SDG 2: Hunger & Nutrition



global average 2019 SDG Gender Index score on SDG 2


of farm yields could increase if women had the same access to productive resources as men (2011)

Malnourished mothers

are more likely to give birth to underweight babies

Why SDG 2 matters for gender equality

Today an estimated 789 million people are undernourished, and women account for 60% of the world’s chronically hungry people. Hunger poses severe risks to their health, and the health of their children. Malnourished mothers are more likely to give birth to underweight babies, and underweight babies are 20% more likely to die before the age of five.

While food insecurity varies across countries, women are more likely than men to experience such insecurity in most countries. The gender gaps in food insecurity are widest in Africa, South America, and South Asia. In Pakistan, for example, food insecurity among women was 11 percentage points higher than among men in 2014/15.

Such gaps are often linked to women’s lack of control over household assets, land and agricultural technologies. Crises can exacerbate such inequities, as seen across many other SDGs. UN Women has found that when crises hit or food prices rise, girls and women often become household ‘shock absorbers’, spending more time finding food while consuming less food (and less nutritious food) than others.

Progress on hunger means empowering the girls and women who collect, produce, cook, process and sell so much of the world’s food. Their access to productive agricultural resources can increase incomes and enhance the well-being of their children, as well as move the world towards SDG target 2.3: doubling the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers.

Plan International / Crystaline Randazzo
Plan International / Crystaline Randazzo
Indicator 2aPopulation below minimum level of dietary energy consumption (% of population)
RationaleDietary energy consumption refers to food intake that is continuously below a minimum dietary energy requirement for maintaining an acceptable minimum body size and a healthy life. Women and girls represent 60% of under-nourished people in the world, which can cause stunting, wasting, maternal and fetal health complications, and other health issues for girls and women.
Indicator 2bPrevalence of obesity among women aged 18+ years
RationaleObesity has serious implications for global health and has almost tripled since 1975 [4]. Women’s obesity rates are double those of men in the WHO regions with the widest gender gaps – Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and South East Asia. Obesity rates are linked to women’s access to healthy foods, mobility, access to public spaces, and control of household finances [5].

[4] WHO, “Obesity and Overweight” (Geneva: WHO, 2018),
[5] R. Kanter and B. Caballero, “Global Gender Disparities in Obesity: A Review,” Advances in Nutrition 3 (no. 4): 491-498, July 2012,
Indicator 2cPrevalence of anaemia amongst non-pregnant women (aged 15-49 years)
RationaleAnaemia contributes to one-fifth of all maternal deaths worldwide [6]. Anaemia underscores health disparities between and within countries. Affecting nearly one in three girls and women worldwide, it is life-threatening primarily for those living in developing countries.[6] UN Women, 2018.,