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Women are the key to achieving food security: CIMMYT at the G(irls) 20 Summit

G20From 28 to 30 May, Mexico City held the G(irls) 20 Summit, a meeting in which 20 outstanding youths aged 18 to 20 represented each of the G20 countries, the African Union, and the European Union. This year, the priority issues for discussion and analysis were the role of women in agriculture and gender-based violence. CIMMYT was represented by Karen García, executive director of MasAgro, who shared some of her thoughts with the delegates on the role that science and technology can play in the development of rural women’s productive capacity.

García spoke about agricultural policies to end discrimination and promote the access of women farmers to education, technology, productive inputs, extension services, and funding. She directed the delegates’ attention to FAO’s The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-2011 report, which predicts increases of between 2.5 and 4 per cent in agricultural production in developing countries that give women in rural areas access to the same opportunities and encouragement as men. The international organization also estimated that an increase of this nature would overcome hunger for between 100 to 150 million people.

For this reason, García urged the future leaders to make more space in ministries, research centers, community governance structures, extension services, markets, and schools. In her conclusion, she highlighted the career of former CIMMYT researcher Evangelina Villegas, whose contribution to the development of quality protein maize earned her the first World Food Prize awarded to a woman, in the year 2000.

Following the presentations, delegates reconvened to discuss initiatives to develop the skills and productive potential of women worldwide. Their public policy recommendations will be presented to the G20 heads of state at the end-of-June Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. The G(irls) 20 Summit was inaugurated by the First Lady of Mexico, Margarita Zavala, and the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Patricia Espinosa.