Promoting Women as Protagonists of Gastronomy in Mar del Plata, Argentina
19 Dec 2023
Gender disparity is a pervasive problem in the global food system, and in few sectors is this as prominent as in the gastronomy and restaurant industry.
Data from the US shows that while women represent 69% of entry-level restaurant workers, they make up only 19% of chefs, 7% of head chefs and just 38% of executive workers. Women chefs in the US earn 28% less in base pay than their male counterparts, and fare even worse in terms of recognition and prestige, with only 11 of 75 Michelin stars awarded to chefs in the US in 2019 going to women.
Statistics from Argentina paint a similar picture. According to a study by the Unión de Trabajadores de la Industria Hotelera y Gastronómica (Uthgra), women in the gastronomy industry earn 20% less than men for the same tasks. This falls largely in line with the country’s Gender Equality Gap, which shows that women are 24% less likely to have equal opportunities than men.
Crunching the numbers does little to reveal the more insidious challenges that women face in the workforce.
A report by UN Women lays bare the active discrimination women have to overcome, and how female employees are left to navigate a culture that not only glorifies masculinity but also tacitly condones harassment. Then there’s the burden women bear in the food systems of many developing countries. According to a report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), if women farmers had access to the same opportunities and resources as their male counterparts, their productivity would rise significantly and the food security of millions of people would be improved.
Gender inequality is one of the greatest social challenges we face, and a significant impediment to a fair and equitable food system. Slow Food is aware of this, and committed to tackling social inequity by supporting projects like Negroni & Slow Food: A Tribute to Women in Gastronomy.
Devised by Agustina Morgavi, a sociologist and active member of the Slow Food Community of Mar del Plata, this project promotes gender equality in the gastronomy and cocktail industry through a range of educational and awareness-raising initiatives.
A Project that Recognizes the Role of Women in Gastronomy
The project brings together various communities in the gastronomy industry, including women chefs, bartenders, producers and consumers, as well as the producer communities.
By recognizing and honoring the work of women in gastronomy, the project will strengthen the community of women chefs and bartenders and foster inclusion and equal opportunities for women in the sector. It facilitates the creation of partnerships between producer communities, chefs and bartenders, ensuring that fresh, high-quality and sustainably sourced ingredients make their way onto the menus of the city’s restaurants and cocktail bars.
Women in producer communities will particularly benefit from the project’s promotion of biological and cultural diversity. Increased consumer-driven demand for produce from these agricultural communities will reinforce local economies, safeguarding the sustainability of localized food production.
Consumers will also benefit by gaining a deeper appreciation of the importance of culinary diversity and the preservation of biodiversity. This will help forge a community of conscious and responsible consumers, promoting more sustainable and inclusive food practices.
Partnerships play a key role in this project, as they do in all grassroots initiatives of the Slow Food movement. It therefore leverages the support of Argentina’s Directorate of Gender Policies, the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity of the Nation, the National University of Mar del Plata, the Chamber of Entrepreneurial Responsibility (FORTALECERSE) and the Undersecretary of Entrepreneurial Development under the Ministry of Economy.
Given the demographic makeup of Mar de Plata, with 35% of the city’s population of Italian descent, the project also involves the city’s Italian Consulate and COMITES (the Committee of Italians Abroad).
The project began in the summer of 2023 with a quantitative and qualitative study of women in gastronomy and bartending, gathering information on roles, professional trajectories, achievements and challenges.
In mid-September, the project hosted an interactive workshop-format event which invited leading women in Argentina’s gastronomy and cocktail industry to give talks, offer mentoring and training programs, and involve themselves in scholarships to further the potential of their peers.
Given the universality of the issue it tackles, the initiative dedicates considerable time and resources toward awareness raising. The final stage of the project therefore highlights the contribution of women to culinary culture and the local economy. This involves a press and dissemination campaign to publicize the results of the project and raise public awareness of the importance of gender equality in gastronomy and bartending, and the delivery of the Slow Food RegenerAction toolkit.
Seeding Sustainability through Food and Drink
The transformative work of this project is made possible by the Slow Food Negroni Week Fund. Since 2013, Slow Food, Campari and Imbibe have been harnessing the power of food, drink and hospitality to promote equity, education and sustainability, supporting community-led projects around the world in transforming their food and beverage systems.
Our partnership envisions a world where everyone can enjoy food and beverage that is good for them, good for the people who grow it, and good for the planet.
Be the Change, Join Slow Food
Slow Food recognizes the fundamental role women play in the food systems. That’s why we spearhead a range of international projects that redress social imbalance.
Our participation in the Niyat project in Argentina’s rural areas of the Gran Chaco is emblematic of this—a project that empowers Indigenous women and youth, sows the seeds of agroecology-based sustainability and paves the way for a new Indigenous governance for the co-design of rights-based public policies.
Has this Slow Food Negroni Week-funded project inspired you? Check out the education and advocacy work of Slow Food. Slow Food cultivates an international network of local chapters made of more than 1 million members and across 160 countries that host educational events and advocacy campaigns, and build solidarity through partnerships.
Join our grassroots movement today.
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