New Delhi: A study conducted by a group of researchers in the United States published in the Economia Politica journal has claimed that the national lockdown in India in March 2020 to control the first wave of Covid-19 had a negative effect on the nutrition of women’s nutrition across the country.
The study was done by Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition which conducted the survey in Maharajganj, Uttar Pradesh, Munger, Bihar, and Kandhamal and Kalahandi, Odisha.
In the study, it was found that there was a decrease in the expenditure on household food items for women in May 2020 as compared to May 2019.
The decrease was more obvious in the case of non-staple food items such as meats, eggs, vegetables, and fruits.
This happened despite the fact that the Public Distribution System (PDS), direct benefit transfer and ration from aanganwadis reaching 80 per cent, 50 per cent and 30 per cent of the surveyed households, respectively.
“Our findings contribute to the growing body of evidence of women’s disproportionate vulnerability to economic shocks, the impact of a staple grain focused safety net programme, and restricted markets on the access and availability of diverse nutritious foods,” the paper said.
“Women’s diets were lacking in diverse foods even before the pandemic, but COVID-19 has further exacerbated the situation,” said Soumya Gupta, co-author of the paper.
“Any policies addressing the impact of the pandemic on nutritional outcomes must do so through a gendered lens that reflects the specific, and often persistent, vulnerabilities faced by women,” she said in a statement issued by Cornell University.
The researchers urge the government to recognise that the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on society with vulnerable groups being more affected than some other groups.
Other co-authors of the papers are Prabhu Pingali, TCI director, Mathew Abraham, assistant director, and consultant Payal Seth.
Withy inputs from PTI