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
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .