Women’s Contributions to Reducing Micronutrient Deficiencies

Summary of published research1

A number of agencies have adopted 'gender sensitive' policies, which aim to strengthen the role of women in controlling intervention resources in emergencies. The rationale for such policies is that empowerment of women will contribute to improved impact of the intervention. The findings of a recent study in non-emergency situations lend some support to this approach. (Ed)

The International Centre for Research on Women, with partners in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Peru and Thailand, implemented an intervention research programme to find ways to strengthen women's contributions to reducing micronutrient deficiencies. The trial interventions focused on:

All five country interventions achieved significant nutrition outcomes and succeeded in reaching their nutrition objectives in less than 18 months. The approaches appear to have achieved objectives in two specific ways - first in terms of entry point and second, in terms of decision- makers. The Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania studies began by addressing women's practical resource needs as they related to food production, care and feeding practices. The Thailand and Peru studies began by strengthening women's capabilities as problem solvers, decisionmakers and community leaders, followed by development of nutrition specific interventions that addressed women's practical resource needs.

The two approaches are described in the article as the 'power and technology pathway' and the 'technology' pathway. The entry point for the two-step power and technology pathway strengthens individual capabilities to solve problems, take decisions and lead their communities. This pathway merges with the 'technology' pathway when the decision-makers identify the practical resources needed to improve access to food, care and health and develop interventions based on that diagnosis. The author suggests that as individuals realise their power to make decisions, lay claim to resources and exercise freedom of choice, they may engage the very institutions that created and perpetuated differential power dynamics. Thus, the "power and technology" pathway will lead to more sustainable nutrition outcomes.

The Thailand and Peru studies took a total of 9 and 16 months respectively, while the other studies took between 9 and 18 months. Even more remarkable was the time needed for the nutrition- specific intervention in Peru, taking a mere four months to implement and demonstrate equivalently significant results. The authors suggest that the relative efficiency and effectiveness of the Peru and Thailand studies probably reflects 'who' made the decisions. In the Peru and Thailand cases, women applied their enhanced skills to make decisions about which problems they needed to address and how to solve them, including the types of resources they needed and means to access them. The development professionals served as facilitators and technical resources, not as the primary decision-makers. In contrast, the decision-makers in the other studies were the research team. While community members, including women, provided information to the technical specialists and participated in the intervention trials, their decisions were limited to the choice of whether or not to adopt a technology or modify a practice.

The authors state that although care must be given to drawing conclusions from this retrospective analysis, it should not be a surprise that investing in women's decision-making power and expanding their freedom of choice was an efficient and effective way to achieve results.

Show footnotes

1Johnson-Welch, C (2002). Explaining nutrition outcomes of food-based interventions through an analysis of women's decision-making power. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 41, pp 21-34, 2002.

More like this

FEX: Aid for Nutrition: maximising the impact of nutrition-sensitive interventions

By Samuel Hauenstein Swan and Hugh Lort-Philips, Action Against Hunger/ACF International and Dr Stephen Spratt, Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Synopsis of...

FEX: Aid for Nutrition: maximising the impact of nutrition-sensitive interventions

Synopsis of report1 By Samuel Hauenstein Swan and Hugh Lort-Philips, Action Against Hunger/ACF International and Dr Stephen Spratt, Institute of Development Studies...

NEX: Nutrition in Mountain Agro-ecosystems

Shakhnoza Kurbanalieva has an MBA and ten years' experience in Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh and is currently coordinating the Nutrition in Mountain agro-ecosystems project at the...

FEX: The cost of a knowledge silo: A systematic re-review of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions

Summary of research1 By Michael Loevinsohn Michael Loevinsohn is a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, UK. An ecologist and epidemiologist, he has worked...

FEX: Literature review on impact of cash transfers on nutritional outcomes

By Bridget Fenn and Ellyn Yakowenko Bridget Fenn is an epidemiologist with a background in nutrition. She is currently a consultant for the Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN)...

FEX: WHO consultation on management of moderate malnutrition in U5s

The WHO, in collaboration with UNICEF, WFP and UNHCR, hosted a second consultation to discuss the programmatic aspects of the management of moderate malnutrition in children...

FEX: The use of evidence in humanitarian decision making

Summary of study1 Location: Ethiopia, DRC and Philippines What we know: Decision making in humanitarian response requires timely information and analysis and there are...

en-net: monitoring nutrition program for stunting indicators

Dear We have implemented a preventive program through distribution of folic acid/ vitamin A and health education about food diversity ,screening We plan to implement nutrition...

FEX: E-learning course on Social Safety Ne

The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Bank have just released a new e-learning course on Social Safety Nets to meet decision makers’ need for...

FEX: Why invest and what it will take to improve breastfeeding practices?

Summary of research1 Location: Global What we know: Global breastfeeding rates remain far below international targets, commitment to breastfeeding in terms of policy and...

FEX: Causes of chronic malnutrition: The cultural dimension

By Bronwen Gillespie Bronwen has a degree in Anthropology/International Development and a MA in Global Political Economy. She has worked in the area of food security and...

FEX: Transforming media coverage of nutrition in Kenya

By Titus Mung'ou At the time of writing, Titus Mung'ou was the Advocacy and Communications Manager at Action Against Hunger (ACF) and the outgoing Chair of Kenya's Scaling Up...

FEX: Nutrition-sensitive research in Ghana

By Dr Richmond Aryeetey Dr Richmond Aryeetey is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana School of Public Health, where he teaches public health nutrition. He is engaged...

FEX: Operational research in low-income countries: what, why, and how?

Summary of research1 A Lancet published article puts forward a definition of operational research, articulates its relevance to infectious-disease-control programmes, and...

FEX: Counselling on infant feeding choice: Some practical realities from South Africa

By Tanya Doherty (pictured), Mickey Chopra and Mike Colvin Tanya is currently a senior scientist at the Health Systems Trust and Medical Research Council in Capetown, South...

FEX: Infant Feeding Patterns and Risk of Death

Summary of published paper1 Current WHO guidelines recommend that HIV positive mothers should avoid breastfeeding only if replacement feeding is acceptable, feasible,...

FEX: Agricultural interventions to improve nutritional status of children

Summary of review1 A summary of a recent systematic review on the effectiveness of agricultural interventions that aim to improve nutritional status of children has recently...

FEX: Building the ‘enabling environment’ via a multi-sector nutrition platform to scale up micronutrient supplementation

By Paula Quigley, Emmanuel Sokpo and Kate Godden Dr Paula Quigley is a public health professional with over 25 years of international experience in health programme design,...

FEX: Income and employment support (Special Supplement 3)

5.1 Introduction The provision of cash as an emergency response has the potential to impact on all elements of the livelihoods framework by providing the means to protect or...

FEX: Is Targeting of Food Aid Directly to Women Based on Gender Roles an Appropriate Response?

Lessons from Southern Sudan This article was edited from an article by Cassandra Chapman. Women carry sacks of maize on their heads after a food distribution in the southern...

Close

Reference this page

Women’s Contributions to Reducing Micronutrient Deficiencies. Field Exchange 20, November 2003. p9. www.ennonline.net/fex/20/women