Top Funders and NGOs Think Empowering Women Farmers Can Reduce Hunger. Are They Right?
By Michelle Sieff
In 2017, about 11 percent of the world’s population—around 821 million—was undernourished, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This data confirms a recent trend of deteriorating food security, especially in South America and Africa—a result of many factors, including climate change, drought, political instability, conflict, and endemic poverty.
This problem isn’t new; famines and food insecurity are one of the oldest development challenges in human history. What is new is a recent shift by donors—both public and private—to focus on female empowerment in agriculture as a key solution to humanity’s food and nutrition deficit. This strategy is exemplified by the PepsiCo Foundation’s recent grant of $18.2 million grant to CARE to implement a female empowerment agriculture program called “She Feeds the World” in six countries: Egypt, Guatemala, India, Nigeria, Peru, and Uganda. With this investment, PepsiCo joins other heavy hitter donors in the food security space that are bringing a gender lens to such work. The U.S. government’s flagship aid program, Feed the Future, incorporates a focus on female empowerment, as does the agriculture program of the largest private foundation—the Gates Foundation.
“She Feeds the World” is one of the most ambitious projects in CARE’s history, and PepsiCo’s commitment is “the biggest corporate contribution that CARE has ever seen in terms of a multi-year partnership,” said Michelle Nunn, CARE’s president and CEO.
Photo courtesy of Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social.