Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gendered Aspects of Food Security in Lesotho: Implications for an Integrative Rights-Based Approach

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gendered Aspects of Food Security in Lesotho: Implications for an Integrative Rights-Based Approach

Article excerpt

Over the past decade, international agencies have made efforts to integrate gender concerns into all development planning. Remarkable outcomes have been achieved through this approach in many areas such as education, health and micro-finance, among others. The question of women and food security, however, which has also received similar attention, has failed to translate into the expected outcomes in much of Southern Africa. The tardy reaction to gender-based food security efforts reflects the complexity of the relationship between the two. Food security, in its broader connotation, results from the availability of adequate food at country level, household and individual access to adequate and nutritious food, effective consumption and adequate nutrition outcomes - all in a sustained manner. As such, it is intricately linked with a woman's multiple roles expressed in her productive, reproductive and supportive roles. It is contended that even focused efforts aimed at resolving the problems faced by women in performing one or other of their roles, may fail to produce adequate results, if the issues underlying each function and their connections are not fully understood. Extrapolating from the Lesotho context, this paper attempts to review the various aspects of the relationship between women and food security in Southern Africa, highlighting imperative issues and emerging areas of concern. The central questions underpinning this paper include the effects of climate change on the vulnerability of women and its shorter and longer term impact on women's livelihood, since they are more dependent on 'natural capital' to make a living. This paper proffers an integrated rights-based approach to institutional responses - at governmental and non-governmental levels - to the challenges highlighted.

Keywords: Food Security; Women; Livelihood; Climate Change; Rights-Based Approach; Southern Africa; Lesotho.

Notwithstanding the commitments made at the World Food Summit, 1996, in the Millennium Declaration, 2000, in the Global Food Security Programme Strategic Plan 2011-2016 as well as the positive indicators of improvements shown in the most recent Global Hunger Index 2012, hunger has continued to escalate over the last two decades. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) reported in 2012 that the World Food Summit (WFS) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ambition of halving the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015 is becoming more difficult to reach for many countries. FAO's most recent estimates put the number of chronically undernourished people at 870 million, a notable increase since the 1990-1992 base period. Out of this figure, an estimated 850 million live in developing countries. In today's world, a child below ten dies from hunger eveiy five seconds. Twenty-five thousand people die from hunger or related causes eveiy day. Moreover, about one billion people are gravely, although some countries are showing commitment to curb hunger and its structural causes (Ziegler, Golay & Way, 2011; FAO, WFP & IFAD, 2012). Among the key lessons learnt from all available indices is that in a world that is richer than ever before and that already produces more than enough food to feed the global population, we need political solutions, rather than complicated technical solutions to get rid of hunger. The global food crisis has reinforced two issues about the future of agriculture: the first is that a growing world population, higher incomes and changes in diet are pushing up global demand for food faster than farmers can supply it, and the second is that throwing up new barriers to farm trade on this congested planet is not the path to solution. Getting rid of hunger should therefore not only be a question of finding resources and developing new technologies. It is also a question of challenging structural inequities, imbalances in gender relations and other socio-economic inequalities. The overarching premise of this paper is that an integrative rightsbased approach is sine qua non to effectively curtail hunger. …

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