FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT CHARLES RIEMENSCHNEIDER, DIRECTOR, FAO
LIAISON OFFICE FOR NORTH AMERICA TEL 202 653-2400; FAX 202 653 5760;
THE UN FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION
WORLD FOOD DAY EVENTS STAGED IN
SOME 150 COUNTRIES ON THE THEME
"WOMEN FEED THE WORLD" AND UNDERSCORING WOMEN'S ROLE AND PROBLEMS IN
Rome, October 16, -- World Food Day was observed in some 150 countries
today, on the theme "Women Feed the World," stressing women's key role in
food production and appealing for equality between women and men.
Meanwhile, an assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) showed that 30 developing countries are facing food emergencies,
mainly due to the effect of both El Nino and La Nina weather phenomena.
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf spoke at FAO Headquarters in Rome,
along with Italian Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Senator
Rino Serri. The Rome observance also heard a message from the Vatican
Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sadano relaying Pope John Paul II's
hopes on World Food Day. The message was read by Archbishop Alois Wagner,
the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to FAO.
Referring to this year's World Food Day theme, "Women Feed the World,"
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said, "I am personally convinced that
the goal of food security for all cannot be reached unless the voice of
the silent majority of humanity is heard. The enormous contribution made
by women in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and thereby in achieving
household and national food security, must be recognized and valued."
Dr. Diouf said that recognition of the role women play in ensuring food
security was translated into concrete commitments in the Plan of Action
adopted at the 1996 World Food Summit. The plan called for the promotion
of women's full and equal participation in the economy, and for secure
and equal access to and control over productive resources including
credit, land and water.
Italy's Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Senator Rino
Serri, told the gathering that women, along with children, are the
principal victims of misery and underdevelopment and the first to suffer
from food insecurity, although having a fundamental role in sustainable
"It is evident that in order to reduce poverty and increase food security
one must invest in the training and productivity of women, granting
them full legal and social dignity," he said, adding: "It is time that
women have full access to all factors of development," outlining them as
access to land, legal ownership and credit.
The message by the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano,
said: "The Holy Father expresses the hope that this World Food Day will
help to bring a deeper understanding of women's capacity to nurture, to
love and to educate. This will lead in turn to a deeper understanding of
women not only as 'feeders of the world,' but as peace-makers and
guardians of true human values."
It asked for the recognition of equal rights for women, saying: "This is
essential if women and men are to work together on the basis of
reciprocal functions and complementary roles. It is all the more
important at a time when humanity is facing new and important
According to the FAO foodcrop assessment, the world food situation
overall is mixed with many areas such as North America producing bumper
crops. However, other regions are experiencing serious weather related
problems. Persistent rains and floods attributed to the La Nina
phenomenon have taken a heavy toll on human life, crops and property in
Asia. In Bangladesh, the floods destroyed standing summer rice crops and
delayed autumn planting, while in Indonesia, the poor food situation is
due to last year's prolonged drought and the continuing financial crisis.
The greatest number of countries with food supply problems are in Africa,
where civil strife in parts of East, Central, and West Africa continue to
disrupt food production, the report noted.
Established in 1979 by FAO's biennial governing Conference, World Food
Day is observed each year on the anniversary of the founding of FAO in
Quebec City, Canada on Oct. 16, 1945 to highlight the world food problem
and seek solutions. It was observed this year with various
commemorative events in more that 150 countries around the world.
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