Thursday, March 13, 2014

IRRI celebrates inspiring women

To celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los BaƱos organized a series of activities to highlight the important role of women in all areas of human endeavor. The IRRI community and guests from neighboring areas in Laguna participated in the two-day event.

Guided by the global theme “Inspiring change,” a special seminar series featured women who have been able to bring about change in their own lives and through their chosen professions. Speakers included
Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, gender specialist  Thelma Paris, and soil scientist Sarah Beebout.

“Women are agents of economic change. Research shows that empowering women benefit society as a whole,” Senator Santiago said. “When women are educated and empowered economically, their families become healthier, their children go to school, incomes increase, and communities thrive,” she added. The senator noted that while women’s roles in the agricultural sector continue to grow, they remain economically marginalized and have less access to agricultural resources such as land.

With almost 40 years of experience in her field, renowned gender specialist Dr. Paris shared her experiences in the capacity development of women in South and Southeast Asia.  “In spite of the significance of women in agriculture, their contributions are often underreported. Women can strongly influence the development and adoption of technologies, which affect their traditional roles and responsibilities,” she explained.

Sarah Beebout, IRRI soil scientist, 10 March 2014 
A recipient of Devex’s 40 under 40 award as one of the most influential leaders in development, IRRI’s Dr. Beebout shared about her personal struggles combining the personal and professional.  She is a mother of two and a scientist. As a soil chemist, she is working on increasing the amount of zinc in rice to improve human nutrition and prevent stunting and diarrheal diseases often associated with zinc deficiency in children.

IRRI celebrated IWD on 10-11 March 2014 as part of its Gender & Diversity (G&D) Program. The Institute’s work around the world includes a focus on women—empowering them and strengthening their roles in agricultural development. In Burundi, about 400 ex-combatant women learned to produce rice that helped reintegrate them into society. Also, through the STRASA project, women farmers in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh were able to lead participatory varietal selection of rice seeds to meet their specific needs.

More photos: International Women's Day 2014 at IRRI 

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