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Unpacking the Links Between Women's Empowerment and Child Nutrition Evidence Using Nationally Representative Data From Bangladesh

Authors
Disciplines
  • Design
  • Education
  • Law
  • Medicine

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between gender inequality and nutrition using direct indicators of empowerment such as mobility, decision-making power, and attitudes towards verbal and physical abuse. Our approach draws on the theory of the household as a utility maximizing unit that uses women’s status and characteristics as inputs to produce a final good, child health. Indices that capture distinct dimensions of women’s empowerment are used as explanatory variables along with controls for age and sex of the child, maternal height and education. Results from Logit models indicate that a greater degree of women’s empowerment is associated with better long term nutritional status of children. Attitudes towards domestic violence have a significant effect on chronic malnutrition and mobility; participation in decision making and ability to purchase food are important influences on dietary diversity. Our findings warrant further research and attention to inform the design and implementation of interventions. Specific research questions that emerge from these analyses relate to types of individual and community interventions that can reduce prevalence of violence and empower women in order to achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes; and policy actions, including legal instruments that can empower women and address the links between empowerment and nutrition.

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