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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 4, 2011) – Today, women and girls make up the majority of people living in poverty. Women and girls are the world's primary food producers, yet cultural traditions and social structures—for example, women own only 10 percent of the world's land (2 percent in Africa)—often mean women are much more affected by hunger and poverty than men.
In other words, women and girls provide, but are poor themselves. Women feed the world, but are hungry themselves. And they pay a great price, as do their children—a mother who is stunted or underweight due to an inadequate diet often gives birth to low birth weight children.
This isn't an issue about too many people or too little food—there's enough food grown in the world to adequately feed everyone. It's about poverty and inequality, about gender inequity, about giving women a voice and a say in their future, their opportunities and rights.
To that end, Heifer International joins with women, men, organizations, governments, corporations and others to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, March 8.
The goal is to help raise awareness about hunger, climate change and myriad other crises facing women worldwide. Additionally, we're calling for an investment in women farmers—in the United States and around the world—to ensure the effort to beat back hunger and poverty is guaranteed now and for generations to come. For the past three years, Heifer International has been highlighting the role of women farmers in cutting hunger and attaining food security around the world, using the opportunity the International Women's Day presents, and continues to do so.
Since our founding in 1944, Heifer has recognized the importance of women in the effort to rid the world of hunger and poverty and to help reduce and prevent environmental degradation. Gender equity—valuing women, girls and men equally, and empowering them to be social and economic partners, sharing resources, workloads and decision-making—is one of Heifer's 12 guiding principles, our Cornerstones.
The first International Women's Day event was celebrated in 1911, and on this March 8, thousands of events will be held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. Political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events, local women's craft markets, theatre performances and fashion parades are but a few of the events planned to honor the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.
In many countries—China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria—International Women's Day is a national holiday. In the United States, March is Women's History Month.
Heifer reminds everyone that development— improving people's livelihoods—isn't sustainable unless both men and women participate equally, unless both take responsibility for their futures. So this year, and on every March 8, take the time to make a difference. Do your part to ensure the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.
For more information, visit www.heifer.org or call 1-800-696-1918.