Women and Food Security

by Amanda Carter, Boston University
  • · Mr. Olivier de Schutter – UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

o topic question of gender dimensions, haven’t sufficiently worked on in the past

o access to seas and land, never a specific report on women but hope to do so in 2012, report

underway in study phase

o topic is important: women’s role in food systems in discrimination, see 3 difficulties:

  • § 1. women are discriminated in access to productibe resources, discrim laws and custom,

prohibiting widow to inherit form husband or inherit land in general, these are widespread,

additional protocol should allow to make progress toward removal of this discrim

  • § 2. No access to credit, can’t borrow in order to produce, 80% of field workers in Sub

Saharan Africa are women, studies show when titiling schemes implemented women are

discriminated face obstacle in ability to have witnesses testify that they are the actual

owners to the land

  • § 3. extension services, populated mostly by men, cultural obstacle prohibit women from

being reached by services, to overcome must think of more women populaing extensive


  • § 4. modernization of agriculture, shift from family agricult to more commercial agriculture

that produces for the market, food crops to cash crops, contract farming, dependent on

evution on prices int he market, vulnerability of the family in switch, has gender impacts

when family produces against cash choice as how to spend are made by men not the

women of the family, pressure to market farming impact on women’s ability to make

decisions for family, combination of food crops and cash crops will help women

  • § how to overcome obstacles?
  • § 1. remove all discrimin laws and customs, prereq women access to productive

resources, which is more de facto, accompanied by empowerment of women,

women form cooperatives in which they share good farming practices rather than

gender neutral (dominated by men)

  • § 2. more women in extension services,
  • § 3. titling, protecting of rights of women over land they cultivate, process no

accessible to women, titling has been not accompnied by agrarian reform

schemes, farmers not supported by subsidies not accompanied by financial

services, meant that it led to reconcentration of land to large land holders (Chile,

Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala), titling in joint names of husband and wife instead

of household which = man, ant eviction laws that protect landowners, tenancy

laws – protect those who work on the land if the land changes hand, titling not

always the best option others may be more effective

o land grabbing, commercial pressures on land has impact of relation between men and women in

rural areas, women are more marginalized, difficult situation, customary forms of tenure are

discrimin, modern push to agricult may have gender impact that are under estimated and will work

negatively against women

  • · Dr. Marcela Villareal – Director, Gender, Equity and Rural Employment (Roma)

o trends in hunger and investment in agriculture

  • § over 1 billion people after food price crisis went hungry, today 925 million
  • § most hungry are on Asia and Pacific followed by Africa
  • § highly unequal general aid to agriculture aid
  • § must be serious about investing in agriculture

o food price crisis, 2008

  • § forgotten after 2009 financial crisis
  • § spike in 2008 then prices went down  after financial crisis  but now are going up
  • § are we in crisis again? not yet, but depends on crop
  • § 2008 – analysis of who hit hardest by food crisis
  • § urban poor
  • § rural net buyers: 2/3 rural households are net buyers of food
  • § female headed households: proportion of income to food; access to resources,

evidence how lack of women’s access to land in undermining the whole society

and has effect the whole of society

o access to land

  • § male headed household
  • § also in developed countries, least gap in Europe