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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Today I would like to talk about the links between gender and food-based livelihoods. What are these links? Actually, the links between gender and food-based livelihoods is about relationship. Relationship between people and the resources that are needed to produce food, whether it’s to produce food for subsistence or to produce food to sell in markets. What are these resources? First you have property, and that refers to land as well as water resources. Rights to land and rights to water are actually differentiated according to women and men. Labour is another important resource in producing food. There are divisions of labour, usually divisions according to gender. Value is assigned to certain types of labour that translate into incomes and returns.

Skip to 1 minute and 9 seconds Some types of labour are considered with very little value, and therefore, they’re usually unpaid. The other resource, of course, is financial capital. People have different access to finance capital to start farm enterprises, and we find that women and men also have differences to accessing capital or credit to actually finance the costs of farm production or food production. Another vital resource is that of knowledge. Knowledge are the acquired skills, whether through doing or through training, especially, for instance, in applying new seeds, practicing certain new technologies in farming. Again, women and men have different access to capacity building and training, and their skills in farming are also differentiated as a result of the gender divisions of labour.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 seconds One other vital resource is that of social capital. And what is social capital? Social capital is actually those networks and relationships that people have with one another that actually enhance the production of food and farming. These are all vital resources for producing food, but there are wider influences. Influences such as shocks and stresses, for instance, water stresses, water shortages, water scarcity. These would have different effects on different social groups of women and men, whether it’s pest, disease, or any other type of shock, these have different impacts on different groups of people who are engaged in food production.

Skip to 3 minutes and 2 seconds And finally, a more important influence would be wider economic and social policies, economic growth, and market trajectories, deregulation, continued commodification of natural resources. These affect people and the food that they actually produce, whether and how they would have the vital resources to compete or to engage with these wider economic processes. All these have social and gender dimensions. As I have largely mentioned, many of these resources are– many people have different access to such resources, and they’re often unequal, and they’re largely mediated by power dynamics. Not all farmers proceed with equal footing and thus there are winners and losers when it comes to food production.

Skip to 4 minutes and 7 seconds Food security, therefore, just because people are producing food, it does not mean that they are food secure. Food security, therefore, is not a guarantee. And it is something that households continuously struggle to attain.

A gender perspective on livelihoods

Across the globe, men and women face different levels of access to resources and the capitals required for their livelihoods. In this video, Dr. Bernadette Resurrección, of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Asia Centre, explains how – and why – gender affects people’s ability to thrive in food-related, natural resource-based livelihoods.

Bernadette goes on to highlight that access to resources, ranging from land and water rights, to knowledge and training opportunities, can be further complicated by shocks and stresses that may affect men and women differently.


Now apply a gender lens to agricultural livelihoods in contexts that you are familiar with. What roles do men and women typically play? Are there winners and losers? Tell us your answers below.

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This video is from the free online course:

Food and Our Future: Sustainable Food Systems in Southeast Asia

Stockholm Environment Institute