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Does maternal empowerment improve dietary diversity of children? Evidence from Pakistan demographic and health survey 2017-18

Int J Health Plann Manage. 2022 Aug 18. doi: 10.1002/hpm.3558. Online ahead of print.


The role of maternal empowerment (ME) to improve child nutrition in patriarchal societies of developing countries remains ambiguous. This study provides empirical evidence about the impact of ME and some other factors selected under United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund theoretical framework, on dietary diversity of children (under 5 years age) in Pakistan. Partial proportional odds model is estimated to obtain varying estimates of the parameters by using data of Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2017-18. Significant positive role of empowered mothers to improve child dietary diversity (CDD) is explored (OR = 1.135; Confidence Interval [CI] = 1.001-1.288). Moreover, positive association of maternal higher education on CDD (OR = 1.329; 95% CI = 1.085-1.628) supports the productive and allocative efficiency hypotheses of health economics. Maternal agricultural employment, paternal education, and paternal employment were not significantly associated with CDD. This requires further exploration. Positive association of household socioeconomic status with CDD (OR = 1.768; 95% CI = 1.314-2.380) and significance of some demographic variables call for social welfare programs. Positive association of mother’s age and CDD demands for amendment in Child Marriage Restraint Act. The observed adverse association of family size with CDD induces effective family planning to control high birth rate in Pakistan. It may be concluded that ME and creation of awareness about nutrition security through maternal education are the important factors to overcome child malnutrition in Pakistan. Since, socioeconomic and cultural environment in South Asian countries is homogeneous, the analysis in this study might be relevant to the South Asian region. Moreover, the study provides evidence informing the debate on the role of ME to improve child nutrition in patriarchal societies.

PMID:35983643 | DOI:10.1002/hpm.3558

By Nevin Manimala

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