The health and nutritional status of women is important for both the quality of their lives and the survival and healthy development of their children. Adequate nutrition is a human right for all, and the two-way link between nutritional well-being and women’s social and economic capabilities needs to be better reflected in policy and programming.
Nutrition policy and most nutrition interventions in developing countries are mainly aimed at reducing young children’s malnutrition. To this end, a woman, as a pregnant and lactating mother, may be the target but not the intended beneficiary. While both the child and the mother may benefit, such a narrow approach is likely to limit the overall effectiveness of nutrition interventions and the sustainability of their impacts. This brief therefore argues for greater focus on female health and nutrition through the life cycle, as opposed to the traditional concerns with maternal nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.