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Women’s rights and role in food crises, conflicts and famine

Rome | Italy | Oct 2017
The Civil Society Mechanism Coordination Committee organised this event to discuss the roles and struggles of women in crises. The panelists all agreed that women face multiple levels of vulnerability in crises and in conflicts. The number of women suffering from malnourishment triples in time of protracted crises, with 50% of women in Afghanistan being iron deficient with special vulnerability of pregnant women. In time of crises, women suddenly become the heads of households. They lead the households with smaller capacities, fewer rights, no recognition and limited access to resources, which often results in food insecurity for the whole family. Regulatory frameworks often do not leave any other choice to women, forcing them to work informally, with no rights, security and under bad conditions. In food crises, when there is no production, they are the first to suffer. Therefore, women issues need to be present in the political, health and economic discussion in order to find a solution.

Liberalism, patriarchy, globalization, neo-liberal policies in case of climate change are all factors affect women’s rights negatively, making them more vulnerable, not solving their struggle to organise and support them to find their voice.

Some of the structural inequalities women have to deal with include the often-missing land administration that recognizes women’s land rights. In crises women are often the victims of land grabbing, which leaves them with no land, no livestock, no food, no income and often leads to food insecurity. Such issues of women’s rights and vulnerability to food security do not occur only in situations of emergency and conflict. Therefore, policy interventions should aim at root causes such empowering women and educating, not only women of their land rights, but also men. The international community needs to focus on raising the conciseness that women’s rights are connected to the right to food.
The priorities identified by the panel included disaggregating data , breaking down the definition of households to focus on women, measure access to inputs and information, facilitate women organisations, implement the international agreements, especially the ones from CFS relating directly to food security, support the civil society and help governments, cultures transition to equality. Specifically, the panellists called for reforming trade systems to facilitate the implementation of rights to food.

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