A number of forces – including transnational land acquisitions, domestic investors, migrants, conservation efforts, and government policies – have come together in recent years to put commercial pressure on land in the South and encourage its commodification. This has accelerated processes of agrarian transition, affecting rural livelihoods and impacting food security.
It is likely that the outcomes of these processes differ for women and men. Existing data show that food insecurity is distributed highly unevenly, with women and girls disproportionately hungry. There also is evidence that women do not gain as much as men from agricultural modernization. And yet, studies show that food security improves when women control income and land.
The right to food, codified in various international legal instruments, establishes a legal obligation for states to respect, protect, and fulfil the right without discrimination. It is a powerful tool to help achieve food security by holding governments accountable and by helping fight discrimination and exclusion.
Launched in March 2015, DEMETER (Droits et Égalité pour une Meilleure Économie de la Terre) is a six-year research project taking a right to food and gender equality perspective to examining changes in food security in the wake of land commercialization in two focus countries, Cambodia and Ghana.
The overarching goal is to strengthen knowledge, awareness, and debates about the relationship between food security, the right to food, and gender equality with an eye towards empowering women and men to claim their rights and encouraging governments to create the conditions to facilitate their realization.