May 25, 2020
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Nutrition Warriors | From Theory To Practical, Monalisa Padhee's Passage To Women's Wellness

A graduate in biotechnology, Monalisa Padhee's team works in Tilonia, Rajasthan to improve nutrition awareness amongst women to combat other ills

Nutrition Warriors | From Theory To Practical, Monalisa Padhee's Passage To Women's Wellness
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Most A women’s wellness programme in progress
Nutrition Warriors | From Theory To Practical, Monalisa Padhee's Passage To Women's Wellness
outlookindia.com
2020-01-10T15:50:51+0530

Monalisa Padhee was born and bred in Sambalpur, Odisha. The pursuit of a ‘well settled life’, emphasised by her father, led her to graduate in biotechnology, after which she moved to Australia for higher studies. During her PhD, Monalisa worked on a project looking for any link between what mothers eat around the time of conception and adult diseases in babies.

Gradually, her interests widened into greater practicality. “It’s not that I did not enjoy research, but I wanted to see the relevance of my lab work and research in people’s lives,” says Monalisa. It was then that she decided to take a ‘leap of faith’­—return to India and work on a rural development fellowship. “During my time on the field, I realised that health issues in these communities could not be isolated from interconnected problems of education, discrimination against women, financial dep­endence and poor understanding of rights.”

Monalisa now heads the ‘women wellness and enr­iche’ programme at Barefoot College in Tilonia, Raja­st­han. Her team works to fight malnutrition in rural women through awareness, research, and reviving indigenous products. “The real challenge lies in getting women und­erstand the vicious cycle of poor nutrition and educating them about the need to take care of nutritional choices, however limited they might be,” she says.

Her team spreads awareness using simple, practical and interactive tools to improve dietary practices. In addition, they try to ensure timely and correct diagnosis of anaemia among women. “Our approach is to train women from the communities so that they bec­ome nutrition champions within their communities,” says Monalisa, who is also a trained folk dancer.

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