Press Release

MCC and Women Thrive Worldwide Host Public Forum Focusing on Women's Roles in Solving the Global Food Crisis

For Immediate Release

April 15, 2009

Washington, D.C.  Today the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Women Thrive Worldwide welcomed Melanne Verveer, the State Department Ambassador-at-Large for Global Womens Issues, as the keynote speaker for a public discussion about innovations in food security and the central role of women in solving the global food crisis.

The global food crisis is historic in its size and in the scope of the challenges, and women are a vital part of the solution, said MCCs Acting Chief Executive Officer Rodney Bent. We see evidence of womens vital role through our work with 35 partner countries to provide increased access to education, agricultural training, and equal land rights for women. Smart solutions to this problem require the creation of a virtuous cycle of enhanced child health, improved food production, higher incomes, and better quality of life for women and their entire families.

The millions of women who grow 80 percent of the food in developing countries, do not enjoy the benefits of their work because of their low social and economic status, said Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide. Conventional assistance programs are often not designed taking into account the different roles women and men farmers play, effectively shutting women out of aid that could greatly improve the health and welfare of their families. If the world is to pull of the twin economic and food crises sustainably, we must reverse course and ensure that women are being given the seeds of success.

The panel of experts, which included Debdatta Sengupta, research analyst for the International Food Policy Research Institute, underscored the importance that gender equity plays in development and the difference women can make in agriculture production and food security. The panel also lauded President Obamas recent announcement following the G-20 Summit to double U.S. food and agriculture aid to underdeveloped countries in Africa and Latin America to more than one billion dollars.

MCC works with its partner countries to invest in sustainable solutions to the food security crisis and has committed nearly $3.2 billion to strengthen rural economies in poor countries by promoting reliable access to safe and affordable food. As part of its work, MCC assists its country partners in analyzing gender differences during the compact development and implementation processes. For example, MCC worked with Lesotho on legal reform to give women rights to buy, sell, and use property as collateral for loans. In projects being implemented in Honduras and Armenia, gender data is collected quarterly to monitor the rate of women participating in agriculture extension training programs that teach efficient food production skills. In Mali, where women do not have equal rights and access to land as compared to men, titles for irrigated market garden parcels will be given to womens groups; these groups also will receive technical support to ensure that the project benefits stay with future generations of women farmers.

Women Thrive Worldwide advocates for changes in U.S. policy that fosters economic opportunities for women living in poverty. Their mission focuses on the idea that giving women greater economic opportunity lifts families, communities, and countries out of poverty. Women Thrive Worldwide research and experience show that women in poor countries are more likely to spend their income on food, education, and healthcare for their children. They work with their partners around the world to address unique barriers facing women in developing countries like unequal property rights, low wages and bad working conditions, and lack of access to credit.

President Barack Obama appointed Melanne Verveer as the first U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues within the State Department. Ms. Verveer was confirmed by the Senate in early April. In a press release announcing the nomination, the White House said, The President’s decision to nominate an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues is unprecedented and reflects the elevated importance of global womens issues to the President and his entire Administration.”“

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The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government agency designed to work with developing countries, is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces sound political, economic, and social policies that promote poverty reduction through economic growth.For more information, please visit

Women Thrive Worldwide (formerly the Women’s Edge Coalition) is the leading non-profit organization shaping U.S. policy to help women in developing countries lift themselves out of poverty. For more information, please visit