Malnutrition during the 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday has irreversible physical, cognitive, and health consequences, reducing a person’s lifetime earning potential. For many countries with high rates of hunger and malnutrition, the low status of women is a primary cause. Women often have less education, lower economic status, and limited decisionmaking power in the household and community — all of which contribute to poorer nutrition.
The status of women is a key determinant of maternal and child feeding practices as well as decisions about how food is distributed and consumed within the household. The end result is higher levels of malnutrition among women and girls than among males. Gender roles and inequities are a critical consideration in lanning and implementing programs to improve nutrition among pregnant and lactating women and children younger than 2.