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Food for thought as gender and South Asian food systems explored in Bangladesh


Food for thought as gender and South Asian food systems explored in Bangladesh

The changing roles of men and women in farming and the ways in which boys and girls experience different food choices at the dinner table are just two of the issues being explored at a regional Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Symposium in Bangladesh over the next two days (23-24 February 2020).

Bringing together international researchers, policy makers and civil society organisations from a broad range of disciplines within food systems, gender and international development, the Symposium is looking at the role of gender across South Asian food systems, including farming, climate change, nutrition, and food safety.

The event is being led by Dr Tahrat Shahid, GCRF’s joint Challenge Leader for Food Systems and newly appointed Gender Advisor across UKRI’s GCRF portfolios. She explains: “Understanding how gender roles are a part of food systems, in this case in the South Asian context, is crucial to designing the kind of research that leads to workable solutions to challenges on the ground, like malnutrition, unequal access to resources, climate change, and so much more. We want to make sure we’re cultivating these sometimes difficult conversations not just among gender specialists but non-specialists too.”

She continues: “I’m hoping that people who don’t usually think about gender as being part of their work, maybe in areas like engineering and crop science or environmental science and hydrology, for example, will walk away understanding more about how to think about gender and when it’s relevant and when it’s not, and about what gender-equal research really means. It’s not just about having a certain number of women scientists on your research team but also thinking about how women, and men, are affected differently by different areas of food systems.”

Dr Shahid is part of a team of GCRF Challenge Leaders who are flying the flag internationally for GCRF across six portfolio areas: global health, food systems, resilience, cities and sustainable infrastructure, education and protracted conflict and refugees. Their role is to help forge diverse and exciting equitable partnerships between UK researchers and academics, policy makers and community groups across the globe to ensure that GCRF funded research moves the world closer towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Commenting on Dr Shahid’s Gender Advisory role, Professor Helen Fletcher, UKRI’s Director of International Development, said: “With International Women’s Day around the corner, it is timely to emphasis the force for good that gender equality creates. Empowering women and girls through research and innovation is a powerful way to alleviate poverty, promote lasting peace and stability and create a fairer world for us all. Tahrat is an experienced gender expert and I am delighted she is taking on the additional role of Gender Advisor to ensure gender issues continue to be embedded across UKRI’s GCRF portfolio at every stage.”

The Role of Gender in South Asian Food Systems Symposium is taking place on 23 - 24 February 2020 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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