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Women: still the key to food and nutrition security

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Reducing gender disparities and advancing women's empowerment promotes better food and nutrition security for all. This is the headline message from this short brief, which uses as a framework the key findings from the International Food Policy Research Institute's (IFPRI) most recent research on gender and food security. It finds that targeting women in agricultural technology dissemination can have a greater impact on poverty than targeting men, with equalising agricultural inputs between men and women resulting in significant gains in agricultural productivity. Gender disparities in property rights threaten effective natural resource management, but efforts to strengthen women's property rights must begin with an understanding of their often-complex existing rights. The brief also highlights how the raising of a woman's status has a strong influence on the nutritional outcomes of her children as well as on the spread of HIV/AIDS and the ability of households to cope. A number of examples from case studies from a range of countries are used, including Mexico's PROGRESA health, nutrition and education programme.Key recommendations from the study include the need to:- reform and monitor legal institutions to eradicate gender discrimination and improve the status of women;- target resources to women, such as food aid and labour-saving technologies; and- increase women's ability to actively participate in the development process.

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