Does participation in nutrition and agriculture-based programs add to women's time burdens?
06 January 2023
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A new paper, 'The burdens of participation: A mixed-methods study of the effects of a nutrition-sensitive agriculture program on women’s time use in Malawi' has been published in World Development, co-authored by IMMANA Grantee Aulo Gelli.

Development programs often rely on women’s participation. However, there is little evidence of whether development programs that engage women’s unpaid labour – particularly in care work – add to their time burdens. Researchers tested this hypothesis on a nutrition-sensitive agriculture program delivered through community-based preschools in Malawi. This research is needed in order to maximize intervention impacts and to avoid exacerbating gender disparities and unintended consequences, such as backlash from men or increased workloads.

Findings from this research add to scarce evidence on the impacts of nutrition-sensitive and early childhood interventions on women’s time use. This study found that the program modestly increased lean season time in caregiving, but investments were considered important to child development. Mixed-method evaluations of women’s program participation can improve interpretation of time tradeoffs and help avoid harm. Such considerations are only made more essential in light of the COVID-19 crisis, which is exacerbating gender inequities in unpaid care and domestic work.


Amy Margolies collaborated with Aulo Gelli, a round 1 IMMANA Grantee. Find out more about the grant project 'Leveraging value chains to improve nutrition: collaborative learning initiative on methods and metrics for improving the identification, design and evaluation of interventions'

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