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WFP And UN Women Announce Plan To Empower Rural Women

A scheme tapping the potential of rural women to pull communities out of hunger emerged from a side-event at this year’s meeting of United Nations General Assembly between WFP and UN Women. The agreement focuses on helping women earn income by putting them in charge of projects that boost food security.

ROME—Rural women have a leading role to play in building food security, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet agreed at a packed meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

During the “Empowering Rural Women for Food and Nutrition Security” event, the two agency heads announced an agreement to provide income generating opportunities for rural women through food and nutrition interventions. Read the action plan

Helping rural woman

woman's face, close-up

The action plan agreed upon by WFP and UN Women helps rural women in three important ways. Here are examples of each.

Empowering women

“Today we commit to supporting women-led associations and small-scale businesses to supply home grown meals in low-income and food-insecure countries, including strengthening their capacities in business and management skills,” said UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet.

The agreement will support low income and food insecure countries to integrate gender into their food, agriculture and nutrition policies. It also aims to increase female enrolment in primary and secondary schools, to improve access to fuel-efficient stoves and support women in managing community granaries.

“There’s a face to hunger in the world and it’s the face of a woman. Women and children comprise more than 70 per cent of the world’s hungry,” said Sheeran, noting that women are also responsible for some 80 per cent of Africa’s food production.

“We know that many women in the world do not feel that they are empowered in order to create a difference in their own life and create sustainable solutions,” said Sheeran. “Ending hunger and malnutrition is a gateway MDG. Without adequate access to nutritious food critical time is lost.”

Big names

Moderated by award-winning ABC journalist Christiane Amanpour, the event brought the two agency heads together with other women leaders on the front lines of the fight against hunger, such as Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheik Hassina, and former South Sudan Minister of Agriculture Anne Itto.

Also present was CEO Paul Polman of Unilever, who discussed the potential of innovative public-private partnerships to help rural women become entrepreneurs.

He pointed to Project Laser Beam, a $50 million programme which focuses the might of the private of private-sector partners like Unilever on tackling child malnutrition in Indonesia and Bangladesh. The event was co-sponsored by the Governments of Bangladesh and the Netherlands. Download Outcome document