Women’s month is celebrated every March to recognize women’s achievements and spotlight their valuable contributions across industries. Over the years, more and more women are starting to speak up for their advocacies and have prospered in fields that, for a long time, were dominated by men.
In agriculture, women continue to make significant strides holding 43% of the global agriculture work force. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there is around 2.76 million female farmers in the Philippines as of 2016.
Bayer Crop Science recognizes this pivotal role that women play in agriculture and in strengthening our communities. With this in mind, Bayer launched a campaign this month that aims to support and empower women farmers, cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset, and assert women’s importance in the industry.
“I believe that each and every one of us females whether you’re a farmer, whether you’re supporting your husband on the farm, or whether you’re working for a company, we all face similar challenges and opportunities. And by sharing my stories and you sharing your stories with the female around you, we are helping each other,” says Elzandi Oosthuizen, Asia Pacific Regional Marketing and Market Development Lead.
Greater Role of Women in Agriculture Campaign
The Greater Role of Women in Agriculture, or more commonly known as “GROW in Agri”, is a project that aims to eliminate the gender gap in the agricultural industry. The campaign envisions women farmers to gain access to information regarding their reproductive and mental health, financial management, and rights.
“We previously had collaborative works with IFC (International Finance Corporation) for the betterment of resource management and financial inclusion of farmers in the Philippines. Part of the cooperation was an in-depth study of the role of Filipino women in agriculture, and it was found out that they either led or participated in most of the essential tasks in production and marketing. From there came the Greater Role of Women. GROW's objective is to make sure that women's contribution to farming is first and foremost properly recognized, after which enriched and empowered. GROW would allow different stakeholders (channel, financers, farmers, workers, etc.) to co-create different initiatives that enables not just sustainable, but also progressive projects in agriculture,” shared BCS Market Development Lead Edward Limon.
Women's Role in the Success of Agriculture: In celebration of Women's Month, Bayer CropScience interviewed women farmers, colleagues, and cooperators asking the question, "Why and how do women play a vital role in the success of agriculture?"
Farmers and the Bayer community are the intended stakeholders of the project. And even though the campaign is directed towards women, gender equity can only be achieved with the support and acknowledgement of men.
“Men are allies in reaching gender equity and they can do so by understanding the social privileges they enjoy, listening to women’s voices, being better role models on how they treat women in their personal and work life, helping create a safe workplace, and by standing with women on the daily issues they have,” says Dannyl Canencia, Market Development Agronomist and Campaign lead.
Woman farmer Rosana Lucero highlighted their contribution in every aspect of farm management- crop production, animal care, handling of finances, and farm activities. Former agricultural technician Eduvigis Foronda encouraged fellow women to “involve themselves in the formulation of plans and policies to achieve a sustainable agriculture.” Market Development Agronomist Gretel Guerrero shared that women’s contributions are much more diverse than anyone else. “…From simple housekeeping to lifestyle management and even linked to giving important key decisions in farm management. Second and most importantly, I think women’s population is half of the world’s population. This shows that women beat the odds by the numbers.”
Starting out strong with Bayer OK – GROW
With a holistic framework in mind, the campaign kicked-off the Women’s Month celebration with a Bayer CropScience-Pharmaceuticals-Consumer Health collaboration. Being the only company in the industry that works in both crop science and pharmaceutical industries, the campaign team took this as an opportunity to offer a one-of-a-kind- seminar for the women farmers and highlight Women’s Health.
“At Bayer Crop Science, we believe in a simple mantra – Malusog na manananim; Malusog na pananim,” Limon shared.
As such, Bayer Crop Science and Ask Mara PH spearheaded a special Bayer Online Kapehan Session on March 4, 2022. Dr. Dianalyn Sazon – Carlos, an OB-GYNE, was invited to speak on Women’s Health – understanding contraception and its benefits for different women with different needs and lifestyles.
“Ang family planning po ay binibigyan tayo ng panahon upang maghanda sa tamang paraan. Unang una syempre, sa financial; Alam po natin na medyo magastos magkaroon ng anak. Ito rin po ay binibigyan tayo ng panahon para [pahalagahan] at magbigay ng panahon at kalinga sa bawat miyembro ng pamilya bago dumating na naman ang isa pang karagdagang biyaya. Binibigyan ang nanay ng oras para sa sarili, upang makabawi ang kanyang pangagatawan at siyempre, ang kanyang kalusugan”, says Dr. Sazon-Carlos.
Dra. Sazon-Carlos also urged women to refrain from asking opinions about pills from neighbors, friends, and social media. Instead, she suggested that they consult with a board-certified OB-GYNE should they decide to take pills. “Please consult with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to advise you correctly and explain to you why she chose this pill and what are the effects on you. And you can follow up with her para kung may iba kang nararamdaman, sabihin mo sa kanya, at para ma-address din yung ibang concerns mo,” she added.
The event also highlighted Ask Mara PH-- an online chatbot designed to answer queries about women’s health including contraception, hormonal acne, endometriosis, pills, stores and website links, as well as access to telemedicine partner. It was developed by Bayer Pharmaceuticals to assist women in whatever concern they have regarding their reproductive health.
Bayer Pharmaceuticals’ Digital Marketing Manager Michelle Anne Lamar shared, “Ask Mara was developed in 2019 to normalize the conversation about contraception and reproductive health. We recognize how important these conversations are, so we created a private and personal resource that’s available 24/7 to address questions related to women’s health such as contraception, severe hormonal acne and endometriosis.”
Arlene Celestial, the head of Marketing of Bayer Pharma, concluded the program with a short message, thanking BCS and Consumer Health for their partnership for making the online event a success. She mentioned how the tagline “Greater Role of Women in Agriculture” have struck her. “This is very empowering and I hope that the lecture have empowered you, women, to have the courage to really focus on your own health…When it comes to taking good care of ourselves, sometimes, ‘yun pa yung nane-neglect natin. So let’s remember that we can only grow our family, our community, and even our workplace if we tend and nurture ourselves.”
Female farmers in Isabela were invited to a face-to-face Bayer OK Watch party that took place in Japi Hotel, Cauayan City, Isabela
A bright future ahead
From health to financial literacy to capacity building, the Bayer OK-GROW is just the beginning according to Canencia.
“We are very much excited for GROW in Agri campaign. The Bayer OK on Women’s Health is just part of a seminar series we have in mind. We will be offering financial management trainings (including traditional and digital banking), agricultural seminars and more. We are also looking forward to creating a mentorship program where we would link experienced farmers to our next generation of farmers,” shared Canencia. “I am looking forward to more collaborations, more people involvement in the project,” she added.
Attendees during the face-to-face watch party as well as prospective mentors expressed their willingness to be part of the future projects of GROW in Agri such as the “Adopt a Barangay,” a knowledge-sharing opportunity that will further empower their farming communities.
“I strongly encourage every woman to think about this: Who are you and what makes you feel good about what you contribute and what you bring to the table? Go after that,” said Oosthuizen. She also expressed her gratitude to the women farmers for their partnership, business, and most importantly, what they do for the country’s agricultural industry, their communities, and their families. “Please know that Bayer will always be there to partner with you, very closely, and to support you on whatever your journeys are.”
GROW in Agri envisions a network of women in the different components or aspects of agriculture- farmers, dealers, and industry experts, to come together and ensure a better future for women in the industry. Bayer will continue to start these ripples of change one community at a time.
Watch the Bayer OK Recording here:
1Raney, T. et al. (2011). The role of women in agriculture. Food and Agriculture Organization
2Philippine Statistics Authority. (2011). Gender-based indicators of labor and employment in agriculture. Report No. 2017-09.
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