Sunday, January 31, 2010

Women-Only Food Sites in Haiti Presume that Women Are Better at Sharing

Women are better than men at sharing? A new policy in Haiti bypasses men and gives food only to women. The U.N. says that experience teaches that food is shared more fairly by women. Disaster or not, women do the cooking and are in charge of distributing food, yet miraculously women manage to think of others before themselves. Yes, women as a group tend to put the needs of children, the sick, the elderly, husbands and boyfriends, above their own needs.

In the U.S., claims that women are better at anything are generally mocked. In the U.S., setting up distribution sites where only women can get food would be called discrimination against men. In the U.S., alleged gender neutral law pretends that women and men are the same. Thankfully, the rules of this cowboy nation do not apply everywhere.

Already the new policy has seen good results. Instead of violently loud and chaotic crowds clamoring for food -- with violent and greedy young men trampling over women and children in order to get themselves to the head of the line -- women now form polite and orderly lines at women-only sites. (CNN broadcast, 1/31/10)

The experience of humanitarian workers in disaster relief is that men usually outmuscle women for food and other aid at distribution points in the desperate days and weeks following a catastrophe, according to various U.N. officials. In response, the United Nations has devised various programs aimed at bypassing men to get aid directly to women and from them to their dependents. . . The World Food Program, or WFP, has developed women-only centers for food distribution in Haiti. WFP spokesman Marcus Prior said Saturday that 10,000 women a day will be given 55-pound bags of rice at 16 WFP distribution points around the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

"Traditionally, WFP has always sought to deliver food into the hands of women as they are more likely to ensure that the food is divided up amongst those who really need it and can't fend for themselves," said Prior in an email interview from the Haitian capital.

"Our experience around the world is that food is more likely to be equitably shared in the household if it is given to women."