Left Out and Left Behind: COVID19, Hunger, and Gender Inequality

How Women are Impacted but Missing from the Response

(August, 18, 2020) – A global pandemic, hunger, and gender inequality are intensifying and colliding. If we don’t address gender inequality in the food systems and COVID response we will fail to solve the hunger pandemic, CARE said today in a newly released report.

In the report titled Left Out and Left Behind: Ignoring Women Will Prevent Us From Solving the Hunger Crisis,”  CARE interviewed more than 4500 women from 64 countries about how the pandemic is affecting their livelihoods, and ability to feed their families. The most immediate priority was food and income, and the biggest challenge is the increasing burden on women. Below are some of the report’s key findings.

Where are the Women?  

Experts estimate that if women had the same access to information and resources as men, we would feed 150 million more people every year. Gender equality must be a key part of the solution, but evidence shows there is little effort to make that happen.  

  • 73 Global reports were published by funders and policy makers that propose solutions to the hunger pandemic.  
  • 34 NEVER reference women 
  • 0 reports provide data showing the difference in women's experiences  
  • only 5 reports propose concrete actions to resolve the inequality that is crippling the food system  

“If our global and local response to COVID19 perpetuates the status quo we will likely end up with a hunger pandemic among those already suffering from food insecurity. Women are already experiencing this,” Tonya Rawe CARE  Director, Global Food and Nutrition Security Advocacy said. “We will lose the chance to build back a sustainable, inclusive and equitable food system. We will lose our chance to invest in women. We can’t lose this chance to get things right, for today and for tomorrow.”

Women and girls are affected by the COVID19 pandemic especially as it relates to food insecurity. Women carry the economic burden of buying food for the family, while also doing more than 75% of the unpaid work, such as cleaning and child care. 

Food insecurity is already hitting women in severe ways. Women eat less and last. CARE is already seeing this tendency in the COVID19 pandemic. In Bangladesh, for example, 33 percent of women cut down on their own food intake in an attempt to hold on to their savings.

“During a public health crisis, women lose their rights, their economic gains, their wellbeing and even their lives when policymakers do not recognize these gendered differences, whether through ignorance or choice.” Rawe said. “When women are not at the decision-making table, and when researchers do not disaggregate information by gender, everyone loses—women and girls most of all. This is why we recommend The UN appoint a women's rights group to the Advisory Committee for the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021. The committee currently does not include any representation from women's groups. To solve this hunger crisis that needs to change.”

Click here to read the Report.

For more information or interviews:

Rachel Kent, Senior Press Officer, [email protected], 516.270.8911