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Research: Policies Need to be Context-Specific to Improve Women’s Lives in Rural India

Longer working hours for women or increased work intensity can have detrimental effects on their own health

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Policies, Women, Rural India
In most of rural India, women work as agricultural and family farm labourers, in addition to performing nearly all the childcare and household duties. Pixbay

In order to improve women’s lives and household nutrition and health outcomes in rural India, policies need to be context-specific, taking into consideration factors such as caste and location, says new research led by an Indian-origin scientist from University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England.

Recognition of Indian women’s roles in both agriculture and domestic work is key to improving household nutrition outcomes, said Nitya Rao, professor of gender and development in the UEA’s school of international development.

In most of rural India, women work as agricultural and family farm labourers, in addition to performing nearly all the childcare and household duties.

Longer working hours for women or increased work intensity can have detrimental effects on their own health and, in turn, their ability to care for their children.

Policies, Women, Rural India
In order to improve women’s lives and household nutrition and health outcomes in rural India, policies need to be context-specific. Pixabay

“Women’s agricultural work could potentially have negative outcomes, especially for the young child whose nutrition depends more on the mother’s time for breastfeeding and supplementary feeding. The double burden of work and care often leads to a time trade-off between the two,” said Professor Rao.

The study, published in the journal Feminist Economics, examined the intersections of gender with other forms of social identity and inequality.

The research drew on primary data from 12 villages in two districts, Wardha (Maharashtra) and Koraput (Odisha) between 2014-2016.

Malnutrition is high in both areas, with near or more than 50 per cent of children underweight.

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In Wardha, women harvest cotton manually, but the semi-arid region has reported severe agrarian distress over the past decade.

Moreover, the smell of cotton and cotton dust causes headaches and leaves workers with no appetite or desire to cook or eat, which has implications for the rest of the household.

In Koraput, located in the semi-humid tropics, literacy rates and other human development indicators are low.

People in this region work, on average, close to 13 hours a day — resulting in sleep deprivation especially during the peak agricultural seasons of planting and harvesting.

Policies, Women, Rural India
Recognition of Indian women’s roles in both agriculture and domestic work is key to improving household nutrition outcomes. PIxabay

“We leave for our fields for transplantation early in the morning. There is no time to go to the forest to collect vegetables or greens, and no time to cook. We eat once a day – rice and ambli (sour gruel of rice flour and tamarind),” said Koraput participant Kamala Paroja.

“The lack of attention to women’s time as a key factor in child nutrition outcomes is perhaps the main reason for the persistence of poor nutritional outcomes despite economic growth,” said Professor Rao.

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Infrastructural support that can reduce the drudgery and effort/time intensity of tasks, especially cooking, as well as clean energy and drinking water, alongside strengthening child-care services, will help India move toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of reducing hunger and stopping intergenerational nutritional deprivation,” the professor added. (IANS)

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Here’s Why Women Should Not Dine After 6 PM

Women who dine late in the evening are likely to develop heart diseases

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Women
Women should not consume higher proportionate of calories late in the evening. Pixabay

Women who consume a higher proportion of their daily calories late in the evening are more likely to be at risk of cardiovascular disease than women who do not, researchers have warned.

For the study, the research team assessed the cardiovascular health of 112 women using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 measures at the beginning of the study and one year later.

Life’s Simple 7 represents the risk factors that people can improve through lifestyle changes to help achieve ideal cardiovascular health and include not smoking, being physically active, eating healthy foods and controlling body weight, along with measuring cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

A heart health score based on meeting the Life’s Simple 7 was computed.

“The preliminary results indicate that intentional eating that is mindful of the timing and proportion of calories in evening meals may represent a simple, modifiable behaviour that can help lower heart disease risk,” said study lead author Nour Makarem from Columbia University in the US.

During the study, participants of the study kept electronic food diaries by computer or cell phone to report what, how much and when they ate for one week at the beginning of the study and for one week 12 months later.

Women, heart disease
Women should consume less calories in the evening for a healthy heart. Pixabay

Data from the food diary completed by each woman was used to determine the relationship between heart health and the timing of when they ate.

Researchers found that, after 6 p.m. with every one per cent calories consumed heart health declined, especially for women.

These women were found more likely to have higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and poorer long-term control of blood sugar.

Similar findings occurred with every one per cent increase in calories consumed after 8 p.m.

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“It is never too early to start thinking about your heart health whether you’re 20 or 30 or 40 or moving into the 60s and 70s. If you’re healthy now or if you have heart disease, you can always do more. That goes along with being heart smart and heart healthy,” said study researcher Kristin Newby, Professor at Duke University.

The study is scheduled to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 from November 16-18 in Philadelphia, US. (IANS)