Parliamentary alliances

Towards the II Global Parliamentary Summit

Parliamentarians gathered to discuss on their action on tackling gender inequality to achieve food security and improved nutrition for all

27/10/2022 - 


In support of the preparation of the forthcoming Global Parliamentary Summit, FAO headquarters, with the support of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), has organized a virtual session with Parliamentarians to encourage the discussion on parliamentary action to tackling gender inequality to achieve food security and improved nutrition for all.

This session showcased the efficacy of persistent and coordinated actions by committed members of parliaments to address gender inequalities as a core, vital part of efforts to achieve food security and improved nutrition worldwide.

In the opening remarks, Mr Benjamin Davis - the Director of FAO’s Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division – stressed that the world is not on track in reaching its goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition by 2030. It is estimated that 828 million people in 2021 suffered hunger globally, representing 9.8 percent of the world population, with an increase of 46 million since 2020 and of 150 million after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The gender gap in food insecurity has also continued to rise in 2021 and 31.9 percent of women in the world were moderately or severely food insecure, compared to 27.6 percent of men. He also clearly highlighted, that Parliamentarians are actors of pivotal importance in creating an enabling environment for food system transformation and in promoting inclusive and gender responsive governance of food systems.

In this context the inspiring words of Ms Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 highlighted that women in unequal conditions do not have access to their basic rights. Changing the perception of women in the world is a task that the policymakers have to promote; women are not cheap labour, but a pillar, agents of change to fight hunger and malnutrition, overcome social inequality and ensure food security and nutrition.

From FAO side, Ms Tacko Ndiaye, Gender Team Leader, informed on why gender matters for food security and nutrition for all highlighting that women are more vulnerable to food shortages, climate change and other risks and shocks, because they are more likely to live in poverty than men, experience mobility restrictions and face GBV that escalates during periods of instability. The authoritative engagement of the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is also very encouraging: the Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in the context of Food Security and Nutrition are expected to be endorsed by the end of 2023 and will soon provide governments and parliaments of member states with concrete policy guidance based on good practices and lessons learnt on gender mainstreaming, gender transformative interventions and innovative solutions. As per Mr Anthony Muriithi’s words (Vice-Chair, Committee on World Food Security) the proactive involvement and engagement of a number of parliamentarians in the preparation of the Guidelines is a particularly welcome note in this process;

Distinguished parliamentarians representing regional and national Parliamentary bodies have joined the first Panel of discussions including Hon. Pina Picierno, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Member of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Hon. Angélique Ngoma, Member of the Gabonese National Assembly and President of the APF Cooperation and Development Committee, Hon. Elena Diego, Senator of Spain and President of the International Cooperation Commission.

The first Panel of the session emphasized the importance of comprehensive action plans, such as the Gender Action Plan recently adopted by the European Parliament, as powerful instruments to promote women’s participation and leadership in rural areas, among other things by supporting women’s entrepreneurship and decent employment in agri-food sectors. It also touched upon the growing political commitment of Africa to improve the condition of women through increased gender-awareness within parliaments, called upon to integrate the gender dimension from the beginning to the end of their working processes. All parliamentarians should take responsibility for mainstreaming gender equity considerations in the exercise of their prerogatives of legislation, oversight and representation. The role that international cooperation agencies can play in supporting and promoting interparliamentary cooperation emerged clearly in relation to the joint work carried out by Spain, the AECID and the Parliamentary Front of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The important role of women in agri-food systems as producers, workers, traders and entrepreneurs emerged clearly during the second Panel discussion, with Hon. Abdoulaye Vilane, President of the ECOWAS Network of Parliamentarians on Gender Equality and Investments in Agriculture and Food Security recognizing the efforts of the network for mainstreaming gender in legislation, planning and budgeting and promoting the competitiveness of women entrepreneurs in national, regional and international markets. Another notable example we learned about during the session is the Bolivian experience focused on Hon. Trinidad Rocha Robles’s strong message reflecting the importance of a dignified life for women as a precondition for achieving food security and adequate nutrition, through improving women’s access to education, and information, among other things. Hon. Sahar Albazar, President of the IPU Forum of Young Parliamentarians, highlighted the importance of promoting women's participation in decision-making and political life. Currently, there are only 27% of women parliamentarians in the world, and 1% are young women. She also recalled the need of eliminating discrimination in laws and workplaces and investing in the empowerment of women in areas such as finance, social protection, access to jobs, among others.

“At FAO, we strive to generate tools and mechanisms to facilitate the access to information and provide Parliamentarians with the best support possible” informed Mr Jean-Leonard Touadi, FAO Special coordinator for Parliamentary Networks and moderator of the event. In this framework, Ms Ilaria Sisto Gender and Development Officer, presented the e-learning for parliamentarians “Achieving Gender Equality in Climate Change and Food Systems”, Ms Larissa Dominguez, Family Farming Specialist, delivered a Presentation of "Guidelines for gender mainstreaming in public policies for family farming”,and Mr Sean Woolfrey, Senior Policy Advisor of IISD, informed of a Survey specially designed for this series of preparatory events towards the Second Global Parliamentary Summit.

“It came clearly from the beginning the importance of inequality as a driver to food insecurity in the world and very specifically gender inequality” affirmed in her closing remarks Dr. Marcela Villarreal, Director of Partnerships and UN Collaboration Division at FAO. The data confirmed the huge gender gap between women and men above all in the poorest areas. She also stressed the connection among food insecurity and conflict as well as the importance of looking at women not only as victims but above all as agents of change and leaders into a new and different world. Director Villarreal also highlighted how the still under discussion CFS Guidelines reflect the fact that we have not been able yet to convince everybody on the importance of gender equality for food security and nutrition. In this context, Parliamentary networks for food security and nutrition are proven to be powerful catalysts of effective legislation and public policies on agriculture and food security, to address the multiple and persistent discriminations and barriers that women face in food systems and promote investments that empower women and address the nutritional needs of women and girls.