History of THP Advocacy

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Where Do We Go From Here?” speech of August 1967 to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

I often find it useful to be able to reference THP’s long history of working to influence the policies and programs of government, and to be able easily place my hands on some of our early writings that have helped define our programs.

THP was never designed to merely make small-scale philanthropic contributions – it is designed to pioneer solutions and advocate for their large-scale adoption. From the outset, THP has sought to work in partnership with all stakeholders — including governments, intergovernmental agencies and citizen groups – to forge a “common front” for the end of hunger.

Fundamentally, we recognize that hungry people themselves are the key resource to ending hunger. For them, “All Politics are Local.” The only society-wide pathway they have to achieve their aspirations is through partnership with responsive, accountable grassroots-level government.

Some milestones in this approach include:

  • 1978: Our co-founder John Denver appointed to the Presidential Commission on World Hunger.
  • 1979: THP catalyzed the creation of White House Summit on the famine in Cambodia
  • 1980: THP took the lead in mobilizing the US Government response to famine in Somalia, including testimony in Congress in early 1981 (featured image: Senate hearing on Somalia, Save the Children President and THP board member David Guyer with Joan Holmes).
  • 1980: THP organized a symposium including members of the US Congress and the head of USAID, that led to creating a US “Hunger Response Community” and held unified information booths at the national conventions of both parties.
  • 1981: Joan Holmes was appointed to the President of Costa Rica’s Hunger Task Force.
  • 1982: Joan Holmes meets with governmental leaders and UN offices across Europe to  begin our European chapters and their advocacy work.
  • 1983: Joan Holmes met with the Prime Minister of India to begin laying the groundwork to launch THP-India.
  • 1984: THP met with governments and civil society groups across Africa to ascertain the scope of the rising continent-wide famine, who pointed out that the famine was not a natural disaster, but a failure of policy. THP launches an Africa Initiative to begin to “reposition” agriculture and other social investments with African policy makers.
  • 1985: THP participated in the UN Conference on Women, and the UN Economic Commission on Africa. It held 19 events in Washington DC, including at USAID and the US Congress. The former head of India’s Planning Commission, Dr. M. S. Swaminathan, joins our Global Board.
  • 1986: THP facilitated the daily debriefings from the UN Special Session on Africa.
  • 1987: THP launched the Africa Prize for Leadership to  support Africa in coming to a new definition of leadership, including White House meetings with President Reagan.
  • 1988: THP launches its first on-the-ground programs in India in partnership with local governments covering 160 villages.
  • 1989: THP meets with Presidents and governmental staff of West African Countries, identifying key “missing link” to which we could focus – getting all sectors to plan together.
  • 1990: THP mobilizes worldwide support for the UN Summit for Children, and launches its new Indian national strategy in partnership with the Planning Commission with the Government of India, and in two states in partnership with state and local governments.
  • 1991: THP launches its programs in Senegal at the invitation of President Diouf, and in two more states of India.
  • 1992: THP reviews its Indian strategy with India’s Prime Minister and Planning Commission, and begins expanding into the “harder” states.
  • 1993: THP hosts the Africa Prize for Leadership in partnership with the Government of Japan during the first Tokyo Conference on African Development.
  • 1994: THP awards the Africa Prize to President Mandela with President Clinton. THP holds National Strategy Conference in Bangladesh with top leadership.
  • 1995: THP participates in Beijing Women’s Summit and Copenhagen Social Summit – publishing our case for multisectoral approaches to development (The New Human Agenda). THP launches THP-Ghana at the invitation of Ghana’s president.
  • 1997: THP reviews progress in India and formally commits to the “three pillar” strategy – including to never bypass local government. President Chissano of Mozambique receives the Africa Prize and later joins our Global board.
  • 1998: THP launches its women initiative, formulating gender initiatives in partnership with women activists from our regions – from both governmental and nongovernmental groups.
  • 1999: THP launches AWFFI, taking women food farmers to meet with their Presidents in a 2-year long campaign of “Torch Events”
  • 2000: THP launches the South Asia Initiative, including having the Government of Bangladesh declare National Girl Child Day, and strengthening women in local government in India.
  • 2001: THP attends UN AIDS Conference and takes up challenge of male responsibility in the AIDS epidemic.
  • 2002: THP develops its HIV/AIDS and Gender inequality workshop in partnership with local governmental and non-governmental experts from 8 countries.
  • 2003: THP-Bangladesh launches SHUJAN: a citizen’s alliance for good governance. Joan Holmes testifies before congress on the central importance of Women’s Empowerment to achieving the MDGs.
  • 2004: THP launches THP-Ethiopia in a national strategy conference with governmental and non-governmental leaders. Joan Holmes appointed to UN Millennium Project Hunger Task Force, and ensures gender issues is at the forefront.
  • 2005: THP carries out mass education on the Millennium Development Goals.
  • 2007: THP-Bangladesh head appointed to governmental task force to rewrite the local government law.
  • 2008: Food Price Crisis – THP invited to participate in UN and World Bank working groups on food security.
  • 2009: Obama leads G8 in tackling food security based on new approach of “country ownership:, and THP begins consulting with State Department.
  • 2010: THP helps the UN, US and Irish Government to formulate the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and 1,000 Day partnership, and takes chair of Food Security Working Group. THP attends first G20 Summit.
  • 2011: THP sets new strategy to seize opportunity of “country-ownership” to empower our country directors to get seats at the policy table.
  • 2012: THP’s partner in Peru help government resolve violent confrontations over land rights. THP hired by World Bank to review social accountability mechanisms in Bangladesh. THP-MX attends G20 Summit, THP on delegation of UN Commission on the Statue of Women and attends the Rio+20 Summit. THP launches partnership with UN Democracy Fund to promote participatory local democracy worldwide.
  • 2013: THP advocates worldwide for inclusion of our “lessons learned” into the UN Post-2015 Agenda, attends G20 Summit in Russia, publishes first State of Participatory Local Democracy Report at opening of UN General Assembly.

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