Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gender Equity and Food Security: Lessons from Ozalla Community, Edo State, Nigeria

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gender Equity and Food Security: Lessons from Ozalla Community, Edo State, Nigeria

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

There has been an increasing need to consider gender equity as a key element of development, especially in terms of the status of men and women. It has also become imperative to recognize women's needs and contributions to society, most importantly in the sphere of agricultural and food security. Women's role in food security cannot be over emphasized because about 80% of women in rural Nigeria are engaged in food crops production. This discrimination especially in terms of access to and ownership of land for agricultural purposes has generated ceaseless cases of quarrels, violence and enmity between siblings and family relations. Inspite of the enormous availability of land for agricultural purposes, food security still remains a challenge. Due to its patriarchal nature anchored on gerontocratic rule, statutory law in Ozalla community and across most rural communities in Nigeria is subservient to customary law which reinforces the discrimination and perpetual subjugation suffered by the women. This paper therefore examines the challenges faced by women in their quest to guarantee food security. A combination of methods both quantitative and qualitative was employed in the study. This involved data generated from 789 respondents for the survey research, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions.

KEY Words: Agricultural Production, Food Security, Gender Equity, Land Ownership, Patrilineal Community.

Introduction

As with culture, gender relations varies among societies and the general trend is for women to have less personal autonomy, fewer resources at their disposal and limited influence over the decision making processes that shape their societies and their own lives. Gender, like race or ethnicity, functions as an organizing principle for society because of the cultural meanings assigned to being male or female (Tuyizere, 2007). Recognizing the challenge of gender equity and food security is paramount in understanding at different levels, the situation of women in agriculture, their contribution to rural agricultural development, and the constraints they face in the drive towards food security.

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. In other words, food security depends on the availability, accessibility, adequacy and acceptability of food. In each of these areas women worldwide play crucial roles: as food producers, as income earners responsible for the provision of food for their households, and as those who process and prepare the food to keep the members of their families healthy and active (Prakash, 2003).

In many places of the world, women are mostly responsible for food crop production, though at the subsistence level and are nearly universally responsible for food preparation for their families. All this they do in the face of cultural constraints and attitudes that conspire to undervalue their work and responsibilities, reduce their productivity, place upon them a disproportionate work burden, discriminate against them and hinder their participation in decision and policy making (Iruonagbe, 2010a).

On the situation of women across the world, they own only about one percent of the world's land. Communities in sub -Sahara Africa are patriarchal and confer on women an inferior social-status even in the agricultural sector where they produce three quarters of the food. Over 85% of Uganda's population live in rural areas where agriculture is the major contributor to their livelihoods. Most agricultural production comes from smallholders, majority of who are women; using traditional methods of farming and family labour, but still produce over 94% of total agricultural output and supply, which is virtually all of Uganda's food requirements (Tuhaise, 2000; Tuyizere, 2007).

There is a clear understanding that with increased agricultural production, there will be an expansion in farm income which invariably will stimulate the demand for non-farm products. …

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