When Women Eat Last— The Hindu Editorial
When women eat last— The Hindu 3/1/91
- In households with a limited food budget, or where there is no refrigerator to store leftover food, the person (in almost all cases it is women)who eats last very often gets less or lower quality food
- India has a major child malnutrition problem. The Rapid Survey on Children (2012-13) found that about 4 in 10 children are stunted. On average, children who are stunted do less well in school, earn less, and die sooner than children who are not.
causes of child stunting.
- Research shows that poor sanitation spreads diseases that sap children’s energy and stunts their growth
- the health of a child’s mother matters critically for whether or not the child is stunted.
- The first two years of life are the most important time for a child’s physical and cognitive growth. During this time, she depends heavily on her mother for nutrition. As a growing foetus, she gets all her food from her mother’s bloodstream, and after birth, is ideally breastfed for at least six months.
- research shows that many Indian women start pregnancy underweight and gain little weight during pregnancy, which leads to low birth weight babies, high rates of neonatal mortality, and less successful breastfeeding
- Women’s undernourishment contributes substantially to India’s unacceptably high rates of child stunting.
- In India, girls are less likely to survive infancy than boys, and if they do, parents invest less in their education. Women are far less likely to work outside the home and have their own bank accounts than men.
- One aspect of discrimination against women that matters for health is whether women eat less or worse quality food than men.
What can be done about it
- While the government cannot force people to give women an equal share of food, it could do a lot more to promote gender equality.
- It could publicise and condemn this practice
- aggressively pursue policies to address discrimination against women in other domains.
- Encouraging girls’ education, discouraging dowry, supporting marriage choice, and encouraging female labour force participation would all give women more power to challenge this damaging practice.
- These surveys conducted by SARI and Indian Human Development Survey
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