Theme 1

The Rural Poor: Women’s Empowerment on and off the Farm

‘One Size Doesn’t Fit All’ – The Paradigm Shift | May 23, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM, Connections 1
Chaired by CARE USA

Evidence shows that although women are responsible for half of the world’s food production and accounted for 40% of the agricultural labor (FAO, 2011), their vital roles in food production often go unrecognized. Women fail to secure their own livelihoods due to a combination of environmental, social and economic constraints which get significantly greater due to cultural norms and social practices that perpetuate women’s marginalization.

This session introduces CARE’s Farmer Field and Business School (FFBS) model, a gender-transformative approach to agriculture extension, which integrates sustainable agriculture, market engagement and business skills, nutrition, gender, as well as participatory performance monitoring all under one model. This holistic model increases productivity, empowerment, and equity, and contributes to more inclusive and equitable agriculture systems.

CARE’s session will take participants through the FFBS toolkit, demonstrating a practical approach for scheduling sessions (around markets, agriculture, gender, and nutrition) into different stages of the seasonal calendar. The session shall also share insights on social norms that impact women’s roles and controls in agriculture sphere and demonstrate some participatory gender dialogue tools that we use influence these norms.

Finally, we will also present evidence on the returns of social and economic value of the model, so participants can understand the investment needs and impacts associated with this holistic approach.

Pranati Mohanraj, CARE USA
Emily Hillenbrand, CARE USA
Agnes Loriba, Pathways Project
Nurul Siddique, CARE USA

Connecting WEE, Gender Equity, and Well-being: Women’s Empowerment through Collectives in India | May 23, 2:30 PM – 4:15 PM, Room B
Chaired by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, India Country Office

What are the interconnections between dimensions of empowerment and women’s well-being in programs aimed at building women’s collectives like self-help groups? What does being intentional about building gender equity and empowerment in programs aimed at development outcomes like livelihood, health, and nutrition add to health and other well-being outcomes?  What innovations in measurement frameworks and methods can assist in capturing the complex pathways linking empowerment and well-being, and measure social return?  Hear implementers, evaluators and gender advocates talk about their evidence, measurement innovations, and program designs with women’s collectives in 4 of India’s largest states, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Orissa.

Yamini Atmavillas, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Jasinta Barla, Pradan
Suneeta Dhar, Jagori
Laili Irani, Population Council
Madhu Khetan, Pradan

Towards Transformational Change: Upgrading Women’s Roles within Agricultural Value Chains | May 23, 2:30 PM – 4:15 PM, Connections 1
Chaired by Adam Smith International

While significant advances have been made in integrating WEE into market system approaches, there remain too few examples of genuine and transformational change to women’s roles, particularly in agricultural value chains. Although market system programming often supports important increases to women’s access – and in targeted cases – agency, women tend to remain concentrated in the lower rungs of the chain, with few protections, and a limited ability to capture value. Despite extensive efforts to improve the market functioning for poor women, programmes struggle to use incentive-driven approaches to engage women as lead farmers in cash crop industries, extension agents, and traders, for example. Drawing on practical experience from a broad range of initiatives across varied geographies, this session will explore a series of pressing questions, including: What constitutes an upgraded role for women in agricultural value chains? What upgrading strategies exist and have been successful in facilitating women’s adoption of new or better roles? How can we incentivize businesses to invest in such upgrading strategies? What measurement approaches can be used to understand changes to roles? And does women’s economic upgrading in agricultural market systems stimulate parallel changes to women’s roles within the household?

Sonia Jordan, Adam Smith International
Jeannette Gurung, Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN)

Towards Transformational Change Presentation

Identifying Levers of Empowerment in Agriculture: Lessons from Africa and Asia | May 24, 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM, Room B
Chaired by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Which levers matter most for empowering women in agriculture? How can practitioners use empowerment metrics in a project setting? Come join the discussion to answer these questions using baseline findings from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s Gender, Agriculture, and Assets Project, Phase 2. In this session, you will learn how IFPRI is modifying its work on the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) to create a project-level WEAI, applicable to initiatives in crops, livestock, income, value chains, and nutrition.

The session will begin with an overview of the WEAI tool and the new iteration under development, the pro-WEAI. We’ll talk about how the index is constructed, as well as key indicators in each of the following domains measured: production, resources, income, leadership, time, physical mobility, intra-household relationships, individual empowerment, domestic violence, and nutrition. Representatives from projects and their monitoring and evaluation (M&E) partners participating in the testing of the pro-WEAI in Burkina Faso, India, and Nepal will introduce their agricultural initiatives, discuss the realities of field implementation, and explain which domains contribute to the empowerment, and disempowerment, of women and men in their study areas. In this session, you will learn the basics on how the tool can be applied to future projects, and what implications for policy and practice can be drawn from both context-specific findings as well as general lessons learned across regions.

Hazel Malapit, International Food Policy Research Institute
Kalyani Ragunathan, International Food Policy Research Institute
Megan Gash, Grameen Foundation
Sarah Janzen, Montana State University

Identifying Levers of Empowerment Presentation

Problem or Opportunity: Migration’s Impact on Women and Family Farms | May 23, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM, Connections 2
Chaired by MEDA

In countries worldwide where off-farm economic activities include outward migration for income opportunities, the impact on women in family farms can be significant, ranging from social shifts toward female-headed households, labour shortages, and remittances which bring income but sometimes less motivation to farm. It is what some have called the “feminization of agriculture.” Despite the challenges, migration can also bring opportunities. Women who remain may gain greater control over resources, increased decision making, and remittances can lead to new investments. Join us to collectively discuss solutions and generate a better understanding of how to address migration issues in women’s economic empowerment programming.

Cavelle Dove, MEDA
Myat Thet Thitsar, Enlighten Myanmar Research Foundation
Dr. Fraser Sugden, International Water Management Institute
Jackie Pollack, ILO Yangon
May Thu Ne Win, MEDA

Women, Nutrition, and Livestock: Overcoming Social Barriers to Engagement | May 24, 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM, Room A
Chaired by Agribusiness Systems International

Lucrative livestock value chains, often dominated by men, present an entry point for economically engaging women, but little is understood about how best to do so, given the complex social norms that surround women’s ownership and sale of livestock. In addition, social norms play a significant role in women’s ability to use the income and livestock products to improve household nutrition. To date, few projects are looking at how these three areas intersect and what opportunities can be gained by integrating them. The question remains: How can we better coordinate our work in addressing social barriers to optimize gender and nutrition outcomes within livestock interventions? In this collaboration station, representatives from Agribusiness Systems International and ACDI/VOCA will present three projects that are integrating women into livestock value chains—poultry (Burkina Faso), goats (Uganda), and dairy (Bangladesh)—with the goal of increasing incomes and improving nutrition outcomes for the household. Session participants will tackle three core challenges these projects face and provide their own insights in how to best overcome the social barriers to engagement.

Hannah Guedenet, Agribusiness Systems International
Ayesha Akter Kona, ACDI/VOCA
Lydia Mbevi, ACDI/VOCA
Sita Zougouri, Agribusiness Systems International

Unraveling Inequalities: Men’s Role in Women’s Economic Empowerment in Agriculture | May 23, 2:30 PM – 4:15 PM, Room C
Chaired by Project Concern International

When women’s economic empowerment programming fails to thoughtfully engage men, it can lead to negative unintended consequences including co-option of women’s resources and gender-based violence (GBV). How can we unlock women’s potential in agricultural productivity and value chain development without involving men who control access to finance, investment decisions, and land use? We will present research-based approaches – working with local leaders, promoting male champions, and facilitating couples’ discussions – which have improved women’s economic empowerment in agriculture in Afghanistan, Malawi, and Kenya. To enhance collaboration, small groups will then discuss challenges of such interventions and share ideas for applying lessons to other projects.

Banyan Global has identified five considerations for effective and ethical male engagement, specifically in the agricultural sector: help men identify and act as allies; address gender directly; work through cooperation; amplify the influence of role models; ensure that no harm is done. Three case studies will provide practical guidance in translating these considerations into action. Women for Women International will highlight their cascading training model which enables influential male community and religious leaders to facilitate discussions with groups of men. Project Concern International (PCI) will focus on couples’ discussions which help rural savings groups members start conversations about gender roles and responsible financial decision-making. Local Kenyan NGO, Mpanzi, will highlight male champions who are supporting women’s agricultural and livestock production and will give examples of how women have used collective action to defend their rights to land use and control over livestock.

Jennie Vader, Project Concern International
Wade Channell, USAID
Norah Moturi, Mpanzi Empowering Women and Girls
Women for Women International

Unraveling Inequalities Presentation

Fostering Women’s Economic Empowerment for Resilience in Last Mile Pastoralist Communities | May 24, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM, Connections 1
Chaired by Mercy Corps

Across Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands, climate change threatens pastoralists’ traditional livelihoods. Empowering adolescent girls and women as economic actors offers a new opportunity to build household resilience. Current, systemic gender norms dictate that girls and women have limited access to markets, financial services, financial capability, and life skills required for safe and secure lives. Drawing from Mercy Corps’ Girls Improving Resilience with Livestock (GIRL) project and the BOMA Project’s Rural Entrepreneur Access Project (REAP), this session explores success factors and challenges for poverty graduation models; approach replicability; and concrete best practices for development programs. The graduation approach and results from each program will be shared and debated.

Jared Rowell, Mercy Corps
Nelson Owange, Mercy Corps
Vicki Wilde, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Kathleen Colson, The BOMA Project

Fostering Women’s Economic Empowerment Presentation

Systems Change for Women’s Economic Empowerment: How to Work with Companies | May 24, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM, Room C
Chaired by Oxfam

Despite the key role that women play in agricultural supply chains, women face complex hurdles that limit their inclusion. For women to be economically empowered, the economic and non-economic barriers must be addressed. Private sector companies can play a key role in this. This session discusses how change for women can be achieved in a way that addresses different hurdles, looking in particular at the role of the private sector in contributing to women’s economic empowerment. We will look at the area of accountability for companies (also in light of the accountability of other actors) and explore how best to collaborate with corporate partners.

Ulrike Joras, Oxfam
Gianluca Nardi, CARE International
Patience Akwen Nambo, World Cocoa Foundation
Martha Osorio, FAO , Gender and Rural Development Officer
Amanda Klarer,  Responsible Farming Manager, Marcatus QED
Stuart Hawkins,  Sustainability Director, Coca-Cola ASEAN