The Gendered Dimensions of Food Security in South Africa: A Review of the Literature

by REDDY, V., and MOLETSANE, R, 2009
Research Report. Centre for Poverty Employment and Growth, Human Sciences Research Council

Reddy and Moletsane provide a broad literature review of the gendered dimensions of food security in South Africa. The paper assesses local meanings and contextual issues that influence the relations between gender, policy, and food insecurity. The report addresses: (1) the socio-political context of gender and food insecurity, (2) the policy context, (3) some theoretical approaches to food security, and (4) programmatic and policy interventions. There is a gap in the knowledge about the gendered dimensions of food security, necessitating further research into their empirical, theoretical and policy implications for food insecurity. Women and girls seem to be the most-at-risk populations because they have limited access to and control of resources (e.g. land, water and support systems). HIV/AIDS and poverty contribute to this, as does the mismatch between policy and programmatic work to curb the gendered dimensions of food insecurity. To address the food gaps, a combination of interventions is needed. Given the key roles of women, gender needs to be a stronger feature of the policy framework, and more targeted programmes focused on female-headed households are required. There is a marked absence of empirical studies addressing women and gender in food insecurity. Issues such as natural disasters, education, poverty, technology, ageing, genetically modified foods, and the like should be prioritised in a policy that addresses the multidimensionality of food security and the role of gender.