New Delhi, February, 22 – Madame Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, in India as part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first official visit to the country, met with 12 adolescent schoolgirls to hear about their goals, and the barriers they face in achieving them.
Good nutrition is key to helping girls grow to be educated and empowered women. Yet they face many barriers to accessing the nutrition they need. Globally, more than one billion women and girls are malnourished. In India, more than half of women and adolescent girls suffer from anaemia, depleting their energy levels and negatively impacting their ability to learn – or even attend school.
Nutrition International’s Right Start program, funded by Canada, aims to support India’s priority for addressing malnutrition, combatting anaemia, and educating girls. The $11.5 million CAD program focuses on women, girls, and children to ensure they have the nutrition they need to be healthy, grow, and learn. With targeted interventions such as fortification, nutrition education, training of health workers and weekly iron and folic acid (WIFA) supplementation, this collaboration aims to reach almost seven million girls to reduce incidences of anaemia.
The schoolgirls, currently benefiting from the Right Start program, spoke about the impact the initiative has had on their energy levels and education. “When I learnt about anaemia, I discovered I had all the symptoms. I used to feel lethargic and could not concentrate in class. But since I have started taking iron and folic acid tablets every week, for the past one year I am able to understand my lesson much better. I have started playing outdoors every evening and I don’t feel tired like I used to,” said Thakor Saloni Varjesang, one of the girls who traveled from Gujarat, as she addressed the crowd in Hindi.
As part of the event, Madame Grégoire Trudeau and Minister Sajjan also launched the Asian component of Nutrition International’s She’ll Grow Into It campaign. Nutrition International globally launched the campaign in Ottawa on the International Day of the Girl Child in order draw attention to the importance of good nutrition in unlocking a girl’s potential and empowering her to grow, learn, earn and lead.
The campaign also serves to challenge social norms and highlight that a girl’s future can and should be powerful, progressive and limitless – everywhere. To hear the girl’s stories visit the Nutrition International website at: www.nutritionintl.org/shellgrowintoit.