Shewprasad, Sharmila, Women & Environments International Magazine
Over the past year, the price of food has sparked popular protests around the world in countries ranging from China, Bolivia, Uganda, and throughout the 'Arab Spring' uprisings, and has been the topic of much debate. With the world's population rising past the 7 billion mark this year, food security - the access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food for maintaining a healthy and active life - is increasingly on the international agenda as both a political and policy issue and as a development and sustainability issue. President Obama's Feed the Future Initiative is one example of the renewed attention being given to global hunger and food security.
Too often, the role of women continues to be overlooked or inadequately analyzed in these debates. The objective of this issue of Women and Environments International is to critically examine issues related to women, gender and food security, and to apply a gender lens to questions of availability, access, and use of food.
Even as food security becomes a prominent point for grassroots protest and international action, the feminization of food insecurity remains little discussed. The affordability of basic commodities is an important aspect of food security, and poor women are the most vulnerable to sudden fluctuations in the price of staples. They are often the first to feel the impact of price increases, and the last to recover. Across the world, one coping strategy used by women is skipping meals so that others in the family have enough to eat. Another is consuming cheaper, less-nutritionally rich foods.
Yet, a majority of the world's farmers are women. Sustainable agriculture and access to land underpin issues of food security. Framed by these larger debates on food production and global economics, authors in this issue are asking critical questions about gender and food and exploring the ways in which food insecurity affects women - What is the impact of the rise in global food prices on women? …