5 reasons famines are sexist

Read why women are disproportionately impacted by famine.



A woman in El Fasher, North Darfur, uses a Water Roller for easily and efficiently carrying water. UN                  Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran.

Sexism – it’s an issue a high portion of women face on a daily basis. It’s also something we’re surrounded by each day. There are the blaringly obvious examples such as this front page Daily Mail scoop about an important Brexit meeting between British PM, Theresa May and Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon (by the way, just because it was written by a female reporter, it doesn’t mean it’s not sexist)…


                                             Front page of the Daily Mail. Source: Daily Mail.


Then there are the other tales about women being sacked for not wearing high heels at work and the constant trickle of reporters eventually ‘let go of’ by their networks for choosing to start a family (in case we all need a reminder, only women are capable of having babies, even in 2017).

Wider still, outside of workplaces, sexism is all around us and sadly, is even more of an issue in relation to humanitarian crises such as the dire food crisis currently facing Africa and Yemen.

So why are famines sexist?

#1 – When a crisis hits, women are generally the first people to sacrifice their food consumption in order to protect and continue feeding their families.

#2 – In some countries, tradition dictates women eat last, after both males and children have been fed.

#3 – Women’s access to aid can be undermined because of gender-based discrimination during times of crises.

#4 – The chance of giving birth to an underweight baby increases when a mother is malnourished. These babies are 20% more likely to die before turning 5-years-old.

#5 – Women without access to enough food are often anaemic, which causes around 110,000 deaths during childbirth each year.

Right now, more than 25 million people across Africa and Yemen need urgent humanitarian assistance and protection. Famine was declared in areas of South Sudan on 20 February 2017, while several other countries in the region are on the brink of famine as you read this. People, including women and children, are already dying from starvation. The United Nation has said $5.8 billion (AUD) is needed by July this year to avert famine in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen.

The situation is urgent – this is the first time in 6 years famine has been declared anywhere in the world. The global community needs to take action now and there is hope. Last month, we saw the Australian Government announce another $10 million in funding to deliver life-saving assistance to people in Yemen. Working together to avert famine and any crisis is in the interest of humanity.

You can ask Australia to step up, to show leadership and to rise at a time when leadership is desperately needed. Ask Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to double the Government’s 1 March 2017 announcement of $20 million in funding to at least $40 million for life-saving humanitarian assistance.

Join the Campaign for Australian Aid to fight for a more equal future for everyone.

This campaign is backed by Australia's aid & development groups

Business for Development is for Australian Aid VGen is for Australian Aid Australian Conservation Foundation is for Australian Aid
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