Josette Sheeran, the director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), has been ranked by Forbes as the 30th most powerful woman in the world. The Forbes rankings were just released this week. Others on the list include Angela Merkel (1), Hillary Clinton (2), Oprah Winfrey (14) and Queen Rania Al Abdullah (54). You can view the complete list at Forbes Magazine.
Sheeran has emerged in recent years as the lead “food ambassador” in the struggle to fight global hunger. As the head of WFP, Sheeran runs the largest agency fighting the hunger that afflicts nearly one billion people worldwide. WFP relies on voluntary donations from governments and the public to fund its relief activities in over 70 countries. The agency constantly seeks to elevate the issue of global hunger in the public consciousness and in the halls of government.
During Sheeran’s tenure numerous challenges have emerged, including the “silent tsunami” of high food prices, the earthquake in Haiti, flooding in Pakistan, unrest and hunger in the Middle East, and this summer’s massive drought and famine in East Africa. Sheeran has rallied support for life-saving missions in each of these disasters, while also pressing for long-term solutions to hunger and poverty.
WFP, for instance, has programs aimed at boosting the production of small farmers in developing countries. WFP’s Fill the Cup campaign calls for school meals for every child. Food for children at school wards off malnutrition and increases class attendance and performance.
Sheeran’s accomplishments continue a family tradition. Her father James, a paratrooper during World War II, organized food aid for a town in France after World War II.
The coming months will be extremely challenging for Sheeran and WFP. Food aid is needed for over 11 million people in East Africa. There is also drought in Afghanistan putting millions more at risk of hunger and malnutrition. Unrest in the Middle East is escalating the hunger crisis in Yemen and other countries. Focus must also be kept on building food security in Haiti.
WFP faces funding shortages for these operations and will need to rally enough support to meet the massive, escalating global hunger crisis.
You can learn more about the World Food Programme and how you can get involved on their website.