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From Niger to Washington: An International Women's Day Conversation Between Moms

What would happen if moms across the globe sat down to discuss how together we can empower women to have healthier lives? This International Women's Day, we worked with the One Campaign to connect moms doing extraordinary things and make this conversation a reality.

Here at WFP we believe that empowering women is the first step to a world free from hunger.  Which is why this  International Women's Day (IWD) we worked with the One Campaign to connect some of today's beloved women bloggers with one of our leading voices, WFP Niger Country Director Denise Brown.
If you simply overheard the inspirational conversation, you would've assumed it was a group of intelligent and compassionate moms connecting over a cup of coffee. You likely would've been moved to grab a cup and join the conversation.
 
Conversation between moms
 
But this wasn't just any conversation. Brown has many years of experience working with women in the drought-prone Sahel region of West Africa. She shared some of these experiences with a few of our favorite bloggers: Chrysula Winegar, Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks, Amy Graff of Bay Area Moms, Shauna James Ahern of Gluten Free Girl, Kristi York Wooten and Jessica Gottlieb. With Brown in Niger, they all connected on the Google+ hangout as though sitting down at one kitchen table.
"Speaking with Denise Brown of @WFP is the highlight of my day," Walrond tweeted during the event.
The current hunger crisis in the Sahel -  a region that includes Niger  -- gave particular urgency to the hangout as the bloggers shared ideas about how women are critical to building food security. Brown reflected on the particular courage of the women taking care of their families amidst a crisis that leaves more than 8 million people in need of food assistance.
 
Humanitarian moms
 
As part of One Campaign's IWD theme of "ordinary women doing amazing things," Brown also talked about life as a mom living the nomadic, fulfilling, and often challenging life of a humanitarian.  She discussed how one of WFP's priorities as a humanitarian organization is to get more food to households and ensure women have the resources to take care of their families.
"It's the women that motivate you to pack up your life and family and move them to someplace like Niger," Brown said.
Here's what Chrysula had to say about the conversation blogging on A Million Moms: “We listened intently, asked some questions and mostly tried to learn. The conversation was both sobering and inspiring. Denise created a virtual picture for us of her life in Niger. She talked about the double blows of malnutrition and malaria, the one making the other infinitely worse. She talked about the struggles and the heat and the dust. And about her son's two bouts of malaria. She talked about her work in the villages and what she sees every day. Mostly she talked about the incredible women of Africa."
For nearly an hour, the questions sparked back and forth about how  the challenge of feeding their families connects moms worldwide and empowers women to make a real difference in solving hunger.
 
Women in Niger
 
The women of Niger are "resilient, dignified, and knowledgable," Brown wrote in an op-ed the bloggers discussed during the hangout. She said  that drawing on the expertise of women in the developing world "puts together the different pieces" that enable women to solve hunger for their own communities.
As the conversation meandered, it became clear that using today's social media tools to connect moms will have a big impact when it comes to solving hunger.
"We have much to learn from these women," Brown said. She was talking about women in the Sahel, but she could have been talking about women everywhere. When moms share stories and connect over challenges, solutions happen. After the IWD hangout, we're more convinced than ever that a world free from hunger begins with a conversation between moms on how to build a healthier world.
Are you a blogger? Do you want to participate in upcoming google hangouts with our staff from the field? Email us at ali.goldstein@wfp.org.