India - Woman writing (c) Mohan Dhamotharan

Although formal gender equality has been enshrined in international law and many national constitutions and legislations, the de facto enjoyment of the human right to adequate food is all-too-often gender biased.

Where the right to adequate food is violated or threatened, women and girls are often specifically or more severely affected. Addressing these violations is not only relevant for women's food security, but also for that of children and men, and the economic and political stability of communities and states.

The human right to adequate food is particularly impaired for women and girls by various factors. Conceptually, the structural separation and legal isolation of relevant rights - in particular women's rights from the right to adequate food and its nutritional and food sovereignty dimensions - has hindered a holistic approach to human health and nutrition, resulting in the development of fragmented and inadequate food security programs.

These structural fragmentations leverage conditions impairing women's food security on the ground.  For example, violence against women, which is reflected in intra-household food discrimination, limited access to and control over resources, and lack of protection of women's human rights, among others, is a significant barrier to women's right to adequate food and their participation as autonomous and participatory members of efforts to address hunger and malnutrition.

The current focus on malnutrition during pregnancy and infancy and the accompanying neglect of women's control over reproductive choice and nutritional needs before, during and after pregnancy, facilitates inadequate short-term, transnational and market-based solutions to malnutrition. Moreover, the lack of women's participation in democratic food governance, emphasizing the need for more localized and sustainable food and nutrition systems based on agro-ecological principles that support small-scale and female farmers, is also a major cause of food insecurity and hunger for women.

FIAN's Work

Overcoming food insecurity among women and girls is an integral part of FIAN's mandate. FIAN aims towards gender mainstreaming through its different working areas, places a special focus on gender issues and on women's right to adequate food issues, and contributes to the current gender analysis of food security by partnering with other academics and NGOs to develop a focused approach on gender, nutrition and the human right to adequate food.

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