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Innovative approaches to gender and food security: insights, issue 82

Publication date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Author: 
S. Turrall (ed)
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Gender justice and ending hunger are closely entwined, interdependent goals. Solving hunger now and in the future involves challenging the current global development model which permits – and is driven by – inequality. Gender analysis shows that women are providers of food as producers, processors, traders, cooks and servers. However, despite their vast contribution, women are still often excluded or have limited access to resources, credit, information and markets, greatly limiting their productivity and food security. For example, many women in developing countries are unable to own or control land in their own right, and have less access to resources such as seeds. To add to this, unequal gender roles, responsibilities and workloads often leave women exhausted and malnourished. This issue of insights shows how development policy and practice can improve food security while supporting women’s empowerment. For example the project ‘Inner Spaces Outer Faces’ in rural Uttar Pradesh challenges the cultural practices where women are often the last to eat in the family, when often there is little or no food left. By building capacity amongst local health and education adviser and engaging household including men in discussions about food has led to changes like men and women eating together. Whilst there is no one size fits all approach the document shows that by empowering women, and transforming gender norms and inequalities within households and communities, food security programmes are more effective. General recommendations suggest that it is vital that food security interventions:

are informed by both women and men at the local level in their design and implementation
are tailored to specific contexts, given the often vast disparities in experience, needs and gender roles within countries and regions 
take into account and respect women’s instrumental role in food production 
involve women and men equally in decision-making around food production consumption and distribution.