As food system leaders gather in Iowa for the Borlaug Dialogues and the World Food Prize, nearly 800 million people around the world continue to suffer from chronic hunger. More than 161 million children under the age of five are stunted, and one-third of childhood deaths are associated with malnutrition.
In garnering momentum for new hunger solutions—and in celebrating those that are working—gender equity must be addressed at all levels.In collaboration with CARE International and the CGIAR Research program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS), we at Food Tank are excited to present our new report, “Cultivating Equality: Delivering Just and Sustainable Food Systems in a Changing Climate.” The research shows how inequality determines diets around the world and shapes the ability of farmers to adapt to climate change.
Solutions that only focus on food production are not enough. Smallholder farmers—and especially women—deserve a new strategy to support their agricultural efforts in the face of climate change. To really achieve food and nutrition security for all in the context of a changing climate, equity must be addressed across food production, distribution, and consumption.
According to the new report:
• Women make up nearly 50 percent of farmers in developing regions of the world, and are responsible for almost 90 percent of food preparation in the household. But globally, only about 15 percent of all landholders are women.
• Women living and farming in vulnerable communities frequently lack access to resources needed to be resilient, including land, credit, and information.
• Solutions such agroecology and “SuPER: Sustainable, Productive & Profitable, Equitable, and Resilient” agriculture go beyond a focus on food production to incorporate crucial and often neglected elements that are necessary to alleviate hunger and poverty while protecting the environment, improving gender equity, and creating a more just food system.
“The impacts of climate change are felt most by those least responsible for the problem and with the least capacity to adapt,” says Tonya Rawe, Senior Advisor for Policy and Research for CARE International. “As governments work to realize the targets of the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development, they must ensure that the needs, interests, and rights of women and small-scale food producers are not forgotten. The first step is to make sure we get a just climate change agreement from the UN climate talks in Paris this December. Next week’s climate negotiations are a key moment for Parties to make critical progress.”
Women leaders deserve a fair share of resources and recognition for their solutions in adapting to climate change, and their voices should be heard at all levels of policy and decision-making.
To realize food and nutrition security for all in the face of climate change, CARE, CCAFS, and Food Tank make the following recommendations to actors as diverse as governments, the private sector, donors, and individuals:
• Prioritize women’s empowerment and integrate climate change in all approaches to food and nutrition security;
• Ensure small-scale food producers and women have a seat at the table when policies and budgets are decided;
• Commit to ambitious action to tackle the climate crisis and keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius;
• Commit to scaling up of finance to address hunger and climate change;
• Respect the rights of small-scale food producers and women and commit to equitable approaches in policies and supply chains;
• Know where your food comes from to make sustainable consumption choices.
Women must be empowered and recognized as capable partners – valued for their contributions and knowledge – not because they deliver results, but because they are equal to men.
Many organizations around the world are working to ensure that women’s voices are heard at all levels within the food system. And young women leaders are changing the face of global food and agriculture by driving positive change in their own communities. The world we seek – one of climate justice and food and nutrition security for all – demands a commitment to address inequality in food systems, among genders, from local to global levels.
What organizations do you know about that are empowering women? Let me know! Email Danielle@foodtank.com.
(Danielle Nierenberg is President, Food Tank, foodtank.com)