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Women and food crises: how US food aid policies can better support their struggles

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Women are often at the centre of food crises and are disproportionately affected by hunger, yet their important role in providing solutions is often overlooked. This paper lays out some of the key issues in modern food crises, discusses the role of food aid in addressing them, and explores opportunities to ensure that women's voices and perspectives are central to the design of agricultural and food aid policies. The paper focuses on the United States' food aid programme, which constitutes half of all global food aid. The paper then analyses two case studies of food shortages in Kenya and Malawi, examining donor responses and women's participation. Based on this analysis, the paper argues that traditional forms of food aid have largely failed to recognise and enhance the capacity of women in growing crops for consumption. It argues that, in addition to emergency food aid, there is a need for more comprehensive programmes for agricultural development that support women's crucial contributions to agricultural production. Other recommendations include:?the US and other rich countries should stop imposing trade rules and economic policy conditions that make it difficult for African governments to support small farmers, and push them towards reliance on export-driven agriculture?African governments should promote, uphold and enforce women's rights to land, credit, water, seeds and other productive resources, and should establish structures to ensure that women's voices are heard in the design and implementation of food and agriculture policies and donor assistance programmes.

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