Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day!

(Emily's Voice)

It has been a long while since we have posted and so I thought what better way to send out a message than to preach about the need for solidarity between women across the globe.

Today is International Women's Day and I received an email from the World Food Programme with these statistics:

"Who produces 60 to 80 percent of food in developing nations?

When food is scarce, who is the last to eat?

Who ensures that children have food to eat, even before themselves?

In my past posts I wrote about the importance of educating women and this trend seems to be a focal point for many aid organizations. The WFP wrote that in their emergency relief efforts in Haiti they are reaching the females heads of households first. They write that in their experience they have come to see that in the hands of women, food is most likely to reach the mouths of entire families, including hungry children.

Women have the power to break the cycle of hunger and poverty! Want to help? Go to the WFP's website (link to the right) and show your support by writing a few words of support and encouragement on their message board.


  1. Thank you for your great blog post about International Women’s Day, hunger and the World Food Programme! I’ve shared the link to it for others to read it at

    It would be an honour to include you in our list of Bloggers Against Hunger. Please consider signing up? It would mean that during emergencies and campaigns you would receive a notification with a link to our toolkit with video, photos and facts to help you blog about the issue. To sign up, go to:

    Thanks again, Susanne Thörnqvist

  2. I have some issues with the way you portray women in this post. Clearly helping to elevate women towards equality throughout the world is a noble goal, but I find your wording here very troubling.

    "Who ensures that children have food to eat, even before themselves?

    These sorts of blanket statements that certainly may be true if couched in appropriate terms

    "Women are more likely to ensure appropriate food distribution across their entire family to improve overall survivability in a crisis"

    but are damaging to your cause and credibility when posted as listed. I could just as easily post

    "Men make better decisions for the larger group of people in general and worry less about their individual family groups"

    And though it is also true in some circumstances it is obviously leading to conclusions that are probably bad and certainly biased.

    I am very much for equality of the genders, but that is not achieved by overzealously and inaccurately portraying the virtues of one gender nor by favouring one gender over the other. It is achieved by working for truth and equality, neither of which are served by hyperbole.

  3. Addendum: If I make a post that called for solidarity among men across the globe, would that be acceptable? I am confident that it would be viewed with skepticism at best, rage at worst.

    If it isn't appropriate for men, it shouldn't be for women.

  4. (Emily's voice)

    First and foremost, the intent of this post was not to portray men as not being valuable in providing food for their children - the intent was simply to encourage the fact that promotion of women's well-being is important.

    International aid organizations that do this professionally know their business and advocate focusing energy and resources in the promotion of empowering women. This is not meant to devalue men but to point out best strategies that aid organizations see for feeding populations.

    Do you disagree with the experts?

    Certainly some of these statements could be fine tuned to make them more perfectly correct, but as any good advertising executive will tell you, enormous attention to correctness does not bring in the Benjamins.

    Thanks for the post - keep them coming!

  5. I know you don't feel that women are intrinsically more valuable than men, but when you advocate solidarity among women to promote women you should be prepared to endorse and support global solidarity among men to support men. Would you feel the same way if I was collecting money to to go developing countries with the specific goal of empowering men while ignoring women?

    I leave it up to the experts to determine the most efficient way to distribute food. However, this post was about giving women in particular more power which is different. If an aid worker thinks the best way to distribute food in a particular 3rd world nation is to give it to family matriarchs then I support that strategy. However, if they think the best way to distribute food is to give it to patriarchs then I would expect them to do that too.

    Advertising executives are not the group I would go to when looking for moral guidance. Running a 'white power' magazine might bring in some dollars I could then donate to charities, but the damage done by inappropriate message is still there. If you don't believe what you are saying, why say it?

    The goal of increasing education in developing countries is a worthwhile and noble one. The goal of improving family planning to greater increase quality of life is also excellent, and both of these are likely well served by educating women. I support helping women when it is the best way to achieve the greater good, but I object to helping women specifically for the purpose of helping women over men.

  6. I think in many countries around the world there is still a large inequality between the sexes. And as Emily said it is recognized that more woman than men put family first within these specific countries. I don't think her statements were to be blanketed across all countries but were speaking about countries where there isn't equality. The solidarity between woman is meant to show the women of these countries that yes you can have a voice and a say about your life similar to the women who are supporting you from developed countries.
    I don't think you can lend support and hope to these women with a group of men. My impression of Emily's post was women in developed countries need to show unified support for those women in countries without equal rights. I don't believe she was promoting a female uprising across the board. But that's just my 2 cents!

  7. "I support helping women when it is the best way to achieve the greater good, but I object to helping women specifically for the purpose of helping women over men."


    Both Em and I support helping women when it is the best way to achieve the greater good. I suspect that all major aid organizations support helping women when it is the best way to achieve the greater good.

    As far as I can tell, all major (secular) aid organizations place a special emphasis on empowering and aiding women. I don't believe that they do this to help women over men for ideological reasons, but instead, because the best current research on aid supports this as one important direction to focus aid.

    In recent news, the Conservative government was lauded by aid organizations for putting women's health at the forefront of the upcoming G8 agenda, then was thrown into controversy as they removed-then-added birth control to the agenda but kept abortion off the table. Aid groups are now much less happy with the direction.

  8. Okay. Everyone back to your corners. Then come out smiling and shake hands.

    This is your mother speaking.