Catalysing the symbiotic relationship between social and gender equity and rice agrifood systems transformation

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Manila, Philippines (October 25, 2023) – Women have key roles on the front line in food systems including in times of crisis and their engagement is vital to overcoming global threats, and achieving shared global goals including food and nutrition security. This was the key message in the plenary by Dr. Ranjitha Puskur titled “ Social and Gender Equity and Rice Agri-Food Systems Transformation: Catalysing the Symbiotic Relationship ”, delivered on the final day of 6th International Rice Congress (IRC 2023).

One of the biggest challenges for the agricultural community today is providing nine billion people across continents with food amidst climate change, political conflicts, and unforeseen events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, climate change has resulted in land degradation directly affecting 74% of the poor. Almost 12 million hectares of agricultural lands are lost through drought and desertification each year where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown. 60 million people were added to the ranks of the hungry during 2014-19 and COVID-19 pandemic added another 83 to 132 million undernourished people.

Evidence shows that women are already vulnerable and their situation becomes worse in times of calamities. During a crisis, their access to inputs and markets is disrupted along with their access to food supply chains. The availability of labor and machinery and, consequently production are affected. These lead to higher cost of inputs like seeds and fertilizers and shrinking income for farm laborers and small traders. Women who provide labor or run small businesses suffer from lower food availability and nutritional insecurity.

“When men migrate to urban areas it is the women who are left behind to take care of the household including farming and elderly and children,” said Dr. Puskur, a socio-economist specializing in…

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