Founded in 2013, the World Woman Foundation is a nonprofit arts organization creating meaningful experiences through business, technology, social entrepreneurship and entertainment designed for women all over the world. The Foundation is a globally accepted organization with people across continents and cultures coming together to discover and create extraordinary resources for women. The Foundation provides multiple and ongoing global platforms to connect, engage and succeed by the sharing of opportunities for women worldwide and to celebrate women heroes for their achievements.
FICO Foundation Chairperson Andrea Segré and World Woman Foundation CEO Ripa Dash just signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of the Italian Minister Plenipotentiary Leonardo Bencini, Directorate for Development Cooperation, to help raise awareness on the Gender-Based Moonshot to end hunger and help feed the future by 2030.
"World Woman Foundation and FICO Foundation share the vision that educating women on food, with a focus on gender-based awareness-raising initiatives are key tools in fighting against hunger and malnutrition, achieving sustainable agriculture, promoting the responsible use of natural resources and building a Zero Hunger generation." - Rupa Dash
The first-ever Gender-Based Moonshot Initiative to End Hunger by 2030 will recognize women beyond the fields that are working to make every aspect of the food system more sustainable, innovative, and equitable. Whether it is to reduce food waste or founding organizations to feed the hungry better, the partnership will work to accelerate women's leadership around the world to build the future of food.
Rupa Dash is the CEO and Co-Founder of World Woman Foundation.
This article is based on a recent interview by Kathryn Engelhardt-Cronk, CEO of MissionBox, Inc., and is in Rupa's voice.
Rupa's Passion: Equality for women is progress for all
Guided by our mission, we launched the global moonshot to reimagine an equal future—a bold new way to accelerate women’s leadership that is about dignity, equality and choice. Today, we are a global community of women leaders committed to scale and accelerate the impact to one million women and girls by 2030 with long-term investments to expand skills, connections, capacity and visibility. Over the past five years, the Foundation has built a network of 300 change-makers in 20 countries who are addressing the world’s greatest challenges. They aim to elevate the socioeconomic milieu of two million women by enabling access to capital, community, and coaching in STEAM fields.
Together we can do more, and we are working creatively and collaboratively for an equitable future.
How do we reimagine an equal future?
NASA recently completed a successful Mars mission, a bold initiative to reimagine the future. We still struggle on Earth, however, to reimagine an equal future. That is why a top priority is building capacity, training, and commerce and making sure that women have the resources they need to meet today's challenges.
One of our initiatives is the Global Mentorship Program. The program is designed to put women at the center of the disruptive future. What I mean by that is: How can we help women see themselves as innovators, problem-solvers and change-makers? Our mentorship programs are designed for women to take those leadership skills and capacity to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges.
A critical issue the world faces today is a rising population. Hunger likewise is increasing and we cannot satisfy global appetites with the available food.
Women make decisions about food every day, whether for themselves, their families or their communities. This includes how women are buying food, storing food at home and thinking about food waste.
The Global Mentorship Program for Women Feeding the Future
Women Feeding the Future is an ambitious program. It is designed to support women in taking the lead to solve problems around growing food, food waste, food recycling and upcycling, meaning taking what would be waste and making it something useful. The program educates women to think about important questions, such as:
- Is agriculture saving or destroying the planet?
- Is agriculture exhausting the land?
- Are there alternative ways to think about food, hunger, upcycling and recycling?
- Can we think about creating more avenues around food or protein that is being manufactured in the lab?
We know we have to think about alternative ways to produce food.
As a foundation, our goal is to create more avenues, activate the minds of women and give them enough information, tools and techniques to invent ideas that can change the world, ideas that can end hunger.
Many organizations around the world invest heavily in all areas of food production, storage and distribution. In order to end hunger, we have to think about self-sustainability in general. We have to think about technology playing an important part to navigate the demand.
This is our global mission. We are committed to putting women at the center of creating disruptive ideas. The Foundation brings in scientists, women scientists, academicians, corporate leaders, women who are homemakers and women farmers—they come together as a team to think about Food 4.0 and what that will really look like.
The Food 4.0 movement is the next big revolution. It is a revolution not only for feeding the future, but also a new way of sustaining and preserving our planet. It is an emerging trend, just like the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The future of food is changing as we are bringing in more machine and science in the food creation process.
In the Global Mentorship Program for Women Feeding the Future, we work with women ages 18-34 to discuss ideas that were previously unimaginable and have never been tried before. Our goal: To push the boundaries around food.
What are the mechanics of that mentorship?
The Global Mentorship Program for Women Feeding the Future is a six-week program. We typically receive 300-400 applicants in each program cycle. We keep the program limited to 50 participants, because we are creating a specific problem-solving cohort of individuals who are interested in understanding the role of women in food distribution, technology, sustainability and food production. The candidates should have a specific track record or a specific understanding of issues related to hunger and/or food production, storage, food cycling or distribution. Individuals selected bring expertise or have a special skill in activism to be part of this cohort.
We invite industrial leaders and academicians to talk about different trends. This six-week program is designed to explore our professional passions around food and then understand the mechanics of food and the future of food from experts. That part of the program runs almost three weeks. Then, the last two weeks are dedicated to working on specific, potentially disruptive ideas. We then match participants with mentors. Our participants become part of our network. Many times, they form alliances and connections with each other or form organizations that advocate for a new kind of future for food.
For example, we advocate and teach food upcycling. Much food that we bring into our households is wasted.
Oftentimes, we bring in food scientists to teach how to repurpose food by enhancing the flavor. When a group of individuals start on a project like this, they often look at a way of rewriting the rules—thinking about not just recycling, but also upcycling. Even before you think, “I’m going to waste this” or “maybe I should just use this to feed my plant, not my stomach,” you think of how you can preserve and give more life to that food.
Many small interventions can transform the food ecosystem and, ultimately, food production, the intensity of demand, climate change, soil exhaustion and degradation and water shortages. These interventions can have a meaningful impact.
How do you get the word out about this work?
We publish reports after each cohort. These are available to organizations and individuals who are looking for ways to create interventions in their own households and communities in a way that is cost-effective and doable.
What is the takeaway about the impact of Women Feeding The Future?
With a big global problem like this, one often feels that they are not in a position to make a difference. But that’s the shift we are looking to make. Women all over the world are making 80% of the decisions around food. Women control $20 trillion of consumer spending and that’s going to increase to $30 trillion in the next two years. And we are seeing that in many developing parts of the world, women are gaining more access to land. That means they will have more opportunity to play a leadership role in the next movement around how food is produced.
So, yes, we produce reports that are readily available. And often the reports trigger conversations with partner organizations that are interested in coming in and learning about this innovative program. These reports are available on our website.
What else should we know about the mission of World Woman Foundation?
One of the most important things that we've done is bringing in women farmers to teach leadership. It’s time to put women farmers on the global centerstage to talk about gender equality. I think having women farmers at all tables where decisions are being made about food can be transformative. And women farmers are extremely entrepreneurial. Post-COVID, I think we will see local economies re-evaluate and recalibrate their investments in farming.
Those people who are solving real problems every day should be at the table to make future food decisions. I don’t think these are side conversations; these are central to the ideas to reimagine a post-COVID world. That’s where we will see the shift happening and women taking the lead in solving some of humanity’s greatest challenges, including hunger. That’s how we can think about an equal future by 2030.