Women’s empowerment in agriculture and dietary quality across the life course: Evidence from Bangladesh
This article (PDF) by the Food Policy journal examines the relationship between women’s empowerment in agriculture and indicators of individual dietary quality, in Bangladesh. The findings suggest that women’s empowerment is associated with better dietary quality of individuals within the household, but the strength of this association varies across the life course. Women’s empowerment is correlated with more diverse diets of children under five, but empowerment measures are not consistently associated with increases in nutrient intake for this age group. Rather, maternal schooling and household socio-economic status play a more important role for younger children. Women’s empowerment is positively and significantly associated with adult men’s and women’s dietary diversity and nutrient intakes. Empowerment does not benefit all individuals within the household equally, with gender bias emerging in adolescence. Results suggest the emergence of strong preferences for adolescent boys. These variations have implications for the design and targeting of interventions to improve dietary quality, particularly of women, children, and adolescent girls. Future research could focus on the pathways through which empowerment may influence diet quality. Policies designed to empower women and improve nutritional status need to be based on an understanding of which specific domains of women’s empowerment matter at different stages of the life course. A multi-pronged approach consisting of appropriate women’s empowerment interventions bundled with agricultural interventions and nutrition behavior change communication may be useful in improving diet quality of all household members. Social norms, particularly those related to son preference and old age support, affect the extent to which women are willing to use their bargaining power for different members of the household. government and civil society interventions should not only attempt to empower women as individuals, but also address structural and societal factors to make women less economically and socially dependent on sons, husbands or brothers.