TEDxManhattan Heroes: Danielle Nierenberg

Leading up to TEDxManhattan 2015, we've asked this year's speakers to introduce themselves by answering a few questions. This week's guest is Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder and president of Food Tank, expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues, and author and writer on subjects of gender, population, and global agriculture.

What's the topic you'll be speaking about?

Cultivating Empowerment for Women Farmers in the Developing World

Why is this important?

Women are the backbone of the world's food systems. Across the planet, women and girl farmers play a key role in producing, processing, marketing and retailing food and other agricultural products, and combined with their traditional primary responsibility for preparing family meals and for child-care, in creating a well-nourished world.

Women are the backbone of the world's food systems. Across the planet, women and girl farmers play a key role in producing, processing, marketing and retailing food and other agricultural products, and... in creating a well-nourished world.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cites evidence of a yield gap of about 20-30 percent between male and female farmers that is largely due to differential access to resources and inputs. It estimates that closing the yield gap could increase production in developing countries by 2.3-4 percent and reduce the number of hungry people in world by 100 to 150 million. When women have the right resources and tools, they have extraordinary potential.

Investing in women farmers brings unique multiplier effects. Increasing the share of income earned by women increases their bargaining power within the household, resulting in decisions that lead to better nutrition, health, and education outcomes for children, according to FAO. Similarly, the World Bank stresses that gender equality can lead to increased productivity; women's control of household resources can improve the livelihoods of the next generation; and empowering women as economic, social, and political actors can result in more representative decision-making.

More investment in women farmers will help alleviate hunger and poverty and will lead to more social justice and empowerment for girls and women.

What are the top 3 issues you've written about at Food Tank, and how can people get involved in working on them?

  • Family farmers, food waste, and workers.
    Food Tank is joining the World Rural Forum, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and over 360 civil society and farmer's organizations in supporting the International Year of Family Farming. Sign the petition to show your support for family farmers worldwide!
  • Tell Policy Makers: Support Young Farmers Around the Globe!
    Family farmers are key players in job creation and healthy economies, supplying jobs to millions and boosting local markets. Watch this video and share.
  • Take One Simple Step to Create a Better Food System--Today!
    The new report, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and draws on dozens of agriculture and sustainability experts. The report proves that family farms--farms or ranches owned and operated by families--are not only feeding the world, but also nourishing the planet. Read and share the report.

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Are there other projects you're also passionate about right now - either yours or someone else's?

YOUTH. We need to build the next generation of agricultural leaders--not just farmers and chefs in New York City--but agronomists, scientists, policymakers, advocates, and story tellers all over the world who are interested in the food system.

Which other 2015 TEDxManhattan speakers are you excited about hearing?

Marcel Van Oyen and Danny Meyer.

Which past speakers did you find particularly inspiring?

Brian Halweil, in 2011, gave the talk, "From New York to Africa, why food is saving the world." He discusses the problems with the global food system and the solutions he's found everywhere. "Food can eliminate hunger and obesity at the same time," said Halweil. "Some say food can be our greatest ally, if that's the case, then I say: long live the food movement."

Where can more information about your project be found?

The Food Tank website!

TEDxManhattan, "Changing the Way We Eat," will take place March 7, 2015, at the TimesCenter in New York City. Interested in joining the day? You can apply to attend, or host or attend a viewing party.