Women's Empowerment in Agriculture: What Role for Food Security in Bangladesh?
36 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2014
Date Written: October 2013
Women’s low status and persistent gender gaps in health and education in South Asia contribute to chronic child malnutrition (Smith et al. 2003) and food insecurity (von Grebmer et al. 2009), even as other determinants of food security, such as per capita incomes, have improved. This is particularly relevant for Bangladesh, where chronic food insecurity continues to be an important issue despite steady advances in food production. To be able to leverage agriculture as an engine of inclusive growth, there is a need to develop indicators for measuring women’s empowerment, examine its relationship to various food-security outcomes, and monitor the impact of interventions to empower women. Using nationally representative survey data from Bangladesh, we examine the relationship between women’s empowerment in agriculture and two measures of household food security: per adult equivalent calorie availability and dietary diversity. We use the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index to assess the extent of women’s empowerment in agriculture and instrumental variables techniques to correct for the potential endogeneity of empowerment. We find that the overall women’s empowerment score, the number of groups in which women actively participate, women’s control of assets, and a narrowing gap in empowerment between men and women within households are positively associated with calorie availability and dietary diversity.
Keywords: Bangladesh, South Asia, Asia, gender, women, food security, agriculture, nutrition, nutritional status, gender parity, empowerment
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