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As UN Summit Ends, MADRE Emphasizes Women's Rights as Central to Resolving Global Food Crisis

June 5, 2008–New York, NY–Today, as more than 40 world leaders gathered in Rome wrap up a United Nations summit on the global food crisis, MADRE, an international women's human rights organization, emphasizes that small-scale women farmers should be central to policy solutions.

The organization works with women's groups that are at the epicenter of the food crisis.

In Guatemala, women from MADRE's sister organization now spend 80 percent of their sweatshop earnings on food. In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where MADRE works, mothers are preparing "cookies" of mud, oil, and sugar to feed hungry children. In Sudan, women MADRE works with now routinely go without food in order to ensure a meal for their children. In Iraq, where food costs now exceed many people's incomes, MADRE is reaching out to women forced to work as prostitutes in order feed their families.

To address this crisis, MADRE has activated its Emergency and Disaster Relief Fund to deliver food aid funds to the women of our sister organizations.

Vivian Stromberg, MADRE Executive Director, said today, "We know that putting money into women's hands ensures that it will be used to meet household needs. By partnering with our local sister organizations, MADRE strengthens progressive, community-based women's initiatives and builds women's capacity to respond to future crises."

This emergency appeal is coupled with MADRE's efforts to create local, sustainable solutions to hunger. These include women-run seed banks in Nicaragua and Panama, agricultural cooperatives in Sudan and Mexico, and small-scale organic farms in Guatemala and Kenya.

MADRE also demands new economic policies that recognize that food is not a commodity, but a human right. In particular, MADRE emphasizes that since rural women produce between 60 and 80 percent of food in most developing countries, women's human rights and capacity to produce food should be central to a global New Deal on agriculture.

Additional MADRE resources on the global food crisis are available here: Solving the Global Food Crisis Starts with Women's Rights and Food Policies Leave People Hungry.

Available for comment:

Yifat Susskind, MADRE's Communications Director and Coordinator of MADRE's Food for Life Campaign, worked for several years as part of a joint Israeli-Palestinian human rights organization in Jerusalem before joining MADRE. She has written extensively on US foreign policy and women's human rights. Her critical analysis has appeared in online and print publications such as, Foreign Policy in Focus, and The W Effect: Bush's War on Women, published by the Feminist Press in 2004. Ms. Susskind has been featured as a commentator on CNN, National Public Radio, and BBC Radio.