JFW Week 2016

Standing before an enthusiastic crowd of more than 600 people in Portland on March 24, JFW speaker Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda of Zimbabwe used words of wisdom from her father as the opening line to the fifth annual Justice for Women Lecture.

“Every breath you take should be an opportunity to learn, and an opportunity to teach,” she said.

The phrase was the perfect summary of her weeklong trip to Maine. Dr. Sibanda, a global leader in the sustainable farming movement and the fight to end hunger and food insecurity, visited Maine from March 21-25 as the lecturer for the Justice for Women Lecture Series, hosted by the University of Maine School of Law.

An acclaimedscientist, farmer, and activist, Dr. Sibanda spoke to diverse audiences throughout the week, including students from several Maine high schools, colleges, and postgraduate institutions. She spoke about poverty, malnutrition, climate change, and strategies to combat the root causes of food insecurity. On the flip side, Dr. Sibanda spent much of her week learning from local farmers, food bank staff members, policymakers and others about approaches to those same problems in Maine. She said she looked forward to sharing those lessons upon her return to Africa.

Dr. Sibanda has been CEO and head of mission of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) since 2004. In that role, she coordinates policy research and advocacy programs across 17 countries in Africa, focused on food security, climate change, and advances in agriculture.

“We have so much more in common than I thought,” Dr. Sibanda said. “I’ve learned a lot and I’ve been touched by the community.”

Among the highlights of Dr. Sibanda’s visit to Maine:

●      She visited with students at Deering High School in Portland, and received a key to the city from Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling.

●      She visited Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, and St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston, for tours and discussions about food insecurity and agriculture. She also joined the Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn as it launched the state’s first Community Food Charter.

●      She spoke to Bates College students, faculty, and members of the community, on the importance of nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

●      She delivered the fifth annual Justice for Women Lecture, presented by Maine Law at the Abromson Community Education Center in Portland, to a sold-out crowd.

She participated in a policy discussion about agriculture, economic development, and food insecurity. The event was held at Pierce Atwood in Portland and moderated by Dean Danielle Conway of Maine Law. Participants included U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and many others including local farmers.