Women's Empowerment Andchild Nutritional Outcomesin Modern-Day India
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India still struggles tomitigate its severe childhood malnutrition rates despite its impressive economic growth and reducedpoverty rates. In exploring effective ways toimprove child nutritional outcomes in South Asia, social scientists and public healthofficials haverecently identified the disempowerment of womenas a significant barrier to achieving child welfare goals. Although there have been cross-national studies carried out throughout South Asiaand 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 fourwomen’s empowerment indicators—householddecision-making power, mobility,attitudes towards domestic violence, and highest level ofschooling—and malnutritionin children under five years of age, as measured by the prevalence of stunting and wasting.The main analysis used aprogressively adjusted logistic regression model, whichestimated theeffects of women’sempowerment on child’s nutrition outcomeswhilst controlling for maternal age at birth, the household wealth index, and the type of place of residence, meaning,ruralor urbansettings.Results indicate that attitudes towards domestic violence has a significant effect on wastingandthat 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 ofempowerment 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.