 2007 to 2013.
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Gender Mainstreaming in EU policies
Women in Agriculture

Without the presence and input of women, agriculture in Europe would not exist. Women make 37% of the total workforce on European farms and account for 31% of working time. One holding in five is managed by a woman. As farm managers, spouses, family members or simply employees, women are involved in all systems of production. The CAP reforms will allow rural areas to play their vital social and economic role in European society. Rural Development will allow the creation of new employment possibilities, particularly for women and young people. Our model of agriculture will preserve the family farm.

Gender equality in developing countries

Promotion of gender equality in developing countries and especially in Africa has always been very challenging. Yet, advances have been made. African women's groups have focused on legal reform, violence against women, conflict resolution, economic empowerment. In terms of capacity building and gender-awareness the European Commission has supported the establishment of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network, FEMNET in Kenya with € 200,000. This project aimed at assisting African women within organized civil society to develop means to share strategic information on development, equality and other human rights using information technologies (internet) and conventional media (print, radio and television). With respect to economic empowerment the European Commission has supported microfinance in Zimbabwe. The € 571,000 project involved a partnership with Dondolo Modonzvo Credit Scheme Trust and was targeted at helping poor women by giving them access to credit and technical assistance, including confidence building and marketing skills, that enabled them to set up viable small businesses. Capacity building included preparing them for a ‘bank culture’ by providing training (in bookkeeping, leadership skills, project planning and management), loans and other services.

Women and Information Society

DG INFSO makes continuous efforts to increase the involvement of women in the management of its programmes. In the MEDIA programme work has been carried out promoting the work of women by supporting two European film festivals with women directors. In the Media Literacy aspect of the programme a communication is being prepared including gender dimension and mainly underlying the fight against sexual, cultural and racial stereotypes. The DG also participates in the Interservice groups for Gender Mainstreaming and Women and Science. More generally, DG INFSO has recently launched a study aiming to Monitor Progress towards gender equality in the 6th Framework Programme. Two other studies have been pre-published for an ex-post evaluation of the IST priority work programmes and for a Guide of Best Practices in the ICT sector in the Member States. The conclusions and recommendations of the study will be used in the preparation of future work programmes. In addition the DG had two workshops in order to set up an Advisory Group for Even Gender Distribution in the Information Society and a supporting Working group. These groups aim to promote gender integration and greater diversity in the design and production of related technology. A gender related session was one of the IST event sessions presenting role models of successful women and aiming to encourage young girls to follow ICT careers.

Women’s voices get a boost: accessing technologies for empowerment

Developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) run the risk of cutting women off from policy-making debates. Lack of literacy and mobility in male-dominated societies already constrain women’s opportunities to be heard. At a time when it is widely recognised that promoting women’s involvement in policies is crucial for reducing poverty, resource-poor women risk being further marginalised by their lack of access to ICTs. Women’s abilities to communicate their perspectives and concerns can be strengthened if the skills and opportunities to utilise ICTs are made more accessible to them.
Women play a key role in securing food throughout Africa, yet local customs and legal institutions often discriminate against women, denying them access to land, resources, education and public services. Healthcare is also an issue, particularly HIV/AIDS. Women have to care for themselves and for sick relatives, leaving less time to find or produce food. Research shows that increasing the rights of women also increases food productivity, but the gap between men and women still exists in many countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Tuesday, 08 March 2005
“Your Europe” aims to provide information, help and overcome obstacles and to make life easier for businesses in the EU. It represents a first step towards European eGovernment services and assists - through a single entry point - businesses to find their way around.

What is 'Your Europe - Citizens'?
It provides you with detailed practical information on your rights and opportunities in the EU and its Internal Market plus advice on how to exercise these rights in practice. For example, you can learn more about living, working and studying in another EU country.

What is 'Your Europe - Business'?
It provides you with practical information on your rights and opportunities in running your business in the EU and its Internal Market. By bringing together data, information and useful links to other sources of information the "Your Europe - Business" can answer or provide advice on questions such as the following: Would you like to do business in the European Internal Market? Do you need advice on how to certify your product? Need a business partner in the EU? Want to know about bidding for public contracts? Want to extend your business activities in another EU country? Or simply want a source of reliable information about the European Internal Market?
Monday, 07 March 2005
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel called today in Prague on the new Member States to be active players and bring their added value to the development policy. During his visit to the Czech Republic, a first visit to a new EU Member State, Commissioner Michel stressed that “embracing an active cooperation policy upgrades the international profile of a country, opens new opportunities and helps to educate young generations in the respect of fundamental rights, solidarity and universalism”. Under the Monterrey Agreement of 2000, the new Member States have to reach an official development aid level of 0.33% of GNI in 2015. Commissioner Michel welcomed “the efforts and commitment of Czech authorities to increase substantially the official development aid”. He also invited Czech authorities, NGOs and civil society to submit their contributions to the ongoing consultation process for a revised declaration on development policy. During his meeting with NGO representatives, Louis Michel encouraged them to establish a platform to improve coordination, efficiency and capacity to interact with European institutions. Commissioner Michel said: “The European Commission will support your efforts. I encourage you to bring us your views and fresh ideas. We both have a lot to share and to learn from each other for a richer development agenda”.