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FALL 2021
Food Aid Improves Women’s Rights
  Amina received food assistance that enabled her to play a larger role in household decision making. PHOTO CREDIT: CWSA.
ensuring the well-being and food security of their families and com- munities.
Ayesha, a 35-year-old mother of six, was selected as a community- level leader. In this role, she worked with the project team to train the re- cipients of the cash assistance on appropriate use and any challenges that might arise.
“I started holding meetings with the women in my village to educate them about their fundamental rights and needs and mobilized them to take part in decision making within their households. I also led sessions on awareness around COVID-19, emphasizing the virus’s risk, harm- ful consequences and preventative steps,” said Ayesha.
Amina, a 36-year-old mother of six shared her experience: “My husband works as a farmer and earns a mea- gre monthly income. He hands over a good part of the money to me to manage household expenses. My husband often checks up on how I am spending the money to ensure it is not wasted and is only spent on essentials. Many times we fight over money.
“The first tranche of cash [from the program] was provided to me directly. I felt independent to use the money as I wished and prioritized using it for household expenses, but this time, without my husband’s con- stant supervision. The cash assis-
tance was very helpful. I immediately purchased bread, tea, vegetables and yogurt. My children and hus- band were so happy to see healthy and complete meals every day. Since the first distribution, my husband and I have had no conflicts over money or how I manage it.”
In many circumstances in Afghani- stan, men control access to and de- cisions about how money is spent. By providing cash assistance directly to women, the project has increased women’s participation in decision making in their households.
In a survey conducted before the project, only 26% of households in- dicated that they mutually decided on household expenses, including food and clothing. Five months later, 42% of participating households now report shared decision making on household expenses.
Amina also mentioned that she’s been able to save some of the cash assistance for future emergencies. “It is very important that we save some money just in case there is any kind of emergency, as this area is prone to natural disasters. These days my husband is often praising me for my ability to manage the household ex- penses efficiently and save money at the same time.”
Increased control over household finances by women project par- ticipants has helped them build their confidence and empowered them to
Ayesha provided training to commu- nity members on COVID-19 prevention, nutrition and women’s rights. PHOTO CREDIT: CWSA.
participate in family decision making more actively.
Provided with equal opportunities, women are able to contribute much more as they tend to prioritize their family’s essential needs. By focusing on promoting the leadership and par- ticipation of rural women, this food assistance project helped improve the role and ability of women to ad- dress many of the issues that affect their lives, their families and their communities.
* This project also received gen- erous support from the Government of Canada and Canadian Foodgrains Bank members—the United Church of Canada, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (An- glican), World Renew (Christian Reformed) and Nazarene Compas- sionate Ministries.
** Article written prior to current events unfolding in Afghanistan.
By Karen Bokma, PWS&D Communications
Before the pandemic hit, many peo- ple in Afghanistan were already struggling with increased food inse- curity, unemployment and poverty due to decades of ongoing conflict. COVID-19 has only intensified these issues, pushing over 150,000 Af- ghans living in neighbouring Iran back into an already fragile country. Households have been struggling to stay afloat and are finding it challeng- ing to access food to meet their basic needs.
In response to the devastating effects of COVID-19, PWS&D pro- vided 1,100 of the most vulnerable households—480 of which were women-headed — with monthly cash transfers. PWS&D’s local part-
ner, Community World Service Asia, conducted a total of five monthly dis- tributions.
Each family received $90 USD a month to purchase much-needed food and essential items from lo- cal markets, which in turn served to support the local economy. Many of the distributions took place over the harsh winter months, meaning the money was vital in combating food insecurity. Distributing cash electronically to carefully selected participants allowed for an effective and safe way to assist in times of hardship. It also offered the greatest flexibility for families to meet their specific needs.
Alongside prioritizing women- headed households, the project fo- cused on empowering women while
  In the Words of a Teenage Entrepreneur
By Emma Clarke, PWS&D Communications
“Now, my family and I always have vegetables available.”
Hearing this comment from a 16-year-old may not strike us as unique. But in a world struggling from the effects of climate change, political unrest and drastic inequal- ity, food security is not a given. In fact, eight percent of people around the globe do not have reliable access to sufficient nutritious food. With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting peo- ple’s livelihoods, month after month, the situation for families facing ex- treme hunger continues to worsen.
Osline Pauleus lives in Haiti, a country experiencing one of the high- est levels of food insecurity in the world. In this country, that is half the size of Nova Scotia, over one million people face emergency levels of hun- ger every day, and almost half of the population is in need of immediate
food assistance.
Agroforestry youth clubs in Haiti
are run by Konbit Peyizan (PWS&D’s partner) and take a multi-faceted approach to education. Young peo- ple discuss how to live peaceably with each other and with the land on which they live, as they develop skills for growing food items that can sur- vive the unpredictable climate. They also learn that everyone has the right to take leadership.
When Osline discusses her partici- pation in the agroforestry youth club, she expresses joy at having become a leader in her community and relief that her family can eat—but each word resonates with concern for those around her. This is her testi- mony.
“My name is Osline Pauleus, I’m 16 years old, and I live in an area of Wondo called Charye. Although I had heard a lot about the Konbit Peyizan youth club, I had never joined. One day, I decided to go and see what
the other kids were doing in the club. When I arrived, I saw that the activi- ties they were doing were really inter- esting, so I decided to join the club.
“From the club I learned a lot of things, like how to plant my own gar- den and use natural resource man- agement techniques. I also learned about health and hygiene, how to use and develop my talents, how to be more courteous and polite, and how to teach others what I had learned.
“Before joining the club, I didn’t even know that I have the same rights as adults. Learning all these things made me really happy.
“After receiving some training in the club’s demonstration garden, I decided to start my own kitchen gar- den, where I planted okra, peppers, tomatoes, jute leaves, eggplant and spinach. Before, I was only able to eat these vegetables once in a while because I would have to buy them at the market which is far away from my house. Thankfully, I can now find all
these vegetables in my own garden. My family always talks about how useful this garden is for us, because we are now able to save the money we used to spend on vegetables to use for other essentials that will help the family.”
Osline’s initiative in her own gar- den made a big difference to both her family and the broader community.
“My garden also seems to have become a point of interest in the community, because everybody who walks by always admires it. When people from the area visit my garden, I take the time to tell them how I started it. They go on to rep- licate the same vegetable-planting techniques in their own gardens. I’m glad because I can see that the club activities are really good for the com- munity.”
Global food insecurity will not be solved overnight. But the small ac- tions taken today are like the seeds planted in Osline’s garden—small
After creating a thriving garden with support from PWS&D’s youth club in Haiti, Osline Pauleus helped others in her community do the same. PHOTO CREDIT: MCC HAITI
things that grow over time, inspire others for an even bigger impact.
*This project is supported by Ca- nadian Foodgrains Bank.

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