On the 28th of February, 2020 –Tufts University, in collaboration with Save the Children, brought together more than forty nutrition focal persons for the 7th Project Research and Learning Working Group Meeting to discuss two gender interrelated topics. In his opening remarks, Lioul Berhanu, acting Deputy Chief of Party for the Growth through Nutrition project, emphasized the importance of program investment in gender and women’s empowerment, referencing Melinda Gates recently published book “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes.”
Following opening remarks and introductions, Meskerem Jisso, a Tufts Small Grant Program awardee from Dilla University shared her study findings on the association between overall women’s empowerment and nutritional status of mothers, children, and adolescents in rural Ethiopia (Gedeo/SNNPR). She explained that the absence of association observed between the overall empowerment of women and nutritional status of mothers and children could be explained by a very low degree of empowerment (3.7%) observed in the study area (Gedeo zone), which was low even as compared to many other developing countries. Meskerem concluded her presentation by recommending that future programs invest in all components of women’s empowerment (income, resource, production, group membership), especially in time by decreasing women’s workload and encouraging more male involvement in childcare and feeding practices. She added that scaling up time and labor-saving technologies could improve the nutritional status of mothers, children, and adolescents.
The second presenter Meseret Demissie, Chief of Party of the MNCHN program at CARE, shared lessons learned and best practices using the Social Analysis Action (SAA) tool and approach for gender transformation programming on the GROW project. Meseret described how GROW puts women’s empowerment at the heart of its interventions and applies SAA - five innovative and participatory implementation steps - that catalyze the process of exploration and reflection on social norms and help individuals and communities envision alternative ways of thinking and behaving to promote better nutrition and development outcomes. Major achievements included: 1) higher representation of women on WASH committees 2) more men engaged in homestead gardening 3) enhanced access for women to nutritious crops 4) emergence of women in agricultural technology fields 5) improved solidarity among women’s saving groups and access to credit 6) improved women’s autonomy, decision making power and leadership capacity, and 7) more women engaged in new business.
Interactive question and answer sessions followed each presentation, facilitated by Rahel Gizaw, Tufts Sr. Learning Advisor and Dr. Tadesse Alemu, Research Scientist at Edinburgh University. Questions and recommendations were put forward, such as reasons for the high stunting rate in the study area (Gedeo zone), and the importance of putting in place a sustainability mechanism to diffuse best practices and success stories to another project (GROW) nonintervention areas.
The workshop concluded with a discussion on the next steps. A summary report highlighting key findings, lessons learned, and recommendations will be shared with workshop participants and relevant stakeholders for applied learning. Participants were also invited to the next learning event, which will focus on global experience around multisectoral coordination for nutrition. Presentations and the workshop summary note can be accessed here: