African Women Food Farmers : LUSENET : West Coast Summit on Africa : One Thread


As Women of Vision & Action, we have all been on the inside of an enormous awakening, a quiet revolution, that is happening on our planet. Many of us have found our authentic voices and are taking every opportunity to use them well. Now there exists, through the work of The Hunger Project, an opportunity to create a genuine breakthrough in the lives of the rural women food farmers of sub-Saharan Africa.

In sub-Saharan Africa, chronic hunger persists. In contrast with other parts of the world where hunger persists, many key trends in Africa are still pointing in the wrong direction. While there are many reasons for this, and while experts and organizations consider and debate about what there is to be done, The Hunger Project stands for the proposition that there is a central, strategically-critical factor in the equation that has been almost entirely overlooked - The African Woman Food Farmer.

Despite the fact that she produces 80% of Africa's food, does 90% of the work to process the food, does 80% of the work to transport and store the food, does 60% of the work to transport it to market, and provides 90% of the water, wood and fuel for her family, she owns less than 1% of the land, receives only 7% of the farm extension services and receives less than 10% of the credit given to small-scale farmers. She is undernourished, illiterate and lacks voice in the decisions affecting her life.

To the world, and often to herself, she does not even exist. She has been ground down, worn out, excluded and fundamentally dehumanized. When policies are formulated, programs developed, budgets drawn and decisions made about her, she is simply not present. Yet, she is the KEY to ending the persistence of hunger in Africa. Her future IS the future of Africa!

In order to produce the necessary breakthroughs, the African woman farmer must be brought into the forefront of thinking, planning and action for the end of hunger. This is not a simple matter, and accomplishing it will not be easy. It will require a genuine transformation in social, economic and poltical realities.

The Hunger Project does not take this lightly nor does it underestimate the magnitude of the challenge. Yet this is its fundamental commitment - a voice for the voiceless, a face for the faceless, an opportunity for each of us to share in the fullness of life. The Hunger Project sees and stands for a future in which our human family includes all human beings with full citizenship, full participation, full dignity and a full opportunity to contribute.

This year, on the ninth day of October in New York City in the presence of more than a thousand leaders and Hunger Project activists from Africa and around the world, The Hunger Project will award the prestigious Africa Prize to the African Woman Food Farmer and launch a bold new initiative that will provide a critical missing component in the world's efforts for the end of hunger. It is also recognized that each of us attending the Africa Prize celebration and the events surrounding it will have an opportunity for a breakthrough in our own thinking and understanding concerning the confrontation and transformation of the subjugation of women worldwide.

To learn more about The Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger and how you can join us this year in honoring, celebrating and empowering the African Woman Food Farmer, visit The Hunger Project website: and/or contact Marilyn Riedel at

-- Marilyn Fowler (, August 11, 1999

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