Gender equity starts at the dinner table

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Adolescent girls are the most at risk of not being able to access a nutritious diet. Ensuring they do is key to economic development, peace and stability


By David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


girls-eatingImagine a family sitting down for a meal – a father, a mother who’s nursing a little baby, a school-aged boy and an adolescent girl. Who has the most on their dinner plate? Maybe Dad, since he’s the biggest and has a physically demanding job. Then the boy – I had two of them and sometimes it was amazing how much they could eat. Then after that, the two slimmest: Mom and daughter, right?

But this so-called cultural norm is exactly the opposite of what ought to happen, and that’s why a new focus on the nutrition needs of adolescent girls could make a big impact on the future of so many developing nations around the world.

Adolescent girls, even more than boys, require the most nutritious diet possible, loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, along with meat, fish and dairy to give them the key vitamins and minerals that help them to grow. Unfortunately, in far too many areas, the needs of adolescent girls are rarely prioritised. Continue reading