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Haiti: Why Women Are At The Front Of The Queue

Women line up in Port-au-Prince to receive food rations.

 WFP’s deliveries of food to earthquake survivors in Haiti have prioritized distributions to women, to ensure that all family members - men, women and children - receive the nutritious food they so badly need. In most cases women in person are collecting rations for their households.  

ROME -- With WFP on target to reach over two million people in Port-au-Prince with rice rations by this weekend, most of that food is going directly into the hands of women as the gateway to their families. Sixteen fixed distribution sites around the capital are operating to hand over 25kg bags of rice to women, under a coupon system.  

Beyond the immediate security considerations in Haiti, WFP’s decades of experience in disasters and emergencies has shown that families are more likely to eat properly if women are involved in food aid distributions and if they receive the food entitlement in their own name.

Women put children first

In developing countries, women are usually the ones who produce and prepare food while caring for members of their family, and they most often take care that children are fed first.

The decision to distribute to women was taken in consultation with Haitian authorities and non-governmental organizations because of concerns for safety in a highly tense environment. When people are desperate, the weak and the vulnerable are usually the first to be pushed out of food queues.

Getting home safely

Women have been encouraged to bring male family members or friends to wait for them outside the distribution compound, to help them take their food safely home.

WFP’s NGO partners in Haiti are making sure that any men who do not have female relatives are getting food directly, particular the elderly and the disabled.