The theme of this year's Human Rights Day is human rights defenders who act to end discrimination — leaders who speak out against human rights abuses, often at great personal risk to themselves and their families. The Hunger Project is honored to partner with thousands of volunteer leaders who are courageously doing just that each and every day.
We have reason to celebrate. The most recent UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic reports that new HIV infections have fallen by over 20 percent in the past 10 years. Yet, there are still two new HIV infections for every one person beginning HIV treatment, and last year, 2.6 million people were newly infected. We must continue to forge ahead.
At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, and the abuser is usually someone she knows. Violence against women is one of the most widespread violations of human rights, and, like hunger, its root lies in deeply entrenched gender inequality.
The Hunger Project was invited to attend an Expo on Democracy and Open Government at Xavier's College in Mumbai, India on November 7. At the event, President Barack Obama met Country Director Rita Sarin and Sarmi Bai, an elected woman representative, trained by The Hunger Project, who is president of her panchayat (village council) in Rajasthan.
On October 23, more than 530 Hunger Project leaders, investors and friends from around the world gathered for our annual Fall Event. The weekend celebrated the courageous women of South Asia, who, against all odds, are stepping forward as leaders to bring hunger and poverty to an end.
Las Esperanzas is an all-women group that manages a chicken farming income-generating project with support through THP-Mexico's partnership with SEDESOL, the Mexican Social Development Ministry. After facing many obstacles, they have accessed land, obtained equipment and supplies, and participated in skills trainings. They are now producing 1,000 eggs per day.
A pilot project to train women to cultivate and process organic hibiscus (Bio Bissap) was so successful that the program has been scaled up to now include 12 villages with 563 women, who now plow and maintain a combined total of 21 hectares.
The theme for World Food Day 2010 is United Against Hunger. Several major new initiatives are already pointing the way in a growing global effort to defeat hunger, extreme poverty and malnutrition. At long last, such initiatives are giving top priority to long-term, sustainable approaches that empower the women small-scale farmers who grow most of the developing world's food.