Social Issues

Study: Black female-headed households in Brazil disproportionately affected by hunger

Rio de Janeiro, Jun 26 (EFE).- One in every five Black households in Brazil – Latin America’s leading economic power – suffer from hunger, and the situation is even more dire in the case of Black female-headed households, according to a study released on Monday.

Twenty-two percent of families headed by Black women nationwide are severely food insecure, defined by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization as a level of insecurity in which the household has run out of food entirely and gone a day or more without eating.

Among households headed by white men, the proportion of the population facing severe food insecurity stands at 7.8 percent.

Those figures come from a food security study carried out by the Brazilian Research Network on Food and Nutrition Sovereignty and Security (Rede Penssan) between November 2021 and April 2022.

The study showed that 33 million Brazilians were suffering from hunger, many of whom had fallen into severe poverty due to the economic repercussions of the pandemic. Between 2019 and 2022, the percentage of Brazilian households battling hunger rose from 9 percent to 15.5 percent.

It also found that Black families were most affected, particularly Black female-headed households.

The study revealed that nearly one in five families headed by a Black man or woman suffers from hunger in Brazil, while that proportion falls to one in 10 households when the head of household is white.

Among female-headed households, the hunger disparity between those headed by Afro-Brazilian women as opposed to white women is 22 percent to 13.5 percent.

Sandra Chaves, Rede Penssan’s coordinator, stressed the importance of recognizing “the confluence of racism and sexism in the structural formation of Brazilian society” and implementing public policies that promote equity and “broad, unrestricted and equal” access to food.

Sexual and racial inequality is evident even when educational levels are the same, the expert said.

Among those in Brazil with eight or more years of schooling, 33 percent of Black women suffer moderate or severe food insecurity, compared to 21.3 percent of Black men, 17.8 percent of white women and 9.8 percent of white men.

The study, which was based on interviews in 12,745 homes in 577 urban and rural municipalities in Brazil, defines food security as a situation where a household has full and regular access to sufficient quantities of quality food without the need to forgo other basic necessities.

Food insecurity – which can range from mild to moderate to severe – exists when those requirements are not met.

Fighting hunger is one of the priorities of the current administration in Brazil headed by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who took office on Jan. 1.

In March, the center-left head of state re-launched a social welfare program that reduced poverty rates during his first two terms as head of state from 2003 to 2010 and now is aimed at helping some 33 million people put food on the table.

The new version of the so-called Bolsa Familia program is expected to provide financial aid to around 60 million people (just over 30 percent of the population) and cost 175 billion reais ($36.7 billion), an amount equivalent to roughly 1.5 percent of Brazil’s gross domestic product.

Bolsa Familia was maintained by the administration of Lula’s predecessor, rightist Jair Bolsonaro, although it covered fewer families and eliminated the program’s school and health requirements, as well as other social benefits associated with that initiative.

Lula created the Bolsa Familia program in 2003 during his first term in office; in 2010, his government estimated that it had succeeded in lifting some 40 million people out of poverty. EFE


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