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New Global Food 50/50 Initiative Provides Data to Address Gender Gap

Rome: Just six percent of CEOs and board chairs of a sample of organizations active in food systems are women from low- and middle-income countries, according to initial findings from a new joint report from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Global Health 50/50. While the initial findings also point to several positive trends towards greater equity, such as widespread commitments to gender equality and policies to promote gender equity and diversity, researchers said that the lack of diversity in leadership positions indicates how much work remains to achieve equality in global food systems.

“There is a lot of excitement around equity in food systems right now, and we’re seeing that is even being translated into firm commitments and policies,” said Jemimah Njuki, Director for Africa at IFPRI. “But many organizations still lack diversity in leadership positions and need to improve how their work supports outcomes to promote gender equality.”

The report will be the flagship product of the Global Food 50/50 Initiative, a new project led by Njuki in partnership with Global Health 50/50 (GH5050) to increase transparency and hold to account organizations active in food systems on their commitments and actions to promote gender equity, both inside the organizations themselves and in the outcomes their work produces in food systems. The report uses data collected by GH5050 to assess organizations on 11 variables across four dimensions, including (1) commitment to redistribute power; (2) policies to tackle power and privilege imbalances at work; (3) gender and geography of leadership; (4) addressing the gendered power dynamics of inequalities in outcomes.

“Global Health 50/50 has demonstrated that rigorous evidence coupled with powerful advocacy can catalyze positive change towards gender equality. Applying these lessons to the food system will help push food systems actors to address the gendered nature of food production, marketing, preparation, and consumption in our efforts to ensure sustainable, healthy, and accountable food systems for everyone,” said Kent Buse and Sarah Hawkes, co-directors of Global Health 50/50.

Findings in the report indicate 92% of organizations in food systems have made public commitments to gender equality and 67% have publicly available policies or target-specific plans for promoting gender equity in the workplace. On the other hand, more than 70% of organization CEOs and board chairs are men, and more than 70% of people in those leadership positions were found to be nationals of North America or Europe, pointing to an area of stark inequity in organizations.

When it comes to how the work of food system organizations addresses gender inequalities, just over half (54%) provide data on work that is broken down by sex. Sex-disaggregated data is essential to identifying gendered disparities in food systems and measuring whether such work is reaching, benefiting, or empowering different populations equitably.

“Organizations that recognize women’s leadership in food systems, enable women’s contributions to their work, and work towards outcomes that empower women and girls are a vital component of creating food systems that are just and equitable,” said Njuki.

Drawn from data collected and analyzed by Global Health 50/50 for their 2021 report on gender equality in the global health sector, the new report evaluates the commitments, policies, and outcomes of 52 organizations active in agriculture, fisheries, nutrition, trade, and consultancy and other activities in the food sector. The full report will be launched during the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September, with plans to expand the sample of organizations assessed in future annual reports.

“The Global Food 50/50 Report promises to be an invaluable way to support food system organizations in the public and private sectors to walk the talk on gender equity,” said Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. “It will hold up a mirror and help us identify where and how we can do better to transform gender power relationships: for women, for food systems, for everyone.”

The UNFSS Food Systems pre-summit includes a significant focus on gender equity.  The initial findings of the report were previewed in an event at the UN Food Systems Summit pre-summit at which the Global Food 50/50 Initiative was announced. Njuki serves as leader of the Gender Lever of Change for the Summit process, ensuring that gender equity is included across the activities, proposed actions, and commitments of the Summit.

Njuki is working with stakeholders on other initiatives to achieve gender equality in food systems, including setting up an alliance of financial institutions committed to gender transformative financial inclusion for women, supporting countries to adopt policies that foster feminist food systems,  and creating innovation and entrepreneurship hubs to promote women entrepreneurs. In her presentation at the pre-summit on gender and food systems, she called for UN member states to join a coalition on making food systems work for women and girls that will champion such initiatives.

“Gender inequalities are both a cause and outcome of unsustainable food systems and injustices in food access, consumption, and production,” said Njuki. “As food systems transform, we must ensure that they do so in ways that are just and equitable.”

Notes for Editors:
For more information on the report, click here: 

For the full Global Health 50/50 Report and Index see here.

To speak with researchers about the content of the report and aim of the initiative please contact Drew Sample:

To speak with Global Health 50/50 about the wider initiative and methodology, contact  


The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. IFPRI was established in 1975 to identify and analyze alternative national and international strategies and policies for meeting the food needs of the developing world, with particular emphasis on low-income countries and on the poorer groups in those countries. It is a research center of CGIAR, a worldwide partnership engaged in agricultural research for development. Visit Follow: @IFPRI.

Global Health 50/50 is an independent research and advocacy initiative that promotes far-reaching transparency, action, and accountability to advance gender equality and health equity. Established in 2017, it brings together leading feminists including doctors, academics, journalists, politicians, and policy experts from all corners of the world to drive change. Visit Follow @globalhlth5050.