Girls Eat the Leftovers

“In Darfur, the men and boys often eat completely separately from women and girls. The leftover food is for the women and girls,” reports Kate Newton, a program officer for the United Nations World Food Program in Sudan.

None of the major humanitarian agencies that study and work on it keeps gender-specific counts, but because growing up female often means growing up as the lesser child, it is widely accepted that far more girls than boys are going without adequate food.

The U.N.’s World Food Program school feeding program is pursuing anti-poverty policies already familiar in the developed countries, such as free school lunch for all children. But in dispensing cooking oil to children with good attendance—including girls—it also tackles the educational disparities between boys and girls and the status gap that girls suffer inside their homes.

“Girls were not encouraged to go to school,” said Margaret Carrington, a World Food Program spokesperson, who explained how the school feeding program works in Pakistan. “So we gave them an attendance card. If their attendance was good they would get cooking oil to bring home. This gives a girl a power position in the family structure. Before, she was just an extra mouth to feed. Now she is a player in the family”

— from “Giris’ Hunger Fought With Cooking Oil”