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Women: The Forgotten Link between Business, Farmers, Food and Health - Sep 27, 2013

htWomen: The Forgotten Link between Business, Farmers, Food and Health - Sep 27, 2013

UNITED NATIONS, Sep. 27 /CSRwire/ - Leading food and skincare companies Ajinomoto (Japan), DSM (Netherlands) and L’OCCITANE (France) committed to the Business Call to Action with initiatives in Indonesia, Burkina Faso and Ghana that strengthen the role of women in linking business to nutrition and health. The three companies have created a focus on women as suppliers, producers and consumers in their core business chains; leading to not only increased income for the women producers, but also gender empowerment and positive household effects in nutrition and health.

In last week’s session led by Ms. Elisabeth Rasmusson, Assistant Executive Director for Partnership and Governance Services of the World Food Programme, these multinational companies shared insights on how incorporating women into the production chain from Africa to Asia  tends to lead to increased yields, support more sustainably produced crops and promote greater food security. This ultimately provides farmers and their families with improved nutritional and health outcomes and more sustainable livelihoods, while ensuring more robust supply chains for the companies themselves.

Ms. Rasmusson said, "The world that we want, and the world that I believe can exist, is a world with zero hunger. We at the World Food Programme know that inclusive business practices, women’s empowerment, and improved nutrition can help make this goal a reality. Through collaborative partnerships with the private sector we can make our world, a world without hunger.”

L’OCCITANE’s new commitment to the Business Call to Action employs rural women in Burkina Faso to harvest shea butter nuts sustainably for the company’s leading skincare line and places a strong emphasis on reducing manual labor requirements, as well as on supporting a system of participatory management. 

“After 20 years of a co-development partnership with the women of Burkina Faso, who produce shea butter, L’OCCITANE wants to go further in sustainability and its local involvement with the implementation of a 3-year environmental and social program to preserve the precious ancestral savoir-faire, while offering high-added-value opportunities. The company is very proud to be part of the BCtA platform to support this ambitious program and maximize international scope,” said Maud Reboul, Sustainable Ingredients Manager for L’OCCITANE.

Invariably, women are often the key drivers of nutrition and health at the household level.  Women can have an important multiplier effect on development, especially as women farmers account for the majority of food producers and ultimately have the opportunity to earn and control income decisions. As such, women are more likely to allocate their spending on their children’s nutrition, education and health. Women are also vital to efforts aimed at alleviating hunger and malnutrition, often holding the responsibility for their family’s food security and ensuring that it is accessible and nutritional.

For Ajinomoto, employing women in key positions in its sales force for its nutritionally fortified product ‘Koko Plus’ is essential in strengthening the message about nutrition for weaning infants.  "Contributing to nutrition improvement in the world is one of the core missions of Ajinomoto Group. We are pleased to expand our commitment and our programs in Ghana to help nourish and build the capacity of Ghana's child and mother population, as a BCtA initiative," said Masatoshi Ito, President and CEO of Ajinomoto.

In Indonesia, Royal DSM is deploying a nutrition-focused food delivery project through street carts to 30,000 children in low-income areas. The company has partnered with Mercy Corps to employ cooks and vendors -- many of whom are women -- to create low-cost nutritious food options in highly trafficked areas in Jakarta. “By enhancing access to nutrition through affordable, high-quality products in street carts, and by employing the residents of these communities for this project, DSM is committed to both a business and social impact through its activities,” said Hazvinei Mugwagwa, Program Manager for DSM’s Nutrition Improvement Program. In Indonesia, an estimated one-third of children under the age of 5, nearly 8 million in total, suffer from the effects of malnutrition.  The program also plans to create a self-sustaining business model that can be spun off and will create employment opportunities in Jakarta and beyond.

The Business Call to Action is also committed to working with public sector partner World Food Programme to create strong partnerships that strengthen the enabling environment for such inclusive businesses.

Sep 27, 2013