Today is Women’s Equality Day, and it’s impossible to ignore the importance of women’s equality to our work to end world hunger by 2030. Edna Ogwangi, Stop Hunger Now Chief Impact Officer, shared her insights on the connections between women’s equality and empowerment issues and hunger in countries we serve around the globe.
Q: How does the issue of women’s equality impact our ability to end world hunger by 2030?
A: Gender inequality is a pressing global issue with huge ramifications not just for the lives and livelihoods of girls and women, but, more generally, for human development, labor markets, productivity, and GDP growth. The challenge of inclusive growth is key for Stop Hunger Now’s work around the globe, and gender equality is an important cross-cutting issue in our strategy of addressing food security and world hunger by 2030.
Women play a critical and potentially transformative role in agricultural growth and food security in developing countries, but they face persistent obstacles and economic constraints limiting further inclusion in these areas. Stop Hunger Now will utilize the Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) to identify ways to overcome those obstacles and constraints that affect women. The Index is a significant innovation that aims to increase understanding of the connections between women’s empowerment, food security and agricultural growth. It measures the roles and extent of women’s engagement in the agriculture sector in five domains:
- Decisions about agricultural production
- Access to and decision-making power over productive resources
- Control over use of income
- Leadership in the community
- Time use
It also measures women’s empowerment relative to men within their households.
Q: How is Stop Hunger Now helping to push for women’s equality worldwide?
A: Understanding gender issues in countries we serve is paramount to Stop Hunger Now’s work. Stop Hunger Now is committed to gender integration in our strategies and operations. By using a gender lens in program design, implementation and evaluation, we will seek to
- Maximize access to program benefits by all beneficiaries
- Maximize economic growth and other positive benefits to all members of the household and community
- Ensure higher standards of excellence in design, implementation and results that meet the needs of all program participants.
Q: How is life different for women in the countries we serve vs. women in the U.S.?
A: We observe gender disparities in many countries that we serve around the world. One common disparity is within women’s property rights, which are limited by social norms, customs and at times, legislation, which hampers their economic status and opportunities to overcome poverty. Even in countries where women constitute the majority of small farmers and do more than 75 percent of the agricultural work, they are routinely denied the right to own the land they cultivate and on which they are dependent to raise their families. Ownership of land and property empowers women and provides income and security. Without resources like land, women have limited say in household decision-making and no recourse to the assets during crises. This often relates to other vulnerabilities such as domestic violence. Without the security of a home or income, women and their families fall into poverty traps and struggle for livelihoods, education, sanitation, health care and other basic rights.