Strengthening grandmother networks to improve community nutrition: experience from Senegal
In societies in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific, older women, or grandmothers, traditionally have considerable influence on maternal and child health at the household level. However, most maternal and child health (MCH) programmes focus exclusively on women of reproductive age. In an MCH project in Senegal, a community study showed that grandmothers and other older women continue to play a leading role in all household MCH decisions and activities. Based on these findings, an innovative, participatory nutrition education strategy was developed, which focused on grandmothers. A follow-up evaluation revealed positive changes in grandmothers’ knowledge and advice to younger women, and in the younger women’s nutritional practices. The strategy has contributed to the grandmothers’ sense of empowerment: it has acknowledged the important role they play in MCH, improved their knowledge and skills, and strengthened their networks of friendship and solidarity with other grandmothers.
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