The World Food Program addresses hunger and promotes food security
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) in Sri Lanka launched their new joint project in Colombo on November 26, as the agencies commenced their activities highlighting the ‘Global 16 days of activism against gender based violence campaign’
USD 458,000 ( LKR 81.9 million) has been contributed by the Government of Denmark, to the UN World Food Program for this initiative to empower women through nutrition and to promote gender equality.
Human rights violations, such as gender based violence, arise due to lack of education, empowerment and adequate nutrition. The project focuses on empowering women entrepreneurs by improving their skills. This will in turn enhance their income, ultimately providing them with nutritional security.
Six districts including Monaragala, Matale, Mullaitivu,Mannar, Batticaloa and Nuwara Eliya, have been handpicked to implement this project. The areas have been selected based on the vulnerability of the residing communities to climate and nutritional shock.
Sri Lanka is currently number four on the global risk index for climate shock and the communities in the said districts have high indicators for nutritional insecurity. The initiative will be carried out in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine.
Lack of adequate exposure and access to sexual and reproductive health is also an underlying cause of gender based violence. Educating women on reproductive health and rights, and paving access to reproductive health services is vital to ensure an end to women being victims.
" Sri Lanka is currently number four on the global risk index for climate shock"
“Women eat last” is a way of life in many areas around the globe, especially in Asia. In socio-economically challenged families women have been noted to sacrifice their meals for their male family members, thus compromising their health and nutrional well/being, resulting in a myriad of reproductive health issues and susceptibility to gender based violence. Educating women to be aware of nutritional impact is hoped to instil proper gender balance in households, and is vital to building a healthy community.
Livelihood programmes designed to help people to be sustainable entrepreneurs have already been planned with the involvement of communities and government officials, and will be implemented in a way that it becomes ‘seed money’, and the people would be able to carry it forward.
This project is designed to work in a synergised manner and would be layered on, on other livelihood projects being carried out by the WPF and UNFPA.
The World Food Program is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and is the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. The organization has been operational in Sri Lanka since 1968.
“Fostering social and economic empowerment among Sri Lanka’s women would help break the vicious intergenerational cycle of malnutrition,” said Brenda Barton, The UN WFP Representative. “Poor nutrition early in life reduces learning potential, increases reproductive and maternal health risks, and lowers productivity”.
Despite Sri Lanka’s significant achievements in terms of overall health indicators, one in six children under the age of five is too thin for their height indicating a critical public health situation, while almost one in six newborns has low birth weight.
This indicates a vicious cycle of malnutrition and the need for improved maternal nutrition and nutrion in general.
“Substantial evidence demonstrates that better nourished girls are more likely to remain in school. If young people are also provided with comprehensive knowledge and access to services on sexual and reproductive health, it would unleash the potential of young people to make important contributions to the social and economic development of their communities and the country overall.”
The United Nations Population Fund, formerly known as United Nations Fund for Population Activities, ‘calls for the realization of reproductive rights for all and supports access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services including voluntary family planning, maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education.’
"This project is designed to work in a synergised manner"
Health and well-being
“UNFPA is delighted to start this new collaborative project with WFP, which looks at health and well-being of women and girls in a holistic way. Through this project, we aim to expand choices for women and girls in Sri Lanka, part of the efforts to leave no one behind,” said Ritsu Nacken, UNFPA Representative.
The 16 days of activism campaign begins on November 25 every year, marking the international day for the elimination of violence against women, and concludes on December 10, which is the International Human Rights Day. Despite it being called a 16- day activism campaign, the initiatives and projects launched are actively carried out throughout the year to achieve the set goals.
The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. One in three women is a victim of gender based violence, worldwide. Gender based violence abuse has become a pandemic that needs to be addressed and contained, and such projects are a step forward.
A theme for this campaign is set annually based on the most recent and relevant social issues that need to be addressed. The theme for the year 2018 is “Orange the world”: End violence against women #HearMeToo. Iconic buildings around the globe will be “oranged” to attract attention to the cause, to create a future free of gender based violence.
"The 16 days of activism campaign begins on November 25 every year"