My husband told me a story about himself when he was 18 years old that really struck a chord in me. He was out to breakfast with his girlfriend and her parents. When his boiled egg arrived, he cut off the top of the egg, put it aside and proceeded to eat the rest of the egg. His girlfriend's parents asked him why he left the top uneaten. He had always done it and assumed it had to do with proper manners. He replied to the parents that frankly he didn't know why.
When he next saw his mother he asked her about the mystery of the uneaten tops of the boiled eggs. She told him that when he and his two brothers were growing up, not very long after the end of World War II, there usually weren't enough eggs for everyone. She therefore cut the tops off the boiled eggs, gave the bulk of the eggs to her three sons, and took the leftover tops for her own breakfast.
Woman as caregiver manifests in many amazing ways, and not least around issues of food. When food is scarce, women usually eat less so that other members of their family can have enough.
Women have always played a central role on issues of food production for domestic consumption, household food provision and distribution. Anthropologist Adrienne Zihlman and others have noted that for 25,000 years in the preagricultural band societies, 80 percent of their sustenance came from gathering and 20 percent from hunting. Rather than the stereotype of Man the Hunter as provider, Woman the Gatherer put food on the table.
Because they are major players around issues of food, women are also key to overcoming hunger problems faced by poor and marginalized communities. If we want to fight hunger, empowering and supporting women is crucial. We know that when we invest in women, we get the biggest bang for the buck because that investment goes right back to the family and community. It's also true around issues of hunger.
This is what the international relief and development organization Oxfam America says about hunger: "Hunger isn't about too many people and too little food. Hunger is about power." Indeed, there's enough food being produced now for every woman, man and child in the world, but about a billion people will still go to bed hungry tonight, many of them women. Because women still face so many inequalities and don't have access to as many resources, they suffer the greatest burden. But with this challenge comes an opportunity, and many women in poor countries are rising to the challenge and fighting back to end hunger in their own innovative ways.
It's often hard to know what exactly we can do. Oxfam, however, presents an opportunity for us to stand together to raise consciousness around this issue, and help eliminate hunger by supporting these women. As we approach the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, this is the perfect opportunity to make a difference by a simple action. Take a picture of yourself with your declaration "Ending Hunger starts with Women" and post it on Oxfam's photobook.
Doing this you join a community of people who care about ending hunger. Imagine seeing all those who stand to be counted with all the mothers who only give themselves the tops of eggs.
I did, and I even got my nieces in on the act! Generations standing together; we can do it!
Go to: Oxfam America's 'Ending Hunger Starts Here' photobook: