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Study Led by Global Communities Generates Novel Evidence on Gender Equality in the Context of Nutrition and Parenting Programs
Published 05/09/2023 by Global Communities
Silver Spring, MD – Global Communities announces the publication of original research in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine on the impact of engaging fathers and bundling nutrition and parenting interventions on household gender equality and women’s empowerment in rural Tanzania.
The article titled “Effects of Engaging Fathers and Bundling Nutrition and Parenting Interventions on Household Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Rural Tanzania” resulted from a randomized controlled trial designed and implemented by Global Communities in collaboration with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Purdue University, the Africa Academy for Public Health and the National Institute of Medical Research-Mwanza.
“The primary goals of the trial were to measure the effects of engaging fathers and bundling nutrition and parenting interventions on child growth, child diets, and child cognitive, language, and motor development,” primary study author Lauren Galvin, Senior Advisor at Global Communities said. “This paper presents our trial’s secondary outcomes related to household gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
This paper resulted from Engaging Fathers for Effective Child Nutrition and Development in Tanzania (EFFECTS), which was a peer group-based behavior change program implemented between 2018 and 2021 in Mara, Tanzania. Global Communities (formerly Project Concern International) trained and mentored community health workers in delivering participatory, behavior-forward, gender-transformative nutrition and parenting peer group sessions to nearly 1,000 households with children 0 to 3 years of age. Households were randomly assigned to one of five study arms: a mothers only nutrition intervention, a mothers only bundled nutrition and parenting intervention, a couples (mothers and fathers) nutrition intervention, a couples bundled nutrition and parenting intervention, or no intervention (control).
“Engaging men in gender-intentional nutrition and parenting programs takes effort and resources, but it can produce transformative results,” study author Nilupa Gunaratna of Purdue University said. “I believe this study provides a model for how to develop and implement such interventions in wider contexts.”
The EFFECTS study demonstrated that engaging couples compared to mothers-only significantly increased gender-equitable attitudes among mothers and fathers, paternal time spent on domestic chores, and maternal decision-making power. Bundling the nutrition package with parenting sessions focused on responsive play and communication increased maternal leisure time, decreased maternal exposure to any form of intimate partner violence, and increased mothers’ dietary diversity over seven days. A combination of engaging couples and bundling was most effective for paternal gender attitudes, couples’ communication frequency, and women’s dietary diversity over both a 24-hour period and a 7-day period.
“Our findings generate novel evidence that, with the right approach, materials, and ongoing support, community health workers can deliver gender-transformative bundled nutrition and parenting interventions to couples in low-resource community settings with potentially synergistic positive effects on household gender relations and maternal and child well-being,” Galvin said. “More research is needed, however, on how to further optimize and scale gender-transformative bundled nutrition and parenting interventions in low-resource settings using local resources so that outcomes are achieved and sustained across multiple domains.”
EFFECTS is the first published trial to measure the impacts of such interventions on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
For more information, read an interview with the primary author and watch the EFFECTS webinar organized by Global Communities.
Global Communities works at the intersection of humanitarian assistance, sustainable development and financial inclusion to save lives, advance equity and secure strong futures. We support communities at the forefront of their own development in more than 30 countries, partnering with local leaders, governments, civil society and the private sector to achieve a shared vision of a more just, prosperous and equitable global community. Learn more at globalcommunities.org.