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Reducing the Hunger Gender Gap: Spotlight on Ghana
March is Women’s History Month here in the United States, and this Friday is International Women’s Day! In celebration of women’s contributions throughout U.S. history and as advocates in the ongoing global movement for gender equality, Institute Notes is launching a two-week series on current women’s issues both at home and abroad. Today – since it’s Hunger Report Monday - we are featuring an excerpt from the 2013 Hunger Report on how civil society in Ghana is tackling the gender gap in hunger. In much of the developing world, structural inequalities mean that women are likely to go hungry before men do. This is true of Ghana, which is a leader in reducing hunger in Africa but nonetheless struggles to make this progress equitable:
The Development Action Association (DAA) provides training to women farmers in Ghana, working in some of the poorest communities in the country. Lydia Sasu is the executive director of DAA, which she co-founded in 1997. Before DAA, Ms. Sasu worked in Ghana’s Ministry of Agriculture and served as the country’s first female agriculture extension agent. Working with women farmers has been her life’s work, shaped by her experiences as a child watching her mother struggle against obstacles that have hardly changed for the women she works with today.
The gender gap in access to education & training in sub-Saharan Africa starts at the primary school level.
In spite of the success Ghana has had in reducing hunger—meeting the 2015 MDG target before any other country in sub-Saharan Africa—progress has not been shared equally by all. Rural women and girls are the most disadvantaged members of society. This remains true of Ghana, even though its record of progress on gender equality is stronger than that of many other African countries. Progress on the MDGs is bound to stall until it is a top priority to confront and correct the structural inequalities that hold marginalized groups in society back.
In recent years, Sasu, now 65, has been invited to speak at international events on women in agriculture, most recently at the United Nations on International Women’s Day 2012. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pledged to incorporate consultations with multiple stakeholders into efforts to develop post-2015 global development goals. Consultations are planned in 50 countries and are supposed to include civil society organizations such as DAA. The participation of civil society is critical in developing a post-2015 development consensus that reflects the views of poor and hungry people themselves.
“It is crucial that grassroots civil society organizations like DAA play a central and meaningful role in framing the U.N. MDG post-2015 goals,” says Ritu Sharma, president of Women Thrive Worldwide, one of the leading U.S. advocacy organizations on development issues. “It’s important to emphasize that the participation we’re talking about is from grassroots organizations, which is different than capital-based elite organizations in the [global] South which have some level of access to international processes.”
Visit Hungerreport.org to read more about the intersection points between hunger and gender issues. Keep an eye out this and next week for more Institute Notes posts in celebration of women's history month!
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