"Africa's Last and Least": Women and the Food Crisis
"Things have never been bountiful in [Bamogo's] village," Sullivan writes, "but a year ago Bamogo said her family had three meals a day, and those regularly included rice and meat, with tomatoes and onions and other fresh vegetables. A drought and then severe flooding devastated harvests across the country last year. Then on top of that, international market factors far beyond their control have pushed up the price of everything."
The stories of Lingani and Bamogo point to one of the most tragic, but fixable, problems of poverty: despite being the backbones of economies and often growing the majority of the food supply, women are the hardest hit by poverty and face extreme and unequal economic barriers to escape it. The global food crisis, which has plunged millions of already poor families worldwide even deeper into poverty, is no exception.
"In poor nations, such as Burkina Faso in the heart of West Africa, mealtime conspires against women. They grow the food, fetch the water, shop at the market and cook the meals. But when it comes time to eat, men and children eat first, and women eat last and least," writes Sullivan.
But there are solutions. Ironically, it is those who are most affected by the food crisis --women-- who are most likely to end it. This is because women are more likey to invest extra income and resources into their children and families, creating a multiplier effect that lifts entire families out of poverty. In many places, for example, if women had the same access as men to land, seed, and fertilizer, agricultural productivity could increase by up to 20%. Imagine how much food that is for hungry families like Ruth Bamogo's.