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Food production and gender relations in multifunctional landscapes: a literature review

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Food production and gender relations in multifunctional landscapes: a literature review

Do multifunctional landscapes hold specific opportunities for women in enhancing food production and food security? Lisa Westholm (SLU) and Madelene Ostwald (GMV) find in this literature review that products controlled by women in multifunctional settings risk being ignored in decision-making, and that increasing the value of these products might have adverse effects on women's empowerment. To remove these barriers, traditional gender roles have to change.

Abstract

High expectations are put to multifunctional land use systems that they can provide solutions to the increasing global demand for land and food. In this literature review, we ask whether multifunctional landscapes hold specific opportunities for women in enhancing food production and security in a context of gender inequality guided by a framework of access to productive resources and commercialisation. We review 104 scientific articles dealing with food production and security in a range of multifunctional land use systems across Africa, Asia and Latin America, including agroforestry, homegardens, livestock systems and urban agriculture. We find that the specific role of a landscape’s multifunctionality for women’s opportunities to enhance food security, is rarely explicitly examined in scientific literature. Our review shows that in a multifunctional setting, the products controlled by women are often secondary and far from markets, and therefore they risk being ignored in decision-making or by policy makers. Further, efforts to increase the value of traditionally “female products” risk having adverse effects on women’s empowerment, in cases where powerful actors take over all or parts of the value chain, or appropriate the benefits. To remove these barriers traditional gender roles have to change. However, the instability of gender relations can also work in women’s favour in a multifunctional landscape where several products and production systems exist, providing opportunities to claim new roles or resources, especially in the context of changing external circumstances, such as urbanization, a shift from pastoralism to sedentary livelihoods, or an expansion of the monetary economy.

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