Women's role in agricultural production and its health consequences: Issue for research
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Women have long occupied a central place in agricultural production in non-industrialized countries, underpinning food security for their households and their communities. However, it was only in the last 30 years that the importance of their role as food producers had received attention and support from international bodies and their own national governments. Spearheaded by the United Nations (UN), various international activities initially directed attention to the subject of women and food. The 1974 World Food Conference acknowledged women's contributions to the battle against world hunger. Through its declaration of 1976-1984 as the Decade for Women, the UN then introduced the concept of integrating women in development which subsequently became gender in development. The 1977 UN report 'Women in Food Production, Food Handling and Nutrition' advanced these themes in the agenda of international organizations and national agencies that were oriented or reoriented to women and gender issues. It was believed, however, that the 1979 World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development provided the turning point as it underscored greater support for women's economic roles, a methodical accounting of rural women's contribution to agriculture, and provision for women's equitable access to productive resources such as land, water, inputs, and services (FAO, 1981 cited in Holmboe-Ottesen, Mascarenhas, and Wandel 1989).