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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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Dairy Products Don’t Protect Women Against Fracture Risk: Researchers

Dairy products do not benefit lumbar spine or femoral neck bone density, according to researchers

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Dairy products
Dairy products may not prevent age-related bone loss in women, reveals a study. Pixabay

Researchers have found that despite containing essential nutrients, dairy products do not benefit lumbar spine or femoral neck bone density, nor do they protect against fracture risk in women.

The study, based on data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) shows that during the menopause transition, when bone loss is accelerated, they offer little benefit in preventing bone mineral density loss or fractures.

According to the study, published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), as women enter the menopause transition, bone loss accelerates and may lead to osteoporosis.

The SWAN data revealed that this bone loss is not slowed down by the consumption of dairy products nor is fracture risk mitigated.

For the findings, the current study specifically looked at the effect of dairy intake on femoral and spine bone mineral density.

It is one of the few studies dedicated to examining how dairy consumption affects a woman’s risk of bone loss and fractures across the menopause transition.

Because two of the greatest risk factors for osteoporosis — age and sex — are beyond a woman’s control, there is an increased focus on possible modifiable risk factors to slow this irreversible, age-related, progressive, degenerative skeletal disease that makes a woman more susceptible to bone fractures.

dairy products
The study showed that women are at greater risk for osteoporosis than men. Pixabay

The findings showed that women are at greater risk for osteoporosis than men, and the risk increases significantly as women age.

Also Read: Recovery Rate Rises and Case Fatality Goes Down in India

This study adds to the existing data suggesting a lack of benefit from the dairy intake on bone mineral density and fracture risk.

“There are many other health benefits of a Mediterranean-type diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as lean protein such as fish and low-fat dairy,” said study researcher Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

In addition, regular weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or jogging, can help maintain bone strength, and activities that improve strength and balance, such as yoga and tai chi, may help prevent falls,” Faubion added. (IANS)

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Women Dedicating 1/6th of the Day To Social Media, Says Survey

A survey reveals, women spend nearly one-sixth or 4 hours of their day online, which is not work-related

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Women online
This survey is an attempt to understand where the urban Indian women are consuming content and information and the activities that interest her. Pixabay

Women spend nearly one-sixth or 4 hours of their day online, which is not work-related, reveals a survey. Nearly 54 percent of women picked Facebook, followed by 34 percent who said that their platform of choice was Instagram. While these emerge as the most preferred platforms, women are spending maximum time on WhatsApp, said the survey conducted by 80 dB Communications.

A majority of respondents, 67 percent, surveyed are working women, and this could account for their high usage of WhatsApp.

It also found that 60 percent of the respondents are comfortable making friends online with other women while 40 percent did cite their apprehension owing to fake online profiles. More than 40 percent of women said that they discover women having similar interests on social media sites, online forums, and special interest groups.

Women
Women are spending 4 hours of their day online, which is not work-related. Pixabay

“This situation with the global pandemic is unique, unknown, and still unfolding, both in terms of scale and scope. In the last few months, we have used the power of social engagement, research and surveys to assess consumer sentiment to help inform our communication campaigns and create purpose-driven and contextual storytelling for the brands we work with,” said Abhilasha Padhy, Co-Founder, and Joint MD, 80 dB Communications.

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“This survey is an attempt to understand where the urban Indian women are consuming content and information and the activities that interest her,” she added. (IANS)

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Women Anxious Before IVF May Face Serious Mental Disorders if the Treatment Fails: Report

Dr. Aswati Nair, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Delhi sheds light on how depression and anxiety can affect IVF

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ivf
IVF or any fertility treatment can cause anxiety in a childless couple. Pixabay

Getting bouts of anxiety while going through In-vitro fertilization (IVF) or any other fertility treatment is common for any childless couple. Dr. Aswati Nair, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Delhi sheds light on how depression and anxiety can affect IVF.

But it’s pivotal that the stress should be managed initially, if it is ignored it can take an emotional toll on women’s mental health. Firstly, opting to for IVF is a life-altering decision by a couple. Though it brings with it a renewed sense of hope and purpose, the experience can be an intense for everyone involved.

According to a latest report published in the ‘Fertility and Sterility Journal’, women who are stressed and anxious before IVF can face serious mental disorders if the treatment fails. The journal further added women should not feel pressured to be a “good IVF patient” who’s free of stress. And, they should not blame themselves if they feel stressed out and their IVF attempt fails. The doctors should facilitate psychological intervention, if need be to help women feel better, and not focus entirely on just increasing their chances of pregnancy.

embryo IVF
Women should not feel pressured to be a “good IVF patient” who’s free of stress. Pixabay

Relation between depression and infertility

It is still unclear whether depression itself can cause infertility but there are some studies available which found a correlation between depression and increased rates of infertility. Some suggests that an overlap in some of the hormonal issues are involved in both conditions. Moreover, depression disrupts your daily routine and lifestyle that adversely impact the fertility. For example, depression often causes an over reaction or lack of appetite,resulting in being overweight or underweight. All these increase the chances of infertility. Besides, sometimes depressed people get addicted to smoke or liquor to get rid of their negative thoughts, resulting in infertility issues.

Can pregnancy Cure Depression?

It has been witnessed that people, who have experiences infertility failures in the past, are more prone to depression during pregnancy and also have an increased chance of getting postpartum depression. A woman or a couple needs to understand that not being able to conceive or failing to become a parent through means like surrogacy or adoption,isn’t the end o the world. It is possible to find hope and happiness again if we just shift our focus on something else for some time. If depression has taken hold, it’s unlikely to resolve on its own. Depression due to a miscarriage or failed IVF treatment is tough to overcome. Researchers have found that it can stay up to three years irrespective of if you’re pregnant or not. Therefore, counseling is pivotal throughout the grieving process so that one can overcome this dark phase and start afresh with new hopes and outlook.

pregnant IVF
Researchers have found that depression can stay up to three years irrespective of if you’re pregnant or not. Pixabay

Also Read: Above 51% Women Believe Indian Schools Don’t Have Menstrual Awareness Programme: Survey

Feeling better is the Key

Some couples feel antidepressants which are used for treatment have a negative effect on health as they cause hindrance when trying to conceive again. While once cannot completely rule this thought process out.

In fact, some studies have found that treating depression with counseling and anti-depressants together increased pregnancy success. That said, for milder depression, anti-depressant medications are just one of many treatment options. Depression can also be treated with psychological counselling, support groups, and mind-body therapies. (IANS)