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Empowering Women Will End Hunger: Celebrating Women’s Role In Meeting The Zero Hunger Challenge

ROME/BISHKEK – 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 focusses on women’s advancement is Purchase for Progress, or P4P, an initiative that helps smallholder farmers, particularly women, become competitive players in the marketplace by producing food for sale and use in WFP programmes.

In the Kyrgyz Republic, WFP supports women-headed households across Kyrgyzstan have been receiving WFP food assistance in return for their work in preparing the land for growing vegetables. This was part of a joint UN project that provided them with seeds and technical training to help them generate incomes for their families and communities. 

Prior to their first harvest, split into self-help groups and receive agricultural and marketing training as well as high-yield seeds to strengthen vegetable production and improve food security. WFP food assistance plays a critical role in enabling these women to participate in project activities, while ensuring access to safe and nutritious foods for themselves and their families. 

“We believe empowering rural women is key to improving food security and nutrition in the country,” said WFP Kyrgyzstan Representative and Country Director Ram Saravanamuttu. “When rural women are able to exercise their rights to resources and leadership they help the Kyrgyz economy grow, enhance food security and nutrition, and significantly improve prospects for both current and future generations.”

Since the launch of the project in 2010, more than 10,000 food-insecure women-headed households from more than 100 localities across the Kyrgyz Republic have benefited from WFP assistance. 

A report by WFP’s sister agency the Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that closing the gender gap in agriculture by giving women farmers more resources could bring the number of hungry people in the world down by more than an estimated 100 million people.  The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-2011 report found that women lacked access to land, credit, tools and seeds that could boost agricultural production.

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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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For more information please contact (email address:

Elizabeth Zalkind, WFP/Bishkek, Tel:  +993 312 660033, Mob. +996 555 940 420