Drivers of change: Examining the effects of gender equality on child nutrition

Elsevier, Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 76, May 2017, Pages 203-212
Authors: 
Aakanksha Sinha, Ruth G. Mc Roy, Barbara Berkmann, Melissa Sutherland

Abstract

India has the world's highest burden of child undernutrition. Lack of income is considered as one of its primary causes. However, evidence suggests that despite steady economic growth and investments in social services directed towards child welfare, undernutrition rates continue to rise. Thus indicating, that there are other societal factors impacting child undernutrition. Previous studies indicate that countries with higher gender inequality have worse health outcomes for women and children. India, particularly in the northern states, has deep-rooted gender biases, leading to disproportionately worse outcomes for women and children. This study uses cross sectional data from the India National Family Health Survey Round-3 (NFHS-3) to examine the immediate and underlying effect of gender inequality on child nutritional status. The sample includes urban married women between 15 and 49 years (N = 9092) who have at least one living child between 0 and 5 years. Findings highlight the significant effect of autonomy and health related awareness on child nutritional status, when the relationship is mediated by maternal health. Implications for policy and practice are provided.