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ICRW Announces Winner of the Inaugural Paula Kantor Award

By Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly is a Communications Specialist at the International Center for Research on Women. This is a re-post of her piece which originally appeared on the News & Commentary section of the ICRW website.

The International Center for Research on Women is
proud to announce the winner of the inaugural Paula Kantor Award for
Excellence in Field Research
.

After careful consideration by a diverse panel of judges, the award will be conferred to Dr. Soumya Gupta.

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Dr.
Gupta is a post-doctoral fellow with the Tata-Cornell Agriculture and
Nutrition Initiative
at Cornell University. Dr. Gupta’s PhD research
examined the extent to which women’s empowerment in rural communities of
central India is influenced by agricultural management practices and
how these practices, in turn, influence the quality of women’s diet and
their vulnerability to iron deficiency.

Dr.
Gupta’s research is among the first to systematically and empirically
assess the empowerment status of women in India as it relates to
agricultural determinants and nutritional outcomes. It recognizes the
fact that while women’s empowerment influences choices made in the realm
of agriculture, it can also influence their own nutritional outcomes.
In her research, she focuses on assessing iron deficiency, which affects
approximately half of the women in the Chandrapur district of
Maharashtra, India. Iron deficiency is known to adversely affect
cognitive development, immune system response to infections and labor
productivity. It is the most prevalent micronutrient deficiency in the
world and iron deficiency anemia is a severe public health concern in
India.

Her research indicated that while diversification of
production systems and diets is an important pathway to improved
nutrition, the outcome is conditional on women’s status. She found that
empowered women tend to have better access to diet diversity and
improved iron status. Dr. Gupta’s research also highlights the
importance of a systemic approach to improving nutritional goals and the
need for targeted interventions.

“I
could not imagine a more deserving researcher upon which to bestow the
honor of the inaugural Paula Kantor Award,” said ICRW President Sarah
Degnan Kambou
. “Dr. Gupta’s work truly embodies the spirit and passion
that Paula brought to her work every day. I see so many parallels
between the important work that Paula was doing to better integrate
gender into agriculture and rural development and Dr. Gupta’s field
research. I look forward to giving this special award to Dr. Gupta and
to watching her grow as a researcher focused on filling in critical gaps
in knowledge on issues affecting women and girls.”

Dr.
Gupta received her PhD in Applied Economics from Cornell University, a
master’s degree from the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at
Jawaharlal Nehru University
in New Delhi, India, and a bachelor’s degree
from Hindu College (University of Delhi).

“I
am honored to be the first recipient of the Paula Kantor Award for
Excellence in Field Research. There is a great need for better data (and
metrics) in the field of agriculture, nutrition and women’s
empowerment. In light of that, the Paula Kantor award acknowledges the
importance of gathering primary data for evidence-based research,” said
Dr. Gupta. “At the same time the Award also recognizes the tremendous
effort that goes into designing a field-based data collection activity
that is methodologically robust, contextually relevant, and ethically
sound. I am inspired by Paula’s work and life, and with this award look
forward to continuing my research on the linkages between nutrition and
agriculture with a focus on women’s empowerment, and contributing to
policy reform in a meaningful way.”

This
is the first year that ICRW is giving out the Paula Kantor Award for
Excellence in Field Research, designed to honor the legacy of former
ICRW colleague Paula Kantor, who was killed while working in
Afghanistan, while honoring the work of a young, promising researcher.

Dr. Gupta will receive the award at ICRW’s 40th Anniversary celebration in New Delhi, India on January 20th.