THE United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) says a average of 64% of women and adolescent girls in Zimbabwe are undernourished and overlooked.
Unicef’s latest report indicates that 15% of the women and girls are underweight, 12% have short height and at least 40% have anaemia.
Many adolescent girls and women, especially those from poorer households and living in rural areas, are not consuming nutritious food, Unicef has noted.
AT least 60% of women in urban areas are undernourished, while 68% in rural areas were malnourished.
“The state of nutrition in adolescent girls and women is deeply troubling. Undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and anaemia persist because teenage girls and women struggle to access nutritious diets, essential nutrition services and positive nutrition care practices, especially those living under the shadow of poverty, harmful norms and discriminatory laws,” partly read the Unicef report.
“Undernourished girls and women who become pregnant face the greatest risks to their health and survival and a higher likelihood of giving birth to small infants with low body nutrient reserves who suffer from wasting and stunting during the crucial early years of life.”
Unicef also indicated that the world is failing to respond with policies, programmes and services that make good nutrition a reality for millions of adolescent girls and women.
“Faster progress depends on a better understanding of the barriers to adequate diets, services and practices for adolescent girls and women's nutrition and how they should be removed,” said the organisation.
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Some of the barriers to promoting nutrition to women include harmful norms and practices perpetuating inequalities in accessing nutritious diets and care.
A review of evidence commissioned by Unicef found that women exposed to intimate partner violence either before or during pregnancy were more likely to have infants with low birth weight.
“Adolescent girls and women also lack decision-making power as they depend on their husbands or elder female relatives to access nutrition services.”