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Women 'key to children's nutrition'

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Wednesday, 13 November 1996: Women must play a crucial role in curbing the crisis of malnutrition that contributes to the death of more than six million children under five every year, said UNICEF at the opening of the World Food Summit in Rome today. As guardians of food security for the family and principal care-givers of young children, women are key partners in efforts to improve child nutrition.

"By acknowledging the role of women in nutrition, the Summit can address the vital link between food security and strengthening of family nutrition, health and care. In our efforts to ensure food security, protecting women's rights and improving their health and nutrition is just as important as improved agricultural technology and trade," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy.

The four-day Summit, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), aims to renew the commitment of world leaders to stopping malnutrition and achieving lasting food security for all.

Ms. Bellamy stressed that improved child nutrition depends on improved child health and child care practice as well as the availability of food. UNICEF will continue to support community-based efforts to promote household food security, disease control and prevention, and sound child care and feeding practices, such as breastfeeding.

Malnutrition remains an impediment to development for women and children. While there have been improvements in many regions during the last five years, the number of malnourished children is actually rising in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

"The human rights of approximately 850 million people -- of whom 174 million are children -- are violated each day because their right to food security is not assured," said Ms. Bellamy. "I hope that one of the results of this summit will be a recognition of the importance of the empowerment of women to the effort to ensure sustainable improvements in child nutrition and a commitment to ensure that the right to food moves from rhetoric to reality."

UNICEF has contributed to the World Food Summit two fact sheets, entitled 'Urban livelihoods and food security' and 'The right to food: Beyond rhetoric', both available in Portable Document Format (PDF) from the FAO World Food Summit page listing such fact sheets.


Please email media@unicef.org with comments or requests for more information.


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