population. The situation in many of these countries has been compared with the Great Depression of the 1930s (UNICEF, 1987; 1988; WHO, 1987).
By 1980, a number of countries were producing less food per capita then was produced in the mid-1970s. Since then, per capita energy availability has been increasing in Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, and East Asia; it has been decreasing in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Southern Asia. In many developing countries, an increasing proportion of the population is falling below the level of poverty. This has serious implications for food consumption levels and nutritional status. By 1985, starvation affected large portions of the population in Africa, and hunger was still prevalent in Asian and Latin American countries (WHO, 1987). Depending on the indicators and cutoff points used, estimates of the malnourished population vary considerably. It is likely that by 1985, at least 430 million of the world's people suffered from malnutrition, and by 1987, severe malnutrition had become very prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa (WHO, 1987).
It is estimated that 25 to 35 percent of households in the developing world are headed de facto by women because of divorce, separation, desertion, or long-term migration of husbands or because women had children out of wedlock (Tinker, 1979a). These women, who are the poorest in every country, typically are responsible for earning income to support their families.
By the end of the 1976–1985 ''Decade for Women,'' the conditions for the majority of women in developing countries had changed only marginally. Despite the fact that women work nearly two-thirds of the total hours worked, they constitute only one-third of the world's official labor force, receive only one-tenth of the world's income, and own less than 1 percent of its property (WHO, 1985a). However, some of the conditions for the advancement of women are being met in some developing countries. Although wide regional variations still exist among countries, access of young females to education is improving, as is their access to health care services, including family planning (WHO, 1987).
While the proportion of adult literacy increased in the 1970–1980 period from 52 to 60 percent due to population growth, the absolute number of illiterates increased from 731 million to 800 million. The mentioned