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Role of Women's Empowerment in Improving the Nutritional Status of Children Under Five Years of Age: An Insight From the National Family Health Survey-5
Authors: Gaurav Singh and Anupriya Jha
Source: Cureus, Volume 16, issue 4
Topic(s): Child feeding
Children under five
Women’s empowerment
Country: Asia
Published: APR 2024
Abstract: Background: Childhood malnutrition remains a global concern, especially in low- and middle-income countries, and is known to create an intergenerational cycle of illness and poverty. Women's empowerment has gained global recognition as a potential catalyst for improving child nutrition. The objective of this research was to investigate the association between women's empowerment factors and the nutritional status of children under five years of age. Methods: The study used data from the National Family Health Survey-5, conducted in India between 2019 and 2021 by the International Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai. A weighted sample of 29,491 mother-child pairs was analyzed. The odds ratio for women's empowerment and sociodemographic factors associated with the nutritional status of children under five years of age was calculated using Pearson’s chi-square test and multiple logistic regression. Results: The study found that the sex of the child (OR = 1.066, 95% CI: 1.017 to 1.117; p-value: 0.008), birth order (OR = 0.824, 95% CI: 0.780 to 0.871; p-value < 0.001), education of the mother (OR = 1.356, 95% CI: 1.255 to 1.464; p-value < 0.001), education of the father (OR = 1.227, 95% CI: 1.140 to 1.320; p-value < 0.001), having a bank or savings account that she uses (OR = 1.151, 95% CI: 1.084 to 1.221; p-value < 0.001), having a mobile phone that she uses (OR = 1.184, 95% CI: 1.125 to 1.246; p-value < 0.001), and wealth index (OR = 1.597, 95% CI: 1.514 to 1.684; p-value < 0.001) were significant predictors of undernutrition in children under the age of five (U5). Conclusion: Women's empowerment factors play a significant role in improving childhood nutrition. In the study, male sex, higher birth order, lower parental education, poor wealth index, maternal lack of access to a bank or a savings account, and lack of mobile phone ownership were found to be significant predictors of undernutrition in children U5. The findings underscore the importance of family planning, financial inclusion, access to mobile phones, and higher education for women as important factors that can help improve the nutritional status of children under five years of age. Policymakers can utilize these insights to make targeted strategies for women's empowerment, thus improving the nutritional status of children. However, being a secondary data analysis, our research is constrained by the variables available in the dataset. Further research is required to better comprehend the complex relationship between women empowerment and child nutrition.