Poster Paper: Does Women’s Empowerment Affect Food Security? Evidence Using Panel Data from Bangladesh

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

LaPorchia A. Collins, Tulane University

Women make up roughly 43% of the global agricultural workforce but face varied gender-specific constraints that limit their productivity. Hence, one potential mechanism of improving food security is through women’s empowerment, an approach that has gained considerable traction among both government and non-government institutions.

A small, but growing, body of literature examines the effect of women’s empowerment on household food security using the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), which accounts for decision-making power in the areas of production, resources, income, leadership, and time use. However, existing studies are cross-sectional and do not account for dimensions of empowerment beyond the WEAI.

We contribute to the literature by taking advantage of panel data from Bangladesh that includes a broad range of gender-disaggregated empowerment indicators. The main outcome of interest is the household food consumption score, which combines information on dietary diversity and frequency of consumption. Using a fixed-effects estimation strategy, we are able to mitigate bias due to time-invariant unobservable factors that influence food security.

The results suggest a positive association between women’s empowerment in agriculture and dietary diversity, a result that is robust to including additional indicators of empowerment that are not captured by the WEAI. We also assess the effect of women’s empowerment on the body mass index of household members, though these results are mixed.