Conflict, Refugee Status, Displacement, Can Further Impact Food Security, Discrimination, for Women
Right to Food - Discrimination - UN Study - Women
Report of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee - Study on discrimination in the context of the right to food, including identification of good practices of anti-discriminatory policies and strategies
Advance Edited Version
II Discrimination in the Context of the Right to Food
D. Discrimination Against Women
31. The intersection between women's rights and the right to food provides a rich
overview of a number of interrelated dimensions of discrimination against women
related to access to land, property and markets, which are inextricably linked to
access to education, employment, health care, and political participation. On a
global scale, women cultivate more than 50% of all food grown. Women
nonetheless account for 70 per cent of the world's hungry and are dispro-
portionately affected by malnutrition, poverty and food insecurity. Governments
are not living up to their international commitments to protect women from
discrimination, as the gap between de jure equality and de facto discrimination
continues to persist and resist change.
1.Rural women, access to land, production and markets
32. Women's access to control and ownership of land or property are crucial
for the purpose of strengthening their security and livelihood. It is important
to understand the multiple factors - laws, inheritance, marital status and
agrarian reform policies - that impede women's equal access to land and the
way these affect women by virtue of their gender at the level of individual,
community and nation. Despite representing the majority of the agricultural
workforce and production, women are estimated to have access to/control
5% of land globally. The World Food Program estimates that de facto female-
headed households form a estimated 25 per cent of total rural households
signaling the multiplicity of women from single parents, widows, wives of
migrant workers to women migrant workers.
33. Rural households continue to acquire land through inheritance laws that
emanate from customary legal regimes currently premised on reaffirming
women's unequal access to and control over land. Because land is mediated
through husbands, fathers, brothers or sons, women's land rights are
negotiated within unequal power relationships and are not assumed to be
general entitlements. This underscores the importance of legal and cultural
reform to restore the balance of power relationships within the family.
2. Women and Access to Education, Employment and Health Care
34. Rural women have the world's lowest levels of schooling and the highest
rates of illiteracy in all developing regions. Twice as many women suffer
from malnutrition as men, and girls are twice as likely to die from malnutrition
as boys. Numerous studies underscore the social costs of rural women's
lack of education and assets, linking them directly to high rates of
malnutrition, infant mortality, and in some countries, HIV/AIDS infection.
There are also high economic costs: wasted human capital and low labour
productivity that stifle rural development and progress in agriculture, and
ultimately threaten food security. Discrimination against women in the
context of the right to adequate food is a culmination of all other aspects
of discrimination that stifle women's rights to equality and empowerment.
III. Anti-Discriminator Strategies and Policies
D. Legal and Social Protection of Rural Women
55. Because the sustainability of food supplies and income-generation are
limited by lack of credit services and market access, rural areas particularly
carry the burden of high levels of physical activity to ensure food availability.
Women improve the food security of their household through (a) their access
to income-generating activity and (b) through ensuring food availability.
Technologies designed to meet women's needs have proven particularly
useful in increasing productivity and shortening physically demanding
labour to relieve women in their heavy burdens. Alternative sources of cooking
fuels have proven to shorten preparation and storage of foods and decrease
the need for daily firewood collection, for example. Equitable rights to land
for women in both developed and developing countries point to the success of
rural (and urban) small businesses run by women (compared to male
counterparts) so much that banks and service industries actively support
women's entrepreneurial initiatives.
56. The right to control, access, and manage land is tied to a woman's right to
exercise financial independence, earn a livelihood, and subsequently provide
a livelihood for herself and her household. Agrarian reform policies which are
'gender-blind' continue to exclude women from entitlements to land. States
undergoing agrarian reform or land redistribution schemes must uphold the
equal rights of women to land, regardless of marital status. Women usually
do not have their names on land-use certificates (whether jointly with their
husbands or individually), which decreases their ability to apply for mortgage
or credit. Many rural women, as documented systematically in Sub-Saharan
Africa, envisage the legal difficulty that they cannot hold title to land, although
they are given the right to till the land and erect a home on a piece of land
allocated to the household head. Countries that have adopted CEDAW have
strengthened the legal framework of equality with respect of the human rights
of women by repealing laws deemed discriminatory to women. However,
elimination of discrimination against women requires not only changes in
institutions, laws and regulations, but more importantly cultural practices that
are part of the process that creates and perpetuates such discrimination.
Governments must show political will to enforce the rule of law and bridge the
gap between de jure equality and de facto discrimination, including affirmative
58. According to the World Health Organization, the health of women and girls is
of particular concern because, in many societies, they are disadvantaged by
discrimination rooted in socio-cultural factors. For example, women and girls
face increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. Since women plan an essential role
in food security, it is widely known that the health of women is important for
the health of their societies. Underweight and malnourished mothers are more
likely to give birth to underweight babies who end up having mental or physical
disorders. To enhance women's right to food and right to health in order to
break the vicious circle, all barriers depriving women from proper health care,
housing, potable water, sanitation and healthy food must be removed. Studies
also show that income earned and managed by women is positively correlated
to economic and nutritional well-being for the entire household. Women are
more likely to spend their incomes on food and children's needs. Research
has shown that a child's chance of survival increase by 20 per cent when the
mother controls the household budget.
E. Legal and Social Protection of Other Vulnerable Groups Exposed to the Risk of
Hunger and Its Other Human Rights Implications
60. More than one third of child deaths worldwide are attributed to malnutrition.......
IV. Good Practices
E. Microfinance for Poor Women
Annex - Declaration of Rights of Peasants - Women and Men
Almost half of the people in the world are peasants..........
II. Violation of Peasants' Rights
Millions of peasants have been forced to leave their farmland because of land
grabs facilitated by national policies and/or the military......
Women's and children's rights are the most affected. Women are victims of
psychological, physical, and economic violence. They are discriminated in their
access to land and productive resources, and marginalized decision making.....