Fifteen women leaders, including executives from Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, brainstormed on Friday about how to improve the food security of women in the developing world.Naturally, by talking about the food security of women they were also talking about the food security of millions of families in the developing world.
Nancy Roman, WFP's Director of Private Sector Partnerships, kicked off the event, providing a backdrop on the challenges that hungry women face, and describing the area where women business leaders can make a difference.
Here are some of the points made by the three discussion groups:
1) “Women’s empowerment equals healthier children,” said Wendy Clark, senior vice-president of the Coca-Cola Company (see photo left). Her discussion group recommended that organizations such as WFP engage successful women in business and technology as “Women champions of innovation” and that while support to women is key, men should also be encouraged to participate in the success and advancement of their daughters.
2) “It’s not important just to be sure you are getting enough calories, but that they are the right kind of calories,” said Perry Yeatman, Senior Vice-President at Kraft Foods, who spoke for the group that discussed ways to support pregnant and breastfeeding women. They found that information about nutrition and access to nutritious food products were major priorities and suggested delivering information via mobile phone messages, development of special-purpose food products for pregnant women, and mobilizing pregnant women in the developed world who want to help pregnant women in developing countries.
3) Cherie Blair, head of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, said women farmers could benefit from innovative use of electronic vouchers that deliver assistance via credit on people’s mobile SIM cards. WFP has already launched a pilot programme of phone-based vouchers in Syria, where recipients can go to participating shops and buy food items using credit on their mobile phones. The same phones, said Ms Blair, could be used to provide women farmers with financial support, market information, advice about planting their crops and ways to connect with other women farmers.
“This is the first year we have done this kind of event at Davos and we plan to do it each year,” said Josette Sheeran, WFP’s Executive Director, at the end of the Women 4 Women event held in the WFP tent. “I literally have goose-bumps. Some of the ideas we heard here have not been discussed before.”
(Photos copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud)