Development Works Number 8, October 2013

Number 8, September 2013 Development Works Bread for the World Institute provides policy analysis on hunger and strategies to end it. The Institute educates opinion leaders, policy makers and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. Snapshot UN Photo/Tobin Jones • Gender inequality is a main cause of hunger. Fortunately, it’s also true that improvements in women’s status have brought significant progress against hunger. A trainee police officer in Somalia. Both opening professions to women and increasing women’s presence in visible public roles improves a woman’s ability to hold a job that pays enough to support her children. Development Needs All Hands on Deck What are the most important causes of hunger and poverty? Gender inequality might not be among your first guesses—but it is in fact one of two principal factors behind Africa’s continued food insecurity, according to the 2012 Africa Human Development Report. (The second is bias against rural areas). There’s more and more evidence that gender inequality is a leading cause of hunger. Fortunately, it’s equally true that reducing gender inequality reduces hunger. Analysts at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) looked back at the years 1970-1995, a period of significant decline in child malnutrition. What made this progress possible? A larger supply of food available per person certainly seems like a good explanation, and this was in fact something that helped. But the IFPRI analysis found that it was responsible for only about 26 percent of the improvement. Gains in women’s education explained 43 percent of it. 1 • Conditions that interfere with women’s ability to earn a living—such as lack of education—contribute directly to hunger and disease in their families. Thus, greater workplace equality and economic opportunities for women are essential to making lasting progress against hunger. • Today more than ever, global, regional, and national economies don’t have the “luxury” of wasting time and talent simply because they are women’s time and talent. • The United States is supporting women’s empowerment by integrating gender considerations into all aspects of development assistance. Recent policies recognize that in order to be effective, development assistance must treat women as full participants.