Women Feed the World

Grace, a widow in Ghana, takes care of 10 children by farming a small plot of land (Photo: Grameen Foundation/Nana Kofi Acquah)

November 18, 2016 by Steve Hollingworth and Kathleen Stack

Last Tuesday, we spoke with supporters about plans for our newly combined organization, highlighting strategies to empower poor women and create a world without poverty and hunger. As our two organizations join forces, we were excited to take this opportunity to hear your questions and share our perspectives.  

The conversation was all the more meaningful, as we stand with our partners and supporters and affirm our values of dignity and opportunity for all people, no matter their gender, national origin, ethnic background or faith. 

And so, we thank you. We thank you who believe not only that change is possible, but also that together we can make a meaningful difference.

During our webinar, you posed important questions. You asked: What makes Grameen Foundation different from other anti-poverty organizations? How will you work with women? What is the role of technology? How will your work change now that your two organizations have joined together? What are the main challenges and opportunities you see ahead?

Here we summarize highlights of the discussion and provide a link to the webinar video below.
Grameen Foundation works to ensure that even the poorest women gain access to the financing, information and services they need to spread their wings; to nurture their children; and to lead dignified and fulfilled lives.  

At the heart of this work is innovation with local partners to deliver financial services to the very poor. Because we consider financial services a tool to enable development more broadly, we first seek to understand the whole person and her needs in relationship to her family, health, livelihood, and community. The services and products we develop to meet these needs address overlapping problems—whether related to health, agriculture or financial security.

In short, we expand financial inclusion for the world’s poorest as a catalyst for holistic development.  

To this end, we are applying all we have learned over our combined 90 years of organizational experience: from organizing women’s savings groups to training women in the use of mobile technology; from connecting poor people to financial services to building partnerships that deliver integrated solutions for financing, health, nutrition and food security; from generating data that captures the daily realities of poverty to using that data to develop practical solutions to end poverty and hunger.

In the hands of poor women and men, we make the mobile phone a conduit for crucial services and invaluable information. For poor farmers—the majority of the world’s poorest people—mobile technology offers new opportunities to access loans, farm supplies, weather information, training, transport, storage, and buyers for their crops. Connected and empowered, people can seize opportunities that help them adapt to changing climates, feed their families, increase their incomes, and improve their health.  

Women face the biggest obstacles in accessing the resources they need—and they have the most to gain. To begin with, more than 1.3 billion women don’t have an account at a formal financial institution. Women are also 14 percent less likely than men to own a mobile phone; as high as 38 percent in South Asia. Meanwhile, according to the World Bank, one in three people subsisting on less than US$1.25 are children.

We know that when women earn more, and control household finances, they reinvest more of those earnings back into their children’s health, education and well being. This is why women are so central to breaking the generational cycle of poverty, and why we are firmly focused on breaking down gender barriers, both social and economic.

With new tools, knowledge and opportunity, women farmers who grow more than half of the world’s food will no longer be treated as family labor. Instead, they will receive the respect, services, and market opportunities they deserve as farmers and entrepreneurs operating in one of the world’s most knowledge-intensive industries.  

Today we thank you for joining us on November 15, and for those who were unable to attend, here we share a link to our webinar

We also invite you to join our campaign in support of the women who feed the world. Together we can enable the poor, especially women, to create a world without poverty and hunger.

Steve Hollingworth is the president and CEO of Grameen Foundation, and Kathleen Stack is the executive vice president of Grameen Foundation and the former interim CEO of Freedom from Hunger.