The 56th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations (UN) is gathering from February 27 through March 9 to discuss and debate this year’s theme of “the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development, and current challenges.” The commission will develop a set of “agreed conclusions” that offers priorities for member countries in their work to improve the lives of women. The commission meets with a different theme each year and draws up a set of conclusions. The NGO community provides statements to the Commission which help the body to create a starting document from which it works throughout the two weeks.
A group of women gathered last Saturday, through an organization of religious NGOs called Ecumenical Women at the United Nations (www.ecumenicalwomen.org), to review the document as it relates to hunger. They discovered that while the document names nutrition and food security as issues in the introductory materials, nutrition is not brought up again in the recommended actions for the countries. Nutrition is critical, especially for women and children in the window between pregnancy and the child’s second birthday. Without proper nutrition, pregnancy is more risky, children can suffer from permanent cognitive and physical delays that can ultimately lead of a 2-3% reduction in GDP in countries where malnutrition is widespread. It is particularly important for women to know the importance of nutrition and have the power to choose healthy food both in the market and in their farms.
Ecumenical Women is advocating for including language about nutrition in both the food security and the health sections of the agreed conclusions. They will advocate for these changes as they meet with country delegations to the commission and as they ask questions in briefings offered by these country delegations.
Nancy Neal, associate for denominational women’s organization relations, Bread for the World