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Issue paper

Women’s resilience to food price volatility: A policy response

In a high and volatile food price setting, two aspects determine rural women’s  ability to absorb and respond to shocks: the inequalities that create a gender gap in rural development and women’s traditional roles in society and the  household. This discussion paper points to these two aspects that, in general  terms, reduce women’s ability to cope with food price volatility. Rural women,  traditionally responsible for providing food and health in the household, face major  constraints in fulfilling their roles, rendering them more vulnerable to food price spikes. Major recommendations include building on rural women’s resiliency and mitigating negative coping strategies by reducing gender inequalities in rural development, and by providing safety nets that are appropriately designed to address  rural women’s needs and limitations. Gender gaps in rural development refer to  those in access to resources, better-paying jobs,infrastructure, public services,  agricultural  extension and technologies, as well as gaps in the levels of participation  in farmers’ organizations and other public institutions. Better design in safety nets  and other social protection programmes involves including mechanisms that are  culturally sensitive, that reduce women’s time burden, and that provide the necessary  transportation, child-care facilities, and other services and mechanisms to ensure  their participation. Gender-transformative approaches in the implementation of  p olicies and programmes, including capacity development on gender roles for the  household as a whole, are essential for ending discrimination against women, which  hinders their economic and social empowerment. Additional areas of research include  gender-differentiated impacts of high food prices and volatility, both at the individual and household levels, and the effectiveness of safety nets and other social protection  programmes designed to address rural women’s specific needs.

Policy Theme