Nutrition and gender leadership on the menu for francophone SUN countries
Capacity strengthening is a central area to accelerate multi-sectoral nutrition actions at national and sub-national levels. This also rings true for scaling up gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls across the SUN Movement. Nutrition International’s Nutrition Technical Assistance Mechanism (NTEAM), through the Technical Assistance for Nutrition (TAN) project, supports SUN countries bolster the design, delivery and tracking of their national multi-sectoral nutrition actions. An important part of this support is to help strengthen the capacity of national and sub-national SUN stakeholders, including SUN Government Focal Points. As part of this, Nutrition International, the SUN Movement Secretariat, the Africa Nutrition Leaders Programme (ANLP), and TAN partners MQSUN+ and TASC have developed – and rolled out – an online capacity strengthening programme for francophone SUN Focal Points. Just in time for 2021 International Women’s Day, gender advisors from NTEAM delivered a module focusing on scaling up gender equality in nutrition.
A virtual leadership development workshop: Supporting francophone SUN countries scale up nutrition
In response to a functional capacity needs assessment conducted with SUN Focal Points at the Global Gathering held in Abidjan in 2017, a nutrition leadership development workshop has been developed, identifying leadership, strategic advocacy, communication, negotiation and networking as key areas in need of strengthening (among others).
This workshop kicked off on 28 January 2021, with some 44 francophone participants from across 21 of the SUN Movement’s 62 member States – and held virtually, comprising a 10-module hybrid eLearning course.
This workshop is the third of a series that started with in-person functional capacity-building workshops, held in situ in Bangkok in 2018 and in Stockholm in 2019, offered by the SUN Movement Secretariat, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Africa Nutrition Leadership Programme (ANLP), MQSUN+ and Nutrition International, largely funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, through the TAN programme. These workshops strengthen functional capacities of SUN Focal Points, aiming to improve effectiveness as leaders of scaling up nutrition processes in their countries, while fostering networking and cross-country learning.
Gender equality in the spotlight
NTEAM Gender equality advisors for the TAN project, Paulette Beat Songue and Alina Mayer, led the gender equality and nutrition module, delivered the first week of March. As in previous workshops, this session included clarifying key gender equality concepts and the disproportionate impact that gender inequality has on the nutrition status of women and girls. Facilitators also provided reflection prompts to help participants question their own biases, and how these might influence their capacity to lead on gender and nutrition as part of their roles. Notions of power imbalances, cultural norms, violence against women, decision-making power, workplace dynamics and more were discussed, both virtually and in a live session.
The session was well received by participants, who actively participated in smaller group discussion, voicing some of the challenges and realities faced in their countries. Participants indicated the session had improved their understanding of key concepts and changed some of their perceptions on gender equality. All recognised that achieving gender equality would take time, and sustained efforts to educate and raise awareness – but also expressed their commitment to doing more to advocate for gender equality in their countries. With the knowledge that some of the most effective nutrition actions, to date, are those that recognise and address gender and social inequalities, this workshop can be as a key step towards fully implementing the gender transformative vision of the SUN Movement Strategy for 2021-2025.
 This course is housed on Nutrition International’s Learning Management System (LMS) and has been made possible thanks to the work of NTEAM’s instructional designer, and a close collaboration with the ANLP. NTEAM support is made possible with funding from the Government of Canada, and UK Aid from the UK Government.