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“The Other Half of the Planet - Women’s Weeks”: Women’s Energy for Feeding the Planet . The Programme

Culture / -

We
Daniele Mascolo © Expo 2015

From 29 June to 10 July, Expo Milano 2015 will host “The Other Half of the Planet - Women’s Weeks” promoted by Women for Expo, a rich programme of international events dedicated to women to be held inside the Exhibition site.

Emma Bonino, President of WE - Women for Expo presented the programme this afternoon at Expo Milano 2015. Taking part in the meeting were the Executive President of the WE-Women for Expo project Marta Dassù and Commissioner for the Italian Pavilion Diana Bracco. Speakers included Albina Assis Africano, President of the Expo Steering Committee and Commissioner of the Angolan Pavilion, Jaqueline Franjou, CEO Women Forum for the Economy and Society, Claudia Parzani, President of Valore D, Giovanna Melandri, President of the Human Foundation, Orietta Maria Varnelli, President of ActionAid Italia, Monica Barzanti, San Patrignano International Relations Manager, Stefano Bologna, Director of UNIDO, Anilda Ibrahimi, Albanian writer, one of the 104 female authors of the Novel of the World by Women for Expo.
 
The female General Commissioners of the Pavilions of some of the participating countries in Expo Milano 2015 also took part in the event. The Pavilions have been invited to create conferences, debates and shows for the Women’s Weeks.
 
Women’s Weeks: a woman’s perspective on food in a series of meetings and events
 
The Women’s Weeks, from 29 June to 10 July, invite visitors to reflect on how much the role of women role is second nature to the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, in a two-week programme of meetings and events. The programme contains a mixture of conferences, debates and entertainment – readings, meetings, shows and performances - that interpret food as an element for enriching the mind and soul, involving artists, writers, singers from all over the world. As Emma Bonino said: “The Women’s Weeks aim to provide a space for open, innovative debate on the great challenges of food and diet, without adhering to preconceived attitudes”. For WE-Women for Expo women are the true protagonists of the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, thanks to the awareness of the role that they play as prime agents of nutrition and protagonists of food security on all levels. This is awareness is the foundation on which the WE-Women for Expo projects have been built, including the two weeks of events, the Women's Weeks.
 
The event also provided an opportunity for presenting the Women for Expo Alliance, created by Women for Expo International in collaboration with FAO, World Food Program and the international Board. Women for Expo Alliance is an event of solid actions designed to prevent food waste.
 
The programme of events for the Women’s Weeks was scheduled also thanks to the collaboration of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and the WFP (World Food Program).
 
 
 
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Camilla Baresani. I discovered women’s strength in Ecuador

Culture / -

Camilla Baresani intervista

The writer and Ambassador of Women for Expo, guest at the event organised by Oxfam and IO Donna during the Women's Weeks, talks about her journey among women in rural communities of Ecuador.

“We need to start from women to break down barriers and poverty”: this is the main theme of a meeting organised by Oxfam and IO woman during the Women's Weeks. Last year she collected the voices of the women of rural communities in Ecuador in which Oxfam operates. How, in your opinion, can women be the engine of economic and social change?
I think we need to start from women for everything, not only to break down barriers and poverty but in general, because the world has been malfunctioning, so far; it is a jammed mechanism that needs to reset. In particular in areas like the ones I visited with Oxfam, where there is little or nothing and men do not collaborate and wage war, drink, and cause more harm instead of being useful, and only women can take charge of their lives and those of their children and start  creating the conditions to live in an acceptable way. It is a reality that Oxfam has made possible for many small communities. Of course, it should be applied on a larger scale, but it is in small communities that it can germinate and spread. Women can teach other women to cultivate and then nourish their children and themselves and sell what they grow.
 
How crucial are training and access to education for girls in this kind of context?
It is fundamental. What I learned by travelling with Oxfam is that female illiteracy is a huge problem. Until the past generation, girls had no access to education, and only boys studied and then there is the problem of violence against girls, who risk being raped when crossing fields to get to school.

We need to make it possible for girls to access education even to learn how to count, to manage their household accounts as well their harvests when they grow up. This is the real problem of mothers, you can give them better seeds and tools to learn how to cultivate, but they also need to be able to count, to keep a small budget of what they do. What remains is that all the mothers I have met have one dream: that their daughters can study and change their lives because they were never able to do so.
 
Women represent 43% of the agricultural labour force, but they are often the poorest and most vulnerable subjects in many parts of the world. According to you, what are the priorities to be addressed to rectify this contradiction?
Unfortunately we have to talk about priorities in the plural form: education, not only schooling, but also in the field of agriculture is one of these, and also the cultivation techniques and having access to better seeds. Then, unfortunately, but this is a longer task, it would be essential to have more women in the police forces and judiciary system. In these countries, where there are mainly men, a woman enduring violence has no rights, no defense and is always the victim, it is written on her forehead. Their abusers, regardless if  husbands or neighbours, are hardly ever imprisoned.
 
The short film by Maite Bulgari, “Hungry for waste”, will be presented in a preview during the “I have seen women ...” meeting organised by Oxfam at Expo Milano 2015, a reflection of hunger and waste, two sides of the same coin, two extremes of a global paradox. In your opinion which are the concrete actions to take in the fight against food waste?
I think schooling is fundamental. Parents are unable to educate, to teach because they themselves had no schooling. On the issue of food, there is great ignorance even in our developed countries and there is no awareness. If we think, for example, about what we are triggering when we eat meat indiscriminately and therefore to the C02 emissions and the pollution of aquifers. There is no awareness on the importance of the variety of the plant world. If we divert the resources reserved to breed animals for slaughter to cultivating, there would be more food for everyone. Schools should devote an hour a week to civic and food education, teach how to preserve things for others. When I was little we were aware of the many children who nothing to eat, today children grow up thinking they can eat anything at any time and their idea is that food resources are infinite. It is not so, unfortunately, they are not distributed properly.
 
Among the women you met in Ecuador, is there is one who changed your way of looking at this type of reality?
It was the sum of meetings that hit me, not just one. In one week we visited three different places, one in the Amazon and two in the Andes. In these places, where there is a small rural economy, men have depopulated the countryside and now there are only women, children and old people. Men are a calamity here, when they return they rape, beat, and drink and spend money not for the family, but for their pleasures. Everything is placed in the strength of these women who are willing to learn, to grow and pick up their lives without having to depend on others. The women I met are extremely satisfied and proud when they learn, when they do so hiding away from their husbands, when they meet in the community and this is the possible paradox because the men have left, Oxfam was able to operate there because there were no men.

Camilla Baresani is Ambassador of Expo Milano 2015. Read her biography and interview on the website.
 
On the occasion of the Women's Weeks of Expo Milano 2015 she was among the writers, film makers and Italian entrepreneurs who participated in the event organised by Oxfam and IO Donna at the Cascina Triulza on June 29.

 
 

Marina Catena: The story behind Ibrahimović’s tattoos, as told by the woman who wanted them

Culture / -

Marina Catena
© courtesy of WFP

Zlatan Ibrahimović has had the names of 50 people written on his body with temporary tattoos, each representing just some of the 805 million people suffering from hunger in the world. The Paris Saint-Germain striker is the face of the 805 Million Names campaign of the World Food Programme masterminded by Marina Catena.

Marina Catena is the Italian woman at the helm of the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) for France and the Principality of Monaco. Here she tells us about the campaign and how the idea was born.
 
How did you come up with the idea of covering Zlatan Ibrahimović in tattoos as a way of drawing attention to world hunger?
The story began a year and a half ago. I wanted to find someone who could deliver a message on the fight against world hunger, and who crosses cultural and generational boundaries. As I am passionate about football, and live in Paris, Zlatan Ibrahimović, whom I've always admired, seemed the ideal person for the job. He’s someone who has real determination, and in a way that is completely modern.
 
This is how it all started. I decided to write to him as soon as he was signed by Paris Saint-Germain, which is the team I support. The letter however somehow got lost, and made a few detours before we finally managed to meet for the first time. We understood each other right away. He has Balkan roots, and I know that region very well through my humanitarian work. Then, when I explained that the World Food Programme is an organization that “likes to get its hands dirty”, he immediately accepted my proposal. He said: "Let’s do it!", and I should add, entirely on a voluntary basis.
 
Was the decision to launch the campaign on Sunday, February 14 during the Ligue 1 match against Caen (the French football championships) planned?
The tattoos were made and applied to Zlatan the evening before the match. We had agreed that Zlatan would remove his shirt at half-time to attract the attention of the photographers and TV cameras. We had also planned a surprise press conference for the next day.
 
But, as fate would have it, Ibrahimović scored after just 72 seconds. With the excitement of the goal, he took his shirt off right then and there, even receiving a warning from the referee. The following day, during our press conference, Zlatan said he would have done it even if it meant getting a red card, because the reason behind it was much more important than being sent off during a match.
 
Luck was on our side though, because this unexpected gesture caught the attention of the media including the Gazzetta dello Sport and l’Équipe and, within a few hours, the video went viral.
 
Ibrahimović donated his image, but the World Food Programme campaign has another purpose. What is it?
The message of the initiative, the added value that Ibrahimović brought to the campaign, was highlighting the problem of hunger to the world, since he is such a global icon. Today 805 million people go hungry. The WFP can help some 80 million people in 75 countries, but we would like to do, and we could do, so much more. That's why we need a man like Zlatan Ibrahimović. Now the campaign needs to continue, with, we hope, the collaboration of all.
 
Expo Milano 2015: What does this event represent today?
I strongly believe in the Expo as an event. I collaborated with the European Commission in organizing the ECHO (European Community Humanitarian Office) stand at Expo 1998 in Lisbon. The theme was "The Oceans, a Heritage for the Future".
 
There I recreated a refugee camp that contained fake exploding mines so visitors would get a feeling what it was like to experience war. I was on the stand for a month and it was a wonderful experience.
Although the world is different today, I do think the Expo is still an important occasion, a melting pot that can help people of all ages explore new ideas. The theme of Expo Milano speaks to everyone. To the person who doesn’t have access to food, and to the one who wants to help. I think it will be a great experience for Italy.
 

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