Empowering Women as Key Change Agents
Women bear almost all responsibility for meeting basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfill this responsibility.
The vast majority of the world's poor are women. Two-thirds of the world's illiterates are female. Of the millions of school age children not in school, the majority are girls. And today, HIV/AIDS is rapidly becoming a woman's disease. In several southern African countries, more than three-quarters of all young people living with HIV are women.
The current world food price crisis is having a severe impact on women. Around the world, millions of people eat two or three times a day, but a significant percentage of women eat only once. And, now, many women are denying themselves even that one meal to ensure that their children are fed. These women are already suffering the effects of even more severe malnutrition, which inevitably will be their children's fate as well. The impact of this crisis will be with us for many years.
Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. In short, communities become more resilient.
The Hunger Project firmly believes that empowering women to be key change agents is an essential element to achieving the end of hunger and poverty. Wherever we work, our programs aim to support women and build their capacity.
The results of these programs include:
- By providing women food farmers easy access to credit, adequate training and instilling in them the importance of saving, THP's Microfinance Program enables women to engage in income-generating activities to increase their incomes and invest in their families and communities.
- More than 1.1 million people have taken the HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality Workshop, in which they not only learn the facts of AIDS, but also confront and transform the gender-based behaviors that fuel the pandemic.
- In India, our Women's Leadership Workshop has empowered 80,000 women elected to local councils to be effective change agents in their villages. They are forming district- and state-wide federations to ensure that their voices are heard at top levels of government.
- In Bangladesh, we catalyzed the formation of a 300-organization alliance that organizes more than 800 events across the country each September in honor of National Girl Child Day, a day to focus on eradicating all forms of discrimination against girl children.