Rural Women’s Empowerment in Nutrition: A Proposal for Diagnostics Linking Food, Health and Institutions
51 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2019
Date Written: September 30, 2017
This paper explores the concept of women’s nutritional empowerment and develops a framework for operationalizing it. The paper specifically focuses on the nutritional outcomes of women themselves, rather than on their children. The emphasis on nutritional empowerment addresses an important gap in both literature and policy practice relating to gender equality, agriculture and food security. Interventions to enhance agricultural productivity and food production do not always translate into improved nutritional outcomes. Further, agricultural interventions claiming to promote the economic empowerment of women but focusing exclusively on income-generating opportunities may inadvertently increase their work burden (both paid and unpaid) and undermine their health and nutrition. The proposed framework includes the domains of food, health, and institutions and articulates their multiple linkages. Both paid and unpaid work are important mediating factors in these interactions. We aim to identify specific individual constraints as well as broader structural factors that may prevent rural women from achieving adequate nutritional outcomes and to develop tools to assess the relative weight of these factors in different contexts. The analysis draws on quantitative and qualitative data from Bangladesh and India but, with further validation, could have wider applicability. We hope this exercise could provide the basis for a first-cut of a gender and nutrition diagnostic tool to support efforts to promote well-targeted policies for nutritional security, specifically of rural women.
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