EVENT: Is Women’s Empowerment a Pathway to Improving Child Health Outcomes in an Integrated Agriculture and Nutrition Program? Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Burkina Faso

June 8, 12pm-1pm EST (instructions for joining virtually provided below)

Presentation by Jessica Heckert, Associate Research Fellow, Poverty, Health, and Nutrition Division, IFPRI 


Integrated agriculture, nutrition, and health programs often target women beneficiaries because of their potential to improve children’s health. However, evidence linking women’s empowerment to improved child health is drawn primarily from cross-sectional data. We further disentangle the relationship between women’s empowerment and child health, and test whether this relationship depends on resource availability by using data from the Enhanced Homestead Food Production (E-HFP) program in Burkina Faso, a cluster-randomized controlled trial that targeted mothers of children 3-12 months old at enrollment. Using multivariate logistic regression of cross-sectional data, we examine the association between nutritional status (anemic, stunted, and wasted) and women’s empowerment (purchasing decisions, healthcare decisions, family planning decisions, and spousal communication) and test whether resource availability moderates these relationships. Results reveal that the negative association between women's empowerment and undernutition is significantly moderated by resources availablity. Then, building on previous work demonstrating that E-HFP improved women’s empowerment and reduced undernutrition, we use causal mediation analysis to test whether changes in women’s empowerment partially mediated the program impact on reducing wasting and anemia and calculated the proportion of the program impact that could be attributed to improved women’s empowerment (indirect effect). Results revealed that indirect effects, operating through women’s empowerment, were responsible for a significant portion (-1.4 percentage points, p<0.05) of the overall program impact (-9.2 percentage points, p<0.05) on the decline in wasting. The program impacts on reducing anemia were not attributable to increases in women’s empowerment. Findings suggest that empowerment helps women leverage available resources and implement optimal nutrition and health practices. Interventions that aim to improve child health should incorporate aspects that empower women. Additionally, empowering women may yield better outcomes if done so in the context of programs that also increase resource availability.

Presenter Bio

Jessica Heckert is an Associate Research Fellow in the Poverty, Health, and Nutrition Division. She is a social demographer and earned a PhD in Demography and Human Development & Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University in 2013. Currently, she studies (1) the impacts of large-scale nutrition interventions on maternal and child health and nutrition in Burundi and Guatemala and (2) the links between women’s empowerment and maternal and child health and nutrition. Her previous work has focused on health and migration during adolescence.



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  1. Valerie Rhoe Davis says:

    Can you share the recording of this presentation?

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