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note26 1

Men often have priority when it comes to food: they may eat before everyone else and enjoy the most nutritious food. Women and children can be left with smaller portions and less nutritious meals. This exposes women and girls to a range of harmful physical and emotional health outcomes. Malnutrition has intergenerational consequences because undernourished women give birth to low birth-weight babies. Such children can face cognitive and other limitations all their lives, making it difficult to escape from poverty. When women face food discrimination on a national scale, the human capital of the nation is put at risk.

Integrating men in nutrition initiatives helps turn this situation around. By virtue of their power and privilege, men are in a prime position to tackle malnutrition in their own homes and in the broader community. In many households and communities, men make key decisions about what to grow and which animals to raise. They often decide what to sell, how much to store, and what foods to buy. However, many initiatives target women and girls, and ignore men. Women may learn a lot from courses on good nutrition, but excluding men means that women may not be able to act on their improved knowledge. Men may feel angry because their own nutritional needs are ignored.

In this note we discuss lessons elicited through discussions with staff from Men for Gender Equality Now (MEGEN) in Kenya; the Zambia National Men’s Network (ZNMN); the National Association of Farmers in Malawi (NASFAM); CARE in Benin; GIZ and BRAC in Bangladesh; and USAID in Guatemala, Zimbabwe, and Kyrgyzstan. All boxed case studies are drawn from these discussions. 


# Regional Sr. Technical SpecialistMeredith 2017-05-04 11:13
In Bangladesh, HKI implemented the GIZ ANF4W project. The inclusion of men in nutrition is part of the HKI approach to nutrition overall, although in previous projects we included men to a lesser degree than women in nutrition education sessions. During the formative research in ANF4W, we found that the knowledge of human nutrition between men and women was different, in particular men perceive expensive, imported foods as more nutritious than local foods. This was the first time we implemented the same nutrition education sessions for both men and women, having the opportunity to work with male and female farmers from the same families. The female farmers engaged in homestead food production and the male farmers were engaged in rice production.