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Women, society and the summit

It has been an interesting two days at the Civil Society Organisations Forum. This is running parallel to the World Summit on Food Security 2009 in Rome.

The sun has been shining down on our tents as hundreds of people share their experiences and collective hopes for a world without hunger. The people here are from social movements, NGOs, academia and the media.

Inspiring and frustrating

Olivier de Schutter (UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food), the Mayor of Rome and Jacques Diouf (Director General of the FAO) opened the forum. They helped set the scene, reminding us of the urgent need for everyone to play their part in addressing hunger. It was frustrating to be reminded that instead of working our way to achieving Millennium Development Goal 1 – the number of people going hungry are increasing.

We know that over a billion people are going to bed hungry every night. So it was good to hear how the officials and UN representatives recognise the urgent need for action. At the same time, it was frustrating not to hear more about practical measures and to ensure that the third World Summit on Food Security is not just another talking shop.

Small-scale farmers

It has been a privilege to hear about the experiences of small-scale farmers, fisher people, pastoralists, unions and networks. This is also a strong reminder of how essential it is to listen to the voices of these small scale producers, who are often marginalised.

Burdens and challenges

One of the best parts, so far, was sitting in on the women’s caucus. This was a vital space for women to share their experiences, discuss the multiple challenges and burdens they face and talk about the future. There was much resonance with our recent Unheard Voices research and campaign on women marginal farmers.

This forum should act as a call to action. It’s a reminder of the need to work together: putting pressure on our governments and leaders to tackle hunger and listen to small and marginalised food producers.