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Journal Article

Women’s empowerment through homestead food production in rural Bangladesh


Dupuis,  Sarah
External Organizations;

Hennink,  Monique
External Organizations;


Wendt,  Amanda
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Waid,  Jillian Lee
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Kalam,  Abdul
External Organizations;


Gabrysch,  Sabine
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Sinharoy,  Sheela S.
External Organizations;

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Dupuis, S., Hennink, M., Wendt, A., Waid, J. L., Kalam, A., Gabrysch, S., Sinharoy, S. S. (2022): Women’s empowerment through homestead food production in rural Bangladesh. - BMC Public Health, 22, 134.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_26525
Background: Women in rural Bangladesh face multiple, inter-related challenges including food insecurity, malnutrition, and low levels of empowerment. We aimed to investigate the pathway towards empowerment experienced by women participating in a three-year nutrition-sensitive homestead food production (HFP) program, which was evaluated through the Food and Agricultural Approaches to Reducing Malnutrition (FAARM) cluster-randomized controlled trial. Methods: We conducted 44 in-depth interviews and 12 focus group discussions with men and women in both intervention and control communities of the FAARM study site in rural, north-eastern Bangladesh. Using a modified grounded theory approach to data collection and analysis, we developed a framework to explain the pathway towards empowerment among HFP program participants. Results: The analysis and resulting framework identified seven steps towards empowerment: 1) receiving training and materials; 2) establishing home gardens and rearing poultry; 3) experiencing initial success with food production; 4) generating social or financial resources; 5) expanding agency in household decision-making; 6) producing renewable resources (e.g. farm produce) and social resources; and 7) sustaining empowerment. The most meaningful improvements in empowerment occurred among participants who were able to produce food beyond what was needed for household consumption and were able to successfully leverage these surplus resources to gain higher bargaining power in their household. Additionally, women used negotiation skills with their husbands, fostered social support networks with other women, and developed increased self-efficacy and motivation. Meanwhile, the least empowered participants lacked support in critical areas, such as support from their spouses, social support networks, or sufficient space or time to produce enough food to meaningfully increase their contribution and therefore bargaining power within their household. Conclusions: This study developed a novel framework to describe a pathway to empowerment among female participants in an HFP intervention, as implemented in the FAARM trial. These results have implications for the design of future nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions, which should prioritize opportunities to increase empowerment and mitigate the barriers identified in our study. Trial registration: FAARM is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02505711).