Gender in food security programs: Take-away for moving towards more inclusive systems

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Virginia Tech

Development researchers and practitioners have an opportunity and responsibility to create processes where the experiences of the different populations where we work inform the design and implementation of programs and research. The conference has highlighted gender-responsive and community-centered approaches in agriculture, health, and natural resources.

Integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment into Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, is an ongoing effort of clarifying aims and expectations amongst ourselves and with our partners and of building gender capacity across technical staff and leadership. The Global Food Security Strategy and the accompanying Research Strategy mark (1) a shift to using an agricultural and food systems approach – which necessarily involves a greater variety of populations and actors, including the private sector; (2) an emphasis on building communities’ resilience to threats to food security; and (3) human impacts of Feed the Future’s research and programs. We expect to be thinking more about fostering gender equality and women’s empowerment in agricultural systems beyond smallholder production; balancing the needs for intersectional analysis and approaches with efficient data collection and use; and understanding gendered use of and benefit from agricultural technologies.

Lessons learned and questions arising from Feed the Future and the wider field have implications for how gender equity and women’s empowerment are measured and for the capacities needed to conduct research and programming in agricultural and food systems.