What dimensions of women’s empowerment in agriculture matter for nutrition-related practices and outcomes in Ghana?

Hazel Jean L. Malapit and Agnes R. Quisumbing 
International Food Policy Research Institute 

Policy interventions that improve women’s status and reduce gender inequalities are expected to contribute to the well-being of not only the women themselves but also their children. Because women have the responsibility of caring for children and preparing food for the household in many societies, they play a critical role in efforts to sustainably improve children’s nutritional status. This paper investigates linkages between women’s empowerment in agriculture and the nutritional status of women and children using 2012 baseline data from the Feed the Future population-based survey in Ghana. The sample consists of 3,344 children and 3,640 women and is statistically representative of the northernmost regions of Ghana where the Feed the Future programs are operating. Using a new survey-based index, the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index, which directly measures women’s empowerment, inclusion, and agency in the agriculture sector, we conduct individual-level analyses of nutrition practices and outcomes including infant and young child feeding practices; dietary diversity for women and children; children’s height-for-age, weight-for-height, and weight-for-age z-scores; and women’s body mass index. Results suggest that women’s empowerment is more strongly associated with infant and young child feeding practices and only weakly associated with child nutrition status. Similarly, we find that women’s empowerment in credit decisions is positively and significantly correlated with women’s dietary diversity, but not body mass index. This suggests that improved nutritional status is not necessarily correlated with being empowered in all the domains of empowerment and that different domains may have different impacts on nutrition, consistent with other findings in the empowerment literature.

Publication date: 
28 Août, 2014 
Source / Citation: 

Malapit, Hazel Jean L. and Agnes R. Quisumbing. August 2014. "What dimensions of women’s empowerment in agriculture matter for nutrition-related practices and outcomes in Ghana?" IFPRI Discussion Paper No. 01367