Food Security: What Does Gender Have to Do With It?

Citation:

Mengesha, Emezat H. 2016. “Food Security: What Does Gender Have to Do With It?Agenda 30 (4): 25-35.

Author: Emezat H. Mengesha

Abstract:

The practice of gender mainstreaming has made inroads into food security policies and programmes in Ethiopia, resulting in integration of mechanisms to address the needs and priorities of women and men. Recognition of women-headed households and women within male-headed households for receipt of benefits, recognition of women-headed households as in the poorer category of Food Security Program (FSP) clients and the danger of women’s needs being overshadowed by the demands made by household heads are good examples here. Although positive results/outcomes have been recorded in consecutive evaluations of the FSP, challenges remain. The main challenges revolve around failure to articulate/understand factors that make women experience food insecurity more severely than other members of the family; traditional patriarchal practices which require women to prioritise feeding the husband and boy child in times of food shortages; and failure to articulate/address the added burdens which food insecurity puts upon women, including being forced to travel long distances in search of water as well as feed for animals at home, heavy workload and time poverty. These challenges arise due to an understanding of food security that takes households as units of analysis, and fails adequately to understand and articulate the gender-differentiated needs of different members of a household.

Based on quantitative and qualitative methods with tools such as questionnaires and in-depth and key informant interviews as well as focus group discussions targeting beneficiaries of the FSP and implementers, this article examines the level of engagement of the FSP with gender and feminist concerns. This research is based on the most recent cycle of the FSP of Ethiopia (2010–2014) and a review of relevant literature, including evaluations of various components of the FSP. 

Keywords: gender, food security, feminism and food security

Topics: Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Households, Livelihoods, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Ethiopia

Year: 2016

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