If I could honor anyone this year, it would be Cissť and other women leaders I’ve met through my work at Oxfam. Their stories taught me something important: Although gender inequalities make women and girls more vulnerable to poverty and hunger, it’s a mistake to think of women as victims. In the US and worldwide, women are leading organizations, building networks, and working tirelessly against injustice. We can’t solve the world’s problems without an investment in their efforts.
For example, if women farmers had the same level of access to resources that men have, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent–vital gains at a time when about one in seven people goes hungry. No wonder the UN declared the theme of International Women’s Day 2012 “Empower rural women–end hunger and poverty.”
Today, with Mali among the West African countries at risk of a serious food crisis, Cissť’s work seems more essential than ever. No doubt she and other women will play an important role in helping families weather tough times ahead. After all, as Cissť put it: “If women are successful in their efforts, everyone benefits. It brings about development for the whole household and the whole community.”
To join Oxfam’s International Women’s Day celebration, go to www.oxfamamerica.org/iwd.
Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. To join our efforts or learn more, go to www.oxfamamerica.org.
Photo courtesy of Oxfam America.
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