Conflict, Refugee Status, Displacement, Can Further Impact Food Security, Discrimination, for Women 


reasA Syrian-Kurdish refugee woman carries a container as she walk along a road in the Domiz refugee camp, 20 km southeast of Dohuk city, in northern Iraq, on July 17, 2012.  (AFP Photo/Safin Hamed) 

A Syrian-Kurdish refugee woman walks along a road in the Domiz refugee camp, 20 km southeast of Dohuk city, in northern Iraq. (AFP Photo/Safin Hamed)

 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


Gender Excerpts:


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

   I.  Introduction

       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.....