On 26 October 2023, the 51st plenary session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) hosted a side event on “Reducing inequalities in the food system through an intersectional lens”. This side event was organized by the Equity working group of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM).

During the side event, representatives of different CSIPM constituencies, regions and the Women and Gender Diversities, Youth, and Equity working groups presented their different perspectives and highlighted the intersectionality of different drivers of inequalities. In addition, representatives of the member states of Brazil and Mexico as well as the International Labor Organization (ILO) presented different political solutions, policies and resolutions and their contribution to reducing inequalities.

As introduction, Dee Woods (La Via Campesina, Landworkers Alliance UK and CSIPM Coordination Committee member) highlighted the current challenges in relation to hunger and power imbalances in the food system, such as acute and chronic hunger, which is not only responsible for more than three million child deaths annually, but also affects women and people living in rural areas to the alarmingly high maternal mortality rates in low- and middle-income countries. The concept of intersectionality was then explained as a framework that goes beyond binary conceptualizations of categories such as gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and class, and instead considers the intersection of multiple social categories that place individuals within complex systems of interlocking privilege and oppression. These systems ultimately shape health outcomes, our ability to afford and access sufficient, nutritious, culturally appropriate food and basically our ability to live lives of dignity.

The subsequent intervention by Leonida Odongo (Haki Nawiri, Kenya and CSIPM Women and Gender Diversities WG) presented both the inequalities faced by women peasant farmers in African countries under the title “Non recognition of the multi burden of social, reproductive, agriculture work”. The inequalities that should change ranged from the need to direct the political focus on structural and systemic causes of inequality, addressing patriarchy and creating systems that lead to equity in ownership and control of productive resources including land. In addition, unpaid care work and the inherent inequalities should be addressed, as well as power imbalance, reparations, extractivism and the global economic architecture.

The next intervention by Ariel Molina (Urgenci, Brazil and CSIPM Reducing Inequalities working group) presented the fight against hunger by the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil. The MST is a powerful voice in promoting agrarian reform and access to land for families historically deprived of this fundamental right. Land is the foundation of food security, and the MST has tirelessly worked to ensure that more people have access to it. It was reminded that people’s choice of food is not just a personal preference but a declaration of principles. Consumers therefore must support movements like the MST, which work tirelessly build a fairer and more inclusive food system. Therefore, decolonizing food systems, promoting agroecology, combining food sovereignty, territorial sovereignty, and cultural sovereignty are important steps to strengthen people’s sovereignty.

As a representative of the CSIPM Youth Working group, Krishnakar Kummari, emphasized in his intervention discrimination through landlessness in India as well as various other intersectional discrimination: Challenges of youth in caste discrimination, lack of social recognition, lack of access to land, discrimination in all areas and access to avenues of social development like education and jobs, lack of access to markets, land grabbing by upper caste or landlords. Lower castes in India often face discrimination in the job market, with higher castes being preferred for employment opportunities. Dalits are often relegated to low-paying and menial jobs and are excluded from many professional fields. Even if Dalit youth can acquire some level of economic advancement, they continue to face social discrimination.

Furthermore, Simel Esim (Head Cooperatives Unit, International Labour Organisation (ILO)) presented policy instruments to overcome economic inequalities with the example of the important work that has been done by the UN Inter-agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy, the 2022 Conclusions of the ILO Conference on Decent Work and Social and Solidarity Economy, the ground-breaking UN General Assembly Resolution “Promoting the social and solidarity economy for sustainable development” (A/RES/77/281) on April 18th 2023. This framework is human rights-based and reaches beyond just food to cover an equitable community approach to land, seeds, water and electricity management.

The state representatives of Brazil, Renato Domith Godinho, Special Advisor for International Affairs of the Ministry for Social Development and Assistance, Family and Fight Against Hunger (MDS), and Cecilia Elizondo, Sate Representative from Mexico, have provided their views to the question of what the greatest inequalities are facing their countries, especially from an intersectional perspective. They also looked at what policy interventions are already being successfully applied to reduce these inequalities and what successful policies might look like. Godinho highlighted the needs of intersectional approaches for policy making for reducing inequalities and the achievement of Brazil in the past under the Fome Zero Programme. He stated that the recognition of the different forms of discrimination is key for developing governmental programmes to overcome inequalities.

Watch the video (floor) recording of the side event

Explore the live Twitter thread for deeper insights from the event

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