The World Food Prize: Where are the women?


Jemimah Njuki

This year’s World Food Price has been awarded to plant scientist Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, for his scientific research that led to a prodigious increase in world wheat production – by more than 200 million tons – building upon the successes of the Green Revolution. In the citation, Dr Rajaram has been awarded the prize for his breakthrough breeding technologies have had a far-reaching and significant impact in providing more nutritious food around the globe and alleviating world hunger. Dr. Rajaram succeeded Dr. Norman Borlaug in leading CIMMYT’s wheat breeding program, and developed an astounding 480 wheat varieties that have been released in 51 countries on six continents and have been widely adopted by small- and large-scale farmers alike.

The prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. Individuals are awarded without regard to race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs. But where are the women in the World Food Prize list of laureates?

Looking at the list of laureates from 1987 to 2014, a total of 40 individuals have been awarded the prize, from plant geneticists, breeders, policy researchers, livestock sciences, former presidents and even those that have worked on organizational transformation.