NEW YORK— Concern Worldwide, the international humanitarian organization, will present a petition bearing more than10,000 signatures to world leaders at next week’s UN Millennium Development Goals summit in New York, urging them to act now and support poor women in their efforts to defeat hunger.
“We must listen to the voices of poor women farmers and make them central to the fight against hunger and malnutrition,” said Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide.
The Unheard Voices: Women Can’t Wait campaign to gather signatures for the petition was launched in March 2010 to highlight the fact that almost a billion people are going to bed hungry every night—and the majority of these are women. This is despite the fact that women produce up to 80 percent of food in developing countries.
The campaign argues that policies designed to address hunger have thus far failed to acknowledge the crucial role of women farmers who are often not able to grow enough food to feed their own families, let alone produce a surplus for the marketplace. Unless world leaders are serious about tackling this issue, the petition warns, the target they set to halve hunger by 2015 will simply not be reached.
Concern is calling on the UN and world leaders to include poor women in decision-making processes and provide them with the support and funds to ensure that they and their families don’t go hungry.
“It is shocking that despite the promises made by world leaders in 2000, almost a billion people are still hungry – and the majority of these are women. Today hunger remains the single biggest risk to health worldwide and poses a greater threat than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined,” said Arnold.
“Women farmers are responsible for growing, buying, selling and cooking the majority of food in poor countries, yet they are often excluded from policy making or ignored by NGOs,” he said, adding that “if world leaders are serious about saving lives, they must act now.
“When they discuss how and where to allocate crucial funds, and where reform is needed, they must include the views of the poorest women farmers who face a daily battle to produce enough food to feed themselves and their families. Otherwise the numbers of people going to bed hungry will continue to rise.”
“People across the world have signed this pledge to send a message to their leaders: listen to the voices of poor women farmers and make them central to the fight against hunger and malnutrition. If you don’t, then the target set to halve poverty and hunger by 2015 will not be reached,” Arnold said.
Arnold will hand in the signatures, collected as part of Concern’s Women Can’t Wait campaign, to David Nabarro, UN Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition on Tuesday Sept. 21, at 11:30AM in the lobby of The Intercontinental Barclay Hotel, 111 E.48th St., New York.
Concern works in 28 of the world’s poorest countries, including 17 sub-Saharan African nations, and reaches some 25 million people. The organization’s goal is the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty and the reduction of suffering. The organization’s programs focus on emergency relief and long-term development work in the areas of health, HIV and AIDS, livelihoods and education.