Gender Equality, Food Security and the Sustainable Development Goals

  • Citation: Bina Agarwal, “Gender equality, food security and the sustainable development goals”, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 34, Pages 26-32 (2018), ISSN 1877-3435.
    • Topics:
    • Global Development
    • Keywords:
    • sustainable development goals
    • gender equality
    • food security
    • natural resource access
    • feminization of agriculture

This paper examines the potential and limitations of SDG 5 (Gender Equality) in helping to achieve household food security. The potential lies in the attention it pays to women’s access to land and natural resources, which can significantly enhance women’s ability to produce and procure food. Its limitations lie in a lack of attention to the production constraints that women farmers face; its failure to recognise forests and fisheries as key sources of food; and its lack of clarity on which natural resources women need access to and why. Moreover, other goals which bear on food security as important providers of nutrition, such as SDG 15 as it relates to forests and SDG 14 as it relates to fish resources, make no mention of gender equality, nor does SDG 13 (Climate action) recognise the vulnerabilities of women farmers. A bold interpretation of SDG 5 and establishing synergies with other SDGs could provide ways forward. This includes not only SDGs which recognise the importance of gender equality, such as SDGs 1, 2, and 13 on poverty, hunger, and climate change respectively, but also SDGs 14 and 15 whose silence on gender could prove detrimental not just to attaining food security, but also to furthering their stated objectives of resource conservation.

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