World Food Day – Women, Food and Disparity
The World Food Programme (WFP), the food aid arm of the United Nations, has this to say about Women and Food, “Almost two-thirds of the world’s chronically hungry are women and girls. Although women are often the main victims of hunger, they are also the most able to provide ways out of hunger.”1 When you think of something like hunger, it’s shocking to learn that women and girls are affected at a much higher rate then men and boys; especially when women most often act as change agents in terms of pulling their families out of hunger.
A girl born today in a poor community becomes part of the largest group of people to be denied basic needs and human rights—women. She is often devalued from birth. She may be given less food, denied urgent medical care and assigned exhausting chores. As a pre-teen or young teen, she may be forced to end her education in order to marry too young, or even be sold into prostitution to feed her family.
If you live in the United States you likely associate the manual labor of farming with men. You may be taken back to learn that around the globe close to half of agricultural workers are women. This is especially true in developing countries, where agriculture is predominantly “women’s work.” Yet, while women play a primary role in agricultural work, “they receive less then 10 percent of credit provided to farmers and own an estimated two percent of land,” says the FAO.2
The current economic crisis has not improved the situation. The Huffington Post recently published an article about how women and children are currently suffering most in the famine in the Horn Of Africa. This article sheds some light on how this issue is currently playing out in the greatest food crisis of today.
There is a saying in Africa that “If you educate a man, you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Today, “if men and women had equal access to productive resources in agriculture, food output in developing countries would increase by between 2.5 and four percent – enough to pull 100-150 million people out of hunger and help achieve Millennium Development Goal One on hunger and poverty reduction” estimates the FAO.
The issue of hunger, and why women and girls are affected at such higher rates, is a complex one. There is no single answer to solve the problem. The good news is that there are many things you can do to support providing women equal access in this area of basic human rights.
Micro Loans – One contributing factor is that women in general have less money to invest in their farms, less access to credit as a result (fewer collateral options). Micro-financing programs are critical to helping women overcome this issue.
Women of Vision groups participate in World Visions Micro Loans for women, to try to further women’s access to these resources.
Access to Clean Water – Women and girls may have to spend up to 4 hours a day gather water for their families, when there is no clean water access near them. By providing access to clean water, not only are health issues address, but women and girls are freed up to engage in other activities like education and farming.
Women of Vision are committed to raising funds for clean water for women and communities around the world. Access to clean water can act as a foundation for creating change for poor women and their families.
Education – Some 60 percent of women are estimated to be illiterate worldwide, as a result of lack of access to education. This provides a service divide between men and women regarding their technical competence required to increase production in the field of agriculture.
Women of Vision strives to support education of girls globally, through both advocacy, awareness and financial support of specific projects (ie building schools, addressing issues that keep girls out of school and more).
Advocacy – women experience discrimination in laws that would allow them to own or hold land, to make decisions about their lives and those of their families. Until these cultural and legal discrimination are removed, women will not have the power to own land and make decisions about that land in many countries around the world.
Women of Vision are advocates for women, whenever and wherever we are able to be.
To find out more about how to about how Women of Vision is actively working to increase access not only to food for women and girls, but also the resources to allow them to increase access and sustain their families food needs over time, and how you can get involved please contact the Women Of Vision Helpdesk at 1.877.WOV.4WOV or visit www.womenofvision.org.