Women and Food and Nutrition Security


The low "status" of women limits their opportunities and freedom, reducing their interaction with others and their ability to conduct independently, limiting the transmission of new knowledge and to adversely affect their self-esteem and expression.

Their subordinate position compared with men limits their learning opportunities and their capacity to act on their own behalf and that of their family and society.

As mentioned previously, women have a key role in achieving food security and nutrition at the household level, both with regard to production and food processing, as in the care of household members in general and younger children in particular.

Positive deviance and use of family resources

Studies conducted by INCAP and other Central American institutions highlight the contribution of women, and the importance of their decisions and actions on family well-being.

Epidemiological investigations carried out by INCAP in rural areas of Guatemala, in families with  well-nourished children in populations where malnutrition is highly prevalent, have confirmed the importance of maternal care in the  nutrition and health status of their children. Under these conditions of poverty and low level of formal education, the competence of the mother to better care for their children is determined mainly by the self-esteem and decision-making capacity of the mother.

Moreover, studies  in rural areas of Guatemala have shown that 1 Quetzal (Currency) administered by  the mother  is  equivalent to 15 Quetzals administered by the father in regards to health and nutrition benefits of their children.

The nutrition of women and their productive

Activities aimed at improving health and nutrition of children are often limited by lack of time and energy of the mothers to participate in them.

Carrying water to the home is one of the activities that require considerable time and energy of women in rural areas of developing countries. Studies conducted by INCAP in Guatemala's rural highlands show that the energy expenditure of women living in underserved communities, in terms of  household water service, is higher in 517 Kcal. per day with respect to  women living in communities with household water service. In these communities are mainly women carrying water, a task made between 2 and 10 times per day, which means up to four hours per day.

This study found that the percentage of daily time devoted by  women's to non-sedentary activities (including fetching water) is 71% in communities without water household and 42% in communities with household water, demonstrating the importance of household water systems  in terms of  time and energy that  caring mothers can devote to the care of their children, in particular and family in general.

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