HRC46: Statement for the Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food

March 2, 2021 ARROW’s Intervention (1)

This video statement was broadcasted at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food on March 2nd, 2021. Watch the video here.

The Asia Pacific is home to over half of all people worldwide who are hungry with nearly half a billion people in the region still undernourished, most of whom are women and girls. The right to adequate food and nutrition is a basic human right that has direct links to the right to life and health including sexual and reproductive health.

The onset of pandemics such as the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has deepened the existing inequalities, which is felt most by the marginalised groups among whom women, girls and young people’s affordability, availability and access to food security, nutrition and food sovereignty is severely affected.  Lack of universal access to optimal nutrition among girls, pregnant women and infants has long lasting and intergenerational consequences for sexual and reproductive health and development (LANCET:2008). Rural women, migrant workers, and small-scale food producers who were already those most affected by challenges of malnutrition in all its forms, now face the double burden of lack of access to quality health care as well as lack of social protection.

Gender discrimination is a critical element in access to adequate nutrition and food. A clear illustration of this discrimination is seen in the way food is distributed and consumed at the household level. Especially in poor households, since the girls and women eat last, there is very little food left, or the best parts are consumed by the menfolk. For this reason, hunger and malnutrition is higher among girls and women than among boys and men in Asia. Furthermore, in times of economic crisis, clearly brought to light with the current pandemic, cuts in spending have further aggravated rural women’s access to food and increased gender inequalities as key services and social protections remain unavailable.

The most important way forward should be the holistic understanding of food systems based on human rights. Food systems both its production should be firmly grounded in the universal realization of human rights, including the human rights to food and nutrition.

Our recommendations are to:

  • Ensure the agenda on food security and food sovereignty is framed using women’s practical and strategic gender needs. The full realisation of women’s human rights including their access to economic resources, adequate nutrition information and appropriate sexual and reproductive health and rights must be promoted and guaranteed.
  • Ensure meaningful and sustained participation of women and girls including those from minority groups and persons with disabilities, in all levels of decision-making processes related to food, food sovereignty and security and nutrition.
  • Guarantee women producers living in rural area’s access, control, management and ownership of all natural and productive resources on which they depend. Widespread violations of their rights, including those relating to access and control over natural resources as well as those related to the rights of agricultural workers, must be urgently addressed.
  • Ensure decisions and solutions to meet the needs of the vulnerable groups including women and girls are guided by evidence-based approaches supported and informed by data and statistics from civil society, academics, research institutes and think tanks.

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