According to a study, the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown disrupted agricultural supply networks, significantly impacting women’s nutrition in the country. The study, which was published in the journal Economia Politica, found that, despite the fact that food value chains and related enterprises were excluded from the ban, women’s dietary diversity (the number of food groups consumed) decreased from 2014 to 2019.
Researchers at the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI) in New Delhi discovered that the decline was related to lower consumption of foods high in micronutrients that are essential for optimal health and development, such as meats, eggs, vegetables, and fruits.
“Any policies addressing the impact of the pandemic on nutritional outcomes must do so through a gendered lens that reflects the specific, and often persistent, vulnerabilities faced by women,” said Soumya Gupta, a research economist at TCI who co-authored the study.
The study also found that the closure of anganwadi centers during the lockdown contributed to disproportionate burdens on women. The centers, which supply nursing and expectant mothers with take-home rations and hot cooked meals, are a vital source of nutrition for women and children. During the pandemic, 72 percent of eligible homes lost access to anganwadi services, according to data from 155 households polled.
Price changes resulted from disturbances in agricultural supply networks, according to the study, notably for non-staple goods. Nearly 90% of poll respondents indicated they ate less food, and 95% said they ate fewer different types of food. According to the researchers, the highest decrease in food expenditures was for micronutrient-rich fresh and dried fruits, as well as animal goods such as meat, fish, and eggs.
Many factors, including money, negotiating power, social standing, interpersonal relationships, tastes, and preferences, have been linked to gender variations in food allocation around the world, according to researchers.
Uneven food distribution within homes has also been linked to women’s roles in various family structures, including women eating after the rest of the family has eaten, they added.
(News input: India Times)