GROW is Oxfam’s campaign for better ways to feed the world while protecting the planet’s resources. This means investing in women’s lives and capacities. It means building a sustainable food system. And it means caring for precious shared resources.
Almost 900 million of us go to bed hungry every night, the majority women and girls. This is not because there isn’t enough food, but because of deep imbalances in opportunity and control of resources.
If women had equal access to resources and decision-making, they could help reduce world hunger, lower child malnutrition and raise the incomes of rural people.
The food system is broken. But together we can fix it.
Growing a better future: A report
Oxfam’s report Growing a Better Future calls on governments, companies and individuals to rethink how food is produced, consumed and shared. Our research clearly outlines how the food system is broken, but it also calls for solutions.
The issues we addressed:
Globally, an area more than double the size of British Columbia has been sold off in the last decade, in the rush for land. Big land grabs are forcing hardworking families from their homes, jobs and food.
Women do much of the farming, fishing and herding that puts food on the table for millions. But if they were given equal access to land, resources and opportunities, their production could really soar.
Women produce much of the food that feeds people in developing countries. And yet, women have far less access to basic farming resources such as land, seeds, fertilizer and credit than men. They are also the first to go hungry when times are tough.
If women farmers were given greater access to resources and decision making, they could increase their own food security and gain greater economic autonomy. This in turn would empower them to participate more fully as members of their communities and contribute to finding local solutions to the global food crisis.
Climate change is already hitting farmers hard. And left unchecked, it will devastate our ability to grow.
Rising temperatures will cause crop yields to fall – possibly to half of their current levels in some African countries. And changes in seasons will make it even harder for farmers to know when to sow, cultivate and harvest.
Globally, the “Big 10” food and beverage companies are both highly vulnerable to climate change and major contributors to the problem. Together they emit so much greenhouse gas that, if they were a single country, they would be the 25th most polluting in the world.
Although women farmers in poor countries contribute little to greenhouse gas emissions, they already being hardest hit by climate change.
Heat waves, droughts and floods make it even harder for women to grow enough food to eat and earn a living. Climate change affects the forests and fisheries they rely on, the crops they can grow and the water they can count on to irrigate their land. As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change, women will have to spend more time farming even as they produce less food.
And farming isn’t only affected by climate change – it causes it too. Agriculture is responsible for around almost a third of all greenhouse gas emissions
Climate change is deepening the food crisis for women and their families. Women are the majority of the world’s small-scale farmers and produce most of the world’s food. But climate change has made the risky business of farming all the more difficult. More frequent crop failures mean women work harder and families eat less.
Rising Food Prices
When food suddenly costs more, those who can least afford it get hit hardest. And it is women who most frequently eat last and least.
Anyone who shops knows the cost of food is on the rise. But while Canadians spend less than ten percent of their income on food, people living in poverty can spend as much as 80 percent. When prices mushroom, these people must do without.
The problem began in earnest in 2008 when prices suddenly rose to a sharp peak, then fell slightly only to rise again to yet higher levels in 2011.
After decades of progress, the number of people without enough to eat is actually increasing. It could soon top one billion. That’s more than one in eight people waking up hungry and going to bed hungry.
Women and girls, who already represent over 60% of those going hungry throughout the world, tend to be disproportionately affected by rising food prices because of deep-rooted gender discrimination.
Food price spikes are caused by a wide range of factors, ranging from the rise in oil prices, which increases the cost of producing food that is mechanically harvested and processed, to climate change, which wreaks havoc on agriculture and causes crops to fail. Short-sighted biofuels strategies play a part too – taking food off of people’s plates and putting it into car tanks. And dysfunctional commodities markets mean that food prices go up faster and higher than they should.
But despite all these complex causes, the effects on poor people are painfully simple. Women skip meals to feed their families.
It’s time to grow out of food price spikes.
We need to make sure women farmers in developing countries gain equal access to the land, seeds, equipment, credit and training. Discover how you can help provide these resources with Oxfam Unwrapped.
If you think you can’t change the food system, you really need to think again. You’re more powerful than any of the Big Ten. Without you, they won’t be big for long. Explore our Behind the Brands tool to learn more about actions you can take within the food system. Behind the Brands