Meet the women of the CSN: Anayat Sidhu

Women's Nutrition, Youth Leaders

Youth Leader for Nutrition, Canada

My work in nutrition

I cannot overemphasize enough my enthusiasm for being a part of the YL4N program. To be able to engage with individuals that I greatly admire every day is a true honour. Additionally, the chance to learn from others is what I highly value. To be able to learn about their journeys and their devotion to knowledge transition and communication within the nutrition community as a whole is invaluable. In the past, I struggled often (and still do) to break down the barrier between things such as scientific research and public understanding, however, nutrition advocacy has allowed me to grow my understanding of these topics immensely.  

Women’s nutrition is particularly important because it plays a crucial step towards promoting equality in every aspect of socio-economic life to reduce poverty around the globe. Furthermore, when taking into consideration the field of human dignity, nutrition is a factor of immeasurable importance. Human dignity includes not only a broad view of humanitarian assistance but, also ensures healthcare systems are accessible and meet the needs of women and girls globally, through the sharing of resources and services that combat malnourishment around the globe.

For example, in Canada, we view health as a human right. Thus, it should be the prerogative of all governments to apply this principle to those in high burden areas, in turn, making healthy lives a reality for many across the globe. Improved nutrition, particularly for women and girls, is a critical element in the drive for gender equality and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and Action Tracks.

Lastly, women play an important role in scaling up nutrition because when a healthy woman is in a position to take control of her own life, she can empower others around her to do the same. This, in turn, leads to healthy relationships around food where both women and girls can have better opportunities to earn, learn, grow and lead. 

The role of women

Being a woman has affected my career, as there has not been enough of a fundamental value placed on approaching and addressing gender inequalities. Therefore, I have had to recognize the disproportionate burden that I carry as a minority woman, which in turn does affect my health and wellbeing.

It was also apparent to me as a young girl living in India, that until inequalities against women and girls are diminished, they will remain a vulnerable group that is continually targeted. As the opportunities and potential of women and girls are restrained by malnutrition it has prevented me from being able to serve as a functional member of my community at times. Moreover, being a woman has often kept my voice from being heard. 

Hence, tackling malnutrition is not only beneficial for women and girls; it also helps in the overall reduction of poverty by allowing them to achieve more and contribute directly to the economy thereby supporting economic development.

As previously discussed, poverty and exclusion are the driving forces of health inequities, seen both in the general population and among women of reproductive age. The extent to which health inequities emerge is typically proportionate to the level of disadvantage. Both poverty and inequality are deeply intertwined, women and girls are known to face larger differential barriers and social exclusion. This in turn brokers fewer opportunities for them to address their rights, than those in more privileged positions. For this reason, we must all advocate on what we believe our respective country’s investments, priorities, and frameworks should be regarding nutrition while placing a focus on continually elevating and empowering women and girls globally. 

For example, the millions of dollars that Canada has already invested and will continue to invest in nutrition-centred initiatives do in turn shrink the disadvantages and challenges that women and girls face in areas ranging from gender-based violence, nutritional supplements, and sexual rights. With clear plans and devotion towards women and girls being free from inequalities, I do not doubt that we can facilitate inclusive and equitable growth for women and girls in high burden countries by way of addressing malnutrition by 2030.