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G8 Spouses Visit WFP To Learn About Hunger

Spouses of government leaders attending the G8 summit were at WFP’s Rome headquarters on Friday for an event highlighting the role of women in the fight against hunger and in promoting maternal and child health.

ROME -- Among the spouses attending the Rome event were Sarah Brown (UK), Laureen Harper (Canada), Chikako Aso (Japan), Gursharan Kaur (India), Kim Yun-ok (South Korea), Nompumelelo Ntuli (South Africa) and Maria Margarita Barroso (EU).

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Women and Hunger

  • In 2008, 82% of WFP’s beneficiaries were women and children.
  • In most developing countries women produce between 60 and 80% of food, but own less than 2% of the world’s titled land.
  • As women have unequal access to resources, a food and economic crisis only worsens the situation.
  • Child hunger is inherited: up to 17 million children are born underweight annually, the result of inadequate nutrition before and during pregnancy.
  • A recent study found that increasing women's primary schooling could boost agricultural output by 24%.

As part of the visit, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran showed the spouses around an emergency food distribution point which had been recreated in the WFP grounds. Some of the guests tasted the nutritious, corn soya blend porridge that WFP gives to many of its beneficiaries around the world.

20 million children

The exhibition included a reconstruction of a school classroom in one of the countries where WFP works. WFP feeds more than 20 million children in school in 70 countries every year.

The event, centred on a discussion titled “Saving Lives: Women on the Frontlines”, was organised by the three Rome-based UN agencies (WFP, FAO and IFAD) and held at the invitation of the Italian G8 Presidency. It took place just as G8 leaders in the Italian town of L'Aquila were discussing setting up a US$20 billion fund to boost global food security. Read more

The spouses meeting was also organised in collaboration with the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood. Sarah Brown, the wife of the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is Global Patron of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood and co-chair of the Leadership Group on Maternal Mortality. Read Sarah Brown's blog