Women’s Economic and Nutritional Empowerment

Posted December 1, 2020

A Case Study of Gergera Watershed Project, Solange Cullen, University College Cork.

Women’s empowerment, agriculture and food security are central factors in development agendas. These issues have the potential to reduce poverty, hunger and increase economic growth. These issues are the lives of rural women. Often women’s empowerment is measured by the improvement of livelihoods and it is assumed that increased empowerment leads to better nutritional status. This study aims to explore these assumptions by applying a combination of the commonly used A-WEAI to measure economic empowerment in agriculture, and the recently designed Women’s Empowerment in Nutrition Index (WENI) to measure nutritional empowerment. It goes beyond the analysis of an empowerment index on economic resources and agency and linkages to separate food and nutrition indicators, by introducing the concept of nutritional empowerment to examine the socio-economic contexts of women’s capabilities to achieve both empowerment and increased nutritional status. The study was conducted in the Gergera Watershed Project, Tigray, Ethiopia.

The main findings of the study show that women have an economic empowerment status of ‘low’ in the area. Nutritional empowerment was achieved by over half of women. Both indices showed higher number of women in male headed households are empowered. Women living in the highland region are severely disempowered compared to those living in the midlands. The food and nutritional status of households positively correlated with empowerment levels, the least empowered having the worst food and diet diversity. However, the women’s induvial food security indicators did not correlate with empowerment levels. The findings showed that workload of women was the main contributor to disempowerment, followed by a lack of knowledge surrounding health and food.

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