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Sheelu Francis

On World Food Day, IATP and the Bell Museum of Natural History hosted Sheelu Francis of the Tamil Nadu Women's Collective, honoree at the 2013 Food Sovereignty Prize.

The Tamil Nadu Women's Collective in southern India has organized over 100,000 marginalized women, many in unofficial worker unions or small collective farms, to strengthen their food sovereignty and thus their broader power. In addition to organizing locally and nationally on issues from their own families' food security to land rights to opposition to genetically modified seeds, the collective he encourages cultivation of native millet varieties—the hardy traditional grain is nutritious, drought-resistant and easier to grow in the region than wheat or rice. Our guest, Sheelu Francis, is the president of the collective and will be honored at the Food Sovereignty award ceremony on behalf of the collective in New York on October 15, 2013.

The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) created World Food Day in 1979 to bring attention to the profound issues of hunger and malnutrition in the world. As the conditions that fuel hunger intensify, it is more vital than ever to find creative and constructive ways to engage people everywhere on the challenges of feeding and nourishing a world population of 7 billion in ways that are fair, sustainable, healthy and environmentally sound.

The event was supported by IATP, the Bell Museum of Natural History, the India Association of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota's Institute for Global Studies to celebrate World Food Day.