Food Security, Gender Equality and Peace-Building: Theoretical Framework and Future Agendas

To better assist conflict-prone countries through interventions aimed at improved food and nutrition security, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has identified a need for a more holistic and people-centred approach to support transitions towards peace and gender equality.

It has recently been argued that food security related policies and actions can build resilience to conflict not only through assisting countries and people to cope with and recover from conflict, but also by contributing to conflict prevention, while supporting economic development more broadly. There are many avenues to build peace and there is increasing evidence that when implemented appropriately, well-timed food and nutrition security related policies and actions can have a positive impact on the transition toward longer-term social and economic stability, building resilience to conflict and thus contributing to the regeneration of the fabric of societies.

A number of studies have noted the important role of women in peace-building. This body of work has driven renewed policy efforts to further involve women in peace and economic processes in post-conflict contexts. The role of the United Nations has been instrumental in this process, particularly through United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), whose main goals are the need to address women and girls’ specific needs, and to reinforce women’s capacities to act as agents in relief and recovery processes, in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Subsequent resolutions have highlighted the role of women as key actors in economic recovery, social cohesion and political legitimacy. Notably, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2122 (2013) recognises “…that the economic empowerment of women greatly contributes to the stabilisation of societies emerging from armed conflict”. However, to date little is known about the links between food and nutrition security, gender equality, the onset, duration, mitigation and prevention of violent conflicts, and peace-building processes in the post-conflict period.

At the global policy level, FAO has been instrumental in the finalisation of the Committee on World Food Security’s (CFS) Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises (FFA), a global policy guidance instrument which was successfully negotiated in May 2015. The final draft of FFA will be formally endorsed by CFS in October 2015 and has a specific principle on the links between interventions supporting food and nutrition security and peacebuilding and conflict mitigation, and a principle on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

In order to further mainstream gender equality into FAO’s Strategic Objective 5 on “Increasing the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises”, and contribute to the implementation of the FAO Gender Equality Policy, there is a need to analyse and better understand the gender dimension of building resilience in protracted crises, and how this may contribute to conflict mitigation, prevention and peacebuilding processes with a final goal of achieving food security for all.

IDS researchers have been commissioned to generate knowledge and evidence-based, meaningful, and actionable recommendations to governments and other stakeholders, particularly international organisations and FAO staff, on the nexus between support to food and nutrition security and building resilient livelihoods, peace processes and stability, and how to integrate gender issues into appropriate policies and actions related to food and nutrition security in situations where conflict exists, has recently ceased, or is likely to reoccur.

Project details

start date
1 July 2015
end date
31 December 2015



Image of Deborah West

Deborah West

Project manager

Image of Patricia Justino

Patricia Justino

Professorial Fellow