|Women: The Key to Food Security - Food policy report (IFPRI, 1995, 28 p.)|
Womens role in the economy has often been underestimated, and their work in agriculture has long been invisible. While policymakers have targeted population, health, and nutrition programs to women in their reproductive roles, they have neglected women as productive agents. This approach, however, is changing. In the decade since the 1985 World Conference on Women in Nairobi, Kenya, new research has highlighted the crucial role of women as farm managers and farm workers all over the world. Growing evidence shows that income in the hands of women contributes more to household food security and child nutrition than income controlled by men. Such knowledge about womens key role in food security is essential to the design and implementation of effective programs to enhance their potential. The Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing, China, in September 1995, provides a milepost for assessing womens progress in the last decade, taking stock of current knowledge, and building on this knowledge to guide future policies.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) places a high priority on research to improve the understanding of womens roles in agriculture and food security. IFPRIs work in this area started with a series of studies on the effects of agricultural commercialization on womens income, food consumption, and household and child nutrition. Now, through a multicountry research program called Strengthening Food Policy through Intrahousehold Analysis, IFPRI researchers are examining the processes of family decisionmaking to learn how resources are allocated within the household. This research aims to inform the design and implementation of more effective food policy by taking into account how womens access to and control over productive resources, stakes in development and food security, and responses to development incentives differ from those of men.
This food policy report synthesizes current research about the roles that women play in ensuring food security in the developing world. It presents evidence on women as food producers, as providers of food to the household, and as contributors to household nutrition security. In so doing, it offers concrete proof that reducing gender disparities by increasing womens physical and human capital promotes agricultural growth, greater income for women, and better food and nutrition security for all.