4 Ways Women are Standing up to Hunger and Poverty

USAID Food for Peace
Mar 4 · 4 min read

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the strong women who are undeterred by multiple hardships. Meet four women from different corners of the world who, with support from development food security activities, are building food security in their families and communities in their own ways.

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Joyce Nagit and her husband, John Bosco Lokour, stand outside their home in Uganda. John is taking part in gender trainings through a Catholic Relief Services led program. Photo: Will Baxter for Catholic Relief Services

At first, Joyce Nagit didn’t quite know what to make of her husband John’s newfound interest in housework. But John’s willingness to cook and clean was in response to a three-day gender equity training he’d recently completed.

In rural Uganda, where Joyce and John live, women and girls are traditionally responsible for handling all the household chores. John, who is 33, says the trainings really opened his eyes.

“The most inspiring thing I learned was about sharing responsibilities and roles in the household. It has made me realize we are all equals.”

Joyce says the additional help has made life much easier for her. “I’m not as tired as I used to be. The workload at home has been reduced a lot. This program has really helped us in terms of our relationship.”

In 2019, 914 men took part in gender equity training through the region, where they were encouraged to become more involved in household activities that would traditionally fall on the shoulders of women, leading to stronger marriages and better chances of reaching long-term food security for the family.

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Jeannine Mwa ‘Buhendwa with her children, sitting outside her house. Jeannine received support through a Mercy Corps led program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: Mercy Corps

“That day…it was like a miracle to touch the keys of my house again. I had slept a deep sleep.”

Radiant face, smiling, Jeannine Mwa ‘Buhendwa tells the happy ending of a long dispute with the eldest son of her late husband.

Jeannine is a widow and a mother of seven, living in a small village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After being chased from her home and land by the eldest son, she struggled financially, her health deteriorated, and her children were forced to drop out of school.

She regained hope when she started working with a mediation committee that helps to resolve disputes through peaceful dialogue. Her son eventually agreed to return the land to Jeannine.

“[My son] asked forgiveness for all the suffering he inflicted. As a miracle, he handed me the keys to the house,” Jeannine reflected. She was able to return to her farming activities and support her children by harvesting and selling crops.

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Mankumari provides technical support to mother Sunita, as part of a Save the Children led development project in Nepal. Photo: Grishma Shrestha for Save the Children

In a hilly village in rural Nepal, walking hours to fetch water was a reality for farmers like Mankumari. This forced the locals to spend money on food, rather than produce their own. Fortunately, Mankumari joined a community farming group where she learned new ways to irrigate her farm, how to maintain a vegetable garden and be self-sufficient growing nutrient-rich food. Mankumari became a local resource and influenced other mothers to adopt better health and nutrition practices. The mothers in her community are now growing fresh vegetables themselves for their children and families. One mother commented, “During my second pregnancy, I consumed balanced meals and gave birth to a healthy baby. I breastfed well and fed the baby food using home grown vegetables.” The USAID funded community farming groups in Nepal have reached over 271,000 vulnerable people and helped improve their food security.

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Maria George and her husband in front of their shop in Malawi, after receiving business and financial training through a Catholic Relief Services led development program. Photo: Dooshima Tsee for Catholic Relief Services

In Malawi, Maria and her husband struggled to make ends meet. They grew small crops and sold a few items to get by. Maria always had a natural aptitude for business, but she didn’t have the finances and skills to grow it. Through a village savings and loan group, Maria learned how to save, access community loans, manage money, and build a business. In 2016, she took out her first loan to expand her grocery store. In just a few years, Maria and her husband went from selling items on a table outside their home to selling from a sturdy brick store.

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Maria George in her shop in Malawi. Photo: Dooshima Tsee for Catholic Relief Services

Story By Megan Bordi, USAID Food For Peace

USAID’s Office of Food for Peace saves lives and tackles chronic hunger and poverty through U.S. food assistance and food security activities. We have reached more than 4 billion people with food assistance since 1954.

Follow @USAIDFFP on Twitter.

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