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Gender and equity issues in liquid biofuels production: minimizing the risks to maximize the opportunities

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Andrea Rossi
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This short risk evaluation report emphasises how men and women could be affected quite differently by large-scale production of liquid biofuels in developing countries, with women likely to lose out if action is not taken. The aim of the report is to promote in-depth discussions to identify crucial research areas and encourage policy strategies to address these risks. The hope is that this report will feed into efforts to ensure social justice, as well as maximise economic opportunities for poor people, in areas where large-scale biofuel production is introduced.Chapter one outlines the differentiated socio-economic risks for men and women, with women's unequal access to land and resources creating the biggest barriers to potential benefits for smallholder women farmers in particular. Chapter two and three suggest that the loss of biodiversity resulting from large-scale production could impact negatively on food security, due to lack of good quality land to grow food and the loss of edible wild foods. Furthermore the gradual erosion of knowledge and skills required for the management of traditional local crops, and the collection and preparation of wild foods, traditionally performed by women, is predicted. Chapter four highlights how women are more likely to be exploited on large-scale biofuel farms as they are often employed as casual/short-term labour with few rights.The report calls for sex disaggregated data to be gathered on the effects of large-scale biofuel production on households, employment opportunities and working conditions. It also calls for international and national level policies which address the risks outlined as well as policies which encourage small holder farmers into biofuel production whilst maintaining traditional agricultural activities, skills and knowledge. Also it strongly recommends that biofuel and climate change strategies clearly promote gender equality and empowerment of women.

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