WFP has given the Catherine Bertini Award, presented annually on International Women’s Day, to its Zambia Country Office in recognition of efforts to promote partnership with men to achieve gender equality.
WFP Zambia's Deputy Country Director, Peter Rodrigues, collected the prize, established in 2005 in honour of the agency’s former WFP Executive Director, at a special event in the Rome headquarters.
The innovative project which encourages women to take charge of milling in Kala and Mwange refugee camps, also provides a vital contribution to their family income, with overall profits estimated at US$20,000.
Level playing field
By giving men a supportive role in helping the refugee women run the hammer mills, the project also fulfilled the main criterion for this year's competition: involving men in creating a level playing field for women.
The Zambian nomination faced stiff competition from other WFP Country Offices in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Liberia, Lesotho, Niger, Tanzania and Zambia, where projects involve men and women working side by side in the fight against HIV/AIDS and violence against women, as well as collaborating in the promotion of democracy.
The projects included one in Tanzania where men and women refugees have joined forces to grow food and earn some money. As traditional landowners, men have given the women – many of whom are living with HIV/AIDS - space to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables.
Support and democracy
A two-year supply of flour and a cash grant from WFP in Bangladesh have helped train women in setting up small businesses.
Groups formed by their husbands have supported the women in their career choices and provided an opportunity for them to speak about preventing violence against women.
In Liberia, men taught women how to build meeting halls, which provided a place to vote and listen to political debate. In the villages where halls were built, more women voted than men – and Africa’s first female President was elected.