Rising temperatures and extreme weather are having a huge impact on already vulnerable communities.
In countries facing conflict, famine and hunger, women and girls often eat last and least.
Girls might be attracted or pushed into early marriage, while boys separated from their families during an economic migration might slide into malnutrition if they can’t care for themselves.
For men who have lost wives, they might not have the same cooking and child caring skills needed to look after their families.
In the south of Madagascar, girls and women lose most of their decision-making powers upon the payment of dowry. While little boys might eat better than women and girls, they are washed less frequently, and are therefore more vulnerable to infection and disease.
Why diet and gender matter
All people, whatever their gender or age, need different types of food in their diet to keep them strong and healthy.
Women are often more vulnerable to malnutrition. They generally have smaller and less muscular bodies than men and need about 25% less energy per day. However, they require the same amount of nutrients, which means they need to eat more nutrient rich foods than men. But this is often unaffordable as foods rich in nutrients – like fruit, vegetables and protein – are the most expensive foods.
When pregnant and breastfeeding, women need to consume foods even richer in nutrients to maintain their energy and nutrition levels. Lack of access to a healthy diet puts pregnant women at greater risk of complications during pregnancy and birth. Many infant and young child deaths in developing countries are the result of the poor nutritional health of their mothers. Teenage mothers and their babies can also be particularly vulnerable to malnutrition.