Women’s Empowerment and the Nutritional Outcomes of Children under Five in Low, Lower-Middle, and Upper-Middle Income Countries: A Systematic Review

Lauren Bardin, Emory University
Sara Thorpe, Emory University
Courtney M. Peters, Emory University

Motivated by the need for continued research on how nutrition-sensitive approaches can be incorporated into nutrition-specific interventions, we conducted a systematic review to assess the relationship between women’s agency (a component of empowerment) and nutritional outcomes of children under five in low resource settings. A total of 1,818 abstracts were screened for inclusion, and 10 were included for review. A positive and significant association between women’s agency and the nutritional outcomes of children under five was identified in 8 of the 10 studies. However, a fragmented understanding of agency is witnessed through consistent use of overarching terms like ‘autonomy’ and ‘empowerment’ but inconsistent interpretation and functional measurement, raising concern for misinterpretation of findings and the potential underestimation of the impact it has on a child’s nutritional outcomes. Overall, results of this systematic review affirm the relevance a woman’s freedom of mobility and decision-making rights to health outcomes of her children.

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 Presented in Session P7. Health and Mortality of Women, Children and Families