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‘No food security without rights for rural women’ – campaigners launch demands for rights of rural women ahead of World Food Security Summit

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ROME – Governments are gathering for the 45th Plenary of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome this week against a backdrop of rising global hunger and stark warnings about the drastic impact of climate change on food production.

The CFS summit starts today (15 Oct) on the UN’s International Day of Rural Women. ActionAid International is launching three demands for global experts and decision-makers on food security, to recognise the rights of rural women – who make up nearly half of the world’s family farmers but suffer most from hunger and malnutrition.

ActionAid’s global delegation will and put pressure on world leaders and their representatives to demand for rural women:

  • The right to participate and benefit from rural development, as set out by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its recommendation on the rights of rural women*

  • A fair share of finance for climate-resilient, sustainable agriculture, known as agroecology, from donors, governments, multilateral institutions and philanthropists;

  • Repeal of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on seeds that prevent female farmers from access and control over genetic resources*.

Those attending the food security summit will today debate the findings of the UN Food and Agriculture Agency’s The State of Food and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report launched last month.

It shows more than 821 million people – most of them women and children – are not getting enough food to eat and this number has been rising since 2014 due to conflicts, climate change and economic downturns.

Ruchi Tripathi, Head of Resilient Livelihoods and Climate Justice at ActionAid International, says:

“There can be no solution to rising global hunger without securing the rights of rural women.

“Whether as farmers, fishers, or forest producers, women have been feeding their communities for centuries. But as large-scale commercial monoculture spreads around the globe, rural women are being dispossessed, and their knowledge of sustainable food production methods is being lost.

“Far from feeding the world, big agribusiness is displacing millions, accelerating climate change and fuelling hunger. Restoring the rights of women and rural people over natural resources, and investing in sustainable agroecology that builds on their knowledge, is the only way to stop this vicious circle.”

Climate extremes are one of the key drivers of increasing hunger, with drought causing more than 80% of the total damage and loss in agriculture, the SOFI report finds.

ActionAid believes that the solution to ending world hunger is empowering rural women and investment in climate-friendly, sustainable agriculture known as ‘agroecology’.

‘Agroecology’, empowers women living in rural areas, ensures year-round access to healthy food and more diverse diets, cuts poverty, creates employment opportunities, fosters climate resilience, reduces dependence on harmful chemicals, values tribal and indigenous knowledge, regenerates soils and protects the environment.

A growing body of evidence supports this move, including today’s report by the Climate, Land, Ambition & Rights Alliance (CLARA), which shows transforming agriculture and land practices would help limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Ends.

For more information and interviews contact Jenna Pudelek in the ActionAid International press office on jenna.pudelek@actionaid.orgjenna.pudelek@actionaid.org or call +44 (0)7795642990.

Notes to editors:

The CLARA report, published today (15 Oct) shows how greater ambition to secure land rights, restore forest ecosystems and move towards more sustainable agriculture and food production systems can help limit global warming to 1.5°C by reducing global emission by 21 gigatonnes of CO² by 2050.

*https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CEDAW/Shared%20Documents/1_Global/INT_CEDAW_GEC_7933_E.pdf

*Monopoly seed laws

The rapid expansion of Intellectual Property Rights (IRPs) and seed laws – promoted by a handful of powerful corporates, endorsed by multilateral institutions and enforced by governments keen to ‘modernize’ agriculture – has privatised seeds and other germplasm, such as leaves, pollen and pieces of stem from which plants can be grown, for new technologies and practices in many developing countries.

The majority of smallholders, particularly women, rely on peasant seed systems to access diverse local seed varieties, land races and native germplasm that is adapted to their local environment and cultures.

IPRs marginalise traditional and indigenous seed systems and transfer monopoly ownership to commercial interests. This undermines women’s key role as seed savers and overrides farmers’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed – a core foundation of sustainable agriculture.

Jenna Pudelek | Media manager | ActionAid International (UK based)
Tel: +44 (0)7586572161
E: jenna.pudelek@actionaid.orgjenna.pudelek@actionaid.org T: @JennaRPudelek