10 Facts on Women and Hunger

Posted on May 9, 2014 by ELCA World Hunger
Henry Martinez

1.    In developing regions, the proportion of people living on less than USD $1.25 a day fell from 47 per cent in 1990 to 22 per cent in 2010. Extreme poverty is also falling in every region.1

2.   Hunger and poverty remain stubbornly ‘feminized’ – globally, 70 percent of people living in absolute poverty are female.2

3.   Surveys in a wide range of countries have shown that 85 to 90 percent of the time spent on household food preparation is spent by women.3

4.  Women are much more likely to earn poverty-level wages than men. In 2011, 32 percent of women earned poverty-level wages or less, while 24.3 percent of men earned the same.4

5. Globally, 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.5

6. Women’s labor force participation in Latin America and the Caribbean region has risen 35 percent since 1990 (a more dramatic rate than any other region). It is estimated that between 2000 and 2010 extreme poverty in the region would have been 30 percent higher if not for women’s participation in the labor force.6

7. Women make up the majority (66 percent) of sub-minimum wage workers (earning $2.13 an hour) in tipped restaurant occupations, compared to 48 percent of the non-tipped restaurant workforce (earning $7.25 an hour).7

8. Higher education opportunities for women and girls are crucial for battling poverty. The gross enrolment rate for girls at lower secondary level increased from 69 to 81 percent between 1999 and 2010, and from 43 to 58 percent at the upper secondary level in the same period.8

9. Researchers estimate that rural women produce half the world’s food and, in developing countries, between 60% and 80% of food crops.9

10. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that if women had the same agricultural access to resources and markets as men yield gaps would be closed by 20-30%, reducing the number of undernourished people by 100-150 million.10



http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/mdg-momentum#MDG1. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013, 7. Access: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/report-2013/mdg-report-2013-english.pdf.

2 Bread for the World Hunger Report (2014), 160.

3 http://www.wfp.org/our-work/preventing-hunger/focus-women/women-hunger-facts

4 Lawrence Mishel, Josh Bivens, Elise Gould, Heidi Shierholz, “The State of Working America,” 12th Ed. (Cornell University Press, Noevember 2012), 193.

5 “Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review,” UNICEF, (December 2007), p.7.http://www.unicef.org/progressforchildren/2007n6/files/Progress_for_Children_-_No._6.pdf

6 “Gender at Work: A Companion to the World Development Report on Jobs,” the World Bank Group (2013), p. 8.

7 “Tipped Over the Edge: Gender Inequality in the Restaurant Industry,” Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, 2012 report, 9.

8 “From Access to Equality,” United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization Report (2012), p.22.

9 FAO Focus on Women and Food Security, prepared by the Women in Development Service, FAO Women and Population Division, FAO, Access: http://www.fao.org/sd/fsdirect/fbdirect/fsp001.htm.

10 “The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-2011,” Food and Agriculture Organization report,http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i2050e/i2050e00.htm.