Unveiling Women Empowerment And Its Impact On Household Food Insecurity And Food Vulnerability In Rural Areas Of Pakistan
Author: Sidra Ishfaq


Women’s empowerment is considered to play a crucial role in food and nutrition security (FNS). We aimed to understand the relationship between rural women’s empowerment, food and nutrition security and vulnerability to food insecurity in rural areas of Pakistan. To estimate women’s empowerment, we developed a Rural Women Composite Empowerment Index (RWCEI) by incorporating nine domains, fourteen sub-domains and eighty-nine indicators. Analysis of 1881 women from Pakistan Rural Household Panel Survey (PRHPS) data revealed that women were not empowered in education, awareness, and economic domains and are more empowered in mobility and time domains. The domains of traveling safely (21%), time allocated to tasks (20%), and (lack of) domestic violence (19%) were the most significant. The research utilized multilevel modeling to investigate important determinants in contextual settings and it explored how community plays a pivotal role in empowering Pakistani rural women. The study found that there is an increased probability of getting high empowerment for women who belong to the educated community. Analysis of 1879 rural households from PRHPS data found that the prevalence of food and nutrition insecurity was 33% and 50% respectively. Using the index, we employed multi-level mixed-effect regression analysis and found a positive and significant relationship between women’s empowerment and food and nutrition security and mitigating the risks related to food insecurity. The proportion of households who were food and nutritionally secure in empowered households was 70% and 98% respectively. We find that about 47.58% households are facing severe to mild vulnerability to food insecurity. Moreover, communities with sufficient health facilities, educational institutions and improved infrastructure also play a significant role in mitigating the risks towards food insecurity. The study concludes that policies should be designed by particularly focusing on women’s autonomy in economic and education domains. Developing programs and policies to improve domains of women’s empowerment requires a focused policy agenda, bringing together policy makers from a number of different sectors including education, economy, communications, technology and agriculture. Women’s empowerment is the key to making positive changes not only in FNS, but in all aspects of health and wellbeing. Moreover, it is the avenue towards the betterment of not only in wellbeing of women but also for the amelioration of societies.

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Keywords : Community, Multilevel mixed effect, Pakistan, rural, Women Empowerment
Supervisor: Abedullah
Cosupervisor: Shahzad Kouser

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