Right Amount Of Nutrition Will Make Women Better Human Capital: Megha

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Megha, a young social activist talks about gender and nutrition inequality.

What inspired you to work towards the issue of gender and nutrition inequality? And, how are you doing so? Please elaborate.  

The credit of inspiring me to work towards gender and nutrition inequality entirely goes to the childhood experience. I grew up in an environment where incidents such as females eating food after male members (even if she does not wish to do it, she has to do), a boy has given priority in food intaking even though the same is required by her elder sister are common sights. Witnessing such things made me feel if I am not going to do anything now then never. Presently, I am working on the project which strives to bridge the nutrition gap between rural males and females. I started the whole thing by the self-survey of my village to access the reason for female preference of eating after males, their future expectations of the same, etc. Upon the analysis of the survey, I initiated my drive. I carried out one to one interaction with families of my village Kanharpura followed by making them watch videos to emphasize the necessity of nutrients for the body. Moreover, I arranged for interactive sessions with teenagers. 

How challenging has it been talking about the issue with women in UP?    

The journey was full of ups and downs. My elderly family members blamed education for my so-called ‘weird’ behaviour of questioning the traditional system. The biggest hurdle came from male members of the village. They would often close door on my face denying me to talk to me. They were not ready to take a different path fearing to disobey the legacy. Women would not utter a single word in man’s presence. My father showed faith in me and helped me in dealing with males by reasoning out and emphasizing the impracticality of the issue.   

What kind of response did you get from the women when you started working on this issue?  

Then responses were varied. On the one hand, elderly women were firm and rooted in their practice denying to hear a single word against it whereas others were ready to give me a chance. They would often call me when no male was present in the house and would patiently grasp my every word. They were ready to take out some time from their busy schedule. I remember one of the comments, ‘Dekho ab to Megha hum par hi question karne lagi. Beta aapko hi kyun pareshani ho rahi hai?’. I became habitual of hearing such comments regularly.

Are you witnessing any change within your village through your campaign? Please share some information.

My drive took time but brought out good results. I believe in deep impact rather than wide results. Now, pregnant women are free to have food before other members. If not prior, then in some family both genders eat food together. Rural people started seeing the important relationship between diet, health and productivity. It is the teenagers of the villagers who started questioning the practice which they feel need to change or is irrelevant in the present scenario. People have started being more responsible for their role in society. 

What is the significance of getting the right amount of nutrition for women? Please explain.  

Women have always remained the target of my every endeavour. I feel from time immemorial, a woman has been suppressed and not given equal opportunity to prove themselves as compared to men. It is the time that we shift our focus to solve the issues related to women and make them free of all sufferings. The right amount of nutrition for women is needed because it will empower them to work to their utmost capability thus contributing to the national growth. Moreover, it will make them better human capital for the nation thus having a positive impact on GDP. In addition to this, it will have positive results on intellectual development for teenagers. I strongly believe in “you are what you eat”.  

What do you want to do further with this initiative? What are your plans for your future?  

My project is a small contribution to this larger issue and I hope to keep making similar strides wherever I get a chance. In the near future, I wish to expand the same initiative to cover more villages. My future projects will always be targeting women to better their condition. I am yet working on my long-term goals, but one thing is very sure that I do not want to limit myself and stop questioning the system. 

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