Land Commercialization, Gendered Agrarian Transformation and the Right to Food (DEMETER)

Started in January 2015

A number of forces – including transnational land acquisitions, increased national investment in agriculture, migration patterns, environmental concerns and laws and policies at different levels – have come together in recent years to put commercial pressure on land in the South and encourage its commodification. This has accelerated processes of agrarian transition, affecting rural livelihoods and the right to food.

The outcomes of these processes differ for women and men. Evidence shows that food insecurity is gendered and that women and girls are more likely to suffer from undernourishment. There is further evidence that women do not gain as much as men from agricultural modernization or from large-scale industrial agriculture. Studies demonstrate, however, that household food security and child nutrition improve when women have greater control over income, land and decision-making.

The Project

DEMETER (Droits et Egalité pour une Meilleure Economie de la Terre) is a six-year project, launched in 2015 and funded by the Research for Development Programme (r4d) of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. It examines the relationship between the right to food and gender equality in ensuring food security in the context of land commercialization in two case-study countries, Cambodia and Ghana.

Objectives

Its overall objective is to strengthen knowledge about the relationship between food security, the right to food and gender equality in order to empower women and men to claim their rights and encourage governments to facilitate their realization. The project also aims to strengthen awareness of the relevance of rights-based, gender-equitable approaches to food security among stakeholders at the local, national and international levels through training, policy dialogue and publications.

Coordinating the Human Rights Component

As a co-coordinator – along with the Centre on Gender and Global Change at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research at the University of Ghana and Center for Development Oriented Research in Agriculture and Livelihood Systems in Cambodia – the Geneva Academy is leading the human rights components of this research. This is in partnership with development economists, political scientists, agronomists and anthropologists in Cambodia, Ghana and Switzerland.

In September 2015, the Geneva Academy organized a workshop on right to food indicators, which brought together DEMETER researchers and researchers from the Towards Food Sustainability project, also co-coordinated by the Geneva Academy and funded by the Swiss r4d programme. The workshop examined ways of measuring the realization of the right to food in the four countries studied by the projects (Bolivia, Cambodia, Ghana, and Kenya). It was significant not only for its substantive findings, but also for the fact that it was the first time in the history of the food security r4d funding scheme that two projects have held a joint event. Collaboration and exchanges will continue throughout the lifetime of both projects.

Expected Outputs

Outputs of the project include: policy and legal briefings, training for community members and policy-makers, academic publications and presentations at conferences and other national and international events related to gender equality and food security.

RESEARCHERS

Picture of Joanna Bourke Martignoni

Joanna Bourke Martignoni

Senior Research Fellow

Joanna Bourke Martignoni's research areas include the right to food, land commercialization, climate change, the right to education and gender equality.

Picture of Christophe Golay

Christophe Golay

Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Christophe Golay's expertise relates to economic, social and cultural rights, the right to food and the rights of peasants.

Publications

Cover page of the Research Brief

Agricultural and Land Commercialization: Do they Foster Gender Equality and the Right to Food?

November 2020

DEMETER

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Cover page of the Transnational Legal Theory Journal

Engendering the Right to Food? International Human Rights Law, Food Security and the Rural Woman

January 2019

Joanna Bourke Martignoni

Transnational Legal Theory Journal

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Cover of the Resarch Brief: Gender Equality and the Right to Food

Gender Equality and the Right to Food

January 2017

Joanna Bourke Martignoni

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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NEWS AND EVENTS

Woman in a market in Africa News

New Publication Details the Impact of Agricultural and Land Commercialization on Gender Equality and the Right to Food

3 November 2020

A new Research Brief summarizes a number of findings from a research partnership of practitioners and scholars from Cambodia, Ghana, and Switzerland.

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Portrait of Joanna Bourke Martignoni News

Meet our Researchers: Joanna Bourke Martignoni

27 February 2020

Dr Joanna Bourke Martignoni is one of our Senior Research Fellows. She is involved in several research projects dealing with gender, the right to food and land commercialization, as well as with gender equality in the context of business activities, and on economic, social and cultural rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Workers drying freshly plucked chilies for further processing at Gabbur, Raichur district, Karnataka, India. News

Article Examines How UN Human Rights Mechanisms Address Gendered Inequalities in Access to and Rights over Food and Land

17 January 2019

The article Engendering the Right to Food? International Human Rights Law, Food Security and the Rural Woman, written by our Senior Research Fellow Dr Joanna Bourke Martignoni, examines how United Nations human rights mechanisms address the role and status of rural women in the context of food security and the rights to food and land.

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

EU Commission Flags News

Practical Manual on the Right to Seeds in Europe

15 March 2021

This practical manual focuses on the steps that the European Union (EU) and the EU Member States shall take to better protect the right to seeds in Europe.

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Nepal, Farmers plant crops along the Baglung-Bartibang road. News

New Research Brief on Peasants’ Right to Land and Other Natural Resources

23 November 2020

Our new Research Brief The Right to Land and Other Natural Resources details the content of this right, states’ obligations, as well as accountability mechanisms for its enforcement at national, regional and international levels.

Read more

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The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

6-10 September 2021

From its adoption to its content and implementation, this training course provides a comprehensive overview of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants, as well as tools to protect and promote the rights of peasants, rural women, fisher, pastoralist and nomadic communities, as well as agricultural workers.

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A view of Delmas 32, a neighborhood in Haiti Training

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals

14-18 June 2021

This training course explores the relationship between economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and provides participants with practical tools to include ESCR and the SDGs in their work.

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Madagascar, Miarinarivo district. Women transplanting rice. Project

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Started in May 2008

After having provided academic support to the negotiation of the UN Declaration for ten years, this research project focuses on the implementation of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

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Rwanda, on the outskirts of Kigali, Wa-Jali. Jeanne Françoise, a young girl reunited two years ago with her grandmother by the ICRC, stands in a banana orchard near her house. Project

Development and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Started in January 2008

This project aims to raise awareness about the complementarity of human rights and development by analyzing the relationship between economic, social and cultural rights and global development goals, namely the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 and the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015.

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Cover page of the Briefing Publication

Practical Manual on the Right to Seeds in Europe

published on February 2021

Christophe Golay, Fulya Batur

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Cover page of the guide Publication

The Right to Land and the UNDROP

published on December 2020

Christophe Golay

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