Publication: Gender-Inclusive Nutrition Activities in South Asia : Mapping Report

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Sen, Soham
Hook, Mikael
This report is the first of a series that will explore how gender can be more comprehensively incorporated into nutrition interventions in the South Asia Region in order to improve the effectiveness these programs. The first section presents the rationale for considering gender in nutrition programs in the first place, moving beyond traditional services for mothers and children. It draws from the literature to describe why gender is an important factor for the high under-nutrition rates in South Asia and how a broad range of gender issues, rooted in a mother's capacity to care for herself and her child, affect nutritional outcomes of children. The second section presents the results of a mapping of nutrition programs in the South Asia Region. The mapping primarily finds that, despite its importance, gender is too narrowly addressed in most interventions. Existing programs typically focus on the first two approaches mentioned above: imparting nutritional knowledge and skills to the caregiver and improving physical health through food or micronutrient supplements and health services. The third section identifies several nutrition and health projects that have adopted promising approaches to include gender more comprehensively. To improve household support for the mother in providing child care, efforts to engage other members of the household such as fathers, grandmothers, and mothers-in-law appear promising. The final section concludes by recommending five steps to more comprehensively address gender in nutrition interventions: (1) begin a dialogue with policymakers inside development institutions and governments to expand the conversation on gender with regard to nutrition interventions that extends beyond mothers and children; (2) collect low hanging fruit: existing development interventions that engage adolescent girls should include a nutrition component; (3) facilitate the generation of new ideas to address the programmatic gaps and improve targeting; (4) evaluate promising approaches for effectiveness, scalability and applicability in different cultural contexts; and (5) conduct additional research in previously overlooked areas and fill gaps in existing data.
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Sen, Soham; Hook, Mikael. 2012. Gender-Inclusive Nutrition Activities in South Asia : Mapping Report. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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