Influencing national policies towards sustainable food security through gender mainstreaming
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Gender mainstreaming is the process of ensuring that the needs, interests, perspectives and knowledge of women and men are taken on board in the development of policy and its implementation. It is a process that recognizes that men and women have different needs and interests that have to be deliberately identified through gender analysis and the development of strategic interventions. Because traditional policy and planning processes have not taken the gender variable into consideration, mainstreaming gender in policies, programmes and institutions has always been an uphill task. A look at our African region shows the various institutional frameworks that keep being established and dissolved almost with equal speed. Often they only succeed in mainstreaming women into oblivion. This has often been because of the lack of appropriate tools and the fact that gender mainstreaming challenges many traditional, social-economic policies and theories. In the context of food security, every person is entitled to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality. The same is affirmed in the Kenya Constitution (2010 Bill of Rights Article 43 (1) (c) and similar laws in other African countries. Appreciating that women’s perspectives, knowledge and experiences have not been utilized in developing policies to address food security in Africa, this paper takes cognance of the fact that food insecurity has a feminine face and that women carry the burden of food security at the households. In recognition of this problem, the paper shares tools that could be useful in mainstreaming gender in policies and programmes, on food security.