The surge in food prices in the last years, following a century of decline, has been the most marked of the past century in its magnitude, duration and the number of commodity groups whose prices have increased. The ensuing crisis has resulted in a 50–200% increase in selected commodity prices, driven 110 million people into poverty and added 44 million more to the undernourished.
Women play important roles as producers of food, managers of natural resources, income earners, and caretakers of household food and nutrition security. Giving women the same access to physical and human resources as men could increase agricultural productivity, just as increases in women’s education and improvements in women’s status over the past quarter century have contributed to more than half of the reduction in the rate of child malnutrition.
We use data from the 2007 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey to examine the relationship between women’s status and nutrition in Bangladesh using indicators of empowerment such as mobility, decisionmaking power, and attitudes toward verbal and physical abuse. We also examine the role of variables reflecting maternal education and height, in relation to child nutrition. All models control for age and sex of the child, household wealth, and region.
In view of the 2012 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women’s thematic focus on rural women’s empowerment, the gender team at the Development Centre has launched an issues paper, “Do discriminatory social institutions matter for food security?”.
While many people in the developing world lack secure property rights and access to adequate resources, women have less access to land than men do in all regions and in many countries (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [FAO], 2011b). Women across the developing world are consistently less likely to own land, have fewer rights to land, and the land they do own or have access to is of lower quality in comparison to men