Princess Zeid emphasizes importance of nutrition in achieving gender equality and SDGs

Princess Sarah Zeid visited the Nutrition International office in Ottawa on Nov. 21, 2017.

Ottawa, CANADA – Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan has been a fierce and vocal advocate for maternal and newborn health and a global champion for women and girls’ rights for more than 20 years. She is the founder and co-chair of Every Woman Every Child Everywhere, a framework which led to the integration of humanitarian and fragile settings in the United Nations’ Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.

Princess Sarah Zeid believes that nutrition is the foundation of human well-being and development. She agrees with many other women and children advocates that governments should contribute more funding to this sector to provide women, adolescent girls and children greater access to better nutrition to more effectively transform their lives and create the perfect conditions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

“I have seen the cycle of poverty that cannot be broken unless you have this bedrock of good nutrition. Without good nutrition, education won’t be the thing that lifts you. All of these elements have to come together otherwise we continue to see this downward spiraling and we will not reverse this, we will not break out of cycles of conflict, of dependency, of poverty. We will not have a turnaround of economic progress unless we do things very differently and unless we include nutrition at the heart of everything that we do.”

On a recent trip to Ottawa, Canada, Princess Sarah Zeid delivered the keynote address at Nutrition: Cornerstone of Gender Equality, a one-day conference on nutrition’s role in achieving gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals. Speaking to a packed room of over one hundred people, including senior representatives from international development organizations, she cautioned against viewing women solely in terms of parts in need of repair. She called cooperation across sectors essential in helping women truly succeed.  And declared nutrition foundational in building that success.

“In every sector, and in every setting, our responses must focus on and for the entirety of women’s bodies and needs, and the bedrock of her needs – my needs – is of course, good nutrition. Without which we negate the positive impact of all other interventions and support, and condemn the world’s most vulnerable to a cycle of dependency, failure and frustration which will last for generations.”

She called for women to be full participants in their own health and for barriers between organizations’ mandates to be broken down in order for true progress to be made in advancing gender equality.

 “We must do more for more and we must do it better. We must break down traditional silos that limit progress and promote partnerships putting the well-being of women and girls at the centre of all of our efforts.”

During her visit, Princess Sarah Zeid also joined Canadian nutrition champions at a parliamentary gathering hosted by Member of Parliament Pam Damoff, organized in conjunction with Results Canada and Nutrition International. In her keynote, she acknowledged how the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the implementation of the Feminist International Assistance Policy have directly contributed to Canada’s transformation into a global beacon for promoting gender equality and women and girls’ rights.

“Thank you Canada for your commitment to be a power of good. Canada is truly the leader on women and girls.”

Princess Sarah Zeid has been at the forefront of women empowerment and has championed the poor for more than 20 years. She sits on the Board of Directors at the Women’s Refugee Commission, serves on the Advisory Board for the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, and is a member of both the UNHCR’s Advisory Group on Gender, Forced Displacement and Protection, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health Advisory Committee. She uses her platform and personal experiences to advance the lives of women and girls across the globe.