October 16 was World Food Day. This year’s focus was on agricultural cooperatives—powerful examples of active, life-changing community engagement.
Worldwide, women and girls are primarily responsible for feeding their families. Women are disproportionately, overwhelmingly impacted by the expanding global crisis of poverty. Climate change exacerbates food insecurity, causing droughts one year and floods the next, and forces people from their homes. These conditions all exacerbate poverty—and again, disproportionately impact women.
MADRE advocates for food sovereignty, meaning that every person has not only the right to food, but the right to choose what food we eat and an understanding of where that food comes from and how it is produced.
Women Farmers Unite, our partners in Sudan whose work to promote food sovereignty allows them to feed their families and support one another through the many challenges they face, are an inspiring example of the power of agricultural cooperatives. By embracing sustainable farming practices, women and their families have the opportunity to support themselves for generations.
Unlike emergency food aid, Women Farmers Unite gives women the tools, resources and technical assistance they need to sustain their families for the long haul. With our Sudanese partner organization Zenab for Women in Development, we provide women farmers with organic seeds and supplies, including plows and a tractor. A special focus on young women helps ensure their generation continues to provide a local, sustainable food supply.
Women gain the resources they need to grow and produce food, alleviating hunger, improving health and nutrition, and fueling local economies. By working together to grow crops, participants build a network of women farmers who share resources and boost their economic status. Elder women transmit skills and lessons to younger women. Many participants are using their increased incomes to pay for their daughters’ educations, breaking the cycle of poverty and increasing the chances for further political, economic and social empowerment.