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Gender discrimination leads to malnourishment in Nepal


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The Nepal Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) reported that 29 percent of children under five are malnourished, and in the remote north-west this number jumps to more than half of all children being chronically malnourished. The prime reason for malnourishment is discrimination in feeding the male and female child.

Locals and experts agree that gender discrimination is the reason why children in Nepal die in spite of the fact that enough food is produced to feed them.

The north-west area of Nepal experiences wide spread bias against girls and women as the birth of a boy is celebrated and on the contrary a girl’s birth is hardly acknowledged. When it comes to nutrition and the distribution of food within families, girls are neglected because they are thought not to need strength.

In this part of the world, women live hard lives full of physical demands. It is common to see women and girls walking along the road from one village to the next, bearing the weight of baskets of apples, rocks or bags of rice, while men and boys tag alongside unburdened.

It is also common that boys and husbands eat first and are offered the most nutritious food, often leaving girls and women with leftovers.

Research indicates that about half of stunting in children occurs before birth and up to two years old. So girls are not fed well, do not grow up into healthy individuals and thus give birth to weak kids and the vicious circle continues. Experts have stated that breaking the cycle of malnutrition in girls and women will not only improve their quality of life, but will also create positive outcome for society through improving women’s mental and cognitive abilities, two things strongly affected by malnutrition.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

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An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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