Nutrition, gender equality and empowerment

Gender and nutrition

Gender and nutrition: bringing nutrition to more women, and more women to nutrition


Women and nutrition are connected in many ways. In many communities around the world, it is women who still predominantly manage family meals and care for children. Through these roles, women are the key to delivery of good nutrition in their communities and families.

Yet, women are more susceptible to malnutrition and suffer disproportionately from it. Today, women and girls make up 60% of the those around the globe with chronic malnutrition. Additionally, 29.9% of women of reproductive age (15-49 years old) suffer from iron deficiency anaemia.

The negative impacts of malnutrition on women are great.

An iron deficiency can cause pregnant women to experience preterm delivery, low-birth-weight infants, and decreased iron in their baby, which may lead to impaired child development. For the mother, low iron can cause poor attention, low work productivity and negatively impact her income generating ability.

In short, failure to reduce anaemia may reduce the health and quality of life of millions of women and may impair children’s development and learning.

For these reasons, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement places great value on efforts to bring healthy nutrition to more women, and to bring more women into efforts to fight malnutrition.

As a multi-stakeholder country-led movement, the SUN Movement brings together the capacities of leading actors committed to achievement of the global nutrition goals. As such, it is uniquely positioned to connect SUN Countries with the gender/nutrition expertise of SUN Network members, and to also advocate for the mainstreaming of gender in nutrition actions.

Scaling up action

As part of the recently launched SUN 3.0 Strategy (2021-2025), this emphasis on the gender/nutrition axis is being scaled up.

At the SUN Movement, we see women as playing an integral part in all aspects of efforts to achieve global and national nutrition goals. For this reason, gender is woven throughout all our work streams – rather than as a standalone. We feel this strategic approach serves women and nutrition better and more effectively.

So how do we support mainstreaming gender in nutrition actions?

We have developed a comprehensive strategic approach, which includes:

  • Promoting the appointment of women as SUN Government Focal Points – those high-level SUN Country government officials charged with coordinating multistakeholder nutrition actions in their country.
  • Supporting SUN Countries to mainstream gender in their national nutrition plans
  • Advocating for women and women-specific nutrition issues at the global, regional and national level.
  • Supporting women to have a voice at global, regional and national nutrition events.
  • Including gender/nutrition specific technical issues in our capacity building initiatives.
  • Convening SUN Movement stakeholders to advance the gender/nutrition approach.
  • Sharing gender/nutrition knowledge and good practices with SUN Movement stakeholders.
  • Surveying and measuring, annually through the SUN Movement Joint Annual Assessment, the impact of malnutrition on women in SUN Countries.

Through these efforts, the SUN Movement can effectively serve as the conduit through which the knowledge, expertise and capacities of its network members can be leveraged to the benefit of SUN Countries in ways that ensure a strong gender component to all nutrition actions.

The result will serve to effectively mainstream women into both nutrition related decision-making and as equal beneficiaries of nutrition actions.

And through this work, the SUN Movement seeks achievement of the global nutrition goals in ways that equally benefit women and men, and which bring healthy nutrition to all people, everywhere.

Toolkits/ tools

All SUN Movement actors need to reorient their work, to translate their gender equality and empowerment commitments into action and results at the country level. Why? Because our goal is a world free from malnutrition and transforming gender inequalities and power structures is critical to achieving this goal!

In their words: SUN Lead Group members commit to scale up gender and nutrition

Key resources

Get inspired!

Our partner initiatives and organisations

Nutrition International

Through the TAN project, funded with UK aid from the UK government, Nutrition International’s NTEAM provides timely, coordinated and expert support to build the capacity of countries to scale up nutrition for the benefit of at-risk populations, such as women, adolescent girls and children under five. As part of TAN, Nutrition International provides 20 governments and the SUN Movement Secretariat with short- and long-term expert advice on good practices for scaling up their nutrition programmes.

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Deliver for good

Deliver for Good is a global campaign that applies a gender lens to the Sustainable Development Goals and promotes 12 critical investments in girls and women to power progress for all.

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My wish  is that each decision-maker realises that equality for women and girls – all over the world – is key for the future and will lead from where s/he is! I will be a champion for this, working with partnerships like the Deliver for Good campaign to make it happen

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