By Ndey Sowe
Fatou Kinteh the Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare has said 47.6% women are illiterate with inequalities at the labor markets and various sectors of society.
She added that gender inequalities and illiteracy also unfortunately contribute to vulnerability, malnutrition and reduced resilience for women to address hunger, food security and malnutrition.
She added globally 493 million adult women are illiterate and account for nearly 75% of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults.
According to her, to do things differently “we need more women at the table when we discuss the interface and the importantance of health, nutrition, education, agriculture, the economy as well as other sectors, just as an example 46% of girls in the Gambia are married before the age of 18”.
She remarked that all children must be given the right to learn and to become whatever they choose to be, and adolescent girls should not be child brides who do not complete their education.
“Girls are powerful agents of socio-economic change, if children suffer malnourished deficiencies; they are likely to suffer cognitive development and behavioural challenges”. She said.
She further said a stunted girl is likely to become a stunted adolescent and later as stunted women, apart from direct effects on her health and productivity, adult stunting and underweight will increase the chance that her children will be born with Lower Birth Weight.
She underscored the need to do things differently; adding : “Our emphasis on doing things differently should include investment in social protection expanded through school feeding where collaboration with other sectors, such as education, health, gender, agriculture, environment, finance could converge for growth and sustainability for all our children would go towards achieving the SDG’s and contributing positively to economic growth.”
Therefore she noted that the study also concluded that the school feeding programme is a viable and a worthwhile investment, as every single $ USD invested brought $6 USD in return in the long term.
“The government and partners should prioritize increased investment in our human capital by increasing expenditure of gender-fair health/nutrition and school feeding interventions”. She remarked.
She said breaking the cycle of hunger and malnutrition is critical to unlocking the development potential of development countries in this continent particularly for our nation.
Fatou Kinteh, the Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare was speaking recently at the launching of the ‘cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study report on the Gambia.
The COHA study report discloses and explains the social and economic impact of child malnutrition in the Gambia through the examination of three prime sector; health, education, and productivity and also estimates the cost of under nutrition on the economy of the country.