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Improving Gender Equality and Nutrition Data for Women, Children and Adolescent Girls Lab

What are the data problems that this Lab is working to solve?

Good nutrition and gender equality are mutually reinforcing: improving nutrition is critical to achieving gender equality, and vice versa. Empowerment of women and girls is identified as an important nutrition-sensitive strategy to address malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries.

There is no established measurement framework to assess how nutrition and empowerment interacts and affects diverse communities and across nutrition interventions. Minimizing the data gaps and advancing knowledge of the relationship of gender equality and women’s empowerment and nutrition is relevant to inform local women’s groups and host country response to policy and advocacy. These data problems prevent us from fully understanding the influence that empowerment has on a woman and adolescent girl’s nutritional status.

Key data issues:

  • Research gaps: There are gaps in the relevant literature on empowerment and its effects on girls’ nutrition. Currently, no existing studies have focused on or even included unmarried and/or adolescent women.
  • Lack of data and tools: Indicators of gender equality may only be collected in national surveys, such as Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), which only occur every five years and only collect data on women 15-49 years. This lack of consistent data does not support individual program interventions and course corrections.
  • Lacking indicators: Lacking indicators on the interaction between nutrition programs and gender equality, and methods to frequently measure these indicators for program design, prevents programming from being responsive.

How are partners navigating this innovation?

  • Timely and practical data tools: Simplifying tools to generate more timely and better quality data using gender equality indicators for nutrition program delivery and performance. This can guide civil society, research institutions, and government partners to access program monitoring data at reduced cost, leading to strengthened gender responsive services and more effective and time-sensitive decision making.
  • Adapting standardized tools: Nutrition International’s standardized Nutrition Intervention Monitoring System (NIMS) toolkits will be adapted for routine monitoring. Gender indicators will be integrated into the toolkits, as well as practical methods for quality assessment of the resulting data.
  • Establishing a strong conceptual model: Develop a model which can be used by nutrition program implementers to: design and implement adolescent nutrition interventions that address gender inequities in nutrition outcomes; and, to assess equity effectiveness of interventions.
  • Harness existing databases: Understand the relationship between indicators of adolescent girls’ empowerment and their nutritional status using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from Ethiopia and Senegal.
  • Capacity-strengthening: Advancing the learning of students and in-country program and surveillance staff will be a focus throughout the project with experiential learning and professional development embedded into the team structure.
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