Food poverty is a barrier and a ‘pressing matter’ to reproductive justice globally, new research led by Lancaster University has found.
And marginalised people – particularly those who experience multiple forms of marginalisation – are more likely to experience both food insecurity and reproductive coercion and injustices.
Food insecurity – also referred to as food poverty – involves difficulties accessing enough safe and nutritious food to support a healthy life.
Previous research has shown the negative consequences of food insecurity for health and nutrition, children’s cognitive development and concentration in school, social exclusion, and other harmful biological and social phenomena.
However, as recent research by researchers at Lancaster University, Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and York University in Toronto has shown, food insecurity is also a pressing matter for reproductive justice.
Developed and led by Black feminist activists and scholars in the United States, and rooted in international human rights law, reproductive justice is a movement that asserts that all people have a human right to have a child, to not have a child, and to parent children with dignity in safe and healthy environments.
Although all human beings inherently have these rights, not everyone is able to realise their rights due to structural barriers, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism.
In their new research in the International Journal of Sexual Health, Dr Jasmine Fledderjohann, of Lancaster University, Dr Sophie Patterson, of both Lancaster University and Simon Fraser University, and activist and PhD student Maureen Owino, York University, Toronto, give a detailed overview of how and why food insecurity can be a barrier to reproductive justice.
Key examples include:
The research team emphasises these are just a few key examples of how food insecurity matters for reproductive justice. Not everyone is at equal risk of food insecurity, and not everyone experiences food insecurity as a barrier to reproductive justice in the same way. Around the world people who are marginalised face the greatest risks.
Lead author of the study and leader of the Food Security for Equitable Futures research team, Dr Fledderjohann, says: “We know food insecurity can have very far-reaching negative implications, but too often the implications for sexual and reproductive health and rights are overlooked.
“One of the things that is very powerful about the reproductive justice framework is that it centres the experiences of marginalised people, whose experiences are needs are frequently and systematically ignored.
“As we discuss in our paper, marginalised people – particularly those who experience multiple forms of marginalisation – are more likely to experience both food insecurity and reproductive coercion and injustices. We hope that our research will highlight these interconnections and lead not only to new research on how food insecurity and reproductive justice are linked, but also, importantly, to social change.”
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