Women farmers in Africa produce more than 80 per cent of the continent's food supply, yet they lack recognition of their property rights, and are the most affected by hunger and malnutrition, says Peter Prove, the director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
Prove made his remarks to ENInews ahead of the World Food Day, marked recently by the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation and church and civil rights groups around the globe.
"Over one billion people are estimated as chronically hungry in our world today and women account for 70 per cent of the world's hungry and are disproportionately affected by malnutrition, poverty and food insecurity," said Prove.
He noted that according to the report of the United Nations Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, despite representing the majority of the agricultural workforce and production, women are estimated to have access to, or to control, only five percent of land globally.
The alliance is a church-backed group that campaigns for global food justice, among other issues. The day that underlines the right to one of the most basic human rights was marked throughout the world.
In Helsinki, the bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland issued a statement calling on the Finnish government to act to help resolve the food crisis currently affecting the world's poorest countries.
The bishops noted that, "We want to provoke a public debate about the background to the food crisis, and ways it can be solved. Finland can be among the pioneers in this work. As part of the European Union, Finland has an opportunity to work actively to promote just and sustainable food security policies."
"The church is involved in politics, but not party politics," stated the bishop of Porvoo, Björn Vikström. "We want to highlight concrete alternatives and influence society. Finland also has active influence in Europe."
The bishops called for the appointment of a government food policy expert noting that, "food production and food markets must be supported and protected where this is necessary to build up food security."
Angeline Munzara, an advocacy officer for the church-backed advocacy alliance, told ENInews that with only five years left to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals that seek to drastically reduce poverty by 2015, "There must be a profound turnaround in international food and nutrition related policies."
She highlighted the publication of a report called the "2010 Right to Food and Nutrition Watch" by church and civil society groups, including the EAA, to mark World Food Day and which monitors State actions to promote the right to food and nutrition.
Munzara, a Zimbabwean, noted that the report shows, "how land grabbing aggravates hunger in Africa, Asia and Latin America by leading to eviction of peasant communities from their main source of livelihood".
More on the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance: www.e-alliance.ch/
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]