More than one in 10 women in India ‘ran out of food’ during lockdown: Report

More than one in 10 women in India ‘ran out of food’ during lockdown: Report

The pandemic exacerbated women’s nutritional challenges

More than one in 10, or nearly 3.2 crore women in India “limited their food intake or ran out of food” during the Covid-induced lockdown last year, finds a report.

The report, titled ‘Impacts of Covid-19 on women in low-income households in India’ conducted by social impact advisory group Dalberg, captures the experiences and perspectives of nearly 15,000 women and 2,300 men across the 10 states of Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal from March 24 to May 31, 2020, and the following months from June till October 2020.

The pandemic exacerbated women’s nutritional challenges, as an additional 3.2 crore reported being worried about food sufficiency in their households, the report showed.

About 16 per cent of women, who used menstrual pads before the pandemic, had no or limited access to menstrual pads, primarily because they could no longer afford these items.

In addition, more than one in three married women were unable to access contraceptives or 15 per cent of married women could not access contraceptives, primarily due to concerns about accessing a healthcare facility during the pandemic.

While Kerala, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh did well on providing women with both pads and contraceptives, Bihar had the highest proportion of women (49 per cent) with no or low access, the report showed.

“The health repercussions on these women who, majority of in their reproductive age between aged 18-55, is going to be far more,” Swetha Totapally, Partner, Dalberg Advisors, and the author of the report, told IANS.

“We should be thinking about the generational impacts – how is the issue affecting women and girls today, and how are those impacts from today going to affect them for the next 15-20 years? And how do we address that accordingly?”

Meanwhile the report showed that government schemes such as MGNREGA (1.2 crore), Jan Dhan (10 crore), and PDS (18 crore) supported women during the crisis.

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About 70 per cent of women in the study depended on PDS for food and nutrition during the crisis than on any other channel.

Totapally told IANS that the need “address gender barriers in the value chain”.

The question should be how do we look at what’s happening to women and how do we offer practical solutions within our existing entitlement infrastructure to support them, she noted.


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