The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic could nearly double the number of people experiencing serious food insecurity before the end of 2020. The situation is particularly dire for those living in conflict- affected settings. In these instances, violence has already impeded people’s ability to produce, process, and access food or to obtain food to eat. In countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen, the combined effects of conflict, COVID-19, and other factors have gravely exacerbated food insecurity and put millions of people at risk of famine.
But not everyone experiences food insecurity in the same ways. Women and girls are disproportionately and uniquely affected by food insecurity. Pervasive cultural and social norms often dictate that women and girls are responsible for providing food for their families but also that women and girls should eat last and least. COVID-19 is making food insecurity worse for women and girls. Virus-control measures are preventing them from producing or processing food and they are more likely to lose their jobs due to the economic effects of the pandemic. With few coping mechanisms left, women and girls are facing an unprecedented crisis.