The one vital ingredient or rather the edifice on which all empowerment rests and most often get missed is the health says Madhulika Ra Chauhan

Being a woman is analogous to being an Apple I-phone (camera, phone, internet all rolled into one). You are a mother, a sister, a wife and sometimes the ashtabhuja avatar if need be, who is supposed to cook, clean and look like a million dollars not to forget produce and bring-up kids and support the family. Phew!! While, we can wait for feminism to take over and men to be an equal contributor (read metropolitan), the one vital ingredient or rather the edifice on which all empowerment rests and most often get missed is the health – woman’s health – which is often neglected and in most cases undermined.

I’m not a feminist by definition (whatever that may be), however being a woman I’m definitively more inclined towards working to uplift and perhaps remove the barriers which stunts the growth of a woman quite literally – her nutrition. As per NFHS-3 (National Family Health Survey conducted in 2005-06) 36 per cent of Indian women are chronically undernourished and 55 per cent are anemic. A third of women of reproductive age in India are undernourished, with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 kg/m2. It is well known that an undernourished mother inevitably gives birth to an undernourished baby, perpetuating an intergenerational cycle of undernutrition.

A healthy mind cannot exist without a healthy body goes a popular adage so do you think a woman who is perpetually anemic would not be able to voice her concerns, whatever they may be – domestic violence, equal rights etc. as her feeble voice (due to lack of nutrition) would fall on deaf ears. The other major factor is lack of education on ‘menstrual issues’ which being a taboo in itself, even in elite circles, has for long perpetuated practices which leads to fatal diseases like cervical cancer also more popularly termed as the ‘lady killer’. So, in case she survives the womb, she’s killed by it or worse during or after child-birth.

I believe in campaigns for all kind of support for making women more empowered and equal in the work place or in a marriage or in front of the law, however, before we cry ourselves hoarse over equal-right we need to raise a campaign for good health, where a woman is given an equal opportunity to be a healthy citizen. ‘She’ and only ‘she’ has the power of creating a healthier future generation and giving her a healthy body and availability to a nutritious meal would perhaps be the best gift a nation can bestow it’s ‘nation builder’.

Madhulika Ra Chauhan, a digital marketer by the day and passionate writer by night. She’s also the NRI coordinator for an NGO Vaanprrasth, a registered NGO which aims to improve women’s overall health and sanitation in an around the areas of Varanasi. It has a network of primary health care centers which provide primary health care facility at low cost to the underprivileged.

Madhulika Ra Chauhan
Twitter: @Madhulika_Ra