Celebrating Women’s Empowerment in India

With support from Bestseller Foundation, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is working in the states of Karnataka (with KHPT as implementing partner) and Bihar (with Nidan as implementing partner) in India to improve the nutrition and lives of groups of semi-literate women.

In both the states the project is steered through the rural livelihood mission i.e. JEEViKA in Bihar and Karnataka Comprehensive Nutrition Mission in Karnataka. GAIN is facilitating the establishment and operationalization of 4 production facilities to produce and distribute a quality assured fortified blended nutritious food. The women are trained to run their own factories producing a quality Fortified Blended Food product called ”Wheatamix” in Bihar and “Shakhti Vita” in Karnataka. This complementary food product, fortified with vitamins and minerals, has the potential to reach approximately 70,000 targeted beneficiaries that mainly includes women, adolescents and children in the region.

In order to share successes and lessons learned over the last few years, Bestseller Foundation and GAIN have recently worked on six videos about the different components and areas of the project.

Light in Hidden Darkness elucidates upon the need for adequate nutrition for pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls and children. The video demonstrates integrated nutrition interventions of the World Bank supported Karnataka Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Project being piloted by the Karnataka Comprehensive Nutrition Mission (Government of Karnataka) and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) with KHPT as implementing partner, in Devadurga block in Raichur district and Chincholi block in Gulbarga district (two of the most backward blocks of Karnataka). The interventions included establishment and operationalization of production units that will produce and supply a quality assured Fortified Blended Food (FBF) product to approximately 40,000 beneficiaries in these 2 selected blocks and distribution of FBF by Village Nutrition Volunteers (VNVs) to vulnerable households within their communities. In addition to distribution of FBF, the local VNVs also play an important role in counselling families on the causes and effects of poor hygiene and sanitation in relation to eating and feeding practices, in addition to educating about the benefits of healthy diets.

Coming Together for a Healthier Tomorrow emphasises the need for convergence and collaboration to improve the nutritional status of women and children. GAIN with the help of its implementing partner KHPT, worked in close coordination with the Departments of Health & Family Welfare, Women & Child Development, Agriculture, Horticulture, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Education, Rural Water Supply & Sanitation and Social Forestry, particularly at the Block and District levels to be able to bring effectiveness at three levels of effort i.e. systems, community and the provider.

Empowering Souls. Enriching Lives focuses on the need of empowering women for the overall progress of a community and the country at large. Helping women achieve self-reliance and gender equity has been the guiding principle here. The dimensions of empowerment foreseen are: economical, socio-cultural, interpersonal/familial and psychological. To promote financial independence among the women, the women Selp Help Groups (SHGs) were encouraged to set up production units that required producing Fortified Blended Food, by the women, for the women and children. This inspired them to take control over their own lives, set their own agendas, acquire skills, solve problems, take decisions and cherish self-dependence.

Village Nutrition Volunteers (VNVs): The Beacons of Light elaborates on the efforts done by the field workers who act as a key resource personnel, recruited from within the community to oversee project activities. The activities range from data collection, food distribution, behaviour change counselling at individual and household level, bringing convergence among various departments and monthly monitoring. The women volunteers play an important role in spreading awareness about the benefits of consuming the Fortified Blended Food and counselings families on the causes and effects of poor hygiene and sanitation in relation to eating and feeding practices.

Innovative Solutions for Nutritional Needs is about a unique, self-sustaining manufacturing business model that has been implemented in two most backward blocks of Northern Karnataka. With a production capacity of about 2MT/unit/day these production units cater to the needs of undernourished and impoverished children, adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women. The fortified blended food is formulated to provide 1/3rd of the macronutrients and half of the micronutrient requirement of a day. A one of a kind facility operated only by women through the supply chain stages: from procurement, loading, manufacturing, process monitoring, packaging, labelling, dispatching, and even distribution to the beneficiaries.

Building Healthier Communities describes about the fact that adequate nutrition is the cornerstone for good heath. In order to meet the special nutritional needs of children, adolscents and women, GAIN along with KHPT and Government of Karnataka through this project aims at reducing under-nutrition among the target populations through multi-sectoral and inter-generational approaches in two backward blocks of Karnataka- Chincholi and Devadurga blocks in Kalaburagi and Raichur districts. The strategies employed included: engage, empower and innovate. The aim is to alleviate undernutrition through scalable and sustainable nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific interventions.

The Winds of Change is a short video that elaborates on the change in women’s nutritional status and livelihood, subsequent to the intervention of setting up two production units, located in Muzzafarpur district, Bihar. These production units are owned, managed and operated by cluster-level federations (CLFs), which are federations of women self-help groups. They produce a fortified blended food product called Wheatamix for the Anganwadi centres operated by the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). The video is about the first-hand experiences of women who were encouraged to set up and run these production units and how this inspired the women workers to take control over their own lives, set their own agendas, acquire skills, solve problems, take decisions and cherish self-dependence.

The Spirit of Entrepreneurship is a short video that elucidates on the fact that even a shy, silent and unaware rural woman can realise the dream of being an entrepreneur. The video describes about a unique, self-sustaining manufacturing business model that has been implemented in two blocks of Bihar. It is about setting up the two production units, located in Muzzafarpur district, Bihar, owned and operated by cluster-level federations (CLFs), which are federations of women self-help groups. With a production capacity of about 1MT/unit/day, these production units are operated only by women; from procurement, loading, manufacturing, process monitoring, packaging, labelling, dispatching, and even distribution to the beneficiaries, everything is managed by women.


Download our brief ‘Decentralized production of fortified supplementary foods in India by self-help groups: financial feasibility’

Download our brief ‘Decentralized production of fortified supplementary foods in India by self-help groups: impact on women empowerment’

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Published 17 July 2018