Rural women of India speak at a Seminar organised by MSSRF
From Jeypore, KolliHills, Ganjam, Poompuhar, Titabar and Wayanad – these women from agrarian and fishing communities, provided first-hand accounts of their effort towards building resilient food systems for their villages
FAO describes a sustainable food system as “a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised.” Given that food and nutrition security are a multi-dimensional concept comprising availability, access, utilisation, stability, agency and sustainability, it becomes necessary for all multi-sectoral stakeholders to ensure sustainable food systems that are resilient to financial, social and environmental shocks.
The MSSRF Seminar on Resilient Food Systems and Rural Women takes into account food and nutrition security as well as the role agrarian and fishing communities (particularly women) play to ensure sustainability of food systems. As we become more aware of the looming global food crisis, it is absolutely essential that we harness the power of solidarity and collective momentum to build a sustainable future where everyone has regular access to enough nutritious and safe food. The role of rural women in achieving this global goal cannot be taken lightly since it is the WOMEN in our families, fields, and markets who are vital links in our food and nutrition value-chains.
Welcoming audience gathered in-person and online, Dr GN Hariharan, Executive Director MSSRF, spoke of resilience as high priority for food systems today and the future, especially in the context of climate change. He encouraged the rural women representatives at the Seminar to speak about the good work they are doing to keep their communities sustainable. While setting the context, Dr R Rengalakshmi – Director, Ecotechnology programme, MSSRF, iterated that women hold the key to sustainable food and nutrition security, and must be heard.
Six women shared their stories – Ms Champa Santa from Koraput; Ms Vennila from Kolli Hills; Ms Uthra Sakthivel from Cuddalore; Ms Sikha Moni from Titabar; and Ms Ammini Madamkunnu from Wayanad. Read more about them in the blog. All presentations by the rural women were interpreted in English by MSSRF staff from various site office for the benefit of the audience. Dr R Gopinath, Principal Scientist with Ecotechnology, chaired the session and concluding with observations that societal gaps and patriarchal dominance continues to hinder the potential of rural women, and there is much to learn from women at the grassroots level.
The Seminar was organised on October 20 to commemorate International Day of Rural Women 2022 (October 15) and World Food Day 2022 (October 16), also to recognise and appreciate the contribution of women farmers and women fishers towards sustainable food systems in India.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.