Helping women respond to the global food price crisis (2008)

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This policy brief outlines the gender implications of the recent food price crisis and how it impacts on poor and vulnerable households. The report calls on decision makers to incorporate what is known about women’s roles in agricultural production and household welfare, and the specific challenges they face. The authors assert that this will lead to more effective policy responses, which will enable women to respond better to the current challenges and opportunities.

The authors note that developing appropriate policy responses to the food price crisis requires careful gender analysis to uncover differences between and among men and women. Improved sex-disaggregated data collection is needed to support this analysis and develop gender-sensitive indicators for monitoring and evaluation of outcomes.

The report recommends the following policy interventions to address the gender dimension of high food prices:
  • interventions should be targeted to smallholders with explicit efforts to reach women farmers in poor female- and male-headed households;
  • policies to help women weather this crisis must be tailored to the specific socio-cultural context in which gender relations unfold;
  • in the short run, food aid distribution should expand and involve women as central actors in planning and distribution. Better strategies would ensure that food aid is targeted to poor women because they have been found to be more likely to distribute rations within the household;
  • social protection interventions should be introduced or expanded to include preventive health and nutrition programs like micronutrient and food supplements targeted to more vulnerable groups;
  • new crop varieties and technologies also have the potential to benefit women farmers, especially if they do not require large initial investments, asset ownership or if they can obtain access to productive resources (such as land) by other means;
  • extension services can also be tailored to meet the needs of women by bringing services closer to women farmers at times when they can participate, using women’s informal social networks to share information;
  • improved credit services could buffer consumption shocks, help women retain or reclaim their assets, increase farm productivity, boost women’s empowerment, and reduce poverty.
Language: English
Imprint: IFPRI Policy Brief 7, October 2008. Reproduced with permission from the International Food Policy Research Institute,Washington, DC: www.ifpri.org. The Policy Brief can be found online at http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/bp/bp007.asp 2008
Series: Policy brief,
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