Women's Autonomy, Women's Status, and Nutrition in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi

Michelle Hindin, Johns Hopkins University

There are several countries in Southern Africa that have been experiencing both a food crisis and an HIV epidemic, both of which have put 14.4 million people at risk of starvation. In these countries, women have played a central role in food production for their households. Using DHS data from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, the relationship between women's status and their own nutritional levels, measured by Chronic Energy Deficiency (CED), is explored. In Zambia and Malawi, women with less decision-making autonomy are more likely to have CED. There is no such association in Zimbabwe, where surveyed women have higher autonomy and a smaller proportion of all women have CED. In the most resource-constrained settings, women with less autonomy are at greater risk of compromised nutritional status which, in turn, may lead to loss of productive capacity, making them at greater risk of food insecurity for themselves and their households.

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Presented in Session 42: Social Environment and Adult Health in Developing Countries