As substantial contributors to agricultural production, food processing, vending, and household meal preparation, women have significant potential to prevent the spread of foodborne pathogens. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety (FSIL) engages women in food safety research projects and empowers them to influence food safety and nutrition decision-making in their households, workplaces, and communities. When equipped with information about foodborne disease risks and food safety practices, women — whether as parents, farmers, or entrepreneurs — are well positioned to transfer this knowledge to their children and communities, catalyzing food system transformation and improving nutritional outcomes.

FSIL’s approach centers gender throughout the life cycle of each research project, from project planning to the implementation of new food safety practices and policies. By collaborating directly with women stakeholders, women’s needs, priorities, and perspectives — as defined by them — can be addressed. Practices to engage women in food safety research include:

  • Implementing gender-sensitive methods during project design and execution
  • Including gender specialists on research teams
  • Engaging women as key stakeholders when identifying food safety risks and feasible interventions
  • Assessing gender roles, decision-making power, and access to resources within relevant local and regional value chains
  • Understanding women’s current knowledge, attitudes, and practices around food safety, as consumers, farmers, processors, and vendors
  • Prioritizing women’s access to knowledge and resources to reduce foodborne illness
  • Providing culturally appropriate training in science-based food safety practices
  • Promoting economic, social, political, and cultural equality