Against the odds: rural women who drive food and nutrition security in their communities
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Despite the international right to food, many African and South African women face serious challenges in providing food for their families. In particular, these challenges relate to institutional and cultural barriers which restrict their access to education, land, credit and official support services. Despite this prevailing situation, some women are acknowledged as being successful in addressing the food and nutrition situation of their families and communities, often achieving this under extremely difficult circumstances. This article profiles the success stories of three rural South African women whose experiences provide us with some interesting lessons about achieving food security. Firstly, it does not require vast expense, but can be achieved under harsh conditions using simple technologies and innovations. Secondly, the usual food crops are not the only ones that can make a positive contribution to food security, and therefore alternative sources of food and nutrition need to be used. Thirdly, they all emphasise that food security is a collaborative undertaking and one which cannot be done by a single individual or organisation in isolation. Fourthly, the ways in which they address food security have a significant impact on both the physical, social and psychological well being of the people involved.