Women are often victims of hunger. They also have a crucial role to play in defeating hunger. As mothers, farmers, teachers and entrepreneurs, they hold the key to building a future free of malnutrition. Here are ten reasons why empowering women is such an important part of WFP’s work.
- In developing countries, 79 % of economically active women spend their working hours producing food through agriculture. Women are 43% of the farming work force.
- Yields for women farmers are 20-30 percent lower than for men. This is because women have less access to improved seeds, fertilizers and equipment.
- Giving women farmers more resources could bring the number of hungry people in the world down by 100 - 150 million people.
- Surveys in a wide range of countries have shown that 85 - 90 percent of the time spent on household food preparation is women’s time.
- In some countries, tradition dictates that women eat last, after all the male members and children have been fed.
- When a crisis hits, women are generally the first to sacrifice their food consumption, in order to protect the food consumption of their families.
- Malnourished mothers are more likely to give birth to underweight babies. Underweight babies are 20 percent more likely to die before the age of five.
- Around half of all pregnant women in developing countries are anaemic. This causes around 110,000 deaths during child birth each year.
- Research confirms that, in the hands of women, an increase in family income improves children’s health and nutrition.
- Education is key. One study showed that women's education contributed 43% of the reduction in child malnutrition over time, while food availability accounted for 26%.
Women in Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development, FAO, March 2011 (Facts 2, 3, 9, 10); The Role of Women in Rural Development, Food Production and Poverty Eradication, UN Women, 2012 (Fact 4); Committee on Food Security, FAO, 2011; (Fact 5, 6) Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children, UNICEF, 2007 (Fact 7); The Female Face of Farming, FAO, 2012 (citing Smith and Haddad 2000) (Facts 1 , 8).