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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Pan-African women of faith advocate to prevent malnutrition

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“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.” Luke 1:45

Recently, the Pan African Women of Faith/Pan African Women’s Ecumenical Empowerment Network (PAW/PAWEEN) presented a workshop, exhibition and reception at the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The assembly included many member churches and partners of Bread for the World. Approximately 25 global members of PAW/PAWEEN represented the group in person. They were blessed with sponsorships from their churches and other partners to participate in this way.

PAW/PAWEEN has advocated for Bread’s values and public policy agenda, bringing a lens of racial, gender, and class equity—as well as nutrition and climate justice. This informs their advocacy to change policies, programs, and conditions that allow hunger and poverty to persist.

In partnership with Bread, PAW/PAWEEN’s advocacy and organizing workgroup members presented a paper entitled, “Global Faith Voices of Women of Africa and of African Descent: Nutrition, Food Security, Economic Empowerment, and Just-Peace.”

Bread’s advocacy on the U.S. Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act (GMPTA) was featured during the presentation.

The paper cites alarming data from recent reports on nutrition, equity, and the environment. It also analyzes how they intersect and impact African women and women of African descent.

In addition, the paper includes the 2022 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report, which highlights the increase of the major drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition: conflict, climate extremes, economic shocks and growing inequities.

In addition, a joint UN Women and UN Development Programme report, “Government responses to COVID-19: Lessons on gender equality for a world in turmoil,” indicates that emergency preparedness requires gender-aware responses to reduce burdens of care, violence, and economic insecurity on women.

The PAW/PAWEEN paper helped us learn about a North American economic perspective, a Caribbean historical perspective, a Brazilian political and religious perspective, a Portuguese and French perspective on the collaborative framework of the Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act, an African perspective on the causation and solution to hunger, and a British perspective on the advocacy role of churches.

The presentation and writings inform us of how the everyday and long-term impacts of food insecurity, malnutrition, economic insecurity, racial inequity, and war are tied to the livelihoods of African women and women of African descent.

In sum, these women admonish us that time is of the essence to address the inequities they and their communities face. An important way to do this is through policies such as the Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act. You are invited to read the paper here. Soon you will also be able to see the entire PAW/PAWEEN at the Assembly of the World Council of Churches.

Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church engagement at Bread for the World.

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