Guest Blog: Young Albertan Champions Nutrition

Monday, September 10th, 2018 in Blog

We’ve invited Anayat Sidhu, a long-time citizen advocate to share her story about her involvement with RESULTS and the recent advocacy initiatives that she took part in.

By Anayat Sidhu, Youth Advocate

Too often there is a heavy reliance on statistics to prove a point. When in fact, behind each of those numbers is a person whom often is forgotten or overlooked, a person with a potentially powerful story to be told. In this blog, I will share my story of how I became a long time citizen advocate, and how I came to realize that seeing the people behind the statistics is so crucial to address the gaps in global poverty and curbing rates preventable infections and deaths of millions.

I have spent years working towards life-changing initiatives such as closing the gaps when it comes to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of life-threatening diseases like TB, as well as the empowerment of women and girls through education, nutrition, and more. In the past four months, my experiences in advocacy exponentially expanded, spanning across Canada and even beyond borders. This began prior to the G7 Summit (June 8 & 9) in Charlevoix, Quebec.  

When the G7 leaders announced a historic $3.8 billion investment to girls’ education in crisis, I was proud of our advocacy work. To know that the G7 countries were prioritizing educated, heard and empowered girls and women, supported with resources and opportunities they need to be agents of change in their own lives, reassured me that a better world was indeed just around the corner. It reminded me that making progress towards gender equality was everybody’s business and that it could not be business as usual. Thus, the journey is not yet over.

Anayat Sidhu pictured with Kimberly Flowers (Director, Humanitarian Agenda and Global Food Security Project)

In July, I was honoured to be the only Canadian representative among several other youth from across the world to be part of the Scale up Nutrition (SUN) Civil Society Network Youth Advocates training in Washington DC. The training was aimed at helping me become a stronger advocate to end malnutrition in all its forms by 2030 as recognized globally by organizations such as the United Nations. Malnutrition includes being underweight for one’s age, too short for one’s age (stunted), dangerously thin (wasted), deficiency in vitamins and minerals, and more.

During this week-long training, I learned more about malnutrition and how it affects people throughout the globe. As part of the training, we met with representatives from the US and Zambian Governments, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 1000 Days, USAID, Nutrition International, The World Bank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Global Citizen, ACTION Global Health Advocacy Partnership, the SUN Movement, and more. The overarching take away from these meetings was that both global-led and country-led political and financial commitments to nutrition goals are crucial in reducing malnutrition. Involving an approach that is multi-sectoral that engages multiple ministries and agencies to allow for the most effective and comprehensive strategy for measurable results by 2030.

Anayat Sidhu pictured with the World Bank Group Nutrition Team.

During the training and meetings, I focused on improving nutrition for adolescent girls, as well as child and maternal health. This focus resonated with me because when I lived in India for a few years, I saw the impact that malnutrition broadly had on lives of my peers and citizens in India. I understood then and I better understand now that malnutrition comes in many forms and it is still evident in most countries around the world. To add on to what I learned, “Investing in nutrition gives children the foundation for a healthy, productive life [that promotes] sustainable global progress in health and development. The 2015 Global Nutrition Report indicates that every $1 of investment in nutrition yields $16 in benefits across health and productivity.” (The World Bank, 2016)

To conclude, the work that I want to do around malnutrition moving towards 2030 connects with the fact that I am a citizen of a donor country and the work I do is to raise awareness for those who are across the border from me. I will continue to address efforts that not only the Canadian government should make, but also civil society networks, educators, academia, multilateral institutions, the media, the private sector, and of course young people like myself.

Furthermore, with a women and girls centered campaign in progress that works to shine a light on the importance of nutrition when it comes to women and girls, I want to showcase the importance of continuing to talk about women and girls. Their advancement is key as when they are afforded both knowledge and power to make decisions related to nutrition or have an income that enables them to purchase more nutrient-rich food, the nutritional state of themselves and their children improves extraordinarily.

There’s evidently a lot more work that we need to do collectively. Christine Hogan, Executive Director for Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean at the World Bank Group reminded me, “There will be many times that you feel like overcoming challenges is not easy, but the thing is that they aren’t supposed to be easy. That is why when we succeed—and we will if we work together—we all benefit exponentially. Therefore, you must not give up because equality creates something greater for everyone and it begins with advocacy from young people like you.”

Anayat Sidhu pictured with Christine Hogan

 

About Anayat Sidhu

Anayat Sidhu is a born and raised Albertan. She is a community leader, passionate volunteer, women’s empowerment advocate, and engaged citizen. While working towards her undergraduate degree, she has been elected by her University’s student body to complete her second year-term on the University of Calgary Students’ Union and University Senate. Her passions lie in community organizing and bringing people together. Along with receiving several awards for her work in sustainable environmental initiatives, along with child and maternal health, her efforts don’t end there. She leads the first YYC Speakers Bureau and encouraged youth engagement in the 2017 elections that happened in Calgary. In her spare time, she can be found cycling, exploring new restaurants and sipping coffee at local cafes.

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*RESULTS Canada strives to put the spotlight on citizens by showcasing the important work done by hundreds of active Canadian advocates through guest blogs. The blogs are authored by citizen advocates and reflects their personal views and not necessarily those of RESULTS Canada. If you would like to be showcased in a guest blog, please get in touch with us.

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