By: Cristina Eghenter
Dec 10th is the anniversary of the adoption on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. During the pandemic that has affected and dramatically changed our lives in 2020, food security, along with rising inequality, have emerged as priority that need to be addressed to safeguard the livelihoods of many farmers and fishers, men and women, and rebuild the sustainability, fairness and resilience of food systems disrupted by Covid-19.
Food is a basic need and human right. Anthropologists, folklorists and historians have told us that what we consider food, how we prepare and eat it, also embodies deep cultural meanings. Food recipes reflect history, carry traditions and reveal the identity of ethnic groups. Food marks every celebration of the life-cycle. Food is also part of a production system which takes from the earth, the sea, and the bounty and diversity of natural resources, and through the able and knowledgeable hands of farmers, fishers, and food artisans, women and men, provide for food security and resilience of families and communities, delivers to the market and enters social circles.
Fulfilling the right to food needs to see food in a holistic and relational dimension. The right to food is not only about securing enough food to eat, it is about food sovereignty of the rural and Indigenous communities, it is about protecting biodiversity and cultural heritage, preserving genetic diversity of cultivars and the traditional knowledge that goes with its use, it is about securing diverse and nutritious diets, and it is about valuing the role of women in food security and food sovereignty.
In many rural and coastal communities, women farmers and fishers daily and quietly labour in their communities to safeguard local food systems and the food security of their communities. Traditional food can also offer good livelihood opportunities. There is a growing number of women in rural communities and coastal areas who become entrepreneurs, open small catering services or restaurants, add value to products in the local supply chain by processing fish into nuggets and chips, sell local varieties of rice at premium market price to urban consumers increasingly interested in healthy and green living. Some women farmers have decided to organize themselves and sell at local markets specialized around traditional and organic food crops.
Food in a human rights perspective is the right of all to a fair, sustainable, good, culturally appropriate and healthy food. Its realization will also contribute to the fulfilment of other human rights like gender equality, healthy environment, and good livelihoods.