FAO, IFAD, WFP and IDLO highlight link between women, violence and food security

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Harvesting rice in India

In spite of the major role played by women in producing food and feeding their families, little attention has been paid to the connection between gender, violence and food security, a number of organizations said in a joint statement to mark International Women's Day on Friday 8 March.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), warned that gender discrimination fuels female malnutrition and disempowerment. They noted that very often, discriminatory practices in rural communities generate biases in intra-household food distribution, whereby women and girls usually have access to limited and less nutritious food.

According to the joint statement, poor families may marry off under-age daughters during times of famine so there’s one less mouth to feed. Refugee women may be forced to trade sex for food. Women spend hours collecting firewood to cook the family meal, leaving themselves vulnerable to rape and other attacks. 

FAO, IFAD, WFP and IDLO explained that "if we unite to increase food security for women, we also nourish the minds and bodies of whole communities. If a girl can attend school in a safe environment, she can reach her full mental and physical potential. She can avoid early marriage, forced marriage or other forms of violence.

Women make up more than 40 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. Improving equality in women’s access to agricultural inputs (such as seeds, tools, fertilisers), education and public services would contribute significantly to achieving food security and better nutrition for all, the heads of the organizations said in their statement.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’37″

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