8 March, 2015 - International Women’s Day: Women’s rights are held back by hunger

Plan International Australia Deputy CEO Susanne Legena is available for interviews, grabs, etc. Please call Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945 to arrange.

Millions of women across the world are going hungry as they pass up food in order to feed their children and the rest of their families, holding them back from realising their rights and their potential, says NGO Plan International Australia on International Women’s Day.

But, says Plan International Australia Deputy CEO Susanne Legena, Australians can play a role in ensuring women facing hunger in countries like South Sudan, Cambodia and Zimbabwe are able to feed both their families and themselves.

“All of us will be familiar with the sinking feeling of opening the fridge and finding there’s not enough food to feed the whole family. For most of us, a simple dash to the shops will fix that. But for countless others, not having enough food to feed their family presents some heartbreaking choices,” Legena says.

“More often than not, it’s a woman who will have to make the tough decisions. Does she feed her kids, whose growing bodies need a nutritious diet, or does she feed her husband who, in so many cases, is the breadwinner and needs refuelling?”

“Almost universally, mothers agree on one thing: they will be the last to eat. And often they will go without food altogether in order to feed their families. And by eating last, they always eat least,” she says.

“Studies in Australia have found that around five per cent of women in Australia have at some point run out of food and could not afford to eat. But the problem is a much bigger one in developing countries,” Legena says.

“Around one in eight people in the world go to bed hungry and, despite making up half the population, nearly two-thirds of people going hungry are women. Today is International Women’s Day, so it is the perfect moment to celebrate the achievements of women around the world, but we also need to ask: how can a woman fulfil her potential when she is going hungry?”

“We work in many countries where hunger is a huge issue, and none more so than for women: take South Sudan, where many of the men have been dragged into conflict and women have been left to flee to the bush and fend for their families. That often means eating whatever they can find: leaves, grasses and the bark from trees.”

“Even if they reach a refugee camp, there is often not enough food to go around and women will frequently go without food to make sure their children are fed. This is not only heartbreaking, it is clearly not a long-term solution to the hunger any of them face,” Legena says.

“Plan International Australia is currently running a food appeal for the people of South Sudan, Cambodia and Zimbabwe. We distribute food to families, so that women aren’t forced to make these impossible decisions.”

“Each dollar donated will be multiplied 15 times by partner UN agencies, so even a small donation can go a very long way to alleviating hunger,” she says. “Just $30 will feed two families for three months, $90 will feed a family for 90 days, while $225 will provide enough food for 15 families.”

To give to Plan’s food appeal, please ring 13 75 26 or visit plan.org.au. Donations will be multiplied 15 times by UN partner agencies and will go to feed the hungry in South Sudan, Cambodia and Zimbabwe.

For relevant high-resolution photos, click here: bit.ly/food_plan. Please credit ‘Plan International Australia’

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945