Countries with the highest levels of hunger also have very high levels of gender inequality (2009 Global Hunger Index. The Challenge of Hunger: Focus on Financial Crisis and Gender Inequality. IFPRI Issue Brief 62.)
Gender inequality is a major cause and effect of hunger and poverty: it is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls (WFP Gender Policy and Strategy).
In the context of Latin America 110 women aged 20 to 59 are living in poor rural households for every 100 men in Colombia and 114 women for every 100 men in Chile. In sub-Saharan Africa (Cameroon, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe) there are more than 120 women aged 20 to 59 living in poor households for every 100 men (UN Women Progress report 2011).
Estimates suggest that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30 percent, lifting 100-150 million out of hunger (FAO (2011). The State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture, Closing the Gender Gap for Development, Rome).
Equal access to resources will raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5-4 percent, thereby contributing to both food security and economic growth (FAO (2011). The State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture, Closing the Gender Gap for Development', Rome)
The OECD estimates from recent years show that only 5 percent of aid directed to the agricultural sector specifically focused on gender equality. (OECD, The Development Co-operation Report 2011)
Women constitute half of the agricultural labour force in least developed countries (FAO, The Role of Women in Agriculture).
For those developing countries for which data are available, only between 10 and 20 percent of all land holders are women FAO (2011). The State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture, Closing the Gender Gap for Development', Rome).
In most countries women in rural areas who work for wages are more likely than men to hold seasonal, part-time and low-wage jobs and women receive lower wages for the same work (FAO (2011). The State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture, Closing the Gender Gap for Development', Rome).
Access to credit
The share of female smallholder farmers who can access credit is 5-10 percentage points lower than for male smallholders. (FAO (2011). The State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture, Closing the Gender Gap for Development', Rome)
In rural sub-Saharan Africa, women in smallholder agriculture access less than 10 percent of available credit (UN (2011). Report of the Secretary-General on Ten-year appraisal and review of the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010, A/66/66.)
Only one third of rural women receive prenatal care compared to 50 per cent in developing regions as a whole. (United Nations, The Millennium Development Goals Report 2010 and 2011 (New York, 2010 and 2011), available from www.un.org/millenniumgoals/reports.shtml.)
Infrastructure and ICTs
In LDCs, the electrification rate ranges from below 10 to 40 per cent and the percentage of population with improved access to drinking water in rural areas ranges from 9 to 97 per cent with significant disparities between urban and rural areas.People in LDCs rely on open fires and traditional cooking stoves (e.g. wood, crop waste and charcoal) to earn a living and feed their families. Women walk long distances every day to collect fuels (and water) (UNIDO (2011). Contribution to the LDC IV Conference on Energy Access).
Access to new technology is crucial in maintaining and improving agricultural productivity. Gender gaps exist for a wide range of agricultural technologies, including machines and tools, improved plant varieties and animal breeds, fertilizers, pest control measures and management techniques. Labour saving and productivity enhancing technologies can also help reduce women's time poverty.