Navigating The Gender Nutrition Frontier

Gender Nutrition Gap, Maternal Health, Women's Nutrition, Asia

A Personal Reflection on a Training Experience in Vietnam by Kansiime Ruth Praise

As I reflect on the transformative journey through “Closing the Gender Nutrition Gap” training organized by the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Network (SUN CSN) in collaboration with Vietnam Civil Society Alliance (CSA), a spectrum of experiences, insights, and cultural immersions flood my mind. The training, which seamlessly blended online sessions and an in-person exploration in Vietnam, not only broadened my horizons but left an indelible mark on my understanding of nutrition advocacy particularly for women and girls.

Embarking on a journey of enlightenment that introduced an action agenda, a roadmap tailored to address the intricate web of challenges hindering nutritional parity guided by luminaries in the nutrition spaces. Sessions delved into four action areas of healthy diets, care, gender equality, and multi-sectoral policy environments. What stood out for me was the cross-cultural exchange, where nations like Nigeria, India, and the East Asia Pacific region shared their experiences and approaches. The training echoed with a collective commitment to addressing the gender nutrition gap.

While in Vietnam, it was a multi-colored immersion into the heart of nutrition challenges and solutions. Hosted by the National Institute of Nutrition, the training provided a baseline on the nutritional landscape of women and girls in Vietnam. Not any different from Uganda’s situation, statistics indicated that 1 in 3 children from ethnic minorities suffer from stunting a brutal reality confronted me, unleashing the thought of urgency needed to improve the situation. Barriers of early and consanguineous marriages, coupled with the challenge of long distances – underscored the complexity of achieving equitable healthcare services as some of the notable factors contributing to malnutrition.

Participants at the National Institute for Nutrition

 The training also immersed me in the rich tapestry of Vietnamese cultural explorations and community impact beyond formal sessions. Visiting the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and nutrition clubs in Lac Son District, witnessing the symbiotic relationship between the district health center and nutrition clubs underscored the pivotal role of community-driven interventions in catalyzing tangible progress.

An engagement with the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs shed light on maternal policies aimed at redressing gender disparities, from breastfeeding initiatives to online tools combatting the insidious marketing of breast milk substitutes which underscored Vietnam’s proactive stance towards gender-inclusive nutrition policies igniting thoughts on potential applications in Uganda.

Participant sharing in one of the sessions

A pivotal moment was the visit to Tue Vien Organic farm, hosting a Salad Bowl competition. Here, the farm-to-table business model and women-led social enterprise were showcased. It was a testament to how sustainability, empowerment, and environmentally conscious practices can intersect in the realm of agriculture.

Traversing the corridors of Quang Ninh Obstetrics and Pediatrics Hospital, the marvels of modern healthcare unfolded. From the intricacies of human milk banking to the sanctum of neonatal intensive care units, a holistic approach to maternal and child health emerged as the cornerstone of Vietnam’s healthcare narrative.

Culminating at the National Institute of Nutrition, converging to chart actionable strategies for closing the gender nutrition gap. Reflecting on the myriad perspectives gleaned throughout the odyssey, I departed equipped with a renewed zeal to effectuate transformative change on a global scale. Yet, amidst the triumphs lay formidable challenges including anemia but in an effort to address the issues, there’s need to Implement targeted programs for girl’s, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age aimed at improving healthcare access in remote areas, focusing on mobile clinics and community health centers would be key. In conclusion, the training wasn’t just a learning experience; it was an odyssey into the heart of nutrition challenges and a call to action. As a nutrition advocate weaving the threads of change, it’s imperative to blend cultural sensitivity, grassroots empowerment, and global collaboration. The gender nutrition gap may be a formidable frontier, but armed with insights from Vietnam, I believe in the transformative power of collective action.

Participants visiting the National Assembly

Kansiime Ruth Praise is a highly motivated and dedicated professional with a background in Human Nutrition and Dietetics. With a fervent passion intersection in health, nutrition, climate change, and gender equality, she actively champions the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being). Ruth is renowned for her exceptional networking skills and thrives in collaborative environments, consistently demonstrating a strong aptitude for teamwork. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to excellence, she approaches her work with enthusiasm and a drive for meaningful impact.