given their role as key social and economic drivers by investing in programmes that will help them play their role as key value chain actors and entrepreneurs.
EU head of delegation Roeland van de Geer made the remarks over the weekend during an event to commemorate Europe Day here in Dodoma.
Said van de Geer: "Women have a fundamental role to play in the agriculture sector, however, they face persistent challenges, such as unequal access to capital, labour, knowledge and business networks. These challenges should be met by raising awareness and addressing the gender imbalance in the agriculture sector and in society at large."
The EU envoy noted that in Tanzania, the majority of the rural population is employed in the agricultural sector, with many self-employed on their own farms and women smallholder farmers making up 65 percent of the total labour force in agriculture.
He however added that men tend to have access to more opportunities than women, including paid employment outside the farm, while most women work as unpaid family workers without an extra income.
According to van de Geer, agriculture is one of the European Union's key sectors of support to Tanzania with 140 million euros (386.5 billion/-) allocated between 2014 and 2020.
He said through its past and current support to the sector, the EU has contributed to gender inequalities being identified and addressed, to ensure that women are able to contribute to the development of the sector while addressing the well-being of themselves and their families.
The event provided an overview of support by the European Union to the agriculture sector in Tanzania, with displays by implementing partners, including the World Food programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), VSO Tanzania, HELVETAS Swiss and the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA).
“Gender is a key cross-cutting priority both for the European Union and Tanzania, and this event shows our continued support to gender equality and for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development an agenda which forms the basis for the EU’s development cooperation which has one goal (SDG 5) specifically dedicated to achieve gender equality and empowerment of women and girls,” said van de Geer who is also head of the EU delegation to the East African Community (EAC).
Major national agriculture development initiatives in Tanzania include Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture First), the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS), the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (CAADP), and the Southern Agricultural Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), all of which promote specific gender equity indicators.
The country has adopted a Women and Gender Development Policy (2000) and a Strategy for Gender Development (2005). The government has also introduced a mechanism for enhancing gender mainstreaming in the national planning and budgeting process.
On May 9 each year, the European Union celebrates Europe Day - the day on which the Schuman Declaration was issued in 1950. This declaration contained Robert Schuman's proposals for a united Europe, intended to bring lasting peace and prosperity to the continent.
This year, the EU in Tanzania celebrated the day with the theme "Gender and Agriculture".