Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Dr. Lissandra Santos

Organization: Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Country: Brazil
Field(s) of expertise:

Researcher of the Interdisciplinary Group of Studies on Food Security (GISAN/UFRJ), coordinated by Professor Rosana Salles da Costa (UFRJ). Doctor in Nutritional Sciences (GISAN/UFRJ) (2022), with an exchange period at Yale School of Public Health supervised by Professor Rafael Pérez-Escamilla. Work focus on the following topics: food security with gender and racial perspective, women's health, food intake, public health, maternal and child nutrition, nutritional assessment. 

This member contributed to:

    • Consultation for the development of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in the Context of Food Security and Nutrition

      As a document aimed at Gender Equality in the context of Food Security and Nutrition, these contributions to are based on two main aspects that should be more probed in the document: (i) not only girls and women, but also men and boys must also be seen as targets of attention to achieve the main objective. Which means set goals including men and boys in all items; (ii) empowering women is also about teaching them what they are capable of which means change the way how tell the stories to children emphasizing women’s relevance in all areas of knowledge. 

      These issues are contemplated in the document, but I would like to address specific topics about them:

      • Item 3.1 Women’s participation, voice and leadership in policy- and decision-making at all levels

      In topic 34, about women’s decision-making power on household spending patterns, it should be noted that prioritize women to have control over the family income with the aim of ensuring better quality food and well-being for their children can contributes to reinforce gender stereotypes.  Men and boys should be fostered to equally share domestic and care work at the households with women, which includes: 

      1. Encourage national policies about education of boys teaching them about be functional and take responsibility about their children;
      2. To encourage “parental leave” where the full leave period is for the couple (both man and woman), as is the case, for example, in Sweden;   
      3. Ensure equity of opportunities for girls and women in different learning spaces but also in work environments, ensuring their presence in leadership as well.

      It should be considered these goals will represent a huge change in culture that will demand time and different investments for many countries. Each one should take the step that can handle each time. 

      • Item 3.3 Access to education, capacity building, training, knowledge and information services

      In topic 54, subtopic ii: “Gender-transformative education systems to promote gender equality and deliver more equitable education results for girls and boys through safe and healthy learning environments”.

      Besides to provide better opportunities for women at urban and rural areas, it should be emphasized that gender-transformative education systems includes changing the way to telling stories for children both boys and girls since people are empowered when they see their potential in similar ones. 

      Thus, girls and boys need to know women who made important contributions in all different areas of knowledge. Children must know that, even in an adverse context, many women managed to dedicate themselves to some cause and made the best of it. As a few examples, the stories of women like Marie Curie, Emmy Noether and Rosalind Franklin should be telling as much as Mother Teresa of Calcutta. 
      Empowering women is also about teaching them what they are capable of, telling the story in ways that appreciate the role of diverse women in all areas not only in the areas related to care and charity. Telling that even in an adverse context, many women managed to dedicate themselves to some area, as Sciences, and made the best of it. 

      Empowering women could also decreased violence against women since empowered women do not believe they need to have a male partner, and experience less abusive situations for a long time. This topic also must include training of professional who are involved in assisting women, including women victims of violence, since discriminatory forms of care for women still predominate in health services, specifically in developing countries. It is necessary to guarantee to these women a safe and welcoming environment that promotes their psychological recovery and reintegration into the labor market, whenever possible.

      • Breastfeeding

      Although breastfeeding is cited in this document, and it is contemplated in other specific documents, it should have a topic dedicated to it considering women who choose to be mothers. Breastfeeding can substantially contribute to reducing food insecurity in households, promotes sustainability and, when stimulated from a woman's perspective, can empower women as well. 

      To empower women during breastfeeding means giving voice to women and their needs during this period, which are often silenced at the expense of the child's needs. Understand women’s experience of life is urgent to give the ideal support and promote breastfeeding:

      • Do not stimulate a romantic view of this act, giving the woman adequate support to face the problems that may occur. Support should range from returning home after delivery until the woman feels safe and comfortable, as is already the case in some countries. 
      • Cultural factors as excessive sexualization of female breast should also be a target once this can influence the act of breastfeeding in public. 
      • On this topic, men also should be included considering their relevance on support women during this period but also their role as actors in the fields of gender, sexuality and parenthood.