Oxfam America celebrates World Food Day by championing women farmers

By Oxfam

October 16, 2015, Washington, DC - To help mark World Food Day, Oxfam’s Tanzanian Female Food Hero spoke with legislators, government officials, civil society and American farmers on a two week US tour to draw attention to the important role women must play in building food security through agriculture and rural enterprises. 

During her visit to the US, Tanzanian Female Food Hero Bahati Muriga met with key congressional members about the importance of passing the Global Food Security Act of 2015, which would build on the success of the Feed the Future initiative, a program that helps small-scale farmers fight hunger, adapt to climate change and improve economic growth.  While current food production can feed the world, people living in poverty face many hurdles in obtaining sufficient food to ensure health and nutrition.

“Empowering women can help unlock agriculture’s potential to reduce hunger,” said Bahati Muriga. “On this World Food Day, I feel a new sense of hope in what we can achieve for the global food system if governments, civil societies and everyday farmers come together.  Within the next 15 years, ending hunger is possible, but must invest in farmers – especially women farmers – to make this a reality.”

Women are often in the best position to craft solutions to hunger and act as agents of change but because they make up the majority of those living below the poverty line and face daily discrimination, they often bear the heaviest burdens.  

“The female farmers I work alongside with in Tanzania are strong and passionate, wanting to contribute to their families and communities,” continued Muriga. “But on top of dealing with daily gender discrimination, these female farmers are facing looming resource constraints to fertile land and water due to climate change, erratic weather patterns and land grabs.”

If women farmers had the same access as men to land, credit, markets, and seeds, they could reduce the number of hungry and malnourished people by as much as 100 million – 150 million people, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. 

“We need to focus on small scale farmers, especially women, when we think of hunger. Farming can produce more food, but more importantly, farming can provide a livelihood by which poor and vulnerable communities can feed themselves,” said Oxfam America’s President Ray Offenheiser. “With the right tools, resources and education, women farmers can help their economies grow and better prepare and adapt to climate change.”

Oxfam developed the Female Food Heroes initiative to educate female farmers on progressive agriculture techniques, give them a voice in their communities and help governments recognize and respect the contribution of women in providing food for their families and local economies.  Currently, the program is in 13 countries, working to empower women around the world.

To take action this World Food Day with Oxfam, visit http://thesocialpresskit.com/willfightforfood/

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