Land, Food and Energy
Agriculture is in most developing economies the motor behind the national economy. Agricultural related work forms the largest source of jobs and the most important source of livelihoods for rural families. Women play an essential role in agricultural production and in the provision of a sustainable livelihood for their families. As KIT supports development organisations, practitioners, companies and others to contribute to sustainable agricultural developments, a focus on gender equality and the realization of rights in agriculture is essential. KIT gender has developed approaches to do this in the field of important natural resources, such as , land, food security and energy. Our aim is to contribute to an improved access and usage of land, energy and food, addressing gender inequality and failures in realizing the right to food and energy security.
Gender and Land Rights
Land issues and women’s land rights in particular are attracting more and more attention particularly in countries with large rural populations where the majority of people’s livelihood depends on this resource. Increased pressure on land and natural resources due to land privatization, land grabbing, land scarcity, land titling systems, demography and the socio-economic impact of conflict and HIV/AIDS are threatening the right to land of poor and marginalized people. These threats represent major obstacles for development and justice. Within this context KIT’s work on land is based on a gender and rights approach which highlights the gender dimensions of land by understanding men and women as subjects of rights, looking at the relations of men and women to land, the different meanings land has for people in different countries and in a diversity of contexts, and the differentiated impact of land rights violations on men and women in these contexts. As part of KIT’s work on gender and land rights, KIT works in Uganda focusing on land rights and access to justice. It starts by recognizing land administration and justice systems as fundamental for the protection of people’s rights and the pathways women and men take in these systems to claim their land rights. It does so by working with key Ugandan Civil society organizations working on the protection and promotion of land equity and women’s land rights. In Cambodia KIT is working on building the capacity of a human rights organization looking at the gender dimensions of land in the country in a context where people’s land rights and particularly women’s land rights are threatened due to the massive (public and private, legal and illegal) large scale acquisitions.
One of the main misconceptions about hunger is that it is primarily the result of a deficit in global food production. Food insecurity however is rather a result of the social and political configurations around power over food, rather than the presence or absence of food world-wide. Disempowerment causes a lack of access to food and a lack of control over what food to produce, on whose piece of land (ownership issues) and for whom (access to markets). Despite the critical role played by women in food production and security women producers often lack the power to make decisions around production, sales and consumption of food. Women constitute around 43% of the agricultural workforce and in Africa for example women farmers often have the primary responsibility for producing food for domestic consumption which is why women’s empowerment is key to discussions on food security. According to FAO and ADB (2013), gender equality is the single most important determinant of food security.
Women are most often not recognized as critical actors in food production. Government policy and interventions such as creating access to technology, agricultural extension and other interventions exclude women. Instead, interventions often focus on women’s role as care takers and aim to improve the nutritional status of families through women. The fact that women are not recognized as key food producers and providers, leads to further disempowerment. Global and national policy makers, agriculture service institutions and the food industry, all have a role to play. KIT Gender fulfills an advisory role supporting actors working in the field of food security to undertake gender analysis and define strategic interventions which can enable women as well as men to perform their roles, express their voice, influence policy and build accountable agriculture development institutions.
Access to Energy Services
Energy poverty is one of the most critical challenges facing the international development community. Worldwide, billions of people have inadequate and unreliable access to basic energy services and rely on traditional bio-mass fuels. This has increasingly prompted international attention such as the UN Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative that aims to attain universal access to modern energy services. What is missing from this initiative is viewing access to energy as a right, not just a matter of service delivery. Moreover, it is a right that when fulfilled can support the realization of other rights such as to education and health, for example. Critically, the analysis of energy poverty is often gender unaware where women are viewed as passive users of energy and confined to the needs of the household.
KIT Gender’s approach to energy signifies a new way of thinking about energy and development. We recognise access to energy services as a right and focus on the particular barriers women face in realising energy rights due to unequal power relations of gender. Moreover, our approach gives focus to the operationalization of key principles of rights-based approaches to development:
- Accountability of duty-bearers to rights-holders
Emphasizing the accountability of all actors, whose actions impact access to energy services, is a key element of a rights-based approach to development. A G&R approach offers strategies for developing the capacity of duty-bearers to fulfill their energy rights obligations, for example capacity to carry out gender and rights analyses of the regulation of energy markets and the setting up of accountability systems that both women and men can shape and use.
- Participation and empowerment of rights-holders
Enhanced responsiveness and accountability of public and private energy institutions does not happen in isolation from the exercise of greater influence by disenfranchised and marginalized people over wider energy system decision-making processes. A G&R approach focuses on ways to strengthen women’s voice and agency in energy system governance, for example awareness-raising on rights, developing capacity to claim energy rights and supporting civil society organizations that represent women’s energy interests and the interest of other disenfranchised groups.