//Maharashtra women battle malnutrition

Maharashtra women battle malnutrition

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 (Mokhada):

Women are one of the most important target groups if one has to really tackle malnutrition.

In tribal areas of Maharashtra, 98 per cent women are anaemic. Married at a very early age of 15 or 16, most of the women give birth to weak children.

As a result of their economic condition and illiteracy, they are not able to access basic health and medical facilities.

One such case is that of Asha Gangurde, who is all of 22-year-old and expecting her third child.

Though she is in her ninth month of pregnancy, she is forced to do hard physical labour just to keep her family of nine alive.

"How will I get food if I don’t work? I have little children and I have to feed them. We’re poor and our condition is very bad," said Asha Gangurde.

Family planning

Their family meals are meagre, which is barely adequate nourishment for an average working adult leave alone a pregnant woman. But Asha says it’s all her family can manage.

Asha’s first child was born soon after she got married at the age of 15, while her second child, a girl who came soon after, is weak and malnourished.

It seems a hard cycle to break, as early marriages, early pregnancies and the pressure to have many children, especially boys, takes its toll on the malnourished women.

Most of the children do not survive the difficult living conditions.

The idea of family planning is slowly being accepted by women like Asha, who says that if she has a son, it will be her last child.

But what’s keeping them from truly implementing them in their lives is fear that disease will snatch their children from them and they will be left alone in their old age.