Understanding gender relations between and among boys, men, girls, and women are essential in determining vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity.
In Sub Saharan Africa, women make up most of the agricultural workforce and produce up to 80 percent of basic foodstuffs, according to FAO. Women are generally responsible for food selection and preparation and for the care and feeding of children. There is substantial evidence that indicates that women’s income is more likely to be spent on food than that of men.
However, the inequalities that women face in their households and communities diminish their capacity to produce and consume nutritious food. Despite their role in agricultural production, most women do not have control over land resources and lack access to credit, technology and markets. Women and girls are also affected by the limits on their access to education and employment opportunities, which weakens their decision making power on feeding and caregiving practices. Most of the women’s work is ‘unpaid’ in subsistence production and therefore increases women’s economic dependency. Women are affected more by the increasing incidences of climate variability than men since they are more dependent on local natural resources. In rural areas, they often divide their time and travel long distances to cultivate land and find food, water, and firewood. Further still, women, tend to have limited options to mitigate, cope with or recover from the effects of extreme weather events.
The Global, Regional and National commitments on gender equality
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
The 1995 Beijing Declaration and its Platform of Action
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa
The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in August 2008
SADC Member States have made significant strides in fulfilling the above mentioned commitments to gender equality, equity, and women’s empowerment and participation in decision making. A number of countries, including Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Tanzania, have on average more than 30 percent women’s representation in parliament. In Lesotho, 58 percent of local government positions are filled by women. Eleven Member States have adopted legislation that deals with domestic violence, and all but Angola and Madagascar are developing or adopting National Action Plans to end Gender Based Violence (GBV). However, more needs to be done to achieve substantial positive changes in women’s lives.
Gender inequalities are persistent in customary practices and access to social services, education, employment and economic resources. GBV is widespread and a major obstacle to attaining gender equality and equity. Studies on sexual violence in Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe estimate that up to 59 percent of women have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. About 10 percent of pregnant women in Zimbabwe and 7 percent in South Africa have been violently assaulted attacked during pregnancy.
Reducing gender inequalities can reduce vulnerability to food and nutrition insecurity and must be central to all policies and programmes. When women have the same access to productive resources as men have, they will produce more food and significant progress would be made in lifting millions of people out of food and nutrition insecurity. Bridging this gap means putting more resources in the hands of women and amplifying their voice within the household and community. Empowering women yields multiplier e?ects on food security, nutrition, and health of household members, especially children. When children are better fed, they are healthier, learn better, and become more productive citizens. Eliminating the inequalities between women and men farmers would increase agricultural production by 2.5 to 4 percent in developing countries, which translates to a 12 to 17 percent reduction in global hunger, or 100 to 150 million fewer hunger people, according to WFP. FAO states that an increase in $10 in women’s income achieves the same improvements in children’s nutrition and health as an increase of a man’s income by $110.
The role of the Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (RVAA) Programme
The RVAA Programme coordinates and supports SADC Members States through National Vulnerability Assessment Committees (NVACs) to undertake annual vulnerability assessments and analysis. Such analysis is a critical input to both emergency response and development programming, and used by both governments and partners.
To gain a deeper understanding of the causes of chronic vulnerability in the region and to inform longer term programming, the RVAA Programme has integrated gender into vulnerability assessments and analysis.
To provide more comprehensive assessment and analysis of the causes of chronic vulnerability in the region to inform longer term programming, the RVAA Programme has integrated gender in the vulnerability assessments and analysis.
A Technical Working (TWG) on Integrating Nutrition, HIV and Gender, established in 2013, provides guidance on the integration of nutrition into vulnerability assessments and analysis. The Group also strengthens the country level capacity of NVACs on the integration of gender in vulnerability assessments and analysis. The TWG group spearheaded the development of SADC Guidance on Integration of Nutrition, HIV, and Gender in Vulnerability Assessments and Analysis for NVACs in 2015. The document provides reviews of approaches, methodologies, and tools for integrating nutrition into the vulnerability assessments and analysis, adaptable to specific country contexts.
The NVACs now generate sex disaggregated data on food and nutrition security indicators, including access to and control over productive resources, ownership, and decision making power over productive resources; assesses the roles of women, men, boys, and girls in agricultural production. Through Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis reports, the RVAA Programme contributes to raising awareness among policymakers, development partners and the public on integrating gender into food security policies and programmes.
The Angola Vulnerability Assessment Committee integrated data from the Angola Multiple Indicator and Health Survey (2015 16 IIMS) into their VAA analysis. The survey provided information on the demographic and health situation of women, men, and children, including family planning methods, childhood and maternal mortality, maternal and child health, breastfeeding practices, domestic violence, and child wellbeing.
Source: Southern African Development Community