Advancing and measuring women's empowerment through/in nutrition interventions

Women’s empowerment and improved nutrition: An assessment of a project in Bangladesh using an adapted version of pro-WEAI for small-scale fisheries and aquaculture (Pro-WEFI)

Rahma Adam

While inequalities between women and men have long been recognized in development practices, few studies have looked at how socioeconomic interventions have affected women’s empowerment in the aquaculture sector. This study explores to what extent, in which ways and for which women, does economic and social empowerment, and dietary diversity change in relation to aquaculture: increase income, diversify diets, and empower women in Bangladesh project interventions, specifically the encouragement of nutrition-sensitive production, building entrepreneurship capacity and agency of women entrepreneurs, and the financial inclusion interventions? The study uses quantitative household surveys (400), men (8) and women (8) focus group discussions, and in-depth interviews in Rangpur and Rajshahi divisions in Bangladesh.

Women empowerment among ethnic minority communities in northern Vietnam and lessons from a seed system for nutrition intervention

Deborah Nabuuma

Vegetables are important for nutrition and income in Vietnam’s Northern Upland, yet production is constrained by inadequate access to quality seed. In a project investigating impact pathways from seeds to nutrition among Mai Son district and Sa Pa Township ethnic minorities, a gap was identified regarding the level of women’s empowerment and its linkages with project outcomes and potential recommendations. Pro-WEAI quantitative and qualitative methodologies were applied during the endline to explore women empowerment among H’mong, Dao and Thai ethnic minority groups (611 households in 36 villages and 28 FGDs in 14 villages). Empowerment was higher among men than women, in the Thai than other ethnicities, and in Mai Son. Empowerment of women and men in Mai Son was 13% and 45%, and in Sa Pa 4% and 6%, respectively. The average empowerment gap between women without gender parity and men in their households was 39% in Mai Son and 53% in Sa Pa. Across gender, ethnic group and location, all groups were <10% empowered, except Thai men (48%), Hmong men (36%) and Thai women in Mai Son (18%). Main disempowerment drivers included work balance, control over income use and mobility. Qualitative results indicated the project increased in nutrition knowledge and skills but had limited impact on empowerment—this was attributed to food related activities being women’s responsibility. Since women’s high workload appears to stem from existing gender norms and stereotypes, seed system and nutrition intervention impact can be strengthened by labor-sensitive and accessible innovations, and by addressing location specific barriers.

Empowering women through a participatory nutrition-sensitive project in Western Kenya

Nadia Guettou Djurfeldt

It is widely recognized that women’s empowerment is a crucial pathway to achieving nutrition outcomes. This study is based on a participatory nutrition project that aims to diversify women’s and children’s diets through traditional and locally available foods in Vihiga County, Kenya.
The objective of this study was to assess how and if the project contributed to women’s empowerment along pathways in the agriculture-to-nutrition framework, with a specific focus on pathways: (1) agriculture as a source of food and (2) agriculture as a source of income.
Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis was used to determine where along the agriculture-nutrition pathways the project had an impact. To get a more in-depth understanding, a women’s empowerment pathway was integrated into pathway one and two.
Throughout the nutrition project, women’s time burden decreased due to men’s increased involvement in vegetable production, which was previously perceived as a woman’s job. Along pathway two, women reported that they have greater decision-making or bargaining power over expenditures, as they now see themselves as providers and not dependents. Women also reported being independent and relying less on their husbands to provide food for the household. At the same time, some husbands showed reduced responsibility to contribute to food expenditures and women and men remained unaware of what their spouses earned.
The results show that men’s behavioral change is linked to women’s empowerment. Hence, this research confirms the importance of including men in nutrition-sensitive projects.