Violence against women is also: blaming mothers for their children’s nutritional status

Childcare Action Against Hunger

Watch Agawol’s story below. Photo: Lys Arango for Action Against Hunger.



From November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and until December 10th, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

Violence against women is one of the biggest causes of injury and death to women worldwide, causing more deaths and disability for women ages 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. In other words, it’s an epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

However, violence against women goes beyond the physical. Violence can be physical, sexual, psychological. Violence can include limiting autonomy, decision-making power and access to certain resources.

For these 16 days, we are highlighting 16 different types of violence that women and girls experience beyond the physical.

You can take action against gender-based violence:



Day 15 – blaming mothers for their children’s nutritional status



Placing the burden of childcare on mothers

In most places where we work, women spend two to ten times more time caring for children than men. This unequal distribution of responsibilities is linked to discriminatory gender stereotypes and norms worldwide. In times of humanitarian crises, women are more likely to be left with the responsibility of caring for and fleeing with their children. Men on the other hand, either stay behind or flee separately. As most women are required to care for multiple children at once after a crisis, they are often faced with the challenge of balancing paid employment with childcare. In many cases, any form of employment reduces the time for childcare, placing children at a greater risk of illness and malnutrition, thus inpacting their children’s nutritional status.

Single mothers tend to find themselves obligated to care for their children in their care at the expense of working. In most cases, it is the mother who is held responsible for the malnourishment of children and who must often walk miles to reach the nearest hospitals. Hauwa Bitous is an example of this. Having crossed the border from Nigeria into Cameroon, she is now the primary caretaker of a three-year old child whose mother remained in Nigeria. At only 20 years old, Hauwa has had to ensure for the safety and nourishment of the child, who has suffered from frequent rashes despite his rescue.


What Action Against Hunger is doing?

Action Against Hunger supports mothers in refugee camps through support groups and healthcare facilities that monitor the health of their children. Action Against Hunger champions the SMART Methodology, which monitors malnutrition of children and ensures that they receive immediate care if they are severely malnourished. This ensures that mothers are not solely responsible for monitoring children and that they can depend on professional help, if necessary. We also rely on local mother leaders who volunteer to educate their communities on malnutrition and reduce the stigma around treatment.


WATCH: Agawol’s story

Read more:


Ending violence against women is key to ending hunger.