Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Geography

Supervisor

Rachel Bezner Kerr and Isaac Luginaah

Abstract

Malnutrition among children below the age of five remains a major public health concern in Malawi. To address the problem of childhood malnutrition, several programs have been initiated to promote optimal early feeding, control vitamin A deficiency and minimize the prevalence of childhood anemia. Although some progress has been made, close to 47 percent of children remain malnourished. In Malawi, the majority of child care and feeding is done by women who have high workloads and little control over household economic resources. Scholars are striving to find strategies that can motivate and empower fathers to be involved in housework and childcare activities, which can mitigate the underlying causes of child malnutrition. This study draws on a feminist geography, gender theories, transformational educational approaches and the concept of care to assess whether participatory community-based nutrition education can promote a more equal household gender division of labour and sharing of childcare practices in northern Malawi. In-depth interviews and participant observation data were collected from 30 couples before and after a participatory nutrition education program over a 4 month period in 2012. The results show that there are highly unequal gender roles in household work, which are justified by various socio-cultural explanations. Nonetheless, the participatory nutrition educational approach utilized shows potential for involving husbands in some childcare and household domestic work.


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