How do rural working women in Tamil Nadu fare with regard to breastfeeding practices? This was the topic Natalia Napolitano, World Food Prize intern and Ruan-Borlaug Fellow, chose to study as part of her fellowship work at M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, India. She presented the results of her work on July 25, 2018 at the Foundation.
In her two-month research project, which involved a two-week field study, Natalia interviewed 30 women, of the age group 20 to 55+, in Reddiarchatram block, Dindigul district, to learn about their pregnancy and breast feeding experiences. Overall, it was seen that women are unable to breastfeed their babies for the full term of two years as recommended by doctors, owing to multiple demands on their time. It was seen that working women faced many constraints, like the lack of crèche facilities at the workplace and support at home. They received information on breastfeeding mainly from women family members or ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers.
Natalia’s study found that women in rural areas are engaged in many tasks which do not fall into the category of economic work; therefore they are unable to pay attention to their health and that of their family. This is where institutionalised support in the form of hospitals and government schemes could be of great help.
Prof M S Swaminathan, Founder MSSRF, commended Natalia on her articulate research completed in a short time and said, “We need to address the time poverty faced by women in rural areas in addition to their economic poverty.” Prof Swaminathan also invited Natalia to collaborate on future research with MSSRF.
The seminar was attended by scientists and scholars of MSSRF.
To read more about Natalia’s work, click here