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Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

Information note for the technical consultation on gender, property rights and livelihoods in the era of AIDS

FAO, Rome, 28-30 November 2007

Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division (ESW)

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

12 December 2007

SARPN acknowledges the FAO as a source of this document:
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Key messages

  1. There is a close and proven relationship between gender inequality and food insecurity, and risky sexual behavior which reproduces and exacerbates the spread of HIV and AIDS. For example, one study in Botswana and Swaziland has shown that women who cannot find sufficient food have a 80% higher rate of engaging in intergenerational sex, and a 70% higher rate of having unprotected sex.

  2. Secure land access and property rights and sustainable livelihoods are important conditions of food security and improved livelihoods for women and children. Thus there is a direct link between securing the land and property rights of women and children, and HIV and AIDS prevention. This implies that food security and gender equality, through promoting stronger and more secure property rights for women and children, could be an important measure for HIV prevention.

  3. A behavior change is critical in order to achieve real progress at community level. There is a need to understand the complex issue of culture and tradition to identify appropriate messages to communities for effective intervention.

  4. Emergency support is urgently needed (shelter, food, clothes, ARVs, clean water) for women and children who have been stripped off their property and evicted from their homes. Many women die and many children end up on the street or as migrants to other countries before they can receive support.

Property rights to land, livestock and other agrarian resources are critical for the livelihoods of rural men, women and children. Insecure property rights perpetuate gender inequalities, livelihood insecurity and poverty. Thus, secure property rights are central to any effort to address gender inequalities, poverty, vulnerability and sustainable development in general. In the past FAO has been extensively involved in research and programming for property rights of women and children, but the battle to secure their property rights is far from being won. Although more is known about the problem today, linking this knowledge to improving the real lives of women and children has remained problematic despite the collective efforts of many governmental, non-governmental and UN agencies.

In this context FAO convened the technical meeting to discuss more fully issues pertaining to gender, property rights, and livelihoods in the era of AIDS, inviting a small group of partners from the UN, NGOs and research institutions. The meeting covered the following areas:

  • Understanding property rights in the era of AIDS, with some key research findings on regional and country case studies;
  • Gender, property rights and livelihoods;
  • Legislation, training of the judiciary and traditional leaders, and para-legal training programmes;
  • Advocacy, mobilization of grassroots groups/networks;
  • Political dialogue.

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