March 14, 2018
The outstanding leaders of WomenStrong International member organizations in Ghana and Kenya have been honored with grants that recognize their efforts awarded by Stop Hunger, a global network of non-profit organizations working in 80 countries for a hunger-free world.
The $5,000 grants to Abenaa Akuamoa-Boateng and Beldina Omolo are for “exceptional work” and are part of Stop Hunger’s “Women Stop Hunger Awards” program that highlights the key role women play in ending starvation and hunger.
“Empowering women is a priority,” said Mathilde Loing, director of Stop Hunger Europe. “The United Nations has said that 55% of the progress in the fight against hunger over the last 25 years has resulted from improvements in the social status of women. We need to recognize and recreate the best work being done among women and girls to assure that women have the resources they need.“
Kenya is ranked among the world’s 10 poorest economies, with a poverty line of $17 USD per month and many earning far less. Alice Visionary Foundation Project (AVFP) works with the poorest of the poor, women and young girls in the slums of Manyatta in Kisumu, Kenya, as well as children in the impoverished countryside. Manyatta residents face hunger, HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, and violence. Electricity, gas, and running water are mostly dreamed-of luxuries. There is little land on which to grow food and what there is has been intensively farmed to depletion. Malnourished girls drop out of school and produce malnourished babies. Families struggle to find healthcare, education, and, every day, enough to eat. In this environment, Opiyo works with the most vulnerable, women and children trapped on the lowest rungs of society. Her anti-hunger programs are designed to feed people today and to help them feed themselves tomorrow.
Stop Hunger’s grant recognized the success of AVFP’s urban agriculture training program for women, as well as their school garden and feeding program for kids in a peri-urban area outside Kisumu. The first program, coordinated with local agricultural extension experts, teaches impoverished women urban agriculture and vertical cultivation. The second initiative, the School Feeding Project, provides nutritious lunches daily to 629 school children ages 6 – 15, while also teaching the children to grow and raise their own vegetables.
Following the success of the school garden, AVFP has created videos demonstrating how to create gardens for low-resource environments and has begun sharing its learnings globally. Many of the women who have learned urban agriculture are experiencing food security for the first time, feeding large families of a dozen or more and producing income that can now pay for school fees and a better life. The school garden program has been adopted in similarly low-resource communities as far away as Honduras.
“It is a privilege to have these two strong, innovative, loving women as members of our WomenStrong consortium. We all believe, from first-hand experience, that equality for women translates into progress for all toward a hunger-free world,” said Dr. Susan M. Blaustein, Founder and Executive Director of WomenStrong. “Women could feed 100-150 million more people, if they had the same access as men to the means of production. Abenaa and Beldina have shown by example what women, given the right resources, can do.”
Ghana is ranked as a “middle-income” country, according to the 2014 Human Development Report, yet it remains a “food-deficit country,” and Akuamoa-Boateng’s Women’s Health to Wealth (WHW) works with some of the poorest of the poor. Of the more than 2 million people living in Ghana’s second largest city, Kumasi, more than half are living in poverty, and more than half of Kumasi’s population is female. Women and girls in urban poverty suffer unrelenting hunger, violence, and loss of dignity, all while trying to raise a family.
Over the last two years, WHW has leveraged a Social Capital Credits (SoCCs) programs to provide affordable loans to aspiring female entrepreneurs, enabling women to begin or expand their own businesses. Improved livelihood enables women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty, pay their children’s school fees, and even provide employment to others. WHW requires preventive health screenings for any woman wishing to join its economic empowerment program. In addition to offering microfinance, the program encourages women to become leaders in programs to improve sanitation, nutrition, and hygiene. WHW and the women participants also helped create Girls’ Clubs, to keep girls in school and teach them about hygiene, nutrition, reproductive health, fitness, and planning their future. All of this leads to increased earning potential which, combined with greater nutritional knowledge, mitigates the scourge of hunger.
ABOUT WOMENSTRONG INTERNATIONAL
WomenStrong International is a consortium of non-profit organizations in five nations supporting women-driven solutions to extreme urban poverty. WSI emerged from a decade of work at Columbia University’s Millennium Cities Initiative where we found the most successful programs were local and led by women. Through our Consortium members in Ghana, Kenya, Haiti, India, and Washington, D.C., we help thousands of women and girls meet their 6 Essential Needs for health, shelter, safety, education, economic empowerment and a functioning urban environment. These women, in turn, improve the lives of their children, families, communities and nations. WomenStrong believes the path out of poverty and toward a more just and prosperous world can be found by making women strong. For more information, visit www.womenstrong.org .