Working with Empowered Women for Sustainable Solutions to Hunger

All photos on this blog are courtesy of The Hunger Project.

Hunger is a complex global challenge driven by numerous interconnected challenges. Stressors like poverty, climate change, and conflict all have devastating impacts on hunger and food security. At the heart of those stressors, though, is also the biggest hope for a solution to overcome these challenges: people. By focusing on people and local communities, sustainable pathways to overcoming hunger are realized.

At The Hunger Project (THP), our approach to ending global hunger is a sustainable one. We pioneer grassroots, women-centered strategies and advocate for their widespread adoption in countries throughout the world. We create an environment in which community-led initiatives can thrive, local voices are heard, and community needs are met.

Empowered Women in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, with a population of approximately 164 million people. Although Bangladesh has recently made improvements with poverty rates and life expectancy, there is still progress to be made when it comes to inequities in income and malnutrition. Around 32 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line, most of whom are women and children. Child malnutrition (under five years of age) specifically is at 33 percent, one of the highest in the world.

To address these needs, THP-Bangladesh was established to identify and support empowered women in local communities. Our programs train local women leaders in critical skills, who in turn connect with other rural women who are often secluded in their households. They train their neighbors in ways to improve their families’ health and nutrition, particularly during the first 1,000 days of pregnancy and the child’s life — a critical period of time when healthy nutrition has the greatest impact on physical development.

These trained women leaders are the perfect messengers because they are socially connected and trusted. They are able to convey essential, sometimes intimate, information about pregnancy, breastfeeding, nutrition-rich food cultivation and preparation, and the use of soap and latrines to prevent disease.

Women in Bangladesh

Our essential trainings and ongoing support engage more than 26,000 trained volunteers, 45 percent of whom are women, who in turn organize wide-reaching action campaigns that impact more than 5 million people. These are some of their stories:

Mobilizing Women in Bangladesh

Anju Anwara Moya

In Bangladesh, we have been catalyzing change for more than two decades, mobilizing people and resources at the grassroots level, and breaking down social barriers to ending hunger.

Anju in Bangladesh

In March 2020, Anju Anwara Moyna, a long-time volunteer community leader with The Hunger Project-Bangladesh, was determined to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in her district. She started by setting up handwashing stations in front of her own house and urged her community members to learn proper handwashing techniques.

She helped set up additional stations in the surrounding villages and organized a group of volunteers to run a hygiene campaign, who broadcasted key public health messages over loudspeakers and distributed leaflets. Realizing that many of the most vulnerable people in her community were going without, Anju organized a community philanthropy drive. She and her fellow volunteers collected nearly $8,500 worth of food and other necessities which were distributed to more than 1,500 families.

Kazi Nasira Begum

Kazi Nasira Begum is a trained volunteer in Noagaon village in Habiganj, the district of northeastern Bangladesh. Since childhood, Kazi has always wanted to help alleviate poverty in her village and dedicate her life to helping others. In 2014, Kazi heard from a Union Parishad member that THP-Bangladesh was arranging a volunteer training nearby. She submitted her application and was elated to be accepted.

She completed her four-day training course and, on the last day of training, participated in a planning session for her future work. When she returned home, Kazi immediately began following the plans drafted during training. She met with other community members, and with them, formed a platform to better the village. They organized meetings and events in local courtyards to campaign against child marriage and raise awareness of better nutrition and the benefits of vaccinations. Kazi and her partners have since arranged hundreds of courtyard meetings in their communities.

Kazi Nasira Begum

Through her outreach, Kazi was able to stop two child marriages from happening. They were of a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl, both of whom were arranged to marry older men. Now, both girls are thriving. The 12-year-old, in particular, is enjoying her adolescence and looking forward to a full life of her own. Besides campaigning to end child marriage, Kazi has also completed 150 birth registrations and assisted 50 mothers in obtaining prenatal treatment from community clinics and government hospitals.

Partnership With Nutrition for Zero Hunger

Our partnership with Herbalife Nutrition and the Herbalife Nutrition Foundation (HNF) through the Nutrition for Zero Hunger initiative impacts people’s lives by supporting our work. In 2020, their support contributed to our existing impact, making it possible to train an additional 30,000 women in our 1,000 Days Essential Nutrition Actions and health and nutrition courtyard meetings in Bangladesh. By working with empowered women and girls, mobilizing rural communities, and cultivating effective partnerships with local government, our methodology catalyzes a development process through which communities achieve results in food security, which will lead to a sustainable way to end hunger.

To learn more about The Hunger Project, visit their website here.