Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Connecting research to ongoing debates

by Saba Aslam

Women picking vegetables in Mirpurkhas
Photo credit: Waseem Gazdar

Agricultural work in Pakistan is becoming feminised and accounts for more than 70 per cent in the work force. How well is women’s agricultural work is recognised amongst the policy makers of the country is still unclear, but it is a key area of interest for researchers in understanding the linkages between women’s agricultural work and their health outcomes.

The Collective for Social Science Research (CSSR) has been involved in a LANSA study on women’s work and nutrition (WWN) since 2015. This study is based on women agricultural workers of the Sindh province of Pakistan. While the main aim of the study is to assess the pathways and disconnects between women’s work in agriculture and its impact on their nutritional status, the study also helps us to identify the types of interventions needed to combat undernutrition in women agricultural workers and their children. This study is in its final stages of completion; two rounds of surveys and anthropometric measurements have already been conducted on mother-infant dyads of rural areas of the Sindh province, and different studies are also expected to emerge from the data collected through these surveys.

The ANH Academy week which will be held in Kathmandu this July presents an excellent opportunity for us researchers to connect with each other, and share our understanding of agri-health linkages that are prevalent in our countries. In fact, the South Asian ‘paradox’ could be worth exploring in terms of different policies and strategies needed to mitigate the conundrum of undernutrition prevalent in the entire region. I also think that this symposium will be a good opportunity for understanding the causes of undernutrition in South Asia, and learning about the various interventions that could lead to pro-nutrition outcomes in communities where agriculture is the main source of livelihood.

Researchers from the CSSR, including myself will be representing the WWN survey in different events and sessions hosted by the ANH Academy. We will also be representing our ‘Research to Action’ pilot which is an ambitious innovation for facilitating community-level evidence-based discussion on agriculture-nutrition linkages. The policy dialogue on women agricultural workers and nutrition in South Asia provides a rare opportunity for researchers and policymakers from across the region to come together on a key issue that impacts on nutrition.

*This blog was originally written for the ANH Academy website.