TH3.1: Empowering women through participatory nutrition sensitive project in Western Kenya

It is widely recognized that women's empowerment is a crucial pathway to achieve nutrition outcomes. This study is based on a participatory nutrition project with the aim to diversify women's and children's diets through traditional and locally available foods in Vihiga County, Kenya. The objective of this study was to assess how and if the project contributed to women's empowerment along the agriculture-to-nutrition pathways with a specific focus on agriculture as a source of food and agriculture as a source of income, which are pathways one and two in the agriculture-to-nutrition framework. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis was used to determine where along the agriculture-nutrition pathways the project had an impact. To get a more in-depth understanding, women's empowerment pathway was integrated into pathway one and two. Through the nutrition project, women's time burden decreased due to men's increased involvement in vegetable production that previously was perceived as a woman's job. Along pathway two, women reported that they have greater decision-making or bargaining power over expenditures as they now see themselves as providers and not dependents. Women also reported being independent and relying less on their husbands to provide food for the household. At the same time, some husbands showed reduced responsibility to contribute to food expenditures and women and men remained unaware of what their spouses earned. The results show that men's behavioral change is linked to women's empowerment. Hence, this research confirms the importance of including men in nutrition sensitive projects.