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Opinion: Young People Must Play A Role In Healing The Planet And Food Systems

International Youth Day this year pins our collective hope on the innovation and engagement of young people in healing the health of the planet by engaging them in how we grow, eat and manage food

Opinion: Young People Must Play A Role In Healing The Planet And Food Systems

New Delhi: The International Youth Day 2021 (IYD2021) comes at a critical moment. The latest IPCC report has declared a red alert on climate change, the burden of which will be inherited by youth. The equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs was lost around the world due to the pandemic, according to data from the International Labour Organization. Several reports suggest worrying levels of mental health issues among young people. International Youth Day this year pins our collective hope on the innovation and engagement of young people in healing the health of the planet by engaging them in how we grow, eat and manage food.

Also Read: COVID-19 Has Caused One Of The Biggest Increases In World Hunger, Malnutrition In Decades: United Nations

For the uninitiated, the term food system implies the entire cycle from food production, processing, and marketing to consumption and utilization. On why it is in focus, Food Systems employ the largest number of people in the world. With global attention already captured through the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, it is only apt to focus on the role of youth in making food systems more dynamic, eco-friendly, and equitable, with greater participation of both young women and men across class and caste barriers.

Engaging Youth In Transforming Food Systems

Young people are on the frontlines of the struggle to build a better future for all. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the dire need for the kind of transformational change they seek – and young people must be full partners in that effort, António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Also Read: COVID-19 Lockdown Negatively Impacted Women’s Nutrition In India: Study

According to the recent report on ‘Promoting Youth Engagement and Employment in Agriculture and Food Systems’ by the Committee on World Food Security (CWFS), greater participation of young people in food systems will enhance the use of new technology, innovative practices, and knowledge sharing, and also increase gender equality and women’s empowerment, thereby making food systems more sustainable, resilient and equitable while at the same time improving food security and nutrition for all.

During the 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum (EYF), the issues and priorities highlighted by young participants included the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly related to its effect on human health, the environment, and food systems. As part of the official outcome recommendations of the EYF, young participants stressed the importance of working towards more equitable food systems.

Also Read: Why Women Eat Last And Least?

In addition, they highlighted the need for youth to make informed decisions on food choices through increasing global education on the healthiest and most sustainable options for both individuals and the environment. There were also recommendations on providing adequate capacity development concerning the resilience of food systems, in particular during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermath.

Through youth education, engagement, innovation, and entrepreneurial solutions, this year’s International Youth Day aims to provide a platform for young people to continue the momentum from the EYF in the lead-up to the high-level Food Systems Summit.

Also Read: Learnings From COVID-19 – Averting Hunger Pandemic By The Way Of Expanding Food Safety Nets

Focusing On Women’s Leadership

While we talk about enhancing young people’s participation in food systems, we must also remember that they are not a homogenous group, but a diverse one, impacted by the intersectionality of gender, class, ethnicity, among others. Gender is particularly important as it affects aspects like access and ownership of land, or roles played in cultivating crops or caring for livestock.

In India’s context, women’s role in the Food System is not very visible, despite their contribution, whether as farmers, gatherers, livestock keepers, sellers, and nurturers, preparing and serving food to household members.

Working to increase gender equity and women’s empowerment can help enhance their visibility and maximize the benefit from their involvement in food systems.

This is especially important in the context of COVID-19, the pandemic that has challenged food systems and affected access to food significantly across the world. Besides affecting livelihoods, incomes, and access to food, COVID-19 has also dealt a blow to gender equity, with women more likely to suffer the loss of livelihoods and reduced income than men. Moreover, periods of lockdown have been synonymous with the rising incidence of gender-based violence, Young women and adolescent girls are more susceptible to it.

Also Read: Responding To Triple Crises Of Environment, COVID-19 Pandemic And Hunger

The Government of India has focused on women’s economic empowerment to address gender inequity while cushioning poor households against COVID-19 related shocks. Cash transfers to women and additional funds and incentives to women’s self-help groups to enhance their economic activities and provide them market linkages are some such measures taken by the Government. These measures have increased the options for young women’s participation in food systems, which can, in turn, lead to a more equitable, gender-just society for all.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is contributing to the process through its gender-transformative programs in collaboration with the Government to enhance the incomes of women’s groups. In Odisha, WFP is partnering with the department of Mission Shakti to enhance incomes and market linkages of women’s self-help groups and women smallholder farmers in the state. In Uttar Pradesh, WFP is collaborating with the State Rural Livelihoods Mission to train women’s micro-enterprises in producing fortified nutritious Take Home Rations (THR) for young children and pregnant and lactating women, distributed under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme. Such initiatives offer a great opportunity for young women to participate in food systems while empowering themselves economically.

Also Read: “Nutritional Needs Of A Woman Are Higher While Breastfeeding”, Says Expert With Emphasis On A Balanced Diet

Rajni Devi is one such young woman working in THR producing unit in the Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Her excitement reflects the value she accords to her new vocation. Sharing her joy she said,

I am really happy that I got a chance to work with this unit. It is a new learning for me each day. I believe that all women of my age must be educated and employed. It is important for young women to be financially independent.

Her colleague Snehlata agrees, emphasising the social benefits of women’s education and economic empowerment. She said,

I feel it is extremely important for women in society to be educated and earn income for the household. Earning income will not only provide support for household expenses, but we can also save money for future purposes. It is best if women are employed in some form, it will also help children in the family to be educated.

India has a critical role to play in creating a role to play in the emerging narrative to reimagine food systems and with a massive demographic dividend with 1.2 billion youth aged 15 to 24 years in the world, or 16 percent of the global population. India, however, ranks 122nd on the new Global Youth Development Index among 181 countries, released by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London

We must create an enabling environment for innovation, scaling, and adaptation that fosters opportunities for young people across the spectrum of food systems to usher in radical changes to heal planetary health.

Also Read: We Need To Find A Way Where We Produce Food For Ourselves And Also Save Nature, Says World Food Programme India Director

(Dr Aradhana Srivastav, Gender Lead, United Nations World Food Programme in India.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

22,95,44,435Cases
19,20,52,504Active
3,27,83,741Recovered
47,08,190Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,95,44,435 and 47,08,190 have died; 19,20,52,504 are active cases and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 3:49 am.

India

3,35,31,498 26,964Cases
3,01,9897,586Active
3,27,83,741 34,167Recovered
4,45,768 383Deaths
In India, there are 3,35,31,498 confirmed cases including 4,45,768 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,01,989 and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,27,629 3,131

44,269 960

63,44,744 4,021

1,38,616 70

Kerala

45,39,926 15,768

1,61,765 5,813

43,54,264 21,367

23,897 214

Karnataka

29,69,361 818

13,769 617

29,17,944 1,414

37,648 21

Tamil Nadu

26,48,688 1,647

16,993 9

25,96,316 1,619

35,379 19

Andhra Pradesh

20,40,708 1,179

13,905 483

20,12,714 1,651

14,089 11

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,693 13

194 0

16,86,612 13

22,887

West Bengal

15,62,710 537

7,741 69

15,36,291 592

18,678 14

Delhi

14,38,556 39

400 21

14,13,071 18

25,085

Odisha

10,21,216 462

4,844 103

10,08,226 560

8,146 5

Chhattisgarh

10,05,120 26

297 0

9,91,260 26

13,563

Rajasthan

9,54,275 12

99 8

9,45,222 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,751 14

133 0

8,15,536 14

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,410 8

90 6

7,81,803 14

10,517

Haryana

7,70,754 8

328 12

7,60,618 20

9,808

Bihar

7,25,907 6

60 9

7,16,188 15

9,659

Telangana

6,63,906 244

4,938 53

6,55,061 296

3,907 1

Punjab

6,01,359 36

304 3

5,84,554 37

16,501 2

Assam

5,98,864 441

5,081 97

5,87,970 338

5,813 6

Jharkhand

3,48,139 14

65 10

3,42,941 4

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,405 12

249 18

3,35,765 29

7,391 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,28,214 145

1,450 11

3,22,345 154

4,419 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,17,403 263

1,715 99

2,12,033 162

3,655 2

Goa

1,75,690 107

886 76

1,71,507 29

3,297 2

Puducherry

1,25,618 101

922 55

1,22,864 46

1,832

Manipur

1,18,870 197

2,174 9

1,14,861 203

1,835 3

Tripura

83,956 51

353 7

82,794 44

809

Mizoram

82,815 1,355

15,363 223

67,184 1,127

268 5

Meghalaya

79,817 150

1,878 18

76,558 167

1,381 1

Chandigarh

65,195 7

44 3

64,333 4

818

Arunachal Pradesh

54,190 64

413 3

53,504 60

273 1

Sikkim

31,014 43

627 27

30,007 70

380

Nagaland

30,959 52

470 3

29,832 46

657 3

Ladakh

20,743 6

144 6

20,392

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

0 0

10,666

4

Lakshadweep

10,360 1

9 1

10,300

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,607 7

17 4

7,461 3

129

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