Droit à l'alimentation

Empowering women and girls is key for realizing the right to food in the aftermath of COVID-19

News - 08.03.2021

8 March 2021, Rome – 690 million people do not have enough to eat, and on every continent, women and girls are more likely than men to be affected by moderate or severe food insecurity. Women, particularly in rural areas, face increasing inequality due to the current economic and food crises, even if they comprise nearly 50 percent of employment in agriculture in low-income countries.

Hunger and famine will persist and there will be unequal recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic unless more women in rural and urban areas hold leadership positions with increased decision-making power, said the heads of the three United Nations' food agencies on occasion of the International Women's Day.

Governments must create an enabling environment towards gender equality and face global challenges such as protracted crisis or migration, which cause additional legal and social hurdles for women and girls. 

The Right to Food Guidelines highlight the importance to ensure the right to food for women and girls through policies, laws and strategies. The right to food in gender issues is closely connected to resources and labour. “States should promote women’s full and equal participation in the economy and, for this purpose, introduce, where it does not exist, and implement gender sensitive legislation providing women with the right to inherit and possess land and other property”, Guideline 8.6 discusses. “States should also provide women with secure and equal access to, control over, and benefits from productive resources, including credit, land, water and appropriate technologies”, it adds. In this case, educations programmes, adult literacy and additional training programmes should be enhanced "regardless of race, colour, gender, language", Guideline 8.9 reflects.

Achieving adequate levels of nutrition is also key, for which countries should "eradicate any kind of discriminatory practices, especially with respect to gender", Guideline 10.8 points out.

The focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment is explicit throughout the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both in the form of a dedicated Goal on Gender Equality (SDG5) and as a cross-cutting theme with more than 30 related targets across other SDGs.

Barriers for vulnerability and inequality

In Latin America and the Caribbean, overweight in women is higher than in men, and in 19 countries, the difference is of at least 10 percentage points. In Europe and Central Asia, women remain without equal access to decent jobs, markets and infrastructure. It is estimated that between 60 percent and 87 percent of women working in agriculture are informal or family workers.

Outspoken champions of human rights

International Women´s Day´ celebrations are held worldwide to advocate for women´s rights. It is also an occasion to recall that women have been at the same time shinning beacon for universal human rights.

Looking back at history in 1940s, Eleanor Roosevelt had a leading role in the draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But she was not the only one. Former United Nations delegates Angela Jurdak (Lebanon), Fryderyka Kalinowski (Poland), Bodgil Begtrup (Denmark), Minerva Bernardino (Dominican Republic) and Hansa Mehta (India) contributed to the inclusion of women’s rights in in the document. Since then, everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law without any discrimination.