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Food security and gendered participation in indigenous Andean highland communities Páez Varas, Claudia

Abstract

Today, much of the agricultural production and food security (FS) in developing countries relies on women. They play critical roles in the availability, access and utilization of food at household and community levels. Women’s roles, however, are underestimated and constrained by restricted access to resources, services and labour market opportunities. Despite their fundamental position in global FS, the majority of undernourished people are women and girls. Failing to recognize the existence of gender exclusion and unequal gender dynamics perpetuates the current status of women and increases the risk of food insecurity. Thus, it is crucial to acknowledge that households and communities are gendered entities. This research aims to improve the understanding of gender participation in FS at the household and community levels in agricultural indigenous communities in the South Andean highlands. These communities are part of the indigenous campesinos (peasants) population that meaningfully contributes to produce food in Peru and other Latin American regions. The research focuses on women’s physical and decision-making tasks regarding production, accessibility and utilization of food for their families and communities. This case study centers on two Quechua agricultural communities in the Cusco Region, Peru, and used qualitative mixed methods for data collection and analysis. The results suggest that in these communities FS is mainly a household and not a community matter. At the community level, communities are more organized to perform civil, rather than agricultural work. They produce food mostly to generate income to cover administrative expenses. Women head labour and decision-making regarding household FS, but have not relevant role at the community level; they are more involved in lower levels of participation in community political and labour structure. The egalitarian farming is the prevalent system in the household: women and men provide labour and control decision-making. In the community, the prevalent farming system is patriarchal: both genders provide labour but men control decision-making. Addressing FS in these communities requires acknowledging inequalities and strengthening ancient gender relations and agricultural practices.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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