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.

  1. Protracted crises undermine food security and nutrition. Women are more likely than men to be affected, and their access to aid can be undermined by gender-based discrimination.
  2. Yields for women farmers are 20-30 percent lower than for men. This is because women have less access to improved seeds, fertilisers and equipment.
  3. Giving women farmers more resources could bring the number of hungry people in the world down by 100 - 150 million people.
  4. 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.
  5. In some countries, tradition dictates that women eat last, after all the male members and children have been fed.
  6. When a crisis hits, women are generally the first to sacrifice their food consumption, in order to protect the food consumption of their families.
  7. 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.
  8. Around half of all pregnant women in developing countries are anaemic. This causes around 110,000 deaths during childbirth each year.
  9. Research confirms that, in the hands of women, an increase in family income improves children’s health and nutrition.
  10. Education is key. One study showed that women's education contributed 43 percent of the reduction in child malnutrition over time, while food availability accounted for 26 percent.


The State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, May 2015 (Fact 1): 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;  (Facts 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) (Fact 8).