News article

Gender bias increases the likelihood of malnutrition

Posted:  Friday, December 18, 2015

We generally consider biological and economical factors as important variables in tackling malnutrition. However, cultural beliefs, biases and domestic violence can also contribute to the issue of malnutrition.

The secondary/inferior status given to women and girls has resulted in poor attention. Most women and female children are discriminated in terms of education and provision of food and water. This adversely impacts the girl child’s personality and nutritional status. Various cultural practices and discrimination against women and female children result in nutritional deprivation or cause harm in some manner:

Men are given preference in terms of food and medical care while women are deprived of these basic necessities.

In terms of food adequacy food, most women either consume leftover meals, which are most often diluted with water.

Women from the poor socioeconomic category substitute food with water to overcome hunger.

Furthermore, since women are expected to abide by their duties, they are compelled to carry out heavy duty work even during their pregnancy.

Domestic violence against pregnant women can injure the developing foetus.

As malnutrition aggravates in the girl-child, the likelihood of an undernourished offspring increases, which sets the stage for inter-generational cycle of malnutrition. Dr Pramod Jog, President of Indian Academy of Paediatrics and Professor of Paediatrics at D Y Patil Medical College, Pune said, “Widespread nutrition deprivation among women perpetuates an inter-generational cycle of nutrition deprivation in children. Undernourished girls grow up to become undernourished women who give birth to a new generation of undernourished children.”

We must focus on providing education and optimal nutrition for girls and women to better the situation of malnutrition in our country.

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