Around the world, women like Filomena Reyes Gomez, a Mexican mother of three, are on the frontlines in the fight against poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. But Filomena is starting to win that battle. She sends her 12-year-old daughter to school, takes her baby for regular medical check-ups, and attends health and nutrition education sessions. And gets paid for it.
Filomena participates in a government-run conditional cash transfer program that puts money directly into the hands of poor women and provides their children with basic healthcare.
“I spend the money on food and shoes,” said Filomena. “It has helped us keep our children healthy and means they can go to school to have a better life.”
Years of IFPRI research shows that empowering women is key to improving food and nutrition security. When resources, such as cash and food assistance, are targeted to women, their children are healthier and better educated.
While public school is free in Mexico, cash payments help families pay for basic supplies and provide a strong incentive to ensure their children attend consistently. To encourage female education, the program provides more money for girls than boys to support their schooling. Educating girls is critical. According to IFPRI research, female education is the single greatest way to reduce child malnutrition.
“The program helps us a lot and then we can help our kids,” explained Filomena.
Improving a woman’s social and economic status not only improves the health, life, and longevity of her children, it benefits all of society.
To learn more about IFPRI’s research on Gender and Development, visit: http://www.ifpri.org/themes/gender/gender.htm