Women Empowerment in Agriculture and Child Nutrition Evidence from Ethiopia

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Tesfay, Gebremeskel Berhane Tesfay
Abidoye, Babatunde O Abidoye
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African Economic Research Consortium
Child nutrition is a pressing issue in Ethiopia. Reports show that 28% of child deaths are associated with under-nutrition, where 38.0% of children under five years are stunted, 23.6% underweight, 9.9% are wasting, and anaemia prevalence among under-five children is extremely high at 57.0%. This paper examines the impact of women's empowerment in agriculture on intra-gender nutritional outcomes of children below five years old. We use a two-round survey panel data (baseline in 2013 and midline in 2015) of the Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) collected by IFPRI, Central Statistics Agency of Ethiopia, and Addis Ababa University in the Feed-the-Future and non-Feed-the-Future zones in Ethiopia. The primary objective is to examine whether an empowered woman can influence the household decision for better nutritional outcomes for the household members. The allocation decision is obviously influenced by unobserved individual-specific effects such as child gender preference and community variables. We applied the correlated random effects panel model with instrumental variables method to estimate the impact of women's empowerment in agriculture on children's nutrition outcomes. To identify which empowerment domain has a larger effect on intra-gender child nutritional outcomes, we separately estimate the five disempowerment scores on child nutrition outcomes. Nutrition outcomes, in this case, Weight-for-age z-score (waz06), Length/height-for-age z-score (whz06), Weight-for-length/height z-score (haz06), and Child Dietary Diversity Score on the interaction variable of women empowerment in agriculture and gender dummy indicated dissimilar evidence, implying that women empowerment in agriculture, and gender dummy interacted with women empowerment does not show a gender-biased effect on child nutrition outcomes. Similarly, child nutrition outcomes are improved by programme interventions but with no bias to gender. The five domains of disempowerment score negatively correlate with child nutrition outcomes, yet with no gender-biased effect. Therefore, these results suggest that exerting additional efforts on women's empowerment in agriculture can improve child nutrition outcomes without gender bias.