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Intersectional analyses of gender and health of female-headed households in low- and middle-income countries

The increase in female-headed households in low- and middle-income countries is a result of a range of factors, including male migrant labour, epidemics such as HIV, and armed conflict. Despite this trend, there is little evidence about how these female-headed households fare on various indicators related to women and children’s health and well-being. This includes indicators measuring reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition, women’s empowerment, and levels of birth registration for children under five, as well as birth certificate ownership.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be achieved without gender equality, and gender equality cannot be achieved without data equality. The absence of quality gender data and related analysis makes it difficult to track progress towards the SDGs and can lead to policymaking and service provision that is not informed by evidence. This project seeks to address this knowledge gap and strengthen gender analysis capacities across multiple regions in the Global South on the growing proportion of households headed by women.

Working with existing data sets and drawing on the local research networks established by Countdown to 2030 (tracking progress in maternal, newborn, and child mortality), the project will examine trends of female-headed households over time and across regions, notably in Latin America and the Caribbean, eastern and southern Africa, West and Central Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa.

The project, implemented in collaboration with the US Fund for UNICEF, will strengthen capacities across the different regions to conduct systematic statistical analyses, with a focus on gender and intersectional (multifactor) analysis, of over 350 national demographic and health surveys starting from the 1990s. These results will be disseminated through open-access journal articles, policy briefs, and advocacy materials, as well as in the 2020 Countdown Report. Moreover, the project will support masters and doctoral students, and develop post-graduate training that will be widely available. The results are expected to influence how data related to female-headed households is collected and analyzed.

The project is closely aligned with the Government of Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy, the strategic priorities detailed in the 2016-2030 WHO-led Global Strategy for Women, Children and Adolescents, and the overarching 2030 global agenda for sustainable development.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
24 months
IDRC Officer
Chaitali Sinha
Total Funding
CA$ 744,200.00
Middle East
South America
South of Sahara
Global Health
Global Health
Maternal and Child Health
Institution Country
United States
Project Leader
Cesar Victora
US Fund for UNICEF