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‘Equality for women can reduce world hunger’: UN report

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Summary of story from Guardian, 7.3.11.

Ending discrimination against women in agriculture could feed millions of people, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Giving women better access to land, technology and other agricultural resources could reduce the number of hungry people by up to 150 million, according to the UN food agency.

While 1.5 billion adults are overweight, including 300 million obese women and 200 million obese men, in the developed world, the FAO said that about 925 million people around the globe were undernourished in 2010.

Of these, 906 million live in developing countries.

Giving women the same tools and resources as men, including financial services, education and access to markets, could increase agricultural production in developing countries by 2.5 per cent to 4 per cent, it said.

This could in turn reduce the number of hungry people by 12 per cent to 17 per cent, or by 100 to 150 million people.

The FAO director general, Jacques Diouf, said ending discrimination against women in agriculture was necessary to win the fight against world hunger.

“Gender equality is not just a lofty ideal, it is also crucial for agricultural development and food security,” he said.

Women make up 43 per cent on average of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, said the report, released in Rome on the eve of International Women’s Day.

According to the FAO, rural women tend to be kept in low-wage jobs and have seasonal or part-time work.

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