Feed the Future – How Food Security Impacts Gender Inequality

September 7, 2016- Gayle Smith, USAID Administrator announced a new report in Nairobi, Kenya today that extends the United States Government’s previous 2009 initiative on the promise of eradication of global hunger and poverty.  The new report outlines the strategy to end global hunger for the next 15 years.  “Bolstered by the strong bipartisan passage of the Global Food Security Act by the U.S. Congress, we cast our vision for how the world can come together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’ targets on poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and call upon the global development community to mobilize the resources and partnerships required for success.”  The goals will center on new agricultural technology to improve productivity and to ensure food safety.  The new strategy is focused on income increase, resilience, and improved nutrition amongst others.

“Putting this vision into practice, Administrator Smith signed a memorandum of understanding with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to deepen USAID’s ongoing coordination with the organization.”  The  new agreement between the US Government and AGRA will increase cooperation in various local sectors on policy, and the new agricultural system that would support the global community to achieve  food security in Africa.  ” I’m thrilled to see the United States recommit their support and call on the global community to unite around a shared vision for achieving food security in the years ahead, and AGRA is eager to continue working with Feed the Future to make the vision a reality,” said Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA”

Clearly Obama’s 2010 Feed the Future initiative has created not just hope but the realization of a very achievable dream with tangible results.  Today more than six years since its inception we see new faces in the traditionally held male dominated farming sectors.  Women have been called the traditional homecare providers, wives, mothers and now today’s bread winners and tomorrow’s leaders in many parts of Africa.

The most recent Feed the Future Progress report shows a rapid decline of poverty and child stunting in many of the Focus countries since 2010.  The value of empowering women by promoting self-reliance is enormous.  For once an initiative is actually producing live results and not just an empty promise.

The data below represents the concentration of efforts that Feed the Future focuses on geographically.  These numbers have been rounded to show growth between 2010-2015.

Ethiopia– Poverty Down 12%- 2013-2015

Malawi– CHILDHOOD STUNTING Down 14% – 2010-2015 – POVERTY 18% – 2010-2015

Cambodia– POVERTY Down 26%- 2009-2015 – CHILDHOOD STUNTING 23%- 2011-2014

Honduras-CHILDHOOD STUNTING Down 32% – 2012-2015

Liberia– Poverty Down 19%- 2012-2015

Bangladesh-Child Stunting Down 12%- 2011-2014

Rwanda – Child Stunting Down 14%- 2010-2015

Ghana– CHILDHOOD STUNTING Down 17% –  POVERTY 12% – 2012-2015

Our focus at the Hunger Project has been on women first through empowerment by a systematic community-led approach.  This method then transitions into creation of epicenters that leads to the eventual entrepreneurship for both men and women but mostly women.  The new farming techniques has balanced the large gap in gender inequality because women are more open to learning and applying new techniques.

According to the Feed the Future latest information about status of women in agriculture, “Women make up a significant proportion of the agricultural labor force in developing countries — up to 50 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. Women farmers are less productive than men due to less access to land, farming technologies, fertilizer, credit and training. If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase farm yields by 20-30 percent. This increase in agricultural output could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by up to 150 million.”

Women are the future mothers of the world and that alone is enough to feed them first, so that they can feed the rest.  To accomplish this seemingly daunting but doable task a woman must become independent and self-reliant.  First, she must have the ability to make an informed educated decision and that means food security and access to healthy nutritious food that results in a healthy pregnancy.  Second, when she is strong she will instill that same spirit into her child.  Third, she will be able to operate her own business and not be reliant on male support.

The increased US Government focus in ending hunger, is mobilizing and uniting community-led efforts in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  One hopes that this unity filters into other areas that is in sore need of attention, but one step at a time.  Gender inequality, and child stunting  is lessening due to the increase in the food supply.  Women are empowered by trading their own farm grown products, and the ability to sustain the family.  The effect: less child marriages, less monetary dependency that allows more girls to stay in schools.  Self-empowerment means more confidence.  So far, the gender inequality gap decrease is one of the best example of a united effort that Feed the Future initiative has produced through food security.

USAID will unveil its strategy for the next phase to the Congress by early October, 2016.

For more information please visit the USAID  and Feed the Future websites.

Image courtesy of http://www.wattagnet.com/articles/25097-the-future-of-feed-an-industry-in-transition

Visit FeedtheFuture.gov for updates and to learn more about the Research Strategy