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FAO side event at CSW61 highlights ways to empower women through nutrition policies

Co-hosted by the governments of Argentina, Canada, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, in collaboration with FAO, UNICEF, UN Women, WHO and the World Bank, the side event discussed the economic impact of women’s malnutrition, underscoring how targeted measures to improve women’s nutritional status can mean major gains in economic development.


“At least 12 of the 17 SDGs contain indicators that are highly relevant for nutrition, reflecting nutrition’s central role in sustainable development. Improved nutrition is the platform for progress in health, education, employment, and positively correlates with female empowerment. On the other hand, malnutrition is linked to poverty and inequality”, stated Dr. Nata Menabde, Executive Director of the WHO Office at the United Nations in her opening remarks. Dr. Menabde stressed that nutrition is critical for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, and is thus an important area for intervention, as lack of action can affect the economy and GDP of each country.

In her keynote address, H.E. Mrs. Esther Lungu, the First Lady of Zambia highlighted that the contribution of women in work and in their homes is often unpaid and unrecognized: “The story of women throughout the world is a story of an uphill struggle for equal opportunities, equal access, equal rights, and empowerment […] a story of overcoming challenges”. Mrs. Lungu also stressed the need for comprehensive policies in nutrition, health, sustainable food systems, education, labour and social protection and emphasized the necessity of inclusive governance, international cooperation and political will.

A video message from H.E. Ms. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the First Lady of Canada, cited both poverty and a lack of education as key factors in preventing women’s economic empowerment and development. Ms. Trudeau expressed Canada’s commitment to nutrition investments targeting women, adolescents and girls.

Ms. Carla Mucavi, Director of the FAO Liaison Office to the UN noted that FAO is working with numerous stakeholders to use the UN the Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025 to speed up improved nutrition results in the context of the Second International Conference on Nutrition and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The added value of the Nutrition Decade is to highlight the urgency to act, establish a focused period to set, track and achieve impact and outcomes to generate and implement country-specific nutrition commitments for action. Ms. Mucavi stressed that women are in a unique position to improve nutrition in their households, as for example in sub-Saharan Africa, where they provide 60-80% of the food production labour.

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