Gender Equality in Nutrition

Download the Nutrition Tip Sheet

This Tip Sheet offers interventions, guiding questions and an example of how 4 Key Gender Equality Measures (GEMs) support gender equality in Nutrition projects and programs.   It should be read together with the GAM Overview.  The IASC GAM identifies and codes projects based on the extent to which key programming elements are consistently present in proposals and implemented projects.  Four steps (GEMs) are assessed in the design phase, and twelve GEMs are reviewed in monitoring.

Girls and boys – and men and women –have different nutritional needs at different life stages.  They also face different risks and challenges in accessing adequate nutrition.  Gender inequality exacerbates food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty in humanitarian crises. All gender and age groups entitled to equal access to nutrition services and the foods they need to live a healthy life.

Nutrition actors can take the following steps to ensure everyone is equally able to access and benefit from nutrition programs:

  • Integrate the gender perspectives from rapid participatory assessments with women, girls, boys and men of diverse backgrounds into the initial nutritional status analysis. Use this to identify groups most at risk of poor nutrition and health.
  • Examine whether at-risk groups (for example, female headed households, older women or men, people living with HIV/AIDS) are accessing adequate food and the food basket meets their specific needs. Take action to address barriers following consultation.
  • Use information on age- and sex-specific incidence of illnesses, nutrition indicators and health conditions to tailor activities.
  • Review the effectiveness of the nutrition programs for women and men as well as boys and girls in different age groups.

Questions to inspire action


Gender mainstreaming, or a targeted action?

Some Nutrition interventions may target actions to address specific discrimination or gaps resulting from gender norms and expectations: these are “targeted actions” (T.)  For example, a project may focus solely on changing community perceptions about preparation roles through working with adolescent boys who returned from war to teach them how to prepare nutritious meals or a project may focus on changing community attitudes about pregnant women eating meat.

However, the majority of humanitarian interventions will aim to assist everyone in need while adapting activities to meet the roles and priorities of girls and boys (or women and men) in different age groups: gender mainstreaming (M.)  An example would be a project to improve the nutritional status of the affected population for pregnant and lactating women, girls and boys under the age of 5 years, and chronically ill people. The GAM Overview explains the coding for GEMs and GAM.

Example of Good Gender Equality Programming in NUTRITION

(GAM Code 4T – can you work out why? See the GAM Overview)

Using Gender Equality Measures in projects or cluster programs leads to better quality programming, responsive to gender and age issues.