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Press Release – Second Meeting of 2021 of the Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition, chaired by Italy



New York, 12 March 2021. The challenge of gender equality leading up to the UN Food Systems Summit in September: this was the title of the second meeting of 2021 of the Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition held today and chaired by Italy at the United Nations in New York.

The virtual meeting was organized by the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations in New York in cooperation with the Secretariat of the UN Food Systems Summit and the UN Foundation, with the contribution of the UN Agencies dedicated to food and agriculture, based in Rome.

The discussion offered an update on the preparations for the UN Food Systems Summit scheduled for September, which will highlight the scope of gender equality and women’s empowerment and their impact on global food security.

In the words of Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, Ambassador Zappia: “The development of a more sustainable, efficient and inclusive global food system is possible only when women’s roles in this field is fully recognized. Women make up 60-80% of the workforce in the world’s agricultural supply chain, while they continue, however, to face persistent barriers and inequalities in access to resources, land and credit.”

These are the priority issues – particularly crucial for our post-pandemic recovery – for our multilateral agenda, in the run-up to both the upcoming 65th Commission on the Status of Women (15-26 March 2021) and to Italy’s G20 Presidency that this year will include high-level events put together in synergy with the new Food Coalition that has been formed in our partnership with the UN FAO.

Italy has placed the issue of food security at the core of its Foreign Affairs-Development work on the G20 calendar.

During this work, Assistant Director General of FAO and Special Advisor of the Director General for the Food Systems Summit Maurizio Martina observed, “We have a specific responsibility to fulfill the expectations of those we want to help. I hope we will be able to focus on concrete action to commit to during these important events we are planning and make every effort to implement these actions and policy recommendations benefitting farmers, women, indigenous populations, youths in the rural sector and all other involved actors.”

Among the authoritative inputs of experts participating in the event was that of Linda Laura Sabbadini, in her capacity as Chair of W20-Women 20, the official engagement group of the G20 on women. Speaking as member of the “Gender and Food Systems” panel, she highlighted, “gender discrimination is particularly serious in agriculture. What is more is that they suffer from multiple forms of discrimination: as women and as indigenous people; as women and as disabled persons – with fewer services in rural areas. We need gender statistics to better assess the contribution of women to agriculture, as well as an integrated strategy on gender equality and food security. I hope the G20 will also adopt this strategy.”

The virtual meeting also saw the participation of the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and President of the UN Security Council, Linda Thomas-Greenfield; Deputy to the Special Envoy for the UN Food Systems Summit, Martin Frick; the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) Director for Africa, Jemimah Njuki; the Secretary of the Etic Women’s Group (Kenya), Christine Esuron Ewoi, who gave a glimpse of the daily lives of women farmers and members of the association she runs in Kenya, with a focus on the growing hardships caused by the pandemic and the effects of climate change.