Nutrition in South Asia: Why Gender Matters


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Presentation by Dr Purnima Menon

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  • Co-authors Anil Deolalikar, University of California, Riverside Anjor Bhaskar, IFPRI Funding and support Welthungerhilfe
  • If we look at the trends in the underlying components, we see a relatively steady decline in udner five mortality rates over the last 15 years or so.
  • Negative effect on hours, positive (insig) effect on total income. But, productivity. 0-2 had greatest impact
  • The India State Hunger Index 2008 findings highlight the continued overall severity of the hunger situation in India, while revealing the variability in hunger across states within India. It is indeed alarming that not a single state in India is either low or moderate in terms of their hunger index scores; most states have a “serious” hunger problem, and one state, Madhya Pradesh, has an extremely alarming hunger problem
  • Nutrition in South Asia: Why Gender Matters

    1. 1. Purnima Menon, PhD Research Fellow International Food Policy Research Institute New Delhi October 30, 2009 NUTRITION IN SOUTH ASIA : WHY GENDER MATTERS
    2. 2. 2009 Global Hunger Index
    3. 3. Child nutrition in South Asia * For age group 6-59 months 1. National Family Health Survey, India, 2005-06 2. Nepal Demographic Health Survey, 2006 3. Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey, 2004 4. Pakistan Demographic Health Survey, 2007 5. Sri Lanka Demographic Health Survey, 2007
    4. 4. Reductions in child underweight from 1988-92 to 2001-2006 Source: Global Hunger Index 2008; Appendix C
    5. 5. The window of most damage…and of opportunity
    6. 6. Women’s status and reductions in child undernutrition Contributions to reductions in child malnutrition, 1970-95 Source: Smith and Haddad 2000
    7. 7. October 14, 2008
    8. 9. How do gender inequities in the “window of opportunity” lead to poor nutrition? <ul><li>Low education </li></ul><ul><li>Early marriage </li></ul><ul><li>Early pregnancy </li></ul><ul><li>Constraints to use of antenatal services (mobility, access to resources) </li></ul><ul><li>Poor diets </li></ul><ul><li>High workloads (at home and at work); lack of rest during pregnancy </li></ul><ul><li>Domestic violence </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of support from family and community for infant care and breast feeding </li></ul><ul><li>Resumption of work within and outside home soon after pregnancy </li></ul><ul><li>Constraints to use of health and nutrition services (mobility, access to resources) </li></ul><ul><li>Domestic violence* </li></ul><ul><li>Gender-based differences in infant feeding and care seeking </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-pregnancy and pregnancy </li></ul><ul><li>First two years of life </li></ul>
    9. 10. Social exclusion and undernutrition in India NFHS Report; India, 2005-06
    10. 11. Social factors and severe stunting in Nepal November 25, 2008
    11. 12. Why should we improve early childhood nutrition? % Source: Hoddinott et al. Lancet, 2008
    12. 13. Improving nutrition in early childhood and adult wage rates Age when exposed to intervention (months) p < 0.01 p < 0.01 p = 0.41 US$ / hour Source: Hoddinott et al. Lancet 2008
    13. 14. Pathways by which improving early nutrition increases wages BRAIN BRAWN Source: Behrman et al. in press Child development (early childhood) Height at 3 y Height, strength, CV resistance (adulthood) Schooling 1.2 grade (women) Cognitive skills (adulthood )(0.25 SD) More skilled jobs
    14. 15. Drivers of maternal and child undernutrition Social protection and gender policies and interventions are essential to make a difference! Black et al., Lancet 2008
    15. 16. SUMMARY: What we know about nutrition in S. Asia <ul><li>Overall levels of undernutrition are high and decline has been slow in the past 15 years throughout the region (except Sri Lanka) </li></ul><ul><li>There is variability within the region – geographic, income-based, ethnic/social group-based, gender-based, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Addressing early childhood nutrition is crucial because of evidence of short term and long term gains </li></ul><ul><li>The links between gender and nutrition are of particular concern but not often acknowledged in policies and programs </li></ul>