ROME/KABUL – Every year, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) provides more than eleven million schoolgirls with food to help keep them in education and around three million vulnerable women with special nutritional support. This year, on International Women’s Day (March 8), WFP is celebrating how empowering women can boost global efforts to end hunger.
“Giving women the power to make choices over their lives is one of the first steps towards a world with zero hunger,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “In every country where WFP works, women are front and centre in programmes to tackle the problems of food insecurity and undernutrition. We work with women farmers, traders, nutrition workers, school cooks and we serve millions of schoolgirls, pregnant women and nursing mothers.”
This year’s United Nations theme for International Women’s Day stresses that “Equality for women is progress for all.” One example of a WFP programme that encourages women’s advancement is Purchase for Progress, or P4P. This initiative helps smallholder farmers, particularly women, become competitive players in the marketplace by producing food for sale and use in WFP programmes.
Under this initiative WFP Afghanistan has provided 80 smallholder women farmers in Parwan province with seeds and fertilizer in order to grow soybeans for home consumption and for sale. WFP Afghanistan has also provided training and seeds to enable some 720 women in Faryab province to cultivate vegetable gardens. The project resulted in improvement of their diet diversity as well as income generation by selling part of their products in the local market.
WFP Afghanistan has several other programmes to support women’s empowerment. Through its Food for Education programme, WFP Afghanistan provides take-home rations of fortified vegetable oil to encourage enrolment and regular attendance of women in classes, and to help close the gender gap in Afghanistan’s schools. In 2013, WFP provided food for 1.2 million school children, of this some 600,000 girl students at primary and secondary schools around the country.
In addition, WFP provides food incentives, cash or vouchers to women attending literacy courses, which also include health and nutrition information, as well as vocational skills training such as embroidery and carpet weaving to reduce illiteracy rates and encourage improved feeding and care practices.
“Together with the Government of Afghanistan, we are trying to help Afghan women to improve their livelihood options by attending vocational skills training courses. We are trying to improve the health and nutrition status of mothers as well as encouraging young girls’ education in order to ensure the next generation of Afghan women are healthy and educated,” said Gordon Craig, WFP Afghanistan’s Deputy Country Director.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. On average, WFP reaches more than 90 million people with food assistance in 80 countries each year.
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