Global Conference on Women in Agriculture: New Delhi March, 2012
Report on trip to India, Jan 15 - 27 2010.
Alana Johnson, past president of the Foundation for Australian Agricultural Women (FAAW) and graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) together with Cathy McGowan AO, past president of Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA) and graduate of the ARLF traveled to India from Jan 15 - 27, 2010.
BACKGROUND: The primary purpose of the trip was to research the status of the next International Conference of Women in Agriculture. The inaugural conference sponsored by AWiA took place in Melbourne in 1994. USA/ Washington in 1998 and Spain 2003 followed this. At the 4th conference in Durban South Africa in 2008* the Indian delegation offered to host the next conference. During the trip to India Alana and Cathy made connections with peak Indian NGOs, senior government staff and the Australian High Commission. See list below.
The ARLF also has a strong connection with India. For the past three years, India has provided the overseas component of the Leadership program. With the assistance of the Indian and Australian High Commissions and Austrade, the ARLF has developed strong relationships within rural development, trade and science in India. As a participant in the 2008 ARLP study tour, Alana was able to use these networks and make relevant connections to enable this recent trip to be successful.
RESULTS: All the people spoken to were interested and gave in principle support for India to host the next international conference of women in agriculture. However it was agreed that if the conference was to take place in India, there would need to be strong government support.
Since there has been a change of minister following the invitation which had been given to the conference in Durban South Africa (Ms Renuka Chowdhryi) in 2007 the NGO's agreed that a formal letter would need to be sent to the relevant Ministers; Smt Krishnan Tirath Minister for Women and Child Development and Ms Agatha Sangma Minister of State for Rural Development. Indian NGOs made an undertaking to continue discussions within their organisations, to raise this issue with their colleagues and to convene a general meeting of interested organisation in May to discuss the idea in more details. Alana and Cathy have been invited to attend this meeting.
The Australian High Commissioner Mr Peter Varghese and the Australian Counsellor for Agriculture Mr Ian Mortimer offered their support for the Conference and assistance in building relationships between Australia, the India government and agricultural sector by facilitating meetings both before and during the conference.
1. A formal letter (hopefully from the Minister of Agriculture Mr Tony Burke and Minister for the Status Women Ms Tanya Plibersek) to relevant Ministers in the Indian Government, outlining the commitment made in South Africa and expressing Australia's interest,
2. Thank-you letters to all Indian NGOs and accepting invitation to return for the general meeting in May.
3. Report to AWiA and ARLP
4. Request to DAFF to take a lead role in facilitating a 'national' coordinated approach to the proposed conference.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Significant "in kind" assistance was provide by the Australian High Commission in India and letters of support were provide by the President of AWiA and CEO of the ARLF. Alana and Cathy met all their own costs.
*A copy of a report on the South African conference can be found at http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/206704/4th-world-congress-rural-women-report.pdf
CONTACTS: Alana and Cathy held meetings with the following people :
Australian High Commission
Peter Varghese High Commissioner
Mr Ian Mortimer Counsellor (Agriculture)
Dr Srivalli Krishnan Senior Research Officer (Agriculture)
Tel 91 11 4149 4354
Tel 91 11 4149 4463
Confederation of Indian Industry
Ms Indrani Ker - Senior Director and Head of Development Initiatives
Tel 91 124 401 4059
Ms Gitanjali Prasad - Consultant Gender and Women in Agriculture
Tel 91 124 401 4538
National Federation of Indian Women
Annie Raja - Secretary
, Mobile: 9811 553 633, Office: 011-2331 9541
Aga Khan Foundation
Dr Somnath Bandyopadhyay, Senior Program Manager
Suneel Padale, Program Manager Rural Development
www.akdn.org/India Tel 91 11 2378 2174
Ms Ujala Bedi, CEO Rural Development,
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Phone : 91-11-26535422 / 26532561 / 26561868