Women's Knowledge and Food Security
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Women play a vital role in the production of food. Most importantly, they are critical in the storage, processing as well as the provision of food at the household level. It is also a fact that as in the case of all policies, those on food are supposed to be informed by existing evidence and realities whose dynamics keep on changing. As key stakeholders in food handling, women have a wealth of knowledge on issues of food and nutrition status. This paper argues on the importance of this knowledge in informing policy issues and programming issues related to food security and nutritional status. The study draws from the findings of a study done in Kenya by the African Women’s Studies Centre (AWSC) of the University of Nairobi and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in 2014. The study aimed at documenting women’s knowledge in relation to food security and generating proposals ensuring the full implementation of Article 43(1)(c) of the Constitution of Kenya (2010); as well as suggesting policy recommendations at the national and county levels. The study used Moser’s Gender Analysis tool (1986) and adopted a descriptive survey approach. Selected women in each of the ten counties across Kenya provided information through focus-group discussions, oral testimonies and key informants questionnaires. Additional data was generated from debriefing sessions which were done with selected respondents of the study at the conclusion of the field work in each county. The findings revealed that by virtue of their gendered roles and responsibilities in the family and community, women have a wealth of experience and knowledge on food and nutrition. The knowledge can usefully inform policies on issues related to food and nutrition status, especially in terms of its availability, access, utilization and sustainability. The study thus recommends the need for policy makers, scholars and researchers to focus on gender responsive studies so as to capture not only women’s needs but also their experiences and knowledge. The policy makers have an obligation to ensure the same in policy formulation and programming.