ROME/DAR ES SALAAM – 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 Tanzania, P4P works with 28 farmer organisations who reach out to some 20,000 farmers, 43 percent of whom are women.
“Before P4P, I was living in a mud house, but now I have an improved house,” says Magreth Mgeni (46). “I’m now taking my children to school without any problem. Today my neighbours are learning from me, understanding how the market works and doing as I do.” When she joined P4P in 2009, Magreth was cultivating just two acres of land. She now cultivates nine acres and, in 2013, she sold 4,000 kg of maize through her local cooperative.
“Women play a transformative role in their families,” says WFP Country Director Richard Ragan. “Empowering women is a key element across our programmes in Tanzania. Women are trained to enhance their skills in agriculture, and in the maternal and child health programmes women are provided with supplementary food and nutrition education to help prevent future stunting. Also, WFP’s school feeding programme helps girls stay in school, building the bodies and minds of the next generation.”
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:
Fizza Moloo, WFP/Dar es Salaam, +255.784.720.022, firstname.lastname@example.org