Global Resources

Final report: The transformative potential of the right to food

Author: O. de Schutter
Publisher: United Nations General Assembly
Publication Date: Jan 2014

Over the past six years, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food has conducted country visits in thirteen countries: Benin, Cameroon, Madagascar and Malawi, low-income countries; Brazil, China, Guatemala, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, South Africa and the Syrian Arab Republic, middle-income countries; and Canada, a high-income country. He also undertook missions to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in order to assess their contributions to the realization of the right to food. Following his initial report presenting his programme of work, he prepared 10 interim reports on a range of thematic issues, in addition to two special reports on the global food price crisis requested by the Human Rights Council in resolution S-7/1, at its special session on the global food crisis. He also prepared seven briefing notes, exploring areas that he could not address in sufficient detail in his official reports. In this final report, he presents his main conclusions. An overview of key recommendations made in his past thematic reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly is appended as an annex.

Gender equality and women’s rights feature explicitly in the report, for example:

‘National strategies grounded in the right to food should be conceived as participatory processes, co-designed by all relevant stakeholders, including in particular the groups most affected by hunger and malnutrition….. Because gender-based discrimination violates the right to food of women and girls, the empowerment of women and gender equality, as well as the adoption of social protection schemes that are transformative of gender roles, should be a priority of such strategies. Enhancing the role of women in decision-making at all levels, including within the household, moreover, improves nutritional and health outcomes. And women must be better supported as economic agents in the food systems.’ (De Schutter 2014: 18)

‘In order to strengthen the protection of the right to food of women States should:

  • Remove all discriminatory provisions in the law, combat discrimination that has its source in social and cultural norms, and use temporary special measures to accelerate the achievement of gender equality;
  • Recognise the need to accommodate the specific time and mobility constraints on women as a result of the existing gender roles, while at the same time redistributing the gender roles by a transformative approach to employment and social protection;
  • Mainstream a concern for gender in all laws, policies and programs, where appropriate, by developing incentives that reward public administrations which make progress in setting and reaching targets in this regard;
  • Adopt multisector and multi-year strategies that move towards full equality for women, under the supervision of an independent body to monitor progress, relying on gender-disaggregated data in all areas relating to the achievement of food security.’ (De Schutter 2014: 25)

Adapted from source