Photo: ActionAid Sweden.


Female farmers suffer from food shortages due to covid-19

Covid-19 has left female farmers around the world in debt and hungry, while at greater risk of being subjected to violence, abuse and harassment. Many of them can not even afford seeds for the coming season. Without more local initiatives where the rights, needs and capacities of women farmers are made visible, a dangerous spiral of growing hunger and poverty risks taking off, ActionAid Sweden writes on World Hunger Day.

ActionAids latest rapport is based on interviews with 190 women farmers in 14 countries * in Africa and Asia. Many of these women, whose income often provides for an entire family, lived even before covid-19 in difficult conditions due to climate change. With covid-19, the emergency situation has escalated as market closures, travel restrictions and rising food prices have affected them negatively on several levels.

Widespread food shortage

The report shows, among other things, that 83 percent of women farmers experience reduced opportunities for livelihood during the pandemic as a result of closed markets and rising prices. 65 percent suffer from direct food shortages.

More than half, 55 percent, state that their unpaid housework and care of relatives in the home has increased during the pandemic. Many women state that covid restrictions affect access to food. They skip meals or eat smaller portions so that other family members can eat. 58 percent say that other family members have also been forced to give up meals as a result of the restrictions.

More than half, 52 percent, testify to an increase in gender-based violence. The report also indicates that men to a greater extent take money from their wives, the police's harassment of women and girls increases and the possibility of reporting cases of violence to the relevant authorities decreases.

Works to strengthen the local population

ActionAid works in several ways to combat the injustices that afflict women farmers. In Senegal, for example, a country hard hit by natural disasters, half the population feeds on agriculture. Together with the local population, we work to strengthen the resilience of rural areas to the challenges posed by climate change. Women's groups are trained in climate-adapted farming methods, leadership and advocacy work. The work is based on increasing women's participation in local decision-making so that they themselves can work to strengthen their right to land and access to seeds.

* The interviews were conducted in Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Read the full report here.

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