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Gender equality is a must for a world of Zero Hunger; where all women, men, girls and boys can exercise their human rights, including the right to adequate food.This is why the pursuit of gender equality and women’s empowerment (Sustainable Development Goal 5) is central to fulfilling the World Food Programme (WFP)’s mandate.

Wherever we work – saving lives, changing lives – we must tackle the inequalities that oppress and discriminate against women and girls and promote equity and the empowerment of all.  This is particularly so in humanitarian crises and places of conflict, when food insecurity and malnutrition are exacerbated.  

To reach food and nutrition security for all, it is essential that food assistance policies and programmes create conditions that advance, rather than undermine, gender equality and women’s empowerment. Women's empowerment is a key means of achieving gender equality. It involves women having the capacity to determine and shape their own lives and contribute – equally with men – in shaping the lives of their families, communities and societies.

Over the last 20 years, gender policies at WFP have evolved from a women-centred approach to focus on gender equality. Our current policy stresses that a world with Zero Hunger can only be achieved when everyone has equal opportunities, equal access to resources, and equal voice in the decisions that shape their households, communities and societies.

The WFP Gender Policy (2015-2020) sets out  four objectives.

  1. Food assistance adapted to different needs. Women, men, girls and boys benefit from food assistance programmes and activities that are adapted to their different needs and capacities.
  2. Equal participation.Women and men participate equally in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of gender-transformative food security and nutrition programmes and policies.
  3. Decision-making by women and girls. Women and girls have increased power in decision-making regarding food security and nutrition in households, communities and societies.
  4. Gender and protection. Food assistance does no harm to the safety, dignity and integrity of the women, men, girls and boys receiving it, and is provided in ways that respect their rights.

Why gender matters