Women and SDG 2: Ending hunger and achieving food security

Women and SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

The second of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly aims to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people have safe, sufficient and nutritious food all year round. This involves promoting sustainable agricultural methods, as food scarcity is often a consequence of environmental degradation, drought and biodiversity loss.

Given women’s traditional role in food security as the cornerstones of food production and utilization, it is easy to recognize how SDG-2 is directly linked to their empowerment: First of all, around the world, women are the ones to prepare the food for families. Secondly, rural women and girls make up 50 - 70 % of the agricultural labour force, often as unpaid peasant labour or seasonal workers.. Yet when times are tough, women and girls are the first to be denied their fair share of meal. In many developing countries, tradition requires that men eat first, followed by children, and women are the ones to eat last. Especially in poor households, women can be less likely to get the nutrients they need, including to manage the physical demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Josie Huxtable from CARE Australia therefore states that gender inequality hits women double here: both as food consumers and food producers.

UN Women calculate that if women had the same access as men to productive assets, agricultural output in 34 developing countries would rise by an estimated average of up to 4 %. This could reduce the number of undernourished people in those countries by 17 %, translating to up to 150 million fewer hungry people. Global studies have proven over and over again that women’s education increases women's participation in the labour force and their earning capacity - which, in turn, has a positive effect on children's nutrition and health. According to a World Bank survey, 90 % of a mother’s wage goes towards caring for her family (compared with 35 % of a father’s). So how could SDG-2 ever be achieved without achieving SDG-5?