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Women use science to secure food

PhD candidates are investigating livelihoods and food security in remote parts of Indonesia and Timor-Leste, supervised by Associate Professor Natasha Stacey (pictured left)


Women use science to secure food

By Ellie Turner

In remote villages in Indonesia and Timor-Leste, five environmental scientists increasingly focus on how women’s empowerment could benefit household incomes and food security.

The researchers – Emily Gibson, Pia Harkness, Hannah Ling, Gianna Bonis-Profumo and Kim Hunnam – are PhD candidates, who embed themselves with the local people for months at a time.

Associate Professor Natasha Stacey, who supervises their projects, said in many communities gender directly impacted access to and control over assets.

“Our research contributes to addressing gender equity in environmental research studies, which can lead to improved incomes and food security,” she said.

Dr Stacey from the College of Engineering, IT and Environment said gender equity issues contributed to the complex challenges students faced when undertaking social science research projects in developing countries.

“Students must establish and build partnerships with government and non-government agencies and communities, learn new languages and live and work in remote and isolated areas for long periods of time,” she said.

“The women we have in the field seem to excel at this.”

In Timor-Leste, where about 40 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line, Kim Hunnam hires local youths to help collect data on fishers’ daily sardine catches, as she builds a picture of the fishery’s importance as an income and food source.

“Sharing the work opportunity around has allowed me to establish and maintain a good relationship with the community,” she said.

“I chose to live in Dili while conducting my field work, which I feel helps me to gain a better understanding of the context of my research, the culture and language.”

source: Charles Darwin University

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