When women are hungry, it is sometimes because of unequal access to resources, education and income, and because they participate less in decision-making.

Nutrition for mothers

When a woman is pregnant, her body has special nutritional needs. After she has given birth, she has a greater need for energy and also for the nutrients that make her breast milk nourishing to her baby. Learn more


And when hunger and undernutrition affect women, they also affect children. More than 19 million children are born annually with low birth weight, often the result of their mothers receiving inadequate nutrition before and during pregnancy.

Inherited hunger

These babies are 20 times more likely to die in infancy, and those who survive are more likely to remain malnourished throughout childhood. It is also likely they will face health and learning difficulties all their lives.

This means that hunger and its effects are passed from generation to generation.

Women may be victims of hunger but they are also the most effective solution to combating and preventing hunger.

Women as solution

In many countries, women form the backbone of the agricultural sector and food systems, making up the bulk of agricultural labourers. Women also play a key role in guaranteeing food security for the entire household.

Experience shows that in the hands of women, food is far more likely to reach the mouths of needy children.

WFP is committed to using its policies, programmes and actions to promote women’s empowerment as a key to improving food security for all.  (For more information, check out WFP's Gender Policy)

Key facts

  • Eight out of 10 people engaged in farming in Africa are women and six out of 10 in Asia.
  • In one out of three households around the world, women are the sole breadwinners.
  • A lack of iron in women's diets leads to an estimated 111,000 maternal deaths each year.
  • When income is in the hands of the mother, the survival probability of a child increases by about 20 percent in Brazil.