At the World Food Summit in Rome this week, experts emphasized the critical role of women in mitigating world hunger. In most developing countries, women produce 80 percent of basic foodstuffs—including those for consumption as well as sale. For example, women in Africa perform 80 percent of the farm work and women in agriculture represent nearly 80 percent of economically active women in India. “Without women, the target we set in 1996 to halve world hunger by 2015 will not only remain elusive, it will become absolutely impossible to attain,” said Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Director General Jacques Diouf, whose group organized the summit.
According to Vandana Shiva, a member of India’s Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, “There is a blindness in the world’s approach to tackling hunger and it is a blindness that ignores the third world’s knowledge, ignores indigenous knowledge and ignores the knowledge of women.” Though women are essential to food production in the developing world, they continue to face discrimination and prohibitive gender inequalities. For example, women own only 1 percent of all land in developing countries.
FAO Director of Gender and Population Division Sissel Ekaas told Summit attendees that the organization last winter approved a new gender and development plan of action for the next five years. The plan calls for gender equality in access to food, resources, agricultural services, employment, and agricultural policymaking. Swedish Agriculture Minister Margareta Winberg was among several speakers who urged countries to utilize CEDAW, the UN’s international treaty for women’s rights, in improving conditions and access for women in rural areas. “The leaders of the world are starting to see the crucial role women can play if they are allowed to do it,” she said. “But there’s a long way to go. A very long way to go.”
Media Resources: Reuters Health 6/12/02; UN Wire 6/13/02; World Food Summit online 6/13/02
11/25/2015 Afghan Women Launch 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence - Afghanistan marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and begun participating in the worldwide 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which is being called in Afghanistan "Peace from Home to the World." During the launch day's event, which was attended by government officials, including First Lady Rula Ghani and women's rights activists, speakers expressed their commitment to ending violence against women.
First Lady, Rula Ghani gave a speech on ending violence against women and supporting women by stating that "war often leads society towards violence and this violence is in violation of human dignity. . . .