811 million people in the world are going hungry, half a million of whom are on the brink of starvation. Clearly, current approaches are simply not enough to meet the scale of the crisis we are facing. If we continue to do what we have always done, we will continue to see the same problem: people going to bed hungry. We must find better solutions to prevent and end hunger—especially if we are going to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030.
One of the first things we can do is consider who is going hungry. Using the term “people” hides part of the problem: gender inequality. Globally, women are 10% more likely to go hungry than men, and that gap is growing. In Somalia, for example, men are eating smaller meals; women are skipping meals altogether. We see this inequality play out at the international level, too—global solutions consistently ignore women, their rights, and the critical role women play in food systems.
Of 84 global policies and plans designed to address hunger released between September 2020 and December 2021, only 4% refer to women as leaders who should be part of the solution or provide funding to support them. 39% overlook women entirely. This is unacceptable. Ending hunger will take everyone’s talents, opinions, and work. It requires promoting equality, respecting rights, and truly listening to the people who are on the frontlines of the problem. Local food producers and leaders—especially women—must be a core part of the solution.