World Food Day

World Food Day


By Tonya Rowe, Global Policy Lead, Food & Nutrition Security, CARE

Every year, the global community observes World Food Day on October 16 to raise awareness that even though we already have the capacity to feed every person on the planet, more than 800 million people in the world face chronic hunger. Every year, we create campaigns around World Food Day to inspire people to take action and make donations so we can empower small-scale food producers to feed and nourish their families. We reinforce our commitments to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 (achieve Zero Hunger by 2030) and celebrate countries on track for meeting it. Every year, we talk about the fact that reaching #ZeroHunger is absolutely possible, but this year, we need to change the topic of conversation because, two years after we set those auspicious SDGs, the number of people facing chronic hunger has increased to 815 million. 

Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and aids combined and about 45 percent of infant deaths are related to malnutrition. Climate change has already impacted food security and ending hunger will only get harder unless we take the right actions.   

Over the next few weeks CARE will be spending a lot of time talking about hunger and malnutrition and climate change at several global events including the Nutrition for Growth Summit, the Scaling Up Nutrition Global Gathering, and UN Climate talks (COP23). It is already recognized that everyone has a right to food, yet we currently we have four countries approaching famine conditions, a designation that indicates that millions of people have already died from hunger.

If we really want to achieve #ZeroHunger – we have to quit talking primarily about producing food and start talking more about gender, climate change, conflict and inequality - the real drivers of hunger – and we have to start talking to women. Sixty percent of the world’s chronically hungry are women. They’re the ones most affected by food insecurity and, when properly supported, the ones most poised to make significant contributions to solving the world’s hunger issues.

This year, for World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is highlighting migration and food insecurity. CARE is observing it by highlighting the fact that you can’t create sustainable food systems for a changing, migrating population without addressing climate change, gender equality and rural development.

About 80 percent of the world’s extreme poor live in rural settings. The majority of refugees and displaced persons also come from rural areas and more than 75 percent of those who are food insecure depend on agriculture and natural resource-based livelihoods, like farming and fishing. It’s no coincidence that approximately half of the world’s smallholder farmers are women or that most of the people currently living in refugee settings are women.  Gender inequality means women hit barriers at every angle, even when they’re responsible for nearly 90 percent of household food preparation.  When food is scarce, women are often the last in the family to eat.

Worldwide, women make up nearly half the agriculture labor force, but only 10-20 percent are landowners and only 5 percent of agricultural training goes to women. Similarly, 90 percent of agricultural credit is accessed by men, while women farmers all over the world are routinely paid less than men. They carry a disproportionate share of household workloads; are often excluded from agricultural decision-making; and are under-represented in agricultural organizations. Disparities like these lead to a significant, systemic gaps (as much as 30 percent) between what male and female farmers can produce and often leave women more vulnerable to climate impacts.  

Women have the same right to food as men and they make enormous contributions to household food security.  We know that if female farmers have access to the same resources, rights, and opportunities as male farmers, they could produce enough food to create stability at the family and community level, improve resilience at the country level and reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 100-150 million! 

That’s why, in every country where CARE works with small-scale food producers, we take a 360-degree approach that strengthens gender equality and women’s voices, builds resilience, and promotes inclusive governance. In FY16, CARE worked with over 28.6 million participants through over 600 projects that focused on food and nutrition security and climate resilience. Every one of those projects included gender equality components.   

Today, on World Food Day and over the next few weeks, CARE calls on our partners, advocates and global leaders to step up their commitments to small-scale food producers, especially women, and the 815 million people who are chronically hungry. We know that achieving SDG 2 will require considerable investment, engagement, leadership and courage, from every country. We also know that the biggest problems we face today are entirely solvable if we place our attention on the right issues, tackle inequality, and put women at the heart of solutions.  That’s what we’re talking about on this World Food Day. 

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