The Influence of Women Empowerment on Child Nutrition in Rural Nigeria - Research Paper

Women empowerment is key to reducing weak dietary diversity and chronic child malnutrition. In Nigeria, child malnutrition is persistent, despite several interventions, which 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 analysed 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. They also show that, on average, women had access to less than two empowerment indicators, implying low empowerment among them. Women empowerment significantly increased household dietary diversity and consequently reduced the probability of child stunting. These findings support the claim that women 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.