Josette Sheeran, the director of the UN World Food Programme, hails women around the world as the secret weapon in the fight against hunger. Sheeran is in France today marking International Women’s Day.
It was in France back in 1948 when a woman arrived from the United States on a special mission. Children from Public School 49 in Brooklyn, New York gave this woman a CARE package with specific instructions: Give it to the first hungry child you meet in France. She fulfilled her mission.
The woman’s name was Iris Gabriel, founder of the Silent Guest program, which fed so many hungry children after World War II. The idea was that at Thanksgiving, people should imagine taking in an extra guest to their table for the holiday. They could donate the equivalent of feeding their “imaginary” but oh so real friend to the Silent Guest committee in Plymouth, MA. Donations were used to buy CARE packages to feed the hungry overseas.
In France today, Josette Sheeran highlighted how women are at the front line of fighting global hunger, a scourge that is afflicting nearly one billion people. Sheeran said, “We have found that when women are front and centre, we succeed in our efforts to beat hunger and malnutrition. In countries like Syria, Cameroon and Nepal, WFP works with Food Management Committees, where 342,000 trained women have leadership positions, in food distribution activities. When these women are part of the hunger solution, the children in their communities eat.”
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran meets women in Pakistan in 2010.(WFP/Rein Skullerud)
On this International Women’s Day, let us remember how important Food for Education programs are for girls. The women leaders of tomorrow, who may finally end global hunger, need our support today or the future may be lost. Whether it’s Benin, Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, or Yemen, school meals can feed impoverished girls and get them back in the classroom.
In fact, if you want to take a single action to mark International Women’s Day, then contact the World Food Program USA about supporting school feeding for girls. Budget cuts are threatening the existence of such programs for all children.