When I was in college, I had the opportunity to spend a month working in Mali, West Africa as an evaluation intern. During my four short weeks in the Ouelessebougou (pronounced Way-less-a-boo-goo) region, I worked in seven different villages interviewing and holding focus group discussions with village chiefs and their elders, local midwives, health agents, teachers, and (my favorite) each village’s women’s association.
In my “causeries avec les femmes” (French for “chats with the women”), I asked women to share with me what their daily lives were like, what they felt their village’s strengths were, and where they felt they needed to improve as a community.
These devoted mothers often shared with me the struggles they faced everyday in feeding their families. The women complained that a contributing factor to their poverty was that they were often cheated when they went to sell their vegetables and crops to larger-scale purchasers. They felt that buyers would often take advantage of them because they lacked skills in basic math and numeracy. Additionally, the more powerful buyers would often improvise measuring methods, and ultimately give the women a lot less money than they deserved.
Recognizing this problem, our local partner in Ghana, the Development Action Association (DAA) initiated serious conversations about promoting standard weights and measurement in the sale of agricultural produce and organized a stakeholders workshop in Accra. The event was so successful it was featured in three different local newspapers below.
But how does adopting standard weights and measurements help women feed the world? Previously women farmers used things like plastic bags and used bottles to sell their goods, hoping to get a fair rate, or had to rely on methods given by unscrupulous large-scale purchasers that often paid far less than what the women deserved (like the women I spoke with in Mali). Adoption of standard measurements enable women to accurately weigh and package their products to not only get a fair rate, but also start selling their products professionally outside of their local market—helping to improve their income and their ability to feed their families. And your support helped provide the advocacy and leadership training that empowered DAA to push for the new policy.
Thank you for your support. You are making a huge difference in the lives of women and worldwide, and I hope you will share what we have been able to achieve together.
One way you can spread the word is by giving a gift that helps women feed the world. Starting today, we will be offering those contributing $50 or more a special gift of hand woven scarves produced by The Association of San Jose Craftswomen for Maya Botanika, a women artisan’s fair-trade collective in Guatemala. These scarves make the perfect gift for say Mother's Day because not only will your recipient receive a lovely fair-trade scarf and card, but also will know that your gift has empowered millions of other mothers worldwide in her name. Please visit our project page for more details.Sincerely,
Intern, Women Thrive Worldwide
Today, with your help, we’ve hit an exciting mile marker on our Help Women Feed the World project. With $5,000 in donations we’re halfway to our goal of $10,000! And we couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you!
Your generous support helped us serve as 24/7 advocates on Capitol Hill for women and girls living in poverty worldwide. We did so by raising their voices; and instead of demanding separate aid programs for women, we advocated for the incorporation of women and girls into every foreign assistance project.
Earlier this month at our International Women’s Day Breakfast Briefing, Siham Salman, Program Manager for Islamic Relief Worldwide in Iraq, gave an example of a project that does just that, combining agricultural training with efforts to decrease violence against women. “In Iraq [poverty is] reason number one behind violence against women,” Siham explained, “If you give [families] the chance to work and to have some income, I’m sure and positive that the violence rate will reduce.” Indeed, in the project she described rates of violence against women and girls have decreased by 60% in the communities where they work—all while helping women feed the world through their agricultural program.
Successful stories like these helped us push the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) to create and release a new policy on Gender Equity and Female Empowerment. This new policy means that every USAID project must be designed, implemented, and judged with the needs and empowerment of women and girls in mind. This is a big deal, and means that we will see more effective programs like Siham’s that improve the living conditions and status of women and girls around the world. Your support not only helped us advocate for the creation of this policy, but it also helps us make sure that the policy translates into concrete change for women and girls on the ground.
Together, we’ve achieved a lot for women and girls, but there is still more to be done. If you like what we're doing, please tell a friend about our campaign. Encourage your friends and family members to join our cause and support women as they strive to feed the world.
This past week, we’ve had the pleasure of having Lydia Sasu, our local partner from Ghana, in our office sharing more of her stories, life, and work. She also described how Women Thrive has been an instrumental part of her and her organization’s growth.
“We thank Women Thrive for their assistance—it is more [valuable] than a goat.” Lydia explained that before Women Thrive’s partnership with Development Action Association (DAA), the women thought of themselves as illiterate, rural women without any power. Though they were well aware of the challenges that women faced, they did not know how to make their needs known to the right people to achieve change. Women Thrive built DAA’s advocacy capacities through formal on-site trainings, weekly/monthly teleconferences, ongoing consultation, and coaching.
As a result, Lydia and DAA have established themselves as strong gender advocates—representing women at important tables such as the Ghana’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) process, which is the African-led initiative to reduce hunger and poverty through strategic agricultural investments, as well as Ghana’s Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP) steering committee to monitor gender integration in the CAADP process. What this means is that Lydia has direct input into national food security and agriculture policies and programs so that women’s voices are heard and that rural women can benefit.
Your support has helped ensure that women on the ground know their voices and input should be considered and integrated into the big policies and investments that will influence their country and communities. And in doing so, those investments become more effective in empowering women and girls to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.
On March 14, GlobalGiving is having a Bonus Day, where online donations made that day will be matched at 30% until the pool of $50,000 in funds run out (so please give early on the 14th!). Make your donation go farther by giving that day and giving to Women Thrive—an organization that is committed to working with grassroots women and organizations to spur sustainable change from the bottom-up. When you give, please also help spread the word about GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day and your gift to Women Thrive by sharing our project Facebook or Twitter (http://goto.gg/8581). By doing so you could help us win additional prizes. The organization that raises the most funds on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from GlobalGiving. Also the organization that has the most unique donors on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from GlobalGiving. So no matter what the size of your gift, it will make a big difference.
As always, thank you for your support!
I wanted to share a case study that shows how hunger and food insecurity can make women and girls and men and boys more vulnerable to violence. This is why Women Thrive works on both issues. Please see the synopsis and link to the full story below. Also, attached please find an invitation to our upcoming International Women's Day Breakfast Briefing entitled "From One in Three to None in Three: Women and Girls Living Free of Violence." I hope that you will join us on March 1 at 8:30am EST live via webcast here.
Farm Schools in Uganda Engage Men and Women in Preventing GBV4
In parts of Northern Uganda, evidence has shown a strong correlation between food insecurity and incidences of violence against women. For example, during recent food shortages and dry seasons, when families are most likely to experience hunger, incidents of violence against women have increased. To tackle this underlying cause of violence, FAO teamed up with UNIFEM and UNFPA to launch a network of Farmer Field and Life Schools (FFLS) in 2009 in Uganda’s Northern districts of Amuru, Katakwi and Abim. Through the FFLS, groups of famers, both women and men, gather to learn traditional and modern agricultural practices, such as field preparation, processing, storage and conversation of natural resources. Additionally, students are taught in classroom settings about nutrition, HIV prevention, and gender-based violence. Also, FFLS members are able to access economic opportunities such as investment loans, credit for school payments and learn business skills such as record-keeping and budgeting. The FFLS also help survivors of violence connect to GBV services such as medical providers, counselors and police. This multifaceted approach to helping women and men to restore their livelihoods has been extremely effective in the prevention ofviolence.
To view the full study, please visit:
http://www.fao.org/gender/gender-home/gender-projects/gender-projectsdet/en/?dyna_fef[uid]=48118. FAO. “Farm schools in Uganda engage women and men in gender-based violence prevention.” Published 25/11/2010. Accessed online 11 January, 2011:
I wanted to share a special update from the field. Lydia Sasu, Executive Director of Development Action Association (our local partner in Ghana), has called on the government to include women farmers on issues and policies relating to climate change. Attached is the original news article of Lydia attending a conference in Durban, South Africa and a picture of DAA members at their quarterly meeting. This is just another example of how you are amplifying the voices of grassroots women leaders around the world.
Thanks for your support!
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