Historic gender inequities have contributed to a decidedly unsustainable food system. Women have a prominent role all across the value chain—as farmers and food producers, merchandizers, educators, cooks, servers, and leaders of food organizations. Women are also substantially more involved and invested—on a daily basis—in education, health and supply processes related to food, which are frequently taken for granted, and are certainly undervalued. Yet women also face gender bias at every turn in their lives, careers, and as food business owners: lower education attainment, slower rates of promotion, and significantly lower access to capital.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation, with far more women than men temporarily or permanently leaving the workforce, and for a variety of reasons (loss of childcare, closing of schools, the need to care for young or sick family members at home, e.g.). According to the European Investment Bank, “considering gender equality and empowering female entrepreneurship could help to accelerate and fortify our recovery.” According to the European Commission, improvements to gender equality could create 10.5 million jobs by 2050 and boost the EU economy by between €1.95 and €3.15 trillion. Thus, empowering women’s participation in the labour market and encouraging entrepreneurship could thus add billions to the EU economy, including a focus on training and promoting women from lower-wage occupations to higher-level ones – Management, Directors, and more entrepreneurs.
EU HORIZON EUROPE: Gender Equality Plan content areas