Gender inclusivity key in attaining food security
In nearly two thirds of the countries worldwide, women are more likely than men to face food insecurity. The differences in gender roles, norms, and relations also lead to women being more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This is according to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
The Ambassador of the Embassy of the Netherlands to Kenya, Frans Makken has noted that women take up about 80% of jobs in the agriculture sector but only around 10% have access to credit facilities and other resources.
Mr. Makken was speaking during a round table meeting organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to discuss opportunities for advancement of women participation in food security, water supply and management and climate initiatives in Kenya.
The discussions which featured government representatives, partner organizations working with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and various experts had the participants share their experiences, obstacles and successes regarding gender mainstreaming while implementing various projects in the country.
Ms. Judith Chabari, one of the participants during the event noted that a participatory approach to research can support jointly-produced knowledge that reflects more accurately the different needs, challenges and opportunities for women and vulnerable groups during projects implementation.
Ms. Chabari was representing 2SCALE, a Netherlands funded incubator program that manages a portfolio of public-private partnerships (PPPs) for inclusive business in agri-food sectors and industries.
2SCALE offers a range of support services to its business champions, many of whom are women working within SMEs and farmer groups; thus enabling them to produce, transform and supply quality food products.
The discussions made reference to a 2016 research paper by IMF dubbed “Inequality, Gender Gaps and Economic Growth: Comparative Evidence for Sub-Saharan Africa” which indicates that gender inequality in the sub-Saharan Africa region remains one of the highest and is declining slower than in other regions globally.
In 2017, the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) pointed out that when women have equal access to productive assets, household yields could increase by 20-30% and malnutrition could decrease by 12-17%.
The Netherlands’ Multi Annual Country Strategy for Kenya (2019-2022) outlines gender equality as one of the major and cross cutting objectives. This implies that the Netherlands funded initiatives in the country should pay attention to advancing gender equality.
Mr. Makken expressed optimism that the existing imbalances in gender inclusivity had been addressed during the meeting through practical examples of how programs can incorporate and monitor gender inclusivity in their various programs in order to achieve gender transformation.
He however noted that gender inequalities in food security continues to be a global problem that requires a multi-pronged approach to resolve.
The Ambassador also noted that the current locust invasion poses a great threat to food security in the country and presents a very challenging situation. He opined that it is not easy for a country to be fully prepared for this kind of invasion, adding that efforts should be focused on quick action to salvage the situation and going forward, plans be made to prepare for a similar occurrence in the future.
The outcomes of the meeting are aimed at making a contributing towards attaining Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include the objectives of reducing income and gender inequalities.
Mr. Makken added that the Netherlands will continue to partner with Kenya to find innovative solutions to global challenges such as food insecurity, building climate resilience, and contributing to sustainable water resource management.
Kenya has over the years received financial and technical support from the Netherlands for various multi-sectoral projects. In the last five years, the Netherlands has been Kenya’s largest export market in Europe with a trade balance hugely in favour of Kenya.
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