Gender and nutrition security

A. Niehof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Many studies on nutrition that include gender do not take it further than observing male-female differences. In this review, I use the concept in the sociological sense and I conceptualize nutrition as embedded in household food security and pertaining to (gendered) performances that require resources. Using both quantitative data on associations and trends as well as qualitative findings that reveal mechanisms and subjectivities, I structure the discussion along three subject clusters of gender-nutrition interfaces, i.e. 'women's nutrition and gender inequalities'; 'food care'; and 'sons and daughters'. Regarding the first cluster, I found that because of women's hegemonic role in family food care and their often being relationally defined as mothers, their own nutritional needs tend to be considered instrumentally rather than as a matter in its own right. Gender inequalities affect women's nutrition through unfavourable intra-household food distribution patterns and poor access to crucial resources such as safe water and health care. They have an impact on women's care-giving abilities, and cause unequal treatment of sons and daughter. There is ample evidence that gender inequalities can propel an intergenerational cycle of female undernutrition. Because of the inequalities' entrenchment in daily life and in institutional frameworks, there are no easy solutions. However, female education (typically referred to as 'maternal' education) has been proven to alleviate the undernutrition of women and children. Finally, I conclude that gender inequality is a neglected aspect in defining sustainable nutrition and the relationship between women's nutrition and their reproductive rights a missing topic in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalCAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources
Issue number023
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


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