Violence Against Women is also: Eating last and least


International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Beginning today and ending on 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 the next 16 days, we will be highlighting 16 different types of violence that women and girls experience beyond the physical. Stay tuned to test your knowledge on violence against women with a quiz, messages from our staff around the world and, thanks to your support, stories of how we fight this type of violence in our work.

You can take action against gender-based violence:


Day 1 – Violence Against Women is also: Eating last and least

According to the United Nations, 60% of the world’s undernourished population are women. What’s important, however, is not just “how do we eliminate hunger for women” but rather “why are more women suffering from malnutrition than men in the first place?” While there are many factors at play, it is often because women eat last and least.


Why do women eat last and least?

Women often eat last and least because of traditional gender roles. In many developing countries, men are the primary breadwinners and women are responsible for completing most of the domestic unpaid work. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women perform between 60-80% of domestic work and are often the caregivers for the family. This involves collecting and preparing food, sometimes walking miles to a water collection point.

Since women are often responsible for caring and nourishing their families, they often ensure the rest of their family has eaten first, leaving less food. This means that they do not have equal access highly nutritional food and more susceptible to malnutrition. Additionally, in these households, women often lack the rights to land ownership and financial services to secure their livelihoods. This again results in women consuming less, in order to ensure for the health of their children.


Ending food discrimination

Overcoming issues of violence against women involves deepening the understanding of trends in gender inequality and monitoring undernutrition through a gender-specific lens. Understanding dietary patterns, such as who eats what and when, is vital to uncovering differences between members of the household.

It is crucial to educate women on the importance of nourishing themselves alongside their family members. Action Against Hunger achieves this through mother-to-mother support programs. Established in 2016, the ‘Porridge Moms’ program in the war-torn region of Borno state has been essential in providing mothers with nutritional advice and peer support. It helped a number of women, including Hannatu Zakaraya, a mother of three who was forced to flee the war with her children. The nourishing daily provided by Porridge Moms ensures Hannatu is well nourished and that she can breastfeed her baby.

In Kenya, Action Against Hunger has constructed a series of wells in order to reduce the distance that women need to travel to collect water. This has encouraged the women to build their own ‘food gardens’ near the wells, which they use to grow and share food. The ownership of food gardens increases women’s sense of control over the production and consumption, ensuring women no longer face food discrimination.



Nurun Naha and her fifteen-day-old son.

Action Against Hunger is working in places like Bangladesh, where we’re helping girls and women like Nurun Naha, who crossed Myanmar’s border into Bangladesh three days after violence erupted in Rakhine State. She arrived in Bangladesh with eight of her children. “I had to leave one of my children there and I do not know where my husband is,” Nurun told us, worried. “When the violence intensified, we ran to hide where we could during the middle of the night. The only priority was to survive.”

Nurun Nahar is concerned about whether her eight-year-old son has crossed the border with someone and hopes to meet her husband and son in Bangladesh where she and the rest of her family have taken refuge in the ongoing crisis. “Yesterday when we entered Bangladesh, we did not know where to go and stayed on the edge of the road. We were hungry and the children were crying. A stranger saw us and offered us food and a place to stay. This morning we were given more food. I am ashamed to ask for more, they are already doing much for us. I wish I could be home in Rakhine,” said Nurun sadly as she attended to her fifteen-day year old son.


Ensure moms like Nurun Naha receive the nutrition they need.