Issues: Gender Discrimination

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Despite the fact that women in developing countries provide nearly 70 percent of the agricultural labor, they continue to account for over 60 percent of the world’s hungry. Lack of gender equality limits a woman farmer’s access to agricultural inputs, credit services and a market to sell her products. These constraints lead to lower crop yields, produce sold at a lower price and, ultimately, continued poverty and hunger for her and her children. Gender-equal access to these agriculture resources could increase the average woman farmer’s crop yields by 20-30 percent.

Given the opportunity to generate and control an income, women routinely invest significant portions of their income in food, healthcare and education for their families. Unfortunately, at the moment, the majority of women in developing countries lack economic power, resulting in a higher rate of girls kept out of school, minimal access to basic health care, increased HIV/AIDS prevalence and higher maternal mortality rates. Yet women continue to bear almost all responsibility for meeting the basic needs of the family.

A proven way to overcome many systematic barriers to a woman’s success has been increased participation by women in local, regional and national legislation as empowered change agents. In just 10 years, the amount of women holding seats in houses of national parliament in South Asia rose from seven to 18 percent. But a global goal of equal representation is still a long way off, with only one woman for every four men in parliamentary houses.

The Hunger Project (THP) recognizes the global gender imbalance of power and responsibility and empowers women to build their capacity and self-reliance as a way of overcoming obstacles. THP firmly believes that empowering women to be key change agents is an essential element to achieving the end of hunger and poverty.

Women’s Leadership Workshops in India, a Women’s Empowerment Program throughout Africa and specialized animator trainings worldwide empower women to seek positions of power and train all of our partners, women and men, to take responsibility for improving lives in their communities.

What We Do

  • Provide access to microfinance. At our epicenters across Africa, tens of thousands of women food farmers are increasing their incomes through our training, credit and savings program, and strengthening their clout in the marketplace. As of the end of 2010, 45,000 women and men were participating in our Microfinance Program, with over 80 percent of loans distributed to women.
  • Empower elected women representatives. More than 80,000 women who have been elected to their village councils have participated in THP-India’s Women’s Leadership Workshops. They are now effective change agents for ending hunger in their villages. They form district- and state-wide federations to ensure that their voices are heard at top levels of government.
  • Promote community leadership roles for women. Our Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP) empowers women to become strong leaders in their households and communities. In Africa, every Epicenter Committee – a council that is elected to be responsible for all epicenter activities – must include an equal number of women and men.
  • Celebrate and empower girl children in Bangladesh. THP catalyzed the formation of a 300-organization alliance that honors National Girl Child Day, a day to focus on eradicating all forms of discrimination against girl children, each September. In 2010, THP-Bangladesh gathered over one million people across Bangladesh to celebrate National Girl Child Day.  
  • Halt the spread of HIV/AIDS through education and awareness building. In 2003 we launched our HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality Campaign. African leaders who were willing and able to confront the gender issues fueling the spread of the disease designed workshops to empower grassroots people to transform the conditions that have led to the spread of HIV/AIDS. To date, more than 1.1 million people have participated in the workshop.

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