It and girls are responsible for the

It had been increasingly recognized that gender disparity is a major social determinant of health and nutrition. For instance in male headed families in Western Kenya mothers spend 52% of their income on food commodities as opposed to fathers who spend 38%of their income on food commodities.  For example children living in polygamous homes may experience malnutrition if they are the children of a less important wife. In most societies women and girls are responsible for the majority of reproductive work and domestic work which includes cooking, cleaning, fetching firewood and water including care of the children and the sick.  This work is often invisible in that it is not remunerated and is given a low value and must often be carried out in addition to productive labour put thereby creating time constraints.        It has been argued that as a result of domestic work which creates time constraints for women, it has a crucial effect on child health and nutrition.  The belief  which is prevalent in many societies that productive labour  is a man’s role historically and culturally  often means that work structures, practices and legislation are and would not conducive to allow women combine it with child care practices such as breastfeeding.     In Nigeria, provision for maternity protection does not allow sufficient time for working mothers to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months in line with global recommendations.  In addition, a large proportion of women’s work is being carried out in the informal sector which is not covered by legislation. Where women lack awareness of the provisions which enables them combine breastfeeding with work and they are not sufficiently informed about this they may feel forced to adapt their breastfeeding practices detrimental to their children’s health. Statistics shows that in Bangladesh only 2% of women have continued to exclusively breastfeed into the fifth month of their employment and 99% are unaware of maternity entitlements which allowed them to take breaks in order to breastfeed.  Gender disparity are often manifested through divisions of labour in terms of different roles and responsibilities assigned to women and men. In this aspect focus moves away from less tangible but equally significant aspects of women’s and men’s role related to gender norms, identities and values. These norms, values and identities relate to cultural perceptions of what it means to be male and female and the intrinsic value attached. Gender disparity occurs when male and female identities are assigned different values within the community such that they are given different treatment, care and resources according to their given value. There are interconnecting social, political and economic factors which underpin some preferences and disparity against girls. In some context, males are perceived as the economic lynchpin of future generations and girls are a burden on the resources of the family and will eventually leave the family home due to marriage patterns. Parents may have pragmatic choices based on their perception of how useful a male would be over a female particularly where the number of children born is restricted by the government as in China such that that parity and sex of siblings may impact on a girl’s life chances.  The informally constructed roles of men and women interact with their biological roles to affect the nutritional status of the entire family and of each gender. Women are particularly vulnerable to deficiencies in diet, care, sanitation and health because of their cyclical loss of during childbearing which affects their nutritional status. As a result of misconception of gender roles, women typically have limited access to land, education, information, credit facilities, technology and decision making forums. They have primary responsibility for childbearing and taking care of the home. When they are working in the formal sector they attract low remuneration rates than their male colleagues even when they possess same skill and talent. A practical example are organisations where women defy all odds to become managers or chief executive officers and they are paid lower than a man would be paid because they are women which is called direct gender discrimination. Poor female nutrition early in life reduces learning potential and possesses a great risk to reproductive and maternal health and also lowers productivity. This situation contributes to women diminished ability to gain access to other assets later in life and undermines attempts to eliminate gender inequalities. Women face a lot of inequities in access to and control of assets which have severe consequences for women’s ability to provide food, care and health and sanitation services to themselves, their husbands and their children especially their female children. Women with less influence or power within household and community will be unable to guarantee fair food distribution within the household. Reductions in gender disparity benefits the family and society at large. Substantial evidence demonstrates that more equal access to and control over assets raises agricultural output, increases investment in child education improves visit to health facilities for infants, raises household food security and accelerates child growth and development. It offers important economic payoffs for the entire society. Women’s contribution to food production, food preparation and childcare are critical under pinning’s for the social and economic development of communities yet efforts in this direction are hampered by malnutrition. It typically affects women and malnutrition in women contributes significantly to the growing rates of maternal deaths and growth retardation in children. Maternal malnutrition has been linked to low birth weight which results into high infant morbidity and mortality rates. Malnutrition in mothers jeopardizes the quality of caregiving mothers can offer their children by reducing the meaningful mother to child interaction which is necessary for proper growth. Women’s socio-economic and nutritional status is critical for protecting themselves, their children and the entire society from human immune deficiency virus and acquired immuno deficiency syndrome and other infectious disease. The magnitude of the impact of human immune deficiency virus and acquired immuno deficiency syndrome pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa is beyond comprehension and it has immensely affected the female labour pool. Proper nutrition would improve the quality of those infected with the virus by boosting their immunity as a result of the low serum micronutrients levels in the virus. Improved women status via improved nutrition status in childhood and adolescence will enable women to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS through more productive choices facilitated by better life opportunities. Improvement in the nutrition status of toddlers, adolescent females and women make it more likely that the cultural constraints facing women will be relaxed as the advantages of investing in females will became more apparent. Better nourished girls are more likely to stay in school and to learn more. They will grow up to become more productive, economical and strive to make a mark in their generation. They will become more empowered to make decisions in all aspects of life including parenting and they will have greater control over their sexual related choices. Good nutrition for both boys and girls from infancy is a necessary condition for the development of human capital for economic and self-sustaining human development. Incorporating nutrition components into policies and programs to improve women status will produce benefits in the long run.