Women’s equality has been positively linked to household food security in many countries. Since women still do the bulk of food labor, women’s empowerment can lead to an increase in the allocation of resources toward food, improving food security. However, we do not know how country-level laws of gender equality intersect with household-level actions. This study examines household food insecurity from a cross-national and multilevel perspective. I explore the relationship between gender inequality (in terms of both opinions and laws) and household food insecurity. I use household data from the World Values Survey, Wave 6, collected in 2010 through 2014. The analytic sample includes 42 countries and 37,152 individuals. My country-level data come from the World Bank and the Social Institutions and Gender Index. I find that positive measures of women’s empowerment at the household level reduce a household’s likelihood of food insecurity. Surprisingly, I find that country-level policies do not always create the intended outcomes of increased equality. Legal equality between men and women at the country level (financial, legal, and land ownership) does not have a direct relationship with food insecurity. However, legal equality moderates the relationship between food insecurity and country-level variables (agricultural exports and urbanization) and household-level variables (income). The research suggests that the inclusion of gender equality complicates development theory.

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