Panaftosa, March 8th, 2013 - Women are powerful agents of social change and development through their unique roles in family and child care, food and nutrition security and food safety. They play a critical role in enhancing agricultural development and protecting family health therefore contributing to the reduction of poverty levels and improved well being in their communities. For example in the Andean Region (Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador) women are central to their traditional agriculture systems.
Despite the fact that women produce 60-80% of the food consumed at the household level in developing countries, 60% of the chronically hungry are women and children. This is in part due to lack of economic and land rights for women to access land, credit, seeds, fertilizers etc and also to key aspects related to nutrition security such as limited household food access, education, access to maternal and child care and health services. The inter-relation of gender norms and poverty within households often prioritizes food consumption by male bread-winners, with women eating last (if at all) and the least healthy food choices.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called country leaders and philanthropists to commit more money to improving health services for rural women and reducing the range of gender-based health inequities that impede their health. Investments in gender equality, in girls and women's health and education and in programs that support their empowerment, economic improvement and engagement on agriculture and health decision making, benefit everyone.
Men and women at PAHO and at the PAHO/WHO Center PANAFTOSA are working together to enhance women’s leadership to address food safety and to integrate health, food and nutrition security and gender equality as essential elements of sustainable development.