Why Females Are More Susceptible to Hunger and Food Insecurity

Undernutrition and food insecurity has been one of the great concerns over the centuries. While fighting hunger and malnutrition, humans have faced health problems, decreased quality of life, and increased numbers of deaths. FAO et al. (2020) observe that while the 746 million people facing severe food insecurity, an additional 16 percent of the world population have experienced food insecurity at moderate levels. However, among all people, women and young girls seem to be more vulnerable to hunger and food insecurity due to financial position, perception of body image, and gender discrimination in religion.

Females tend to have a poorer financial position comparing to men because of gender limitations for work, their supplementary domestic duties, and responsibilities for children’s upbringing. It is common to believe that in modern society, there is an ongoing fight for women’s rights, and females are becoming equal to men. However, the employer would rather prefer a male worker to a female for a job requesting hard physical labor or including 24-hour shifts. Studies from Europe, the US, and Canada have established that women have an increased risk of short-term sickness absence due to depression, arthritis, migraines, and lower back pain (Padkapaeva et al., 2017). Moreover, females spend a significant amount of time on children and house duties which directly impacts their working hours. These factors also incline an employer to choose a man-worker as he has fewer responsibilities outside of the company. That is how women’s gender itself and supplementary duties make ladies less competitive in getting sufficient salaries and lead to hunger and lack of food.

The poor financial position is likewise a central factor of food insufficiency among immigrant women. This is especially true for those who are sole providers in the family. Seems like it is built-in women’s nature to provide for their children. That explains why a refugee or an immigrant having a poor income would feed a child instead of having food herself. Maynard et al. (2019) mention that “immigrants prioritized sending money home because they felt their relatives were in worse financial situation” (p. 404). With low income, immigrants also struggle to get access to cultural foods. As a result, they try to buy inexpensive goods that answer their cultural perception. Similar ingredients used in a daily ration can lead to another food insecurity lacking necessary fats, proteins, vitamins, and microminerals. Food insecurity is mainly caused by financial insufficiency, especially among immigrant women that are the only providers of the household.

Women and, particularly, young girls have intentions to measure up with the modern body image dictated by fashion and society. The modern idea of being fit and slim, popularization of sport should have a positive effect on society, inducing people to lead a healthy lifestyle. Even so, some women in their will to become thin end up in malnutrition, hormone disorder, hair loss, and anorexia. The modern idea of a perfect body forces women to eat less and experience hunger and limited access to food. However, body mechanisms are smarter than humans’ decisions of putting it under constant stress. Lack of food and essential vitamins impacts on work of endocrine and neurological systems that increase the appetite of an exhausted from constant dieting woman. Consistent caloric deficits raise food cravings, as well as food reward, and seem to increase oro-sensory sensations in women who lost weight (Hintze et al., 2017). The perfectionism of a woman’s body and its proportions leads women to endless dieting, hunger, and food insecurity that influences their health and life quality.

Limiting themselves with food also guides women and girls to a variety of eating disorders. A study by Lipson et al. (2017) underlines that eating disorder risks were significantly higher among females (17%) than males (5.5%). The lack of nutrition and essential vitamins has a big impact on young girls’ lives, studies, and life quality. Having a stratum of the young generation with health disorders, lack of attention during studies, and depression brings substantial problems to society and influences its development.

Gender discrimination in religion is another possible cause of women’s and young girl’s food lack and hunger. Religion affects the everyday life of people in various cultures differently. Some groups of people are strongly devoted to religious ideas when not following the belief equals committing a crime. In some countries, religion takes an essential part of a political system; meanwhile, in Europe, a man claiming himself an atheist is an example of a free and adequate choice. However, some cultural specialties, including rituals, beliefs, and myths, tend to cause misunderstandings and health damage such as hunger and undernutrition. For instance, women living in Ethiopia in Addis Ababa due to some pervasive pregnancy-related food taboos and myths worsened the severity of maternal anemia (Mohammed et al., 2019). According to the estimates, 40% of women were anemic in 2016. The food items highly avoided by pregnant women in Addis Ababa are shown in figure 1.

Percentage of taboo by food item
Figure 1. Percentage of taboo by food item.

That is how gender discrimination in religion can cause food insecurity of some women by spreading misinformation and strong beliefs.

Talking about possible actions needed to prevent the growth of hunger and insufficiency of nutrition among women, it is important to mention the value of government actions and social participation. These factors tend to be leaders in the modern issue of undernutrition. Without support from the state, initiative from civil citizens, the high rates of food lack seem to stay unchanged for a long time.

The government can control the financial aspects of food supply, create a better welfare system for women, and limit the commercial advertisements to change a society’s view on an ideal body image. Working in tandem with nutritionists, the state can reduce the costs of essential goods that contain a needed amount of daily ingredients. With easier access to foods, it will become more maintainable for people with low income to avoid hunger. Healthy and balanced products should be affordable in a society so that people do not shorten their budgets.

For pregnant women and for those who are the only providers in the family or have more than three children, it would be fair to increase social security. Having extra payments, women can spend more time with family and house duties, which is also very important for society. The time ladies spend with family impacts the young generation’s upbringing and education. According to Campaña et al. (2016), parents who spend more time on activities that contribute to the human capital of the children invest in their future education. Payments to women suffering from food lack can help them have a better life quality and also will bring a double effect in the future of society.

By limiting and controlling the flow of advertisements, the government can help change the common picture of a perfect body and prevent women from eating disorders and anorexia. Social media influences the perception of being healthy and looking good. It can also lead a user to a depressive mood showing ideal bright pictures and colorful photos of happy people. By social comparison theory, humans, especially adolescents, tend to compare themselves to others to assess their opinion and abilities (Keles et al., 2019). Showing teenagers and women a healthy fit body image, putting restrictions on advertisements can help them have a bigger will to look good and slim at the same time.

The government should always keep track of all people in the country to get access to an adequate diet. It might seem that the issue of food insecurity remains up-to-date only for third-world countries. However, for such advanced country like Norway, the research by Henjum et al. (2019) found that the asylum seekers were worried about having enough money to buy food, limited their dietary intake to stretch the budget, experienced being hungry, and in some situations not having enough food for their children. Norway, one of the mature economies, is also having food insecurity as an ongoing problem, and immigration authorities need to ameliorate the opportunities for an acceptable diet.

The involvement of society influences finding the right path to improving the food insecurity situation. Women that have to shorten their budget and experience hunger should not be afraid to talk. Some females do not share their problems because they percept them as shortcomings; some are not aware of their rights. When people from social movements, various research simply share their life experience and image of suffering from imperfect systems, it becomes easier for authorities and non-governmental companies to help. This sharing, according to Andrée (2019), also enhances public trust and interest. Participation of women claiming about food lack out loud can help the government improve the supply institutions and make a better system of welfares.

To conclude, hunger and food insecurity among women and girls are mostly caused by the level of salaries, perception of the modern body image, and discrimination of gender in some religions. To help fight these factors, actions should be taken by both the government and society. The involvement of the two sides stays essential in improving and changing the modern situation about hunger and food lack.


Andrée, P., Clark, J. K., Levkoe, C. Z. & Lowitt, K. (2019). Comparing the effectiveness of structures for addressing hunger and food insecurity. In M. D. Anderson (Ed.), Civil society and social movements in food system governance (pp. 124-145). Taylor & Francis.

Campaña, J. C., Gimenez-Nadal, J. I. & Molina, J. A. (2016). Increasing the human capital of children in Latin American countries: the role of parents’ time in childcare. The Journal of Development Studies, 53(6), 805-825. Web.

FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP & WHO. (2020). The state of food security and nutrition in the world 2020. Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets. FAO. Web.

Henjum, S., Morseth, M. S., Arnold, C. D., Mauno, D. & Terragni, L. (2019). “I worry if I have food tomorrow”: A study on food insecurity among asylum seekers living in Norway. BMC Public Health, 19(592), 1-8. Web.

Hintze, L. J., Mahmoodianfard, S., Auguste, C. B., & Doucet, E. (2017). Weight loss and appetite control in women. Current Obesity Reports, 6(3), 334-351. Web.

Keles, B., McCrae, N. & Grealish, A. (2019). A systematic review: The influence of social media on depression, anxiety and psychological distress in adolescents. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 25(1), 79-93. Web.

Lipson, S.K. & Sonneville, K. R. (2017). Eating disorder symptoms among undergraduate and graduate students at 12 U.S. colleges and universities. Eating Behaviors, 24, 81-88. Web.

Maynard, M., Dean, J., Rodriguez, P. J., Srirangathan, G., Qutub, M., & Kirkpatrick, S. I. (2019). The experience of food insecurity among immigrants: A scoping review. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 20, 375-417. Web.

Mohammed, S. H., Taye, H., Larijani, B. & Esmaillzadeh, A. (2019). Food taboo among pregnant Ethiopian women: Magnitude, drivers, and association with anemia. Nutritional Journal, 18(19), 1-9. Web.

Padkapayeva, K., Chen, C., Bielecky, A., Ibrahim, C., Mustard, C., Beaton, D., & Smith, P. (2017). Male-female differences in work activity limitations. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 59(1), 6-11.

Create a citation

Choose a citation style


StudyStroll. (2022, July 18). Why Females Are More Susceptible to Hunger and Food Insecurity. https://studystroll.com/why-females-are-more-susceptible-to-hunger-and-food-insecurity/

Work Cited

"Why Females Are More Susceptible to Hunger and Food Insecurity." StudyStroll, 18 July 2022, studystroll.com/why-females-are-more-susceptible-to-hunger-and-food-insecurity/.

1. StudyStroll. "Why Females Are More Susceptible to Hunger and Food Insecurity." July 18, 2022. https://studystroll.com/why-females-are-more-susceptible-to-hunger-and-food-insecurity/.


StudyStroll. "Why Females Are More Susceptible to Hunger and Food Insecurity." July 18, 2022. https://studystroll.com/why-females-are-more-susceptible-to-hunger-and-food-insecurity/.


StudyStroll. 2022. "Why Females Are More Susceptible to Hunger and Food Insecurity." July 18, 2022. https://studystroll.com/why-females-are-more-susceptible-to-hunger-and-food-insecurity/.


StudyStroll. (2022) 'Why Females Are More Susceptible to Hunger and Food Insecurity'. 18 July.

Click to copy

A student like you wrote this sample on Why Females Are More Susceptible to Hunger and Food Insecurity. You may use this work for educational purposes. A correct citation is necessary if you want a fragment from the sample to be present in your paper.

Request for Removal

Send a removal request if you created this work and want it removed from the StudyStroll database.