WHO’s Listening? – Youth. Women. Empowerment.

Women and youth can talk amongst themselves about the need for empowerment, but leaders need to take an active part in the conversation, too. Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT)

It’s EVERYWHERE! At the GCARD2 success stories, inspiration and motivation are all plentiful for the young Social Reporters. Several youth, present at the event can relate and share experiences, particularly in the discussions on: Individual Learning and Empowerment of Women and Youth, of the Enhancing Capacities thematic area.

Most invigorating was Ms. Courtney Paisley, Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) coordinator who effectively presented the outcomes of the YPARD pre-conference meeting . She emulated the voice of professional agri-youth, highlighting our needs and the passion that we all share for sector and its various aspects.

BUT, this was only the first half of the session. The second half, well…

Although the discussions were fruitful, I noticed something. See the picture: do you notice it too?


Although the panel of experts is perfectly represented, the audience is clearly unbalanced. The situation earlier was not the case. Now do not mistake me. I am all in support for youth and women learning from each other by simple dialogue.

However where are the policy makers, the industry heads, and other stakeholders? I’m looking for the people who are in charge. If the GCARD2 gives the opportunity for youth and women to speak and give input on agriculture research development (ARD) and actions, then who (apart from the participants) is there to listen?! Those in authority some of which were present at one point are not there for the long haul of the session or they were not there to begin with.

In fact the youth and gender session which at time was being live webcast, led to a tough comment from the wider audience observing the GCARD 2 proceedings.  The comment read: “Here we are taking of youth, gender and empowerment and yet one of the major agricultural institutions that are supporting the conference are heavily unbalanced in executive leadership with only one female head. Furthermore they are absent from the current discussion. This situation lends to the saying ‘male, pale and stale’ ”

Such live comments led to a flurry of discussion over the GCARD2 Social Media channels. In a positive light, such increased discussion – even though it is remote – can still have huge impacts as we share strategies and learn from one another.

With regard to the need for institutional attention to make the empowerment of women and youth in ARD a reality…I’m not sure. What do you think? In my experience as a youth and leader in Agribusiness at my University, we youth can group together and do it ourselves. Although organisations such as YPARD are making the effort, greater work is needed.

Blogpost by Keron Bascombe, one of the GCARD2 social reporters.

2 thoughts on “WHO’s Listening? – Youth. Women. Empowerment.

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