Effect of Nutrition Knowledge and Women's Empowerment on Nutrition Outcomes of Children in Rural Ethiopia

Child malnutrition in its various forms remains widespread in Ethiopia, and children often consume poor diets characterized by low diversity. Efforts seeking to improve child nutrition have placed a strong emphasis on women’s role. Women’s nutrition knowledge and empowerment are vital impact pathways for nutrition-sensitive programs and interventions. This paper examines the effects of women’s nutrition knowledge and empowerment on child nutrition outcomes using survey data from rural Ethiopia. Using an instrumental variable (IV) approach to address potential endogeneity concerns, women’s nutrition knowledge and empowerment are found to have strong and significant effects on reducing child stunting. The interaction between nutrition knowledge and women’s empowerment appears to have additional power in explaining child stunting. A disaggregated analysis of empowerment reveals that empowering women in agricultural household decisions and increasing their access to and control of economic resources are more promising for improving child nutrition. Overall, the findings suggest efforts targeting to improve child nutrition in rural Ethiopia need to ensure that they are complemented by efforts to improve women’s nutrition knowledge and empowerment.