Until recently the role of women's social status in determining their children's nutritional health went largely unnoticed. That is, until researchers began to ponder the Asian Enigma-the question of why malnutrition is much more prevalent among children in South Asia than in Sub-Saharan Africa, even though South Asia surpasses Sub-Saharan Africa in most of the principal determinants of child nutrition. This report uses data from 36 countries in three developing regions to establish empirically that women's status, defined as women's power relative to men's, is an important determinant of children's nutritional status. It finds that the pathways through which status influences child nutrition and the strength of that influence differ considerably from one region to another. Where women's status is low, this research proves unequivocally that policies to eradicate gender discrimination not only benefit women but also their children.


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