Fatema Sarker is presently a DAAD scholar at the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany, pursuing her doctoral studies on the “Gender Dynamics and Human Nutrition in Livestock Production Systems.” Focusing on Bangladesh, the research investigates linkages between female livestock ownership, women’s empowerment, and household nutrition, aiming to derive lessons for development interventions. She is passionate about gender, agricultural policy, and rural development research. Before
this, she obtained an MSc. in Development and Poverty Studies and a BSc. in Agribusiness Management from the Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Bangladesh.
Distribution and consumption of nutritious food within households in rural Bangladesh: Does women empowerment make a difference?
Despite world leaders’ commitment to end hunger by 2030, malnourishment remains high in many developing countries. Some studies posit that empowering rural women through livestock interventions can set them on the path to better achieve nutritional outcomes within their households. However, it is unclear how ‘the triple linkage’ of livestock-empowerment-nutrition unfolds in reality and how it shapes the intra-household nutritious food consumption where discriminations against girls in food allocation are set mainly in literature. This study explores ‘the triple linkage’ within villages in rural Bangladesh that have adopted livestock rearing as a means to their empowerment, adopting a mixed-method study approach. With quantitative data from 287 farmers, we found that the children and partners of empowered women by the livestock intervention had better protein intake with a reduction in the women’s own protein intake, and the girls’ protein food intake from the household with higher empowerment level of women is much equal than to the others. The results from the 23 gender-disaggregated focus group discussions revealed that livestock farming has contributed to the milk intake of every household member considerably. The socio-cultural norms, patriarchal influence, poor economic conditions, a large number of family members, poor participation in training or social groups are the reasons for unequal food distribution. While livestock interventions may not be necessary upset gender norms, it imposes new labor demands on women, with negative implications for their nutrition. Development agencies need to implement safeguards to mitigate this negative spillover.
Affiliation: University of Hohenheim, Germany