Did you know that 42 percent of children under the age of five in India suffer from malnutrition? Thankfully, international development organizations are working to eradicate this problem by implementing health programs and other community development initiatives. One area that might be overlooked, however, is how women’s rights contribute to reaching this goal. The Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog published an article by Renee Giovarelli, executive director of the Landesa Center for Women’s Land Rights, who discusses how female empowerment affects child malnutrition:

“There is growing evidence that the reason for India’s malnourished children is not just empty pockets – it is, specifically, women’s empty pockets. Women in India have a lower status and therefore less control over resources, both land and money, and consequently do not have the leverage to ensure that their children’s needs are met.”

Giovarelli also outlines how Landesa and the national and state governments of India are tackling this issue:

“Across India, national and some state governments are recognising this and are working to put a powerful asset – land – into the hands of women. … Just last year officials in Odisha state opened the first Women’s Land Rights Facilitations Centre. And officials in West Bengal state have begun adding the names of women to all the land titles they distribute in their micro-plot poverty alleviation programme. Officials in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha and West Bengal are working to ensure that more women find their names on the title documents to the land they till.”

Land rights for women can help ease India’s child malnutrition crisis” [Poverty Matters, January 20, 2012]

To learn more about Landesa Founder and 2006 Kravis Prize winner Roy Prosterman, check out our page.