COMMUNITY

Women and youth empowerment: a key to ensuring food security – UN Committee on World Food Security

Women present crops cultivated with the help of the FAO livelihood mission in Ghana, Africa. (Image from: Kamasa Dorothy Azim/FAO)

By RALPH LAUREN ABAINZA

Amidst the growing concern about the rise in global food insecurity, the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (UN-CFS) held its 50th session in Rome, Italy, last October 10-13, 2022. More than 1,500 delegates from around the globe participated in the sessions focused on coordinating policy responses to the global food crisis.

World leaders during the opening of the 50th session of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security on October 10-13, 2022. (Image from: FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto)

In his opening statement, UN Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General, Dr QU Dongyu highlighted the glaring fact that around 2.3 billion people globally were moderately to severely affected by food insecurity last 2021. UN Secretary-General António Guterres added: “Food systems can and must underpin economic recovery, poverty reduction, greater equality and decent work.”

Women present crops cultivated with the help of the FAO livelihood mission in Ghana, Africa. (Image from: Kamasa Dorothy Azim/FAO)

The session highlights the endorsement of policy recommendations on promoting youth engagement in agriculture and gender equality for food security. Delegates expressed their support for the committee’s “Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in the Context of Food Security and Nutrition,” citing the need for gender equality in attaining inclusive and sustainable agriculture. The guidelines include recommendations and strategies to eliminate violence against women, enabling women’s and girls’ full, equal, and meaningful participation and leadership in policy-making at all levels.

Young women working with the UN’s Agrifood Systems Transformation Accelerator (ASTA) in Suriname. (Image from: United Nations Industrial Development Organization)

The committee also emphasized that while the youth is crucial to promoting sustainable agriculture, they face many challenges that limit their engagement in the sector. Limited access to land, poor renumeration, exposure to environmental risks, and social discrimination are just some of the problems that turn many young people away from agriculture. To address these challenges, the UN-CFS endorsed the following recommendations from high-level experts: 

  1. Provide an enabling environment for youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems 
  2. Secure dignified, attractive, and rewarding livelihoods for youth 
  3. Increase equitable access of youth to resources, infrastructure and markets 
  4. Enhanced equitable access to knowledge, education, and skills for youth 
  5. Foster sustainable and inclusive innovations for youth 

In statements read during the plenary, representatives from the Philippines, led by Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban, expressed their full support for the policy recommendations concerning women and youth engagement in agriculture. “The Philippines recognizes the role and tremendous contribution of rural women to our country’s economic development and food security”, said Usec. Panganiban. “The Philippines recognizes the youth as agents of revolutionary change, given their dynamism, innovativeness, technology-savviness, and overflowing desire to make an impact in communities worldwide,” said the country’s official statement.

For more information, you may visit the Committee on World Food Security website here: https://www.fao.org/cfs/plenary/cfs50/en/

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