Women use science to secure food

A Charles Darwin University researcher is working with women from 66 households, across three remote islands in Indonesia, to investigate food and nutrition security.

PhD candidate Emily Gibson has returned to Darwin after a month in the field conducting surveys in the communities that are all about an hour’s boat ride from her field base on the north-west coast of Flores.

She said her seasonal data collection on food and nutrition security, and fisheries-based livelihoods, indicated low diversity in the diets of households in the villages.

“The families eat mainly rice and fish; fruit and vegetables are scarce,” Emily said.

“Two of the islands have no natural fresh water supply, with drinking water brought in by boat, but even on the third island, where growing vegetables may be viable, it is not done.

“I will analyse relevant small-scale fisheries and nutrition policies and programs, to see whether they are being delivered in a way that is effective in remote coastal communities.”

Emily, an environmental scientist who has an 18-month-old son, is among CDU staff and students who will mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Sunday, 11 February 2018.

“It’s important for women to know there are rewarding careers in science, and I have been fortunate to have a supportive supervisor who understands my family situation,” she said.

Associate Professor Natasha Stacey, an expert in natural resources-based livelihoods, currently oversees five female PhD candidates, including Emily, who spend months at a time embedded in remote parts of Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

“Conducting a social science research project in a developing country can be extremely challenging, and women seem to excel,” Dr Stacey said.

“Studies have shown having women working in science can maximise innovation and increase knowledge.

“Working towards gender equity sends a positive message to potential students and early-career scientists.”

Source: Charles Darwin University

Image: Charles Darwin University Associate Professor Natasha Stacey is a natural resources-based livelihoods expert. Image supplied by Charles Darwin University.