As the Pacific Community's Land Resources Division achieves 50 percent women leadership, we must continue to break the bias against women in agriculture


As the Pacific Community's Director of Land resources Division, I am proud to  note during this year’s International Women’s Day that 50% of the leadership of the Division are women. We also have many amazing women scientists, some who have faced significant challenges with family and society expectations to get where they are, standing shoulder to shoulder with our amazing male scientists serving our region.

I see this balance gradually being mirrored across government agriculture and forestry services in the region, with more and more senior officers and heads of agriculture and forestry being women. I have clear memories of only a few years ago the Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services meeting had only one woman delegate. At the 2021 meeting there were nine women at the table. The gendered landscape of agriculture and forestry in the region is clearly progressing.

However, there is more work to be done.  I was driving to work the other day and there was a radio programme, one of those rural reporter type shows, and the journalist introduced programme guests as the farmer “and his wife”. As I listened to the interview it was clear that “his wife” was just as much a farmer as “the farmer”. She played a vital role in farm activities, had equal responsibility for ensuring the success of the crops in the ground and the business end of the farm. Why didn’t the journalist introduce them both as farmers, or even a farming family? The answer is surely unconscious bias. Men farm,  but women ‘help out’.

Arriving in my office, feeling a little dejected, and thinking about how far we have to go on equality and on the power of bias, I noticed on my desk a copy of the Samoan Women’s Farming Calendar, produced by a local farmers organisation – the Samoa Women’s Association of Growers. Each month the calendar features an empowered, successful, hardworking (rockstar!) farmer. Looking through the calendar I was inspired. There are women farmers like this all across the Pacific who have faced challenges, broken through bias - conscious and unconscious - with strong influence who are leading the way and serving as role models to future farmers. Spirits lifted again, I am now focusing on the next step: searching out an email address for that radio journalist to have a discussion about bias!

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Land Resources


Karen Mapusua

Director, Land Resources Division (Suva)

Karen began her career as a High school teacher of history and social studies in Tonga and Australia. Now she is the Director of the Land Resources Division(LRD) of the Pacific Community, based in Suva. The Land Resources Division provides technical and scientific support to 22 Pacific countries and territories on all aspects of agriculture and forestry from genetic resources to markets.  Prior to this role she was Operations Manager for the Division.

She is passionate about organic farming and food and co-founded the Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community (POETCom), serving as coordinator for 5 years and was extensively involved in developing the Pacific Organic Standard and Guarantee Scheme and developing alternative forms of certification that empower farmers.

She has experience in NGO capacity building and management, has worked in rural development in the Pacific Region for close to 20 years with a focus on organic agriculture as a path to social and economic development.

Currently she is President of the IFOAM Organics International World Board and has previously served on the Board of Directors of Fairtrade Australia New Zealand, she is a national of Samoa and Australia.


Bachelor of Arts (History/Politics & Education), Diploma of Education (Librarianship & History) , 
Macquarie University. Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Graduate Diploma in Not for Profit Management, UNITEC. Auckland, NEW ZEALAND