The Influence of Women Empowerment on Child Nutrition in Rural Nigeria - Policy Brief

Women empowerment is key to reducing weak dietary diversity and chronic child malnutrition. In Nigeria, child malnutrition is persistent, despite several interventions that failed to factor in the need to empower women to eradicate the menace. In this study, we examined the influence of women empowerment on child nutrition in rural Nigeria using the five basic domains of empowerment, namely: production, resources, income, leadership and time. Data from General Household Survey Panel 2015-2016 were analyzed using Poisson regression, Ordinary Least Square regression and Instrumental Variables techniques to correct for potential endogeneity. The results show that most (over 90%) of households consumed cereals, vegetables, oils and fat, spices, condiments and beverages. It also shows that, on average, women had access to less than two empowerment indicators, implying low empowerment among women. Women empowerment significantly increased household dietary diversity and consequently reduces the probability of child stunting. These findings support the claim that woman empowerment is a pathway out of the cycle of weak dietary diversity and consistent child malnutrition in rural Nigeria. It is therefore recommended that complementary and supportive policies on women empowerment aimed at preventing and reducing severe child malnutrition in Nigeria should be strengthened.