Celebrating 23 Women Righting the Wrongs of Hunger and Poverty Around the World
They are business women, mothers, teachers, thinkers and entrepreneurs, changing the food system by creating better working conditions, securing land rights, leading green initiatives and more.
“In many developing countries, women are the backbone of the economy. Yet women farmers do not have equal access to resources and this significantly limits their potential in enhancing productivity,” said Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
In many countries, women are responsible for the majority of food production, but they are also more likely to suffer from hunger due to food shortages. For instance, Oxfam International data has found women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, but only earn 10 percent of the income.
Despite the challenges, women from Jamaica to New Zealand are playing an integral role in changing the food system to create a well-nourished world, and they are taking on larger and more defined roles in food and agriculture as 70 percent of world's farmers are women.
According to the World Food Programme, providing women farmers access to the same resources as men could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100 to 150 million people.
As world population grows and the impacts of climate change become more evident, farmers and policymakers will need to invest more in effective strategies to alleviate hunger and poverty. And that means addressing the deep-rooted inequalities that currently impede women from gaining equal access to productive resources and services.
Here are 23 women righting the wrongs of hunger that will be celebrated on International Women's Day, according to Food Tank:
- Rebecca Adamson—Adamson is founder and president of First Peoples Worldwide, an organization facilitating the use of traditional Indigenous knowledge in solving issues such as climate change and food security.
- Rucha Chitnis—Chitnis is the South Asia program director of Women’s Earth Alliance, mobilizing resources to grassroots, women-led groups who are working to secure women’s rights and food sovereignty.
- Ertharin Cousin—Cousin is the executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme. She leads the organization with more than 25 years of experience combating hunger and food issues worldwide.
- Grace Foster-Reid—Foster-Reid is the managing director of Ecofarms, a community-based business in Jamaica that produces honey products from her family’s farm.
- Stephanie Hanson—Hanson has been the director of policy and Outreach at One Acre Fund since 2009, which provides smallholder farmers in Africa with support, inputs and training, with the goal of doubling agricultural production on each acre of smallholder farmland.
- Wenonah Hauter—Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, Hauter has worked extensively on food, water, energy and environmental issues, and her book, Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America, examines corporate control over our food system.
- Heather Hilleren—Hilleren is the founder and CEO of Local Dirt, an online platform for finding and buying fresh, local food directly from family farms.
- Saru Jayaraman—In 2001, Jayaraman began leading a national movement to improve conditions of food workers, and she founded Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.
- Sarah Kalloch—Kalloch is a senior advisor at Oxfam America and runs Oxfam’s Sisters on the Planet program, engaging more than 200 leading American women in anti-poverty advocacy.
- Nancy Karanja—Karanja is a professor of soil ecology and director of the Microbial Resource Centre at the University of Nairobi. From 2005 to 2009, Karanja was the sub-Saharan Africa regional coordinator for Urban Harvest, a CGIAR program with the goal of stimulating agriculture in and around cities to alleviate poverty and increase food security.
- Joan Karling—Karling is the secretary general of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). She helps safeguard the environment, preserve traditional knowledge and protect biodiversity through securing land rights for indigenous people.
- Myrna Cunningham Kain—Kain is the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) special ambassador from Latin America, she is a social activist for the rights of Indigenous peoples with extensive experience and in 2001 she was named, “Hero of Health in the Americas.”
- Anna Lappe—Lappe is an expert on food systems and a sustainable food advocate, she has authored three books, and co-founder of the Small Planet Institute and the Small Planet Fund. Currently, she runs a new initiative, the Real Food Media Project, to spread the power of sustainable food.
- Federica Marra—Winner of the 2012 Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Young Earth Solutions competition, Marra created Manna From Our Roofs, an innovative organization that engages young people across the world in food cultivation, preservation, and education.
- Kathleen Merrigan—Merrigan is an expert on the relationship between farmers and politicians, she served as deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), playing a vital role in Know Your Farmer and Know Your Food initiatives. She currently serves as executive director of the Sustainability Institute at George Washington University.
- Anuradha Mittal—Mittal worked as the co-director of Food First Institute for Food and Development Policy and as an internationally renowned expert on development, human rights and agricultural issues.
- Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba—Mwamakamba is a program manager with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), she coordinates the Youth and Gender Programme, aimed at developing a holistic agriculture policy framework in Africa that will support youth and women.
- Mariam Ouattara—From Cote d’Ivoire, Ouattara founded Slow Food Chigata, which encourages local women’s cooperatives to grow fruit and vegetable gardens. The chapter has also held workshops on how to produce ecologically sustainable food without chemicals.
- Esther Penunia-Banzuela—Penunia-Banzuela is the secretary general of the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA), a regional alliance of national farmer’s organizations.
- Claire Quenum—Quenum is the general secretary of the African Network on the Right to Food as well as director of the Togolose women’s right group Floraison. Through her work she promotes the right to adequate food in Africa.
- Sara Scherr—Scherr is the founder and president of Ecoagriculture Partners, a non-profit that works with agricultural communities around the world to develop ecoagriculture landscapes that enhance rural livelihoods, have sustainable and productive agricultural systems and conserve or enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services.
- Michele Simon—A public health lawyer specializing in strategies to counter tactics that harm the public’s health, Simon has been researching and writing about the food industry since 1996.
- Kanthi Wijekoon—A hero to other women, Wijekoon was arrested while she was trying to escape Sri Lanka to find a better life for her family. The Rural Women’s Front helped her get out of jail and she went on to lead programs reaching more than 600 women a year, increasing daily wages for women rice farmers.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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