Originally written by experts with Food Research and Action Center
Prior to COVID-19 Hunger
Although there was no disparity in food insecurity rates between single women and men living alone in 2019, 28.7 percent of households with single mothers were food insecure compared to 15.4 percent of single-father households. Food insecurity rates were much higher for households living at or below 130 percent of the poverty line, where 42.5 percent of single-mother households were food insecure compared to 33.9 percent of single-father households.
Poverty: In 2019, poverty was higher among women, regardless of employment status. The official poverty rate was 11.5 percent compared to 9.4 percent of men. The disparity worsens for single parents with children under 18 — the poverty rate among single mothers was 36.5 percent compared to 16.3 percent among single fathers. Despite a narrowing of the gender wage gap due to increasing educational attainment and work experience, women still earn less than men in the same occupation, are more likely than men to work part time, and female-dominated occupations are more likely to be devalued. Jobs that have comparatively smaller gender wage gaps tend to be lower-paying jobs.
Health: Food insecurity and poverty have a number of unique health implications for women. Food insecurity has been consistently associated with overweight and obesity in women, although inconsistently in men and children. Food insecurity is a particular concern for pregnant women, since nutrient demands are higher. Food insecurity is associated with inadequate micronutrient intake among women of childbearing age. It is also associated with poor infant health outcomes. Furthermore, food insecurity is associated with depression and anxiety among mothers and among all women.
During COVID-19 Hunger
In 2020, women were slightly more likely to report food insufficiency. For example, in December 2020, 55 percent of respondents who sometimes or often reported not having enough to eat were women.
Poverty: Women have been more likely to lose their job during COVID-19, be on unpaid leave, be employed with increased absences, and have dropped out of the workforce entirely compared to men. There are two main reasons for this gender disparity: women are less likely than men to work in positions that can be done remotely; and women who are also parents are more likely to take on the role of caregiver. Many women have dropped out of the workforce and are no longer seeking work to care for family members or children who are attending school virtually. This gender disparity in job loss will likely have long-term consequences for the career trajectories for women.
The pandemic has unique health consequences for women. Compared to men, women have been more likely to report skipping preventive health care visits and a recommended medical test or treatment. Pregnant women are more likely to suffer severe complications from COVID-19 than non-pregnant women. Women have reported wanting to delay pregnancy during the pandemic, yet one-third of women have reported delays in obtaining reproductive health care, and low income women have been more likely to report delays in receiving reproductive health care and are more concerned about their ability to access contraception. Women have reported more severe stress than men during the pandemic, particularly pregnant women.
View more of the study below.
Originally posted by Food Research and Action Center: https://frac.org/wp-content/uploads/HPH_Women_2021.pdf