African women are involved in the whole food chain; women farmers are responsible for food production but also contribute to the production of cash crops. They remain responsible for tasks that are modernising very slowly and have suffered setbacks in public policy. Access to land, household energy, drinking water, transport, education and health remains precarious in rural areas. Women are active in the processing and marketing of foods, including local produce. They are also still responsible for the preparation of family meals and for ensuring that their children are not malnourished. Although their workload is massive, they still access very few resources. During the 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar, a number of civil society organisations, women’s organisations from Francophone (mainly African) countries got together to discuss issues around gender and food security in the region. This document reports on the meeting where representatives from these organisations share their experiences and perspectives and put forward recommendations for action. A woman in a rural community in Senegal, for example, has worked with an organisation to analyse the local budget and found that it was not responding to women’s needs. They worked to have more budget funds allocated to water, health, access to land, and they are now concentrating on having more women counsellors at local level. Monde Selon Les Femmes in Belgium, on the other hand, works with women’s grass root organisations in Senegal and Congo to ensure that their role in development is recognised. It lobbies Belgian and European cooperation agencies on various issues including promoting networks and links with consumers who want a non neo-liberal type of economy, and directly lobbying the government to make sure that subsistence farming is supported and that women farmers’ experience on the ground is accounted for.
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