Seminar: Analysis of women's time in reproductive and productive work and maternal and child nutrition in Bangladesh, Ghana, and Nepal

Date and Time

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 10:30

Event type

Seminar

Location

LIDC, Upper Meeting Room, 36 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

Speaker

Hazel Malapit, IFPRI

Abstract

One of the agriculture-nutrition pathways proposes that increasing women’s engagement in agricultural work contributes to child under-nutrition by reducing women’s time to prepare nutritious food and care for children, and to breastfeed young infants (Kadiyala et al., 2014, Headey et al., 2011). Given that social norms dictate that women provide the bulk of care work, if women do not have enough time to collect water and fuel needed for clean food preparation and to carry out good hygiene and sanitation practices, it could have a detrimental effect on the health of their children and other household members (World Bank 2008). Given heavy work burdens and time constraints, women may prioritize feeding and caring of children over their own nutrition. In this case, the effect of women’s time in reproductive work could have a different effect on child nutrition from their own nutrition.

However, there is little evidence or studies to corroborate the linkage between lack of women’s time in reproductive work and nutrition (Kadiyala et al., 2014, Headey et al., 2011). Using data from Bangladesh, Ghana and Nepal, the objectives of the study are to examine the conditions in which lack of women’s time in reproductive work leads to poorer maternal and child nutrition; and the degree to which women’s time in agriculture or productive work improves or adversely affects maternal and child nutrition. 

The results show that in Bangladesh, women’s time in cooking and caring increases their own dietary diversity, but it has no impact on whether the child has a minimum dietary diversity or a minimum acceptable diet, suggesting that being close to the pot improves women’s nutrition. In contrast, women’s productive work reduces their own dietary diversity. In Ghana, while women’s reproductive work has no effect on their own nutrition, it increases the probability that a child has a minimum dietary diversity or a minimum acceptable diet. Time spent in agriculture has an adverse effect on their own dietary diversity, but it improves the children’s nutrition. This implies that while working long hours in agriculture has a detrimental effect on their own nutrition, it could increase the types of available food or income for their children. For Nepal, women’s time in domestic work and cooking increases their own dietary diversity, similar to the findings from Bangladesh. But women’s caring responsibilities have a detrimental effect on their nutrition suggesting that they prioritize the care of others over their own nutrition. Unlike Bangladesh and Ghana, women’s time in productive work in Nepal improves their nutrition possibly because it gives them better access to food variety or through an income effect. Like Ghana, women’s time in productive work and agriculture increases the probability that children have a minimum acceptable diet.