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Blog: Midnight Stories Of Solidarity Brewing Empowerment And Strengthening Nutrition

Uttar Pradesh demonstrates the significance of women’s empowerment in combating malnutrition through community-based micro-enterprises led by self-help groups

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Blog: Midnight Stories Of Solidarity Brewing Empowerment And Strengthening Nutrition
International Women’s Day 2024 is focused on investing in women

New Delhi: Something unusual happens as night falls over Bhojla village in Badagaon, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh. Women from some of the homes in the area leave their houses and head to a small structure where they will work through the night. This is a significant social leap for women in this region. These women operate machines that produce various nutritious mixes distributed to women and children as part of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

“I have been extremely happy since I joined the Take Home Ration Unit. It has helped me meet my daily needs and enabled me to send my children to school. I am self-sufficient and don’t rely on my husband for everything. I am now able to contribute to the household income.

“A lot has changed in our lives since I started working. My husband has also been very supportive of me and my work. The women of the Unit are like a family, and we do everything together. Our focus is on moving forward and doing a better job,” says Draupadi, one of the vocal members of Saksham Prerna Laghu Udyog running the unit.

Blog: Midnight Stories Of Solidarity Brewing Empowerment And Strengthening Nutrition

Draupadi, a member of Saksham Prerna Laghu Udyog running the unit

As they sit on the ground chatting during a tea break, one gets a sense of purpose that drives these women’s exceptional commitment and the solidarity they have developed. We hear stories of how the steady income, training and respect in the community are changing their lives; some have renovated their homes, others have two-wheelers, and most have invested in their children’s education.

International Women’s Day 2024 is focused on investing in women, and the importance of this cannot be overstated. Investing in women can spark change and speed the transition towards a healthier, safer, and more equal world for all. These women and the astounding scale-up of Take Home Ration units in Uttar Pradesh demonstrate how investing in women looks on the ground in the communities and fields.

Also Read: ‘Dadi-Nani Endorsed Foods’ To Improve Gut Health

Uttar Pradesh demonstrates the significance of women’s empowerment in combating malnutrition through community-based micro-enterprises led by self-help groups. In 2020, the Department of Women and Child Development collaborated with the Uttar Pradesh State Rural Livelihood Mission to establish a decentralized production model for women’s enterprises’ take-home rations. The model uses automated equipment with a five metric ton production capacity, and a 20-member women’s group produces various variants for ICDS beneficiaries.

Once the rations are delivered to Anganwadi centres by the women’s groups, the women are reimbursed according to ICDS cost norms.

Blog: Midnight Stories Of Solidarity Brewing Empowerment And Strengthening Nutrition

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) demonstrated this model’s feasibility by establishing two pilot plants in Unnao and Fatehpur in 2021. After positive feedback and commitment from the Government of Uttar Pradesh, this project has been expanded to 202 production units across 43 districts in just over two years. This has created livelihood opportunities for 4,080 women, reaching 12 million ICDS beneficiaries.

Empowering women financially helps improve food and nutrition security and boost economic growth. Women’s economic empowerment contributes directly to significantly improving children’s health markers besides more equitable intra-household decision-making.

Also Read: Opinion: Community And Women-Focused Resilience Models Way Forward For Food Security

(This article has been authored by Elisabeth Faure, Representative and Country Director, World Food Programme in India.)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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