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Assessing the Role of Women Empowerment for Food Security and Nutrition: Empirical Evidence from Tunisia and India

dc.contributor.advisorQaim, Matin Prof. Dr.
dc.contributor.authorKruse, Marco
dc.titleAssessing the Role of Women Empowerment for Food Security and Nutrition: Empirical Evidence from Tunisia and Indiade
dc.contributor.refereeQaim, Matin Prof. Dr.
dc.description.abstractengEquality for women in all areas of life is not only a fundamental human right, but is also a crucial prerequisite for achieving human development goals. Women constitute half of the world population and about 43 percent of the agricultural labor force, which makes the importance of research into the role of women for human developmentseemingly self-explanatory. But as of today, the global community is far from reaching its objective of universal gender equality. In many parts of the world, women are facingdiscrimination and low levels of participation in many areas, which has critical implications for all members of society.Moreover, the position of a woman is critical for the well-being of the individuals living in her close environment, especially children. Women, mainly as mothers, play an important, if not the most important, role in the livelihoodsof their own children, as they are usually their primary caregivers. Analyzing the determinants of under-and malnutrition is one of the central objectives in development research. In 2017, about821million people were undernourished worldwide,with most of thoseliving in Africa and Asia alone. Twenty-twopercentof all children in the world are stunted, while almost eight percentare wasted and more than five percentare overweight. Every country in the world is atleast affected by one of these so called burdens of malnutrition. Although it is almost consensual that a strong position of women has a positive influence on diets andnutritional outcomes, little is known about the specific pathways of this relationship. In this dissertation, the primary focus is on studying and understanding the role of women empowerment for food security, nutrition and health of householdsand individualsin developing countries. Analyzing the relationship between women empowerment and nutritionis particularly sensitive to the definition and measurement of the used indicators. As there is no universal definition, indicators of women empowerment can be defined in relative or absolute terms, and they can differ from each other regarding their construction, scope, and interpretation. Analogically, a wide range of possible assessment tools for food security and nutrition exists, ranging from measures of dietary quality and caloric intake, over anthropometric measures, to clinical measures using blood samples, all of which measuring nutrition from different angles and perspectives. The first essay of this dissertation focuses on analyzing the role of women empowerment for food security and nutrition of Tunisian farm households. Although there are already a few studies analyzing the relationship between women empowerment and nutrition, untilnow iithere is no empirical evidence in the Arab context. Gender roles in Arab societies are significantlydifferent from other societies;the traditional role of a woman is that of a devoted mother and wife, while the man is considered as the main caretaker and ultimate decision-maker of the family. Furthermore, North African countries are increasingly confronted with a double burden of malnutrition, with increasing rates of obesity and persistently high levels of micronutrient deficiencies. In this essay, women empowerment is assessed by applying the recently developed methodology of the Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI). Women empowerment is measured byten indicators within five domainsof empowerment, which helpsto identify areas in which women are particularly disempowered. Food security and nutrition areassessed both atthe householdand the individual level, using 7-day and 24-hour food recall data to construct indicators of dietary diversity.We ultimately use the aggregated empowerment index and five additional indicators of empowerment to empirically analyze the relationship between those indicators and dietary diversity. We find that women empowerment has a statistically significant and positive effect on both household dietary diversity and dietary diversity of female respondents. Apart from the aggregated empowerment indicator, especially the economic dimension of women empowerment, measured asthe level ofinput into decisions on income and input into credit decisions of the female respondent,significantlyincrease dietary diversity. We conclude that women empowerment substantially contributes toshaping and improving patterns of food consumption in Tunisian farm households. The second essay examines the role of women empowerment for the nutritional status of children and nutritional inequality withinIndianhouseholds.In the Indian society, many social norms and practices reinforce patterns of discrimination against women. While most parts of India can be characterized as patriarchal, Indian families tend to have a preference for sons,and daughters are often perceived as liabilities.With about 38 percent India has one of the highest ratesof stunted children under the age of five years, ranking the country114thout of 132 countries in the Global Nutrition Report. Previous studies analyzing the relationship between women empowerment and nutritiontypically use cross-sectional data and establish causality by using instrumental variables. Here we are able to exploit a large representative panel data set from India, allowing the use of estimation techniques that account for heterogeneous effects and causality inferences. Furthermore, differences in nutritional outcomes within households are usually assessed by introducing dummy variables capturing specific attributes of children like gender or birth order. In contrast, we develop a measure of iiinutritional differences between children within the same household to investigate whether women empowerment canstraighten nutritional inequality within households. To measure women empowerment, we construct an index including 16 different indicators within four dimensions of empowerment. As a measure of child nutritional status, we use anthropometric measures to calculate the height-for-age Z-score (HAZ) of children, and to measure nutritional inequality between siblings, we calculate the difference between the HAZ of a child and the average HAZ of her siblings. We are able to show that nutritional differences between siblings within the same household exist in terms of birth order and gender of the child. Wealso demonstrate that women empowerment has a significantly positive and causal effect on children’s HAZ. Furthermore, women empowerment significantly decreases nutritional inequality between siblings within the same household, indicating that the position of women has crucial implications for the well-being of the worst-off children within
dc.contributor.coRefereeWollni, Meike Prof. Dr.
dc.contributor.thirdRefereevon Cramon-Taubadel, Stephan Prof. Dr.
dc.subject.engwomen empowerment; gender equality; food security; nutritionde
dc.affiliation.instituteFakultät für Agrarwissenschaftende
dc.subject.gokfullLand- und Forstwirtschaft (PPN621302791)de

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