Is Women’s Empowerment a Pathway to Improving Child Health Outcomes? Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Burkina Faso

Jessica Heckert, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Deanna Olney, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Marie Ruel, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Many health promotion activities empower women as a pathway to improving child health. Using data from a cluster-randomized control trial in Burkina Faso, we examine relationships between child nutritional status and women’s empowerment and whether increased women’s empowerment is associated with improved child nutritional status. We first examine which women’s empowerment domains predict nutritional status at baseline when children are 3-12 months and at follow-up when children are 27-36 months. We then test whether health improvements were mediated by changes in women’s empowerment and if this varied by the availability of resources. At baseline, there was no evidence that women’s empowerment was positively associated with better nutritional status. At follow-up, children of mothers with higher spousal communication scores and more say in family planning decisions had better nutrition status. Preliminary results reveal that increased say in purchasing decisions partially mediated declines in wasting observed as a result of the program.

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