Women's equality and empowerment - The first step to Zero Hunger

How can we guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone while respecting the planet and its equilibrium? This is the question at the heart of the Expo Milano 2015 and of the UN theme “The Zero Hunger Challenge • United for a sustainable world”. This issue is also the inspiration for the Women’s Forum Italy, taking place on 29‐30 June as part of the Universal Exhibition.

Food clearly has gender dimensions. Women farmers produce more than half of all the food worldwide, and women still have the greater responsibility for buying and preparing meals.  But still, women and girls suffer more from food insecurity than do boys and men. Because despite the fact that women play a key role in agriculture, livestock and fishery activities worldwide, many of them have unequal access to land, financial services, education, training, extension services, markets, decision making processes and technology.

Promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality is crucial to winning the Zero Hunger Challenge: if women were to have the same access to productive resources and investment and income opportunities as men, productivity and family income would increase significantly and nutrition and health would improve at the household level. Evidence also shows that increasing women’s access to education and improving their overall welfare can have a major impact on their own nutrition status and that of their children.

Women's crucial role in the fight against hunger and malnutrition will be also recognized during the Women's Forum Italy an initiative of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society together with Valore D.  the Forum will open the Expo’s Women’s Weeks, the series of conferences being coordinated by WE – Women for Expo, the Expo Milano 2015 network of women from around the world to speak out and act jointly on food and sustainability, in collaboration with the UN at Expo 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

Challenging, important as well fascinating topics will be discussed, including "Women's equality and empowerment - The first step to Zero Hunger" which will be addressed on 30 June at 11am at the Expo Auditorium by Emma Bonino, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Honorary President of Women for Expo, and by Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme.

This issue is emphasized by the UN at Expo 2015 as an integral part of each of the five pillars of the Zero Hunger Challenge. As part of the UN Itinerary, there is the UN Space at the Cascina Triulza which shows with various materials how with equal opportunities, over 1.1 billion women farmers could produce 20-30% more food, enough to lift 150 million out of hunger. 

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