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GENDER: A KEY DIMENSION 143


scarce farmland; and (2) at the household level, the control over income derived from various crops. Homestead food production is still an underutilized strategy. Combined with


educational and other initiatives, it potentially offers substantial improvements in health and nutrition. Evidence indicates that even small-scale homestead pro- duction of micronutrient-rich foods, when combined with nutrition education, can have impact greater than its income effects. Homestead production systems offer the potential to improve nutrition for peri-urban and agricultural laborer households, as well as small farmers. In any production or employment scenario, however, the available evidence


indicates that increasing women’s access to resources and control over household income will have important implications for the health and nutrition of the family, and particularly of women and children. From the perspective of nutrition and some aspects of health, therefore, any


development strategy should explicitly consider its impacts on women and chil- dren—and especially on the critical “window of opportunity” from preconception through the second year of life, when nutritional deprivation and toxic environmen- tal exposures can have lifelong consequences. In designing agricultural development projects, planners must make informed provisions for


• reducing environmental toxin risks;


• providing optimal childcare, either through maternity leave policies or through provision of adequate childcare facilities;


• ensuring that women have adequate control over income, resources, and time; and


• providing nutrition and health education—ideally, simultaneous with agricul- tural interventions. For researchers in this field, the urgent priority is to develop further evi-


dence on the full impacts of various forms of agricultural development, both on women’s control over income and assets, and on health and nutrition. The development impact of agricultural investments cannot be understood without considering their nutritional, health, and gender-based effects.


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