One in three women worldwide are held back by malnutrition. A Canadian investment aims to change that

455a38774d1e712b0a4bf18a84e71e20.jpeg - COPENHAGEN — Luz Maria De-Regil has seen a lot of tired women in the 15-plus years she has been working on women’s health in developing regions as far-flung as Latin America and Southeast Asia. Some, including teenage moms with babies on their backs, are in fields harvesting grains or coffee, constantly out of breath. Others, piecing clothes together in factories, feel exhausted three hours into their day. To observe it, you have to look carefully.

“In many of these cases, when you are talking about vitamin and mineral deficiencies, you don’t see the problems unless they are extreme,” said De-Regil, chief technical advisor and director of research and evaluation at the Ottawa-based Micronutrient Initiative, which improves the nutrition of the poor in more than 70 countries.

For example, anemia, a condition caused by iron deficiency, often escapes notice, but it makes many girls in developing countries so tired that they do badly in school or skip it altogether.

During Women Deliver, the world’s largest women’s rights conference in Copenhagen last week, the Canadian government announced that it would tackle this problem by giving $75 million to the Micronutrient Initiative to launch the Right Start Initiative. The project aims to improve the nutrition of 100 million women and adolescent girls within five years with a focus on anemia. Canadian funds account for half the money it needs.

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