Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero today said women play a crucial role in the nourishment of their families and communities.
At the Bread for the World’s National Gathering 2011, Ms. Clinton said Bread and Concern Worldwide, whose intentionality and commitment to the hungry have made real and tangible differences.
“And yet, what we know to be true in theory has yet to be proven in practice. Tonight, after a full day’s work, millions will go to sleep with empty stomachs. And this year, “many” millions of children will die from under-nutrition.”-Ms. Otero
According to Ms. Otero, hunger strikes first at the individual. She aid too often, its early victims are women and children. She noted hunger strikes even at communities and entire societies.
“Improved nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood is a critical driver for economic growth and poverty reduction at the national level. A child’s cognitive and physical development is improved.”-Ms. Otero
Ms. Otero highlighted that investments in nutrition are highly cost-effective, and are paramount to the success of virtually all of the Millennium Development Goals.
“A group of leading scientists and economists, including several Nobel laureates stated in the 2008 Copenhagen Consensusthat combating under-nutrition is “the” best investment in international development.”-Ms. Otero
Ms. Otero stressed that women play a crucial role in the acquisition of food and reaping of harvests. She noted gender gaps in accessing agricultural and financial resources inhibit a woman’s ability to provide and to prosper.
According to Ms. Otero, economic projections by the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, suggest that closing the gender gap will increase agricultural output and produce a related decrease in “the number of undernourished people” in vulnerable nations.
“To close this gender gap, USAID funds programs such as the Women Farmer’s Advancement Network (WOFAN), which seeks to relieve hunger and poverty by providing training and educational resources to rural women working in agriculture.”-Ms. Otero
Ms. Otero also noted that clean water is a critical component of nutrition efforts. Forty percent of the world’s people lack access to safe drinking water, and water-borne diseases are the leading cause of death in children under five.
Ms. Otero highlighted that by developing clean water resources through the WASH (Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene) in Schools Program and promoting exclusive breastfeeding, along with appropriate complementary feeding for infants, the world is
taking a multi-pronged approach to ensuring both adequate nutrition and food safety for the world’s youngest and most vulnerable.