Women's empowerment and crop diversification in Bangladesh: a possible pathway to climate change adaptation and better nutrition.
The existing literature shows that climate change will likely affect several of the dimensions that determine people's food security status in Bangladesh, from crop production to the availability of food products and their accessibility. Crop diversification represents a farm-level response that reduces exposure to climate-related risks and it has also been shown to increase diet diversity and contribute to the reduction in micronutrient deficiencies. In fact, the Government of Bangladesh has several policies in place that encourage and support agricultural diversification. However, despite this support the level of crop diversification in the country remains low. Women empowerment has been linked to diversified diets and positively associated with better child nutrition outcomes. Furthermore, although traditionally their role in agriculture tends to be undervalued, women involvement has already been shown to affect agricultural production choices and enhance technical efficiency. This paper connects three different areas of inquiry - climate change, gender and nutrition - by exploring whether women's empowerment in agricultural production leads to increased diversification in the use of farmland. Specifically, we use a series of econometric techniques to evaluate whether there is sufficient evidence to claim that a higher levels of empowerment lead to greater diversity in the allocation of farmland to agricultural crops. Our results reveal that indeed some aspects of women empowerment, but not all, lead to a more diversified use of farmland and to a transition for cereal production to other uses like vegetables and fruits. These findings provide some possible pathways for gender-sensitive interventions that promote crop diversity as a risk management tool and as a way to improve the availability of nutritious crops.