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New Brazilian Study Shows Race Determines Hunger


A recent article reveals that one out of five Black families in Brazil is experiencing hunger, with a rate of 20.6%. This is twice as high as the rate for households led by white individuals, which stands at 10.6%.

The situation becomes even more severe when considering gender disparities. Among households headed by Black women, 22% suffer from hunger, nearly double the rate compared to households led by white women at 13.5%.

These statistics were obtained from the second National Survey on Food Insecurity in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic in Brazil (Vigisan), which published its initial findings in June 2022. To access the new indicators, one can visit the Look for Hunger website.

Vigisan is an initiative of the Brazilian Network of Research in Sovereignty and Food and Nutrition Security (Penssan Network) and was conducted by the Vox Populi Institute between November 2021 and April 2022, with the support of organizations such as Ação da Cidadania, Action, Ford Foundation, Fundação Friedrich Ebert Brasil, Ibirapitanga, Oxfam Brasil, and Sesc São Paulo.

The updated data from the second Vigisan survey provides a clearer understanding of the extent of hunger in Brazil, revealing that 33.1 million people were affected in 2022. As the breakdown by race and gender indicates, many of these individuals reside in households led by Black women, according to the classification of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

Professor Sandra Chaves, coordinator of the Penssan Network, emphasizes the urgent need to recognize the intersectionality of racism and sexism in the structural makeup of Brazilian society. She advocates for the implementation and improvement of public policies that promote equity and ensure equal and unrestricted access to food.

Contrary to the notion that higher education could protect families from food insecurity, the race and gender breakdown of the Vigisan survey indicates that having a higher education level (defined as eight or more years of study) did not shield Black women-led families from experiencing food shortages.

Among these households, 33% face moderate or severe food insecurity, compared to 21.3% for Black men, 17.8% for white women and 9.8% for white men.

The survey also highlights the impact of having children on food security. Among families with children under 10 years old led by Black women, hunger is a reality for 23.8% of them. In this group, only 21.3% of households achieve food security, which is less than half the rate observed in households led by white men (52.5%) and almost half compared to households led by white women (39.5%).

Furthermore, the employment and income status of the person in charge of the household influenced food security in late 2021 and early 2022, depending on their self-declared skin color. Half of the households led by Black individuals faced hunger in cases of unemployment or informal work, whereas the rate was one-third for white-headed households.

Severe food insecurity, including hunger, was more prevalent among households led by Black women (39.5%) and Black men (34.3%) during periods of unemployment.

When the household head had formal employment and the monthly family income exceeded one minimum wage per capita (MSPC), food security was present in 80% of households led by white individuals and 73% of those led by Black individuals.

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