A project to provide better two way communication between women in Tongan agriculture and official information providers has started.
The 2014 WAM project, supported by PACMAS, assisted by independent media, is to enable women to identify policies, services and decision makers they can influence.
The Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) project grant was agreed in December between the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Centre for Citizenship Education (CCE) New Zealand charitable trust and Pasefika Solutions Ltd.
There is recognition that empowering women and girls to contribute in more aspects of agriculture will not only bring benefits to individual women, girls and their families. Empowering women also contributes to the capacity of the agricultural sector to achieve income, employment and trade goals which will be of benefit to the Tongan economy says CCE Director Anthony Haas.
Development journalism has a role to play in enabling women to get better access to information and ideas to empower them at the grass roots level. The CCE and Pasefika Solutions Ltd WAM project in consultation with Tonga’s Ministry of Agriculture Food, Fisheries and Forestry (MAFFF) draws on this journalistic approach.
WAM focuses on increasing the participation of women at all levels of the agricultural sector, including planning, knowledge creation, use of appropriate agricultural techniques, market information and development, exploration of culturally appropriate employment policies and agri-business opportunities such as promotion of entrepreneurship.
Women are involved in all aspects of Tonga’s family and community based agriculture, but their contribution is often not visible to development and other agencies. Enabling greater participation of Tongan women in agriculture, such as Ha’atafu village’s Mele Weilert and other WAM reference panel members, will provide opportunities for them to influence economic and political policies. Auckland Tongan professional women volunteers catapulted this January to the leadership of the Ha’apai relief committee illustrate what may be achieved say Kiwi and Tongan men who advocated for WAM to the Australian government supported PACMAS.
Access to information is a key to empowerment
WAM aims to improve two-way communications between village women, government and media with the cooperation of existing and new media.
The project’s development journalism series from Asia Economic News for Tongan village women will be on
- Marketing pathways at home and abroad
- Managing access to local and central government
- Production advice from extension services.
The ideas will reach key audiences through the www.tonganz.net website published by Pasefika Solutions’ Melino Maka, and be further disseminated by other supportive media.
CCE is working with partners, including local government minister Lord Vaea, to design the Tonga Guide to Local Government. The citizenship education project is supported by the Commonwealth Foundation and follows 1977 and 1984 guides Anthony Haas published on Tongan trade and investment with the support of the United Nations Development Programme and others.
WAM’s desired ultimate outcome is the achievement of economic and political gender equality in Tonga. The project’s architects recognise that this is a long-term objective and a number of other activities need to be undertaken and completed before objectives can be achieved.
Updated 17 Jan 2014