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Food security: the impact of food prices on women Marc Wegerif Oxfam International.

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Presentation on theme: "Food security: the impact of food prices on women Marc Wegerif Oxfam International."— Presentation transcript:

1 Food security: the impact of food prices on women Marc Wegerif Oxfam International

2 Karigirwa Widowed Insecure land Weather changes Failing crops Despite this Produces Supports her children and orphans works with other widows some of whom are HIV+ Planting trees

3 The perfect storm Women caught between: –Increasing food prices –Climate Change driven environmental stresses –Impact of HIV and Aids (more care giving by women, more new infections among women) –Existing and continuing marginalization

4 The food price problem Prices of basic food stuffs rose in some cases by over 100% from early 2007 to mid 2008 Poor families spend up to 80% of incomes on food so feel the pressure more Increased import costs hurt many economies At least 119million more people going hungry Small farmers not benefiting from higher prices as many (70% in Tanzania) are net consumers and the terms of trade have worsened for the farmers Despite recent fuel price decreases food prices, especially in many rural areas, have remained high Food insecurity is not new for millions around the world, it is structural (as is the oppression of women) and must be dealt with as such

5 Gendered power operates at all levels from household to community to national Our analysis of the food crisis must be at all levels and not stop at the household door To go beyond generalizations we must understand the impact on women in poverty: –In the home –The farm; and –The market. Are we looking in the right places?

6 52% of married women in India suffer from anaemia Main providers of food Access/control of fewer resources and less food Less decision making power Responsible for most domestic work Pressure on time fetching, making, cooking and working. Women in the home Women and girls first to eat less and eat worse Girls first to be pulled out of schools Increase in forced marriages of girls Women first to miss proper health care More of womens time to make rather than buy Increased psychological stress (e.g. child care) Food Crisis Impact

7 In Africa women receive only 7% of extension services and 10% of credit to small-scale farmers despite being the majority of small farmers Women on the farm Majority of workforce in agriculture Insecure tenure Less and worse quality land than men Limited access to credit and extension services Less access to storage and transport infrastructure More vulnerable to corruption More time needed to produce sufficient crops Marginal land gives less options Vulnerable to increased exploitation as workers Worsening terms of trade for women as small producers Women not benefiting from interventions

8 In the Philippines, women make up the majority of those in the informal sector, some 27 million. They have no social security, no protection … workers in this sector are eating less and less (Women Thrive Worldwide, 2008) Earn lower wages Often in informal economy or temporary informal jobs Dont get benefits of those formally employed Less power to negotiate in markets when buying and selling More vulnerable to corruption Women in the market Larger proportion of womens smaller incomes going to food Unable to benefit from increased prices Vulnerable to increased exploitation as workers, traders and consumers While women lost out Big business profited 2007-08 - Nestles sales grew 9% - Tescos profits up by 10% - Monsanto 26% increase in revenue - Some grain traders and speculators making massive profits

9 Drivers of food prices increases Bio-fuel industry, especially maize for ethanol as in the USA (contributing 30-70% of increases) Climate changes putting pressure on production in some areas Growing middle classes increasing demand for food (meat) and fuels Unfair trade regimes, in particular northern subsidies, undermined investment in agriculture in Africa and other developing countries. All MMM

10 Climate Change in the mix Marginal land that women often have access to becoming more unviable Increasing conflicts that often have a gendered impact Displacement that always has a disproportionate impact on women and children Water and other natural resources that women collect are becoming more scarce; taking a longer time, distance, and risk to find Women not in decision making on CC responses Higher vulnerability and mortality of women in disasters (The 1991 floods in Bangladesh killed 140,000 people of which 90% were women)

11 Women the obvious solution We all know that investing in women is good for development, good for children, good for communities But we still sadly and amazingly have programmes that are gender blind or at least partially sighted Example fertilizer subsidies If our goal is to improve economic development, we must invest in women as economic and social agents in the agricultural economy Amrtya Sen

12 Resolve the Food Crisis By Focusing on Women Our analysis of the food crisis in every country and region must be gender differentiated, focus on the impact on women, and not stop outside the household Interventions must be explicitly focused on women ensuring that women benefit and that the worst impacts on women are addressed Involve, listen and respond to women in poverty during the analysis and design, delivery and monitoring of interventions Be responsive to the specificities of each context as gender relations manifest and impact in different ways

13 Specific recommendations Cash/food vouchers for women Support to women small farmers, food vendors, informal workers, pregnant or nursing mothers Early childhood nutrition and school feeding with specific measures to ensure girls benefit Provide incentives for keeping girls in school Improve HIV and Aids care and support Increase womens land tenure security Improve womens access to and control of credit, agricultural inputs, storage facilities, and technologies Listen to women in poverty and strengthen womens organisations and womens leadership in organisations

14 Feminization of responses The causes of and responses to this food crisis – and climate change - have been beyond the control of women Success will require not just the delivery of better services for women, it is about women being able to assert their rights and gain greater control of their lives Especially for women to have more control over fundamentals like securing food and the environment for survival today and in the future

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