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July/August 2003

Announcement of a publication

Gender and food security

The role of information: Strategy for action

For the last two decades, the issues of sustainable development and recognition of women's economic and social roles in society have been attracting increasing attention from civil society, international organizations and governments alike. The interest shown by these bodies is partly linked to a phenomenon that emerged towards the end of the twentieth century: the exponential growth of information and communications technologies. The wide variety and diversity of information and the speed with which it circulates have had an undeniable effect on the mechanisms of social control and regulation.

The exchange, mobilization and outreach capacities offered by information technologies are of little benefit to women, particularly in developing countries. The many reasons for this include: lack of training in the use of these technologies; the low percentage of women working in the media; the physical, social and psychological isolation of women; the lack of infrastructure; and limited financial resources.

The image of women that is portrayed in the media is very often limited to their traditional reproductive role. Such an image is simplistic and often produces negative results, particularly in commercial and advertising messages.

Technological progress in the information and communications field could make it possible for women to perform activities that foster and strengthen their power, through launching information campaigns, creating interactive communications networks, spreading distance learning opportunities, etc.

In view of this situation, and by using information as a decision-making tool, a means of empowerment and a means of negotiation, a better understanding of the economic and social contributions of men and women, their respective roles and the ways in which they interact becomes both possible and urgent. Current data on these issues are incomplete and do not adequately illustrate the effects that new trends in society have on rural populations' livelihoods. Governments, in close collaboration with the rural population, should be able to collect, analyse and check the validity of information, in order to determine economic and social priorities and to decide on investments and actions to be taken.

(Also available in French and Spanish)

Click here to see the publication (html format).

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