Food Security Policy Innovation Lab

International Women's Day Special Issue of Development Policy Review profiles an assessment of Malawi's nutrition policy

8 March 2018

Gender-responsive nutrition policies could accelerate progress in meeting international commitments such as the SDGs. Gender-responsive policies could accelerate progress with regard to nutrition and gender equality While policymakers recognise the importance of integrating gender into policies, the way in which this is done often reinforces systems that perpetuate gender inequalities and institutionalised gender norms.  Gender-responsive policies consider norms, roles and inequalities, ensuring that these are addressed through policies.

A new paper by Mkandawire, Hendriks and Mkamdawire-Valhmu explores this reality through an assessment of Malawi’s National Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan 2007-2012. The study finds that the policy is not gender-responsive. While gender is included in the text, there are no explicit actions stated to achieve gender equality without the creation of an environment that fosters gender equality. The policy does not challenge institutionalised gender norms. It accommodates existing societal gender roles by focusing only on women and young children and their immediate nutritional needs. However, even in focusing on women, the Policy and Strategy fails to recognise women's constraints in accessing nutritious food and health care services. The policy fails to meet the country’s commitments to the Beijing Platform for Action.

The paper appears in a special virtual issue of Development Policy Review In honour of International Women's Day on 8 March. The paper reports the findings of University of Pretoria PhD candidate Elizabeth Mkandawire conducted as part of the USAID Feed the Future Food Security Policy Innovation Lab