by Linda St.Cyr, Contributing Writer
“Women make up a little over half of the world's population, but they account for over 60 percent of the world’s hungry.”- U.N. Economic and Social Council, 2007
If you were asked who was affected most by hunger would you choose a. women, b. children, c. men or d. all of the above? The answer is not all of the above but a. women. In some of the least developed countries where hunger is an everyday threat women face the inequalities of economics which means they remain hungry. Some of these inequalities include lower job wages, less secure jobs and gender inequality in general.
A recent United Nations conference on the least developed countries called “Economic Empowerment of Rural Women is Key” address and analyzed the issues that women face. During the Opening Session of the 4th UN conference United Nations Women Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director Ms. Michelle Bachelet spoke to group of government representatives and global leaders about empowering women. In her speech Bachelet said, “Globally, rural areas have lagged far behind in terms of progress on all of the MDG [Millennium Development Goals] indicators, including those related to gender equality. This is particularly significant for the LDCs [Least Developed Countries], since more than 70 percent of their populations live in rural areas.”
Bachelet went on to address the steps that are necessary for her Vision and 100-Day Action Plan to work. One of the first things she addressed was unpaid women’s care work like that of tending an open fire where a woman in Africa will, “devote at least a quarter of total household labour to wood collection.” The solution: labour-saving technology and alternative energies sources. Bachelet offered some other solutions which would empower women including access to health care, education, and a greater investment in agriculture and rural development by increasing productive resources and financial services to women.
According to her speech, “FAO has estimated that, if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent. This could have a powerful impact on both food security and nutrition in LDCs.” Pointing out exactly why empowering women is the key in the fight against hunger.
You can read Michelle Bachelet’s entire speech at UN Women.
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