Despite Indonesia’s economic growth and democratic system, gender equality remains a challenging issue. In many parts of the archipelago, women and children are marginalized in their own households. Marginalization is especially detrimental when it comes to food access and has a direct impact on undernutrition rates.
The eastern province of Nusa Tenggara Timur has among the highest rates of undernutrition in Indonesia, with more than a third of children under five years old considered underweight. In addition, up to 58.4 percent of children are stunted.1 Undernutrition and malnutrition primarily affect children and women.
This Gender Rapid Assessment (GRA) aims to understand the underlying causes of gender marginalization in NTT and how they can be addressed. It represents the first step in developing WFP’s strategy on gender mainstreaming and provides valuable information for the development of the NTT Province Food and Nutrition Action Plan (FNAP), also known as RAD-PG (Rencana Aksi Daerah-Pangan dan Gizi). Improved gender awareness will facilitate the improvement of food and overall nutrition security in NTT.
The report finds that gender inequalities are embedded in the social values and daily life practices of the people of NTT. They mainly derive from misinterpretation of cultural traditions related to dowry and clan inheritance that contribute to women’s subordination to men and the resulting weak decision-making roles women have with regard to food and nutrition issues. As a result, women are especially vulnerable to food insecurity and undernutrition. Even though poverty stands as the major factor causing undernutrition, gender inequality worsens the situation for children and women, especially pregnant and lactating mothers. NTT women play a critical role in achieving food and nutrition security. Empowering women to make free and informed choices for their family is critical in improving food and nutrition security. By considering women as food holders, women empowerment programmes are tailored to support women in decision- making processes that affect the nutritional wellbeing of the family.
While the Government has initiated interventions addressing gender dimensions related to food security and nutrition, these interventions mainly address the consequences of gender inequality rather than its causes. The absence of gender analyses during programme assessment has resulted in gender gaps and the lack of a comprehensive action plan to adequately confront gender challenges.
WFP, in support of the NTT Government, has itself begun to institutionalize gender mainstreaming within its organization and is working to improve its work team’s perspectives on gender and translate them into action. Fostering gender mainstreaming within WFP and in food and nutrition programmes requires time, energy, creativity and strong engagement from WFP and other development partners. WFP team must, therefore, closely monitor gender mainstreaming implementation both within the organization as well as in key partners in order to ensure its success.