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Changing attitudes, changing behaviours

It is a bitter irony that our world currently produces enough food to provide for every woman, man and child, yet a recent estimate by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) suggests that around 925 million people go to bed hungry each night.

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A blind student reads Braille in the Uhuru Boarding School in Tanzania, which tries to integrate deaf and blind students into classes with children who have no disabilities. Dieter Telemans, Panos Pictures, 2008


Women working on farmland belonging to the Twitezimbere Abakenyezi Association in Mutumba, Burundi. The association was set up by 18 women in 2007 to enable collaborative agricultural production, mutual support and collective learning. © Dieter Telemans, Panos Pictures

Other articles in this issue:

Women in agriculture:
Closing the gender gap

The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-2011, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, focuses on women and their vital – but often underestimated – roles within rural economies.


Transforming gender relations in homestead food production in Bangladesh

Gender inequity is an underlying cause of food insecurity and
malnutrition in South Asia. In Bangladesh, women’s mobility is restricted by social norms of purdah, which limits their access to public spaces, information, income and tools for decision-making. Women cannot access markets but depend on husbands or sons to make transactions. Women are also excluded from land and asset ownership and extension advice.


Challenging cultural values that affect food security in India

The Indian government sees food security as a fundamental right and has introduced schemes to improve access to food and nutrition. A project in rural Uttar Pradesh, northeast India, reveals, however, that gendered patterns in the distribution of food within households often lie beyond the scope of its interventions, so deeply are they ingrained within local culture and tradition.


Equal access for women to seeds and food security in Syria

In Syria, food security has been a national priority since the 1980s. Most poor people live in rural areas and depend on small-scale farming for survival. Women do manual work such as weeding, fertilising, planting, harvesting and food processing. Men are mainly involved in mechanised and marketing activities. However, smallscale agriculture can no longer sustain rural households. Men are migrating to urban areas looking for paid work whilst the women, children and older family members remain. Women are increasingly responsible for producing food yet they have limited access to, and control of, essential productive resources and the revenues generated through the sale of household agricultural produce.


Engaging the whole family in food security planning in Zambia

Food security is a challenge in Zambia, where 45 percent of children under five are stunted. Most food production systems are rain-fed and crops are harvested once a year at about the same time. This results in highly seasonal income flows, market gluts, and hungry months for many Zambians. Policies favour maize production even where conditions are unfavourable; other crops suffer from policy, marketing and research neglect. Of particular concern are poor gender relations in many farming households which reduce the effectiveness of decision-making.


Women's groups versus households:
Approaches to achieve food security and gender equality

How can we achieve food security for women and girls? Should interventions target households, including men, or should they aim to reach women through women’s groups? Working with groups is an effective way for development programmes to enable women to increase their control of assets, improve productivity, and enhance their status and wellbeing. The social capital generated by groups is recognised as an important asset in itself.


Food sovereignty and women’s rights in Latin America

In Latin America, the concept of food sovereignty has emerged as an alternative approach to tackling food shortages and agricultural problems. It focuses on people’s rights to define their own food and agriculture rather than having food largely subject to international market forces. It aims to protect local agricultural production and trade with a view to achieving sustainable rural development.



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