News / Asia

Hunger in Focus: India's Hungry Women and Children Remain a Major Problem

Two-Thirds of the world's one-billion hungry people live in Asia. Through this series of reports, VOA's English to Asia Service aims to draw attention to the problems of hunger as part of World Food Day - 16 October

Empowering women is seen as a remedy for India's malnutrition problem
Empowering women is seen as a remedy for India's malnutrition problem
Ira Mellman

India's first Prime Minister once said, "You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women."

With that in mind, Jawaharlal Nehru's quote puts India in critical condition.

Despite being one of the fastest growing economies in the world and producing a surplus of food, India is ranked number 67 among 84 countries listed in the 2010 Global Hunger Index issued Monday by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

It ranks well behind China, which is listed at number nine, while neighboring Pakistan is fifty second on the list. India even ranks behind countries in sub Saharan Africa on the index.

“India has the largest number of hungry children in the world”, says John Coonrod, Executive Vice President of the Hunger Project, a globally based, non-profit, organization whose self proclaimed aim is the sustainable end of world hunger.

Coonrod quoted a UNICEF study in 1996 that said the only reason the rates of malnutrition in South Asia are so high is the subjugation of woman in society.

That results of that study have been repeated many times, including last year's Global Hunger Index report, in which Agnes Quisumbing, report co-author and International Food Policy Research Institute senior research fellow writes “In South Asia, women’s low social status and limited access to schooling have dire consequences for the nutrition, health, and well being of both mothers and their children.”

The Hunger Project's Coonrod says “Some of these women have been so marginalized that they have not even heard their names spoken. It affects the health of both the women and their children."

“Discrimination against girls and women results in girls being breast fed for less time than boys so that hopefully, the mother can become pregnant again and have a boy," said Coonrod, who said "Girls are taught to eat less and least, they are married too young  and have children when they, themselves are too young and malnourished. So this cycle of malnutrition that is caused by gender discrimination gets perpetuated from generation to generation.”

Coonrod says there are good answers to the situation. He said one has been a constitutional amendment passed by India in the nineties guaranteeing that a third of the seats in village councils would be held by women.

He says this has lead to changes that continue to accelerate as woman become more and more effective in leadership positions despite reports of increased violence against women in India. However, Coonrod says opposition to women in leadership positions is decreasing as the population sees how woman are proving themselves as leaders.

Several of the states in India, says Coonrod, have felt so good about empowering women that they have increased the percentage of women officials from one third to one half. So, says Coonrod, “there is real evidence that things are changing and changing rapidly.”

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid