What are the reasons for your engagement with Women In Africa?
For more than 20 years, Stop Hunger has been working for a world without hunger. We particularly want to act in Africa where a quarter of humanity will be living in 2050. If its growth is estimated at 4% and will contribute more and more to that of the world, if it is the leading continent for women entrepreneurship, if its population is the youngest on the planet, and if its natural resources are abundant, 260 million Africans still suffer from hunger, and famine is a permanent threat due to persistent armed conflicts. For StopHunger, Africa’s future lies with its women. They will free the world from hunger! United Nations or IMF, all experts agree. According to the FAO, eradicating gender inequality would reduce the number of people suffering from hunger by 12 to 17%. Up to 150 million more people could be fed. Africa therefore has all the means to take an active part in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and to eliminate hunger by making women the driving force of its agriculture and economy, and by giving them access to the same resources as men: training, capital, land ownership, markets, etc.
That is why we support the WIA Initiative because we share the same vision and the same will to accompany the automation of African women and the development of their businesses. Let’s restore gender equality, equal opportunities, equal pay for equal work, learning, work and leadership, and we will move towards a world without hunger and the global economy will reap the benefits!
How does an annual summit that brings together women leaders and men from all over Africa advance the cause of women in Africa?
Is it not said that there is strength in numbers? Or that together we go further? Acting and building networks, forging partnerships with the private sector, influencing public policies, strengthening cohesion, sharing experiences and good practices, getting to know each other, bearing witness… and don’t forget to enlist men in the movement to move forward! This is what the WIA experience is all about. Proof by example contributes to the advancement of mentalities and the role of women in Africa. It is a work and a long-term commitment to women’s entrepreneurship on a continent that is economically successful but with low productivity and wages and precarious work, especially that of women who are poorly paid and poorly regarded.
Our participation in WIA 2017 was also an opportunity to meet committed women such as Nonhlanhla Joye, founder of “Umgibe Farming Organics”, a network of more than 50 micro market gardening cooperatives in Durban, as well as Nigest Haile Goshu, founder of the NGO CAWEE in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which is helping to develop a network of women entrepreneurs. These two women were also winners of the 2018 Stop Hunger Women’s Trophies, organized each year to provide financial support for concrete and sustainable initiatives led by women for their communities.
What exactly is the role of Stop Hunger in Africa? And how will greater empowerment of women will stop hunger?
Women are the pillars of food security, including on this continent! In terms of economic growth, agriculture is one of the levers of development in Africa where women represent up to 70% of the workforce and produce about 90% of the food.
With the support of experts from Sodexo, our founding partner, for the past 6 years, we have been investing and participating in the strengthening of sustainable school feeding programs linked to the local production of the World Food Program. Out of 20 volunteer missions, half were carried out in Africa, to provide technical skills in supply and logistics, food hygiene and safety, nutrition, kitchen design and construction, etc.
The women who cook the meals benefit from new skills through training on good food practices, including online training on mobile applications. This is the case in Senegal with Nutrifami, which will be used in the future by 500,000 women and kitchen staff around the world.
These programmes also stimulate local production, consumption and the economy: schools buy food from small producers and local traders who improve their income in a sustainable way.
In the end, 16 million children around the world are better fed, better educated and therefore stay in school, especially 50% of them girls! The more educated they are, and the more they control the family budget, the less hungry their children are!
One dollar invested in these free school feeding programs generates up to 10 dollars in economic benefits for children and communities.
What message would you like to convey to African women who are the driving force behind the transformation of their continent?
If we open school doors to girls for longer, if we give rural women the means to produce, process and market their produce, or if entrepreneurs decide to set up their businesses in markets traditionally reserved for men, the continent will be better off. But so will the world!
For women, it is time to take their place in the Africa of tomorrow, to free themselves from certain traditions and prejudices!
To support the empowerment of women, especially those who act against hunger in their communities, we have invested nearly $4 million over 3 years. Co-created programs are exemplary in terms of food self-sufficiency, education, training and access to employment.
There are still many obstacles, but where there is a will, there is a way. We must not give up! Everything is possible for those who dream, dare, act and never give up.