Women and Children Suffer from Hunger

Posted on | december 8, 2011 | No Comments

Women and children are hit the hardest by hunger worldwide. Why? In developing countries women face unique barriers to critical resources like income, land, education and the ability to borrow money.  The global population has now hit a astonishing 7 billion-plus mouths to feed, and women and children account for more than 60% of those who live daily without enough to eat.

According to UNICEF, more than 30% of children in developing countries – about 600 million – live on less than $1 a day. Every 3.6 seconds someone dies from starvation, most often a child under the age of five.

According to Ritu Sharma, head of Women Thrive Worldwide, women are most vulnerable to malnutrition and communicable disease. “Women are often subjected to assaults and violence in refugee camps, and forced to make difficult choices about how to best care for their families under impossible circumstances,” says Sharma, who has lived on $1/day to demonstrate the extreme level of poverty at which billions live.  Sharma tried living on a dollar a day in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Burkina Faso.  You can read about her experiences here.

As most of us now prepare for the holidays, including our yearly spending sprees, the United States Congress is looking to make cuts. Federal budget debates for 2012 have already heated-up and one of the pending cuts includes vital programs that protect impoverished women and children. This is true even though poverty-focused international assistance represents less than one half of one percent of our budget.

Sadly, in a post earlier this year, Political Will a Must to End Child Malnutrition,  I stated that, “the issues leading to child malnutrition are often created by a lack of political will, and yet political will is required to end this problem. Pressure for change must come not only from within countries suffering, but also from the international community. We should continue to evaluate cases of success to aid current, new, and emerging leaders if we are to see the end of child malnutrition in our lifetime.”  The idea that the US is now considering cutting funding for such necessary programs is shocking to say the least.  It remains clear that efforts around the globe to tackle the food crisis and seek a sustainable end to child malnutrition and poverty need to see an increase in political will. This is necessary to ensure that both funding and sustainable practices are put into place at all levels. We must invest in the rights of women and children if we are to see an end to poverty. By investing in a child’s health, nutrition, education, development, and gender equality, we will ensure a healthier, more literate and more productive society. Through investments in the basic rights of women and children we will see stronger communities, increased democracy and equality. This is an investment that we as a global society will all benefit from. Take a stand and write your Representative today; tell them we cannot cut this crucial funding out of the budget.

Poverty is like a disease, as it is transmitted from one generation to the next; until we put an end to this disease it will continue to spread and claim the lives of millions of innocent children.  Let’s stop poverty in its tracks before it becomes a plague that consumes an entire generation of children.

AUTHOR: Cassandra Clifford
URL: www.bridgetofreedomfoundation.org and http://children.foreignpolicyblogs.com
E-MAIL: Cassandra [at] btff.org

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