We have known for a long time that when food is scarce, women are the ones who disproportionately go hungry. Social norms around the world dictate that men and boys must be fed first – girls and women get whatever is left over. So women go hungry – and right now
there are a lot of hungry women. How many though, I can’t tell you, because, naturally, no-one has bothered to gather the data
The Integrated Phase Classification Acute Food Insecurity classification, which produces food insecurity analyses
, forecasts, and famine warnings, does not provide gender-disaggregated data. The World Food Programme
identifies women as a vulnerable population
that faces increased risks of food insecurity, and has hunger and malnutrition estimates for pregnant and nursing women. But it does not provide
overall gender-disaggregated data on food insecurity in its regular updates.
No, despite the very well established norm that women eat “last and least
”, humanitarian organizations and governments are still on the whole sticking to measuring hunger by household rather than individual. Which is fine. Here’s a snippet from Invisible Women
showing just how fine it is:
An analysis of the 2010 Karnataka Household Asset Survey in India was even more damning. When merely comparing female-headed to male-headed households, there was not much gender difference found in poverty levels. However, when poverty was assessed on an individual level, the difference was dramatic, with, wait for it, 71% of those living in poverty being women [the wait for it is a reference to the regularly cited and just as regularly dismissed “zombie stat” that women make up 70% of those living in poverty, see IW, p.255]. And within those living in poverty it was women who experienced the greatest level of deprivation. Perhaps most damning for the validity of using household wealth to measure gendered poverty, the majority of poor women belonged to ‘non-poor’ households. (IW, p.258)
Yep, nothing to see here.