Food security for women in rural India increased from 21 per cent in 2015 to 53 per cent in 2017, according to a research by Grameen Foundation and Freedom from Hunger India Trust. The same increased for children from 23 per cent to 53 per cent.
“These results offer hope for Indian women, more than half of whom suffer from anemia, which can be devastating for mothers and their babies,” said AR Nanda, Board Chair of FFHIT. “Simple solutions such as nutrient supplements often fall short. But we have found a cost-effective, holistic approach to solving India’s crisis of rural malnutrition.”
Anemia is a leading cause of maternal deaths in India. In India, half of children under three are either stunted or underweight due to malnutrition, and 79 percent are anemic.
The research also said that greater women’ decision-making authority in a household, the greater their food security – 39 per cent of women classified as having a high degree of autonomy were food secure, versus only 12 per cent of women with low autonomy.
“We concluded that any efforts designed to improve food security and nutrition had to aim to improve women’s autonomy and decision-making within the household,” explains Kathleen Stack, Executive Vice President of Grameen Foundation. “To do so, we built on the strength of women’s self-help groups, millions of which exist across the country.”
Dietary diversity increased by an average of three additional foods a day, especially milk, vegetables, and roots and tubers-now grown in home gardens. Also, the percentage of new mothers who breastfed their infants within the first hour of birth went from 47 to 83 percent.
Over half of women (52 percent) reported setting aside more savings in the past six months, and those saving for health increased from 65 to 80 percent. The number of women accessing the government’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) increased by 30 percentage points.