Women's Empowerment And Child Nutritional Outcomes In Modern-Day India
MetadataShow full item record
India still struggles to mitigate its severe childhood malnutrition rates despite its impressive economic growth and reduced poverty rates. In exploring effective ways to improve child nutritional outcomes in South Asia, social scientists and public health officials have recently identified the disempowerment of women as a significant barrier to achieving child welfare goals. Although there have been cross-national studies carried out throughout South Asia and other developing countries, none have specifically examined the association between women’s empowerment and child malnutrition in modern-day India. Using India’s 2005-06 National Family and Health Survey, this study assesses the significance of the relationship between four women’s empowerment indicators—household decision-making power, mobility, attitudes towards domestic violence, and highest level of schooling—and malnutrition in children under five years of age, as measured by the prevalence of stunting and wasting. The main analysis used a progressively adjusted logistic regression model, which estimated the effects of women’s empowerment on child’s nutrition outcomes whilst controlling for maternal age at birth, the household wealth index, and the type of place of residence, meaning, rural or urban settings. Results indicate that attitudes towards domestic violence has a significant effect on wasting and that the mother’s highest level of education has a significant effect on both stunting and wasting, while controlling for the three demographic variables and other indicators. These results suggest that better conceptualization and measures of empowerment are needed to examine the real nature of its effect on child nutritional status. They also reiterate the importance of maternal education in reducing malnutrition rates.