No girl should be held back by poor nutrition

12 Marzo 2018
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World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), Nutrition International (NI) and Canada partner to improve girls’ nutrition and help every girl reach their potential

(New York, USA) Lower social status, poverty, and lack of access to education mean that adolescent girls are more likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies than boys.

Today the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)Nutrition International (NI) and Global Affairs Canada are launching a partnership to ensure that no girl is held back by poor nutrition –no matter where she’s from.

Girl Guides and Girl Scouts representing WAGGGS at the Commission on the Status of Women are meeting with Canadian Minister of International Development, Marie-Claude Bibeau, to launch this new partnership and are sharing how nutrition inequality impacts girls where they live.

Through fun and practical activities girls in Bangladesh, Madagascar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tanzania will learn about the importance of eating the right variety, and the right amount, of food.

These five countries were chosen because of their high rates of adolescent malnutrition, which can impede girls’ physical development and affect their school performance.


As well as developing educational activities, the partnership will support girls to drive change in their communities and to speak out about the health and nutrition issues that matter where they live.

Social norms, traditions and disparities in household work all increase girls’ chances of being malnourished.

Together with other Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in attendance at the launch, Helga, 27, a Girl Guide volunteer and Medical Doctor in Tanzania, shared how traditional beliefs lead to poor nutrition for girls in her country:

“Some tribes in Tanzania have many harmful customs. Girls and women are often not allowed to eat certain food. Pregnant women are not allowed to eat eggs. Sometimes they are told not to eat certain parts of the chicken. Many families grow vegetables for sale, but rarely leave a portion for the family. They are all sold or only eaten by the father and boys of the family.”

This partnership will help to tackle the gender-specific impact of poor nutrition. It will challenge harmful practices and start important conversations about girls’ nutrition.

“Girl Guides have a tradition of speaking out for change. Nutrition in adolescent girls is a vital topic that needs to be highlighted. I want girls to know that we are equal. We need to agree that certain beliefs and traditions that undermine women should be completely eliminated,” said Helga.

“Canada is proud to celebrate the launch of this new partnership between Nutrition International and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. This partnership is a clear example of what Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy looks like in action” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canadian Minister for International Development and La Francophonie. ”By building the nutrition knowledge and skills of girls in their communities – and by harnessing the power of the global movement of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts we can make a significant difference in the fight against malnutrition working from the ground up.”

“Girls are not only disproportionately affected by malnutrition but also hold the key to ending it.  This new partnership will bring together the drive, determination, and reach of the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and the capability and expertise of Nutrition International to create a movement of young nutrition leaders who will challenge the status quo” said Joel Spicer, President and CEO of Nutrition International.

While the nutrition program is being piloted in five countries, it is hoped to be scaled up and to potentially reach all 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts worldwide. 

This partnership  was made possible through an investment by the Government of Canada. 


About Nutrition International

Founded in 1992, Nutrition International is a global organization dedicated to delivering proven nutrition interventions to those who need them most. Working in partnership with countries, donors and implementers, their experts conduct cutting-edge nutrition research, support critical policy formulation, and integrate nutrition into broader development programs. In more than 60 countries, primarily in Asia and Africa, Nutrition International nourishes people to nourish life. 

Find out more on our Nutrition Programme web pages

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