Rights-based Food and Nutrition Policies
The root causes and factors leading to malnutrition in all its forms are many, complex and multidimensional and cannot be separated from their broader social, political and economic determinants. Public interest civil society organizations, representing the international food security and nutrition civil society mechanism, have provided a list of major causes in their November 2014 vision statement on nutrition. http://www.csm4cfs.org/working-groups/nutrition/
Most consequences of malnutrition are borne by vulnerable population groups (children, women, landless, urban poor, people living with HIV, people with disabilities, etc.). These consequences contribute to deepening their vulnerability and marginalization and to the intergenerational reproduction of inequalities. The cost of inaction is enormous, first and foremost in human terms but also in economic ones. It therefore becomes an imperative to end malnutrition in all its forms, including undernourishment, stunting, wasting, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity, and diet-related non-communicable diseases. Lasting solutions to the challenges of malnutrition in all its forms have to be based on holistic and multidisciplinary analysis, which combines the political and technical perspectives 1.
Having signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Human Rights (ICESCHR) national governments are to provide a peaceful, stable and enabling economic, social, political and cultural environment in which people can feed themselves in freedom and dignity.
|More specifically, national governments have an obligation to:|
Rights-based Food and Nutrition Policies will need to take into consideration the special position and perspectives of women, small scale food producers and consumers.
The full realization of women’s human rights is central to the pursuit of the right to adequate food and nutrition for all. Despite some advances, most women in the world today continue to remain subject to several layers of structural discrimination and violence, at societal, community and household levels. Not only does this have negative implications for the full enjoyment of their human potential, but it also contributes to rendering women and their rights invisible in food security policies, leads to programs that tend to overburden women even more with additional responsibilities, and promotes the intergenerational reproduction of malnutrition.
The promotion and protection of women’s human rights, including the provision of paid maternity benefits, the social recognition of unpaid work – through social and community support mechanisms – and the gendered redistribution of household tasks should be integral parts of an effective strategy for the reduction of malnutrition in all its forms. The prevention of child, early and forced marriages and the protection of women and girls against all forms of violence should also be pursued.
Small-scale food producers (including, small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fisher-folks, agricultural workers, landless farmers, rural women and youth and others) are the main producers of food around the world and their productive contribution is essential to guarantee healthy diets. Nonetheless, they suffer daily violations of their rights. These include resource grabbing, destruction of livelihoods, dispossession of their territories, interference in the use of native seeds, discrimination in the access to social security and other services, unpaid work, among others. Investments in agriculture should include and be sensitive to the needs and potential of small holders, family farming and local food systems.
Consumers have a right to healthy, affordable and accessible food options, and to be protected (particularly children) from aggressive marketing of unhealthy food and beverage that promote diet-related non communicable diseases, as well as from equally aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes. Consumers should be empowered through improved and evidence-based health and nutrition information and education to make informed choices regarding consumption of food products for healthy dietary practices and in support of local food systems. The information provided should contribute to adequate awareness on the critical importance of optimal breastfeeding as one of the most cost-effective intervention to reduce child illness and death and in all its forms as well as on the role of healthy diets in the prevention of non-communicable diseases.
- Public Interest Civil Society Organizations Vision Statement on Nutrition, 13 November 2014, CSM for CFS