We’ve talked a lot about how Sport is a catalyst to communicate nutrition, health and child well-being across borders. Sport is the language without boundaries that unites and reaches all people regardless of geography, ethnicity or social status. Sport is the tool through which social inclusion and critical health messages can be learned.
And while all people can benefit from the tool of Sport, there is a group that, if given access and participation to Sport, turn the tool into a game-changer for all of society. That group are girls and women.
Reaching adolescent girls is key to breaking the cycle of malnutrition
Malnutrition and poverty act in synergy to perpetuate and reinforce such conditions across generations. Targeting adolescent girls is a promising way to break this cycle, especially because it provides the opportunity to influence the formation and establishment of healthy lifestyle habits that will stay with them for the rest of their lives and will be taught to future generations.
3 more reasons to focus on adolescent girls:
Girls face specific nutritional needs due to the onset of menstruation, which increases their iron requirements relative to boys.
Adolescence is when many lifestyle habits (both healthy and unhealthy) are formed that will stay with the person for life.
When adolescent girls get pregnant, the nutritional needs of the fetus and those of its still developing young mother compete for nutrients in the mother’s body; adolescent pregnancies are still common in parts of Asia, contributing to the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition.
Women are nutritional goalkeepers
Women are the nutritional gatekeepers for their children. Even before pregnancy, a women's health and nutritional status can impact the health of her children.
Malnourished mothers tend to deliver babies that are small-for-gestational age, and these children not only suffer the consequences of undernutrition, such as stunting, but are also more prone to becoming overweight or obese and of developing NCDs in later life, including but not limited to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Girls born small for gestational age are more likely to continue the vicious cycle of malnutrition by giving birth to babies that are small for gestational age.
Globally, 120 million women are underweight and, 50 percent of all pregnant women are anaemic. These women give birth to underweight children that are stunted from the start of life.
When Girls, play, everyone wins!
We know that girls’ involvement in sport makes them visible, gives them agency and helps them reach their full potential. Sport programs represent a highly effective, low-cost means of addressing some of the most pressing global development challenges – driving progress in improving child and maternal nutrition, sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and young women, fulfilling their rights, and achieving gender equity.
· When Girls can discover their power on the field, they unlock their potential off the field.
· Sport programs for girls take us one step closer to ensuring they are healthy, confident and empowered.
All photos ©World Vision.
This week, One Goal is at the Women Deliver Global Conference representing the importance of Sport, nutrition and reaching girls and women with access to both. Stay tuned all this week for stories and photos of how girls are getting in the game.
May is the month of action for Sport for Development by One Goal and partners. Join us all month long by following our weekly themes, engaging in important conversation online, participating in sport and advocating for sports access, organization of grassroots sporting activities, and child health for all.
Follow One Goal on Facebook.com/OneGoal and @OneGoalMovement on Twitter from 1-31 May for stories, photo, video and opportunities to make a difference for the next generation through Sport.
Read more posts from the month of action for Sport for Development from One Goal:
- The power of football:Life after fleeing Syria
- Why investing in Sport pays off
- Football gets boys and girls in the game in Nepal
- 3 programmes changing the game for kids
- Sport for Development in 5 videos
- How much do you know about Sport for Development? 7 tips
- Kicking off a month of action for Sport for Development