Every day, more than 5,000 children — two million each year — still lose their fight against hunger. Oftentimes, parents do not recognize the symptoms of deadly hunger until it is too late. These families may live in remote villages that are miles away from the nearest health facility.
When it comes to tackling hunger, women are among our strongest allies. A single woman has the power to change her community for the better.
Women are disproportionately impacted by hunger, but they are also uniquely positioned to help fight it. Here are some facts you might not know about women and hunger:
In nearly two-thirds of the world’s countries, women are more likely than men to suffer from hunger and food insecurity.
In many low-income countries, women farmers comprise more than half of agricultural labor. Giving women farmers more resources could decrease the number of hungry people in the world by 100-150 million people.
Women who participate in household decisions produce and earn more, which raises family income by as much as 20 percent. And, women tend to use more of their earnings to promote proper hygiene and feed their families more nutritious foods.
One of Action Against Hunger’s most reliable strategies in fighting hunger is to train community health workers, most of whom are women. In Kenya, for example, approximately 80 percent of Action Against Hunger’s 1,600 trained community health workers are women.
Community health workers visit nearby homes, checking the health of families and providing treatment for life-threatening illnesses including malaria, pneumonia, and malnutrition. They also teach caregivers—primarily mothers—about health, nutrition, and sanitation, helping them to understand and prevent the illnesses their children face.
From a single community health worker, change spreads: from mother to child, neighbor to neighbor, community to community, generation to generation. On International Women’s Day, join us in celebrating and honoring powerful women who are on the front lines of the fight to end hunger.
Watch: The Hawa Effect
Before Hawa’s arrival in Kourougue village, Mali, malnutrition was believed to be a sign of the devil. Out of desperation, many families would turn to ineffective traditional remedies. Hawa has taught parents how to spot the signs of malnutrition and other diseases and shows them how to keep their children healthy.
“On my first day here, I saved a child’s life,” recalls Hawa. “If a child is healed, then I am happy. I could do another job, but not like this. Why would I want to? I love this so much.”
Read: Women Spark Change in Their Villages and Themselves
While engines in four-wheel drive vehicles might fail, the drive of community health workers never does. In Kenya, the average community health worker in a rural district covers an area of about ten miles, often on foot, bringing primary health services to people far out of reach from traditional health systems.
The change these women create in their communities – and in themselves – is remarkable. Beyond the benefits they provide to others, we see women community health workers finding pride in their work, raising their voices, and becoming empowered in their households and broader communities.
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Meet Rahma, Community Health Worker in Somalia
In Somalia, community health workers like Rahma forge vital connections between the women in their villages and formal health systems. Read how >>
“It is always my joy to see women and their children living a healthy lifestyle because of the information we provide,” says Rahma, proudly. “I do this because I am a woman, too, and I understand what fellow women go through on a daily basis. It is not an easy job, but we do it for our community because we are the backbone of our society.”
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Help us grow the movement to end hunger this International Women's Day! Share this image on your social networks and celebrate strong women who are changing their communities around the world.