A message of hope on World Food Day

On 16 October - World Food Day - people around the globe joined together in solidarity with those less fortunate who struggle daily to feed themselves and their families.

This year's World Food Day theme paid tribute to the enormous contribution of women to global food security

"The message of World Food Day is a message of peace, a message of hope, to those around the world who suffer from hunger," said Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General, at a press conference held at the Organization's headquarters in Rome, 15 October.

The theme of World Food Day '98 - "Women Feed the World" - was chosen in order to pay tribute to "the critical role of women in agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and to their enormous contribution to household and national food security," Dr Diouf explained.

The Director-General urged the international community to take measures that would promote equality between men and women. Citing the discrimination women face in terms of land rights, social privileges, and access to credit, training and technology, Diouf said that making their cases heard is not merely a matter of justice: "If food security for all is to become a reality, decisions that affect future generations must be based on the perceived needs and priorities of these women today."

World Food Day, which this year marked the 53rd anniversary of the founding of FAO in Quebec City, Canada, was observed in some 150 countries around the globe. Observances at the Organization's headquarters featured a statement from Pope John Paul II.

The day before World Food Day, Director-General Diouf presented the Pope with the Agricola medal struck in the pontiff's honour by FAO. The medal features a portrait of John Paul II on one side and the words "Daily bread - condition of world peace" on the other. The Pope was awarded the honour in recognition of his "continuous struggle against hunger and malnutrition and his demonstrated concern for the plight of mankind's poor, and for peace in the world". Last year's recipient of the Agricola medal was Jacques Chirac, President of France.

16 October also marked the first day of TeleFood '98, which took place over three days. The televised appeal for global solidarity in the face of world hunger was initiated in 1997 to raise awareness of the suffering of the millions of hungry people in the world and to call for the public's support to help end it.

TeleFood events were held in more than 40 countries around the world. On 17 October, two gala events - a pop music concert in Dakar, Senegal, featuring top African entertainers, and a live broadcast of Verdi's opera Aida, performed at the Giza pyramids near Cairo - were broadcast via satellite around the world.

Last year, more than 500 million people watched all or part of global and national TeleFood broadcasts. Over US$2 million was contributed to the TeleFood Special Fund, which is currently financing some 159 microprojects in 73 countries. The beneficiaries of more than 60 percent of these TeleFood-funded projects are women.

16 October 1998

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©FAO, 1998