Over 3000 State Mission staff and Self-Help Group (SHG) members logged in from 34 states to attend the third edition of ‘Gender Samwaad’ organised by the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development on the 11th of March 2022. It is a national virtual initiative under the DAY-NRLM to generate greater awareness on the mission’s interventions across the country with a gender lens. The theme for this edition was ‘Promotion of food and nutrition security through women’s collectives’. The event was organized as a part of Ministry’s Iconic Week celebration theme ‘Naye Bharat ki Naari’ under Amrit Mahotsava.
The event enabled National and State Rural Livelihoods Missions (SRLM) to listen to voices from SHG women and for SRLMs to share and learn from best practices. Addressing the online gathering, Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, MoRD highlighted the potential of women collectives to support behaviour change and access to services. “SHG women across the country played an important role in raising awareness on COVID-19 amongst over 5.5 crore rural households,” he said.
Smt. Nita Kejrewal, Joint Secretary, MoRD shared the Ministry’s perspective and initiatives on interventions related to Food, Nutrition, Health and WASH (FNHW). “SHGs under the DAY-NRLM are working on multiple interventions to fight malnutrition including income enhancement of rural households, improving productivity, and diversification of nutrient rich food crops and social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) among SHG members,” she said.
Dr Vinod Kumar Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, highlighting the ways in which SHGs can work with specific target groups across the life cycle said “SHG women can promote behaviour change, counsel women on care of low-birth weight babies, promote girl’s education, healthy diets, consumption of micronutrients, marriage at the right age, as well as spacing between pregnancies.” He also explained the concepts of malnutrition and infant and young child feeding and care practices effectively.
Shri Dhrijesh Tiwari, Statistical Advisor, Ministry of Women and Child Development spoke about the various initiatives undertaken by the Ministry for women and child nutrition. Smt. Meeta Rajivlochan, Member Secretary, National Commission for Women focussed on women nutrition issues and highlighted their rights and entitlements in this regard. Dr. Kalyani Raghunathan, IFPRI presented the findings of studies conducted on impact of related food and nutrition interventions through women collectives.
The State Mission Directors and Community Resource Persons from SRLMs of Bihar, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh made presentations on how they aim to integrate FNHW activities into the regular activities taken up by SHGs under DAY-NRLM. CEO, Bihar SRLM shared about SBCC approaches and promotion of nutrition-sensitive agriculture to supplement and diversify food groups available at home. CEO, Maharashtra SRLM presented their work on promotion of nutrition security through nutri-based enterprises and campaigns on nutri-gardens, while CEO, Chhattisgarh SRLM shared their learnings and experience of discussions in group meetings and engaging male members along with women for maternal nutrition interventions.