Reducing Malnutrition by Transforming Gender Roles
By Claudina de Nascimento Lourenço, Jeremias Marques and Althea Skinner
A farmer and mother of six, Angela used to worry about feeding her children. Cultural tradition in northern Mozambique indicates that men’s meals take priority. Historically, her husband was no exception. If food was short, he demanded the respect of a full meal—even if it meant that Angela, their two sons or four daughters did not get an adequate and nutritious meal.
That’s why the CARE-WWF Alliance focuses on shifting gender roles as a critical part of the solution to reducing the high incidence of malnutrition in Nampula Province, where half of the children under two years of age is stunted from developing to their full potential.
A series of dialogues—led by Alliance-trained volunteers from her community, Saua Saua—is slowly changing this situation.
“I’ve enjoyed many moments of reflection on nutrition and gender through dialogues I’ve participated in,” Angela explains. “We have identified the causes of malnutrition, the importance of women’s participation in agricultural planning… and men and women’s joint responsibility for nourishing their children.”
“I’ve been lucky that my husband and I have both participated in these debates because we have continued to reflect at home about these topics, facilitating some changes
in our family. One of the greatest changes occurred after a dialogue we took part in about food access. It helped us realize that every family member has the right to food and that children, pregnant women and women of childbearing age have special nutritional requirements that should be prioritized.