Policy dialogue focuses on the right to food

Addis Ababa, 7 June 2018 (ECA) - A high-level policy dialogue on “Gender, Land and Agricultural Commercialization and the Right to Food: Towards Effective Policies and Equitable and Sustainable Livelihoods,” took place at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa on 6 June.

The event was organized by the African Center for Gender hosted in partnership with the DEMETER Project and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences.

In her opening remarks, Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of ECA’s Social Development Policy Division and Coordinator of the African Centre for Gender, commended the successful implementation of the Project, which adopted an inter-sectoral and inter-regional approach to address the highly needed policy research to inform effective policy-making at the intersection of gender, land and agriculture. 

Tangible policy results emanating from case studies from Ghana, Lesotho and Cambodia are expected to provide guidance to mainstreaming gender into recent trends of land commercialization and agricultural transformation in Africa as well as in Asia.

Inspirational findings were shared during the event from years of research in Ghana and Cambodia. A cross-cutting result was increased vulnerabilities faced by small-scale farm holders, particularly women, in achieving sustainable and equitable livelihoods. Each context had its own challenges to be addressed with prioritized policy action. 

In Ghana, for instance, commercialization appeared to have negative consequences on women with 66 percent of female-headed households reporting seasonal food shortages and close to 50 percent of female-headed households reporting insufficient dietary diversity for improved nutritional outcomes. 

The food culture in Ghana also showed major gender inequalities from the production of crops to food intake. In Cambodia, the economic land concessions appear to put immense pressure on small-scale farmers whose livelihoods are increasingly depending on non-farm activities. They are also increasingly exposed to price volatility and weather shocks. 

In Lesotho, women’s underrepresentation among agricultural small-holders emerged as a critical barrier to tackle to improve women’s access to land as well as increasing aggregate agricultural productivity.

Fruitful discussions following the presentations led to a number of policy implications. First, high-quality research needs to be conducted since many of the results found during this project are contrary to standard expectations. Micro-level analysis found interesting nuances when power relations behind structural gender inequalities were investigated. 

Secondly, commercialization takes unique forms across countries and regions. However, there are commonalities found as well. International and regional legal frameworks could benefit from such commonalities. Also, existing policies remain technocratic stuck in the early phases of transformational change. 

Ms. Ruzvidzo noted that “addressing gender inequalities require more efforts than simply providing joint titling which is usually the first phase of any meaningful policy intervention,” adding “High-quality research with interesting nuances can help guide policymakers address the entire chain of complex constraints faced particularly by women.”

It was also established that there is need to bring interdisciplinary social scientist with legal and human rights experts to mainstream the human-rights approach into the overarching global and regional agenda such as Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063.

The event offered a unique platform for policy dialogue cutting across sectors, disciplines, and regions with a holistic approach to development policy while at the same time identifying critical nuances from micro-based studies.


Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826
E-mail: eca-info@un.org