Poster session

Irrigation and Women’s Empowerment 

Arwen Bailey, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT

Elizabeth Bryan, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Small-Scale Irrigation and Women’s Empowerment: Lessons from Northern Ghana
As with any new agricultural technology or practice, there are important gender dynamics to be considered with the expansion of small-scale irrigation technologies. Women’s lack of access to resources and agency relative to men, and other social constraints, often limit their ability to adopt and benefit from agricultural technologies. At the same time, expanding access to agricultural technology to women may provide a pathway for empowerment. This presentation draws on recent papers on this topic to explore the potential for small-scale irrigation technologies to increase women’s empowerment by evaluating the impacts of an intervention that distributed motor pumps to small groups of farmers in Northern Ghana. The analysis uses a mixed-methods approach and a conceptual framework that illustrates the linkages between small-scale irrigation and the domains and women’s empowerment as well as the broader opportunity structure shaping these relationships. Qualitative and quantitative data from the case study area are used to identify what aspects of women’s empowerment are salient in this context and how the irrigation intervention influenced outcomes for women. The findings suggest some potential for small-scale irrigation technologies to provide a pathway for women’s empowerment, however, there are also potential negative impacts, including among households that did not benefit from the intervention. Results also suggest that many of the impacts of the motor pump intervention are indirect—while some women reported direct income benefits of engaging in small-scale irrigation, others described shifting time away from direct engagement in irrigation activities when motor pumps were introduced.


Mary Okumu, University of Kwa Zulu Natal, South-Africa

The Role of Women in Irrigation: A Case Study of Ahero Irrigation Scheme in Kenya
This paper explores the role of women in irrigated agriculture in the Ahero Irrigation Scheme in Kisumu County in the Western region of Kenya. Irrigated agriculture is seen as one of the major means through which food security may be improved in Kenya. The theoretical framework used in the study is ‘eco-feminism’. A qualitative research approach was used, involving sixty-six participants. Sixty-one participants answered questionnaires and five participants took part in interviews. Data analysis (via Microsoft Excel) was conducted using theme-based groupings. The findings of this study acknowledge the important role that women play in irrigated agriculture with regards to rice farming, the challenges that women faced in irrigated agriculture with regards to land ownership, inheritance, financial assistance and agricultural training in Ahero Irrigation Scheme. The study concludes with the need to develop agricultural policies that have bottom-up approaches that meet the needs of farmers, regardless of gender.


Natalia Reyes, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Netherlands

Female farmers and Magüevas: central links in Maputo’s urban food systems
This research uses the case of Infulene Valley as an example of urban irrigated farming. As part of the city’s greenbelt created during Mozambique’s civil war, Infulene Valley has historically played a key role as a fresh food provider for Maputo and even now irrigated farming is crucial for the livelihood of several hundreds of families in the city. It aims to explore how the place of irrigated farming has changed over time and what are the threats and opportunities for irrigated farming – the machamba - within the current urbanization process. Concern about the effects of these socio-environmental changes on the lives and livelihoods of Infulene’s farmers, particularly on female farmers, form the direct motivation for this research. The research objective is ,thus, to articulate the value of the machamba from the farmers’ perspective to explain, first, why do they remain working on it despite the narrative of decline of urban and small-scale farming, and second, to conceptualize the machamba in a way that visibilizes women’s work in Maputo’s urban food system.


Prospects and Lessons from Gender Mainstreaming

Arwen Bailey, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT


Manohara Khadka, International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

Gender and Socially Inclusive WASH under Federalism in Nepal: Transformative Approaches and Pathways for Moving Beyond ‘Engineering Fixes’
The main objective of this paper is to unpack the dynamics relationship between gender equality and social inclusion (GESI), WASH, and federalism in Nepal using qualitative research approach. Following the institutionalization of the new Constitution in 2015, Nepal adopted a three-layered federal system of governance. This policy shift to federalism impacts the management and governance of public services including Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and coupled with a parallel policy adoption of GESI, has implications for inclusive, equitable and sustainable WASH. However, the linkages between Federalism, WASH and GESI remain poorly understood. Our recent implementation of WASH project in two rural districts in West and East Nepal identifyunique opportunities as well as structural challenges to inclusive WASH posed by these recent policy shifts. While federal governance provided opportunities for inclusive political leadership, intersectional inequalities by caste, ethnicity, poverty and gender are not easily dismantled, and create barriers to inclusive political institutions and policy outcomes. Women, particularly from socio-economically and politically marginalized groups struggle to effectively exercise their political roles in local WASH governance. Local elected women leaders struggle with access to information and be meaningfully engaged in local WASH decision-making, planning, and policymaking in very powerful political spaces such as new local governments established under the federal structure. We argue that WASH provides the context to ensure that policy aspirations of representative and inclusive governance through federalism and GESI are achieved in practice. To not lose momentum for transformative, inclusive change, we see an urgent need for institutional change processes at scale.


Geetanjali Gill, University of the Fraser Valley, Canada, and Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Applying a Gender+ Lens to the Foodgrains Bank’s ‘Scaling-Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa’ (SUCA) Program
The Foodgrains Bank’s SUCA program (2015-2020) introduced conservation agriculture techniques to male and female smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Kenya, while emphasizing the key role of savings groups, marketing, and policy advocacy. The project led to opportunities for the empowerment of women farmers, and underscored the importance of applying an intersectional gender (gender+) lens to understand benefits and constraints for women differentiated by age and marital status. The project’s endline evaluation involved 951 male heads, 349 female heads, and 733 married women in a household survey, and 1,049 men and 1,749 women farmers in sex-specific focus groups. Women, and particularly elderly female-heads, faced more constraints in their access to CA tools and inputs; and all women had less access to governmental extension services. Time burdens posed by CA adoption affected some women, but only in the first year. The program improved household food security and nutrition due to higher yields and the inclusion of diverse food crops; however, the perception of improved food security was lower for female heads. Increased yields and improved access to loans contributed to women’s economic empowerment; yet female heads had access to smaller plots of land and married women had the least ability to take part in household decision-making. Applying a ‘gender+’ lens, focusing on female (married and female heads) and male CA adopters as ‘role models’ and ‘gender champions’, and tackling gender norms at a community level can enhance the gender-transformative potential of CA programs.


Farhan Majid, IMPAQ International 

Graduating to Resilience Program and women’s empowerment: Evidence from Uganda
The purpose of this contribution is to examine livelihoods, time use, agricultural value chains, and nutrition from a gender perspective by contrasting the experiences of refugee and host community participants of the Graduating to Resilience activity (G2R) in Uganda (2017–2024). G2R is a USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance funded activity utilizing the Graduation Approach – an integrated, time-bound, and sequenced set of interventions designed to progress ultra-poor households out of extreme poverty and into sustainable livelihoods and greater resilience. G2R engages 13,200 HHs in Kamwenge District; half of the participants are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo living in the Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement and half are from the surrounding host community. While these households are economically active, they are unable to consistently meet their basic needs without some form of assistance. We will present findings from four repeated cross-sectional mixed method studies. Quantitative data, including data from the Pro-WEAI tool, is collected from 800 households and 1,700 program participants from Cohort 1. The fourth study, a value chain analysis, adapts IFPRI’s 5Capitals tool to our local context and collects semi-structured data from linked enterprises and detailed household level data on smallholder female farmers for three value chains. Extensive qualitative data is also gathered through key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Importantly, this session will not only share key findings from four assessments, but also the importance of using data for decision-making, and how these assessments are being currently used from an implementing partner perspective to inform Cohort 2 programming.


Sugandha Munshi, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

Convergence: Key for Gender Inclusion
Challenging gender inequality through institutional and systemic structural change is the key for sustainable change. In order to address the gender inequalities in the agriculture system, it become imperative to innovate and come up with ideas for implementation which calls for larger participation and ownership form different stakeholders operating in the system at large. The inherent issues which affect the women farmers are subjective in context of geographical spread, social system, and the ecosystem. It is only with the mutual collaboration where the gender inequalities can be challenged strategically equally showing the changes. Collaboration and convergence with public, private, government partners and cgiar focusing on inclusion is important. Since the conception phase till the implementation and up to impact analysis the ownership of change promoting inclusion has to be equally owned by different institutes. Convergence Platform formed under the Cereal System Initiative for South Asia is one such operation example in Eastern India, which has eventually established a sustainable ground where different partners and institutes have started putting women farmers at the center of their deliverables. Largely, when we speak about reaching a phase where inclusion is a driving force behind policy formation, it become crucial that men and women farmers are targeted equally putting in context their subjective needs. Multi stakeholder co-development process and delivering timely and actionable activities undertaken for challenging and resolving y can contribute for sustainable change as far as gender inequality is concerned. Institutionalizing change for gender equality is required.


Women's Empowerment: Correlations and Survey-based Measurements

Arwen Bailey, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT


Els Lecoutere, CGIAR GENDER Platform
Marrit van den Berg, Wageningen University, Netherlands

Changes in Women’s Empowerment in the Household, Women’s Diet Diversity, and their Relationship against the Background of COVID-19 in Southern Bangladesh
The COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh, associated public health measures, and people’s reactions are projected to have caused job losses among women, a decline in women’s empowerment and reduced women’s diet diversity. Using a November 2020 telephone survey to re-interview adult female respondents of a November 2019 in-person survey, we find that, contrary to expectations, more women found than lost jobs and women’s diet diversity increased over the year partly marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. As expected, women’s involvement in food purchase decisions declined. We find that change in women’s involvement in food purchase decisions is not statistically related to change in women’s outside employment. Gaining employment outside the home, however, is associated with a decrease in women’s autonomy over use of household income. Change in women’s diet diversity is positively related with change in women’s involvement in food purchase decisions but negatively with change in women’s autonomy over income use. Our study demonstrates that it is important not to assume specific changes in women’s opportunities in crisis situations but that data collection is necessary and to realise that the COVID-19 pandemic was a shock that may have affected the trajectory of changes taking place in women’s agency over time in Bangladesh. The next wave of studies on COVID-19 and development impacts will need to explore why these changes happened, how progress can be sustained, and setbacks reverted.


Kalyani Raghunathan, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality in Agricultural Value Chains: Evidence from four countries in Asia and Africa
Women play important roles at different nodes of both agricultural and off-farm value chains, but in many countries their contributions are either underestimated or limited by prevailing societal norms or gender-specific barriers. We use primary data collected in Asia (Bangladesh, Philippines) and Africa (Benin, Malawi) to examine the relationships between women’s empowerment, gender equality, and participation in a variety of local agricultural value chains that comprise the food system. We find that the value chain and the specific node of engagement matter, as do other individual and household characteristics, but in different ways depending on country context. Entrepreneurship—often engaged in by wealthier households with greater ability to take risks—is not necessarily empowering for women; nor is household wealth, as proxied by their asset ownership. Increased involvement in the market is not necessarily correlated with greater gender equality. Education is positively correlated with higher empowerment of both men and women, but the strength of this association varies. Training and extension services are generally positively associated with empowerment but could also exacerbate the inequality in empowerment between men and women in the same household. All in all, culture and context determine whether participation in value chains—and which node of the value chain—is empowering. In designing food systems interventions, care should be taken to consider the social and cultural contexts in which these food systems operate, so that interventions do not exacerbate existing gender inequalities.


Lukas Welk, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)/University of Hohenheim, Germany

The gendered yield gap and women’s empowerment: Evidence from smallholder farmers in Uganda’s central region
Despite a substantial increase in agricultural productivity in developing countries over the past decades, a gap persists between the agricultural productivity of women and men farmers. However, there are still knowledge gaps on the determinants of this gap and how it can be closed. Furthermore, there is particularly little information on how women’s empowerment influences agricultural productivity. The objective of the proposed study is to understand the determinants of gendered differences in agricultural productivity. The evidence will be drawn from an empirical analysis of a recent intrahousehold survey conducted in Uganda in the frame of the IFPRI led project ‘Reaching Smallholder Women with Information Services and Resilience Strategies to Respond to Climate Change’. To measure empowerment the Abbreviated Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (A-WEAI) is used. Additionally, descriptive statistics will be used to show the yield and productivity differences between men and women cultivated plots as well as other potential relevant explanatory variables. To measure the impact of women’s empowerment and potential influencing variables a Kitagawa-Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition will be conducted where the gendered yield gap is decomposed into differences in the mean values of the endowments. Results are expected to differ from previous approaches, as gender differences are considered in greater detail using the A-WEAI. This will provide in-depth understanding of the influence of women’s agency on yield gaps. The results may not only help to identify reasons for the productive and yield gaps between men and women but also help in finding solutions to reducing the gap.


Katrina Kosec, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) 

Relative Poverty and Women's Empowerment Narratives: An Experimental Study of Gender Attitudes in Nepal
How do perceptions of one's relative economic status affect beliefs regarding gender roles? We conducted a 2019 survey experiment with approximately 2,000 adults in Nepal. Employing an established survey treatment called a priming experiment to subtly alter half of respondents' perceptions of their relative economic well-being, we find that increased feelings of relative deprivation make women significantly less likely to support gender egalitarian perspectives. Increased perceptions of relative deprivation lead women to decrease their support for women making decisions over household expenditures, having equal control over household income, sharing household chores, and women working outside the home. These effects are generally larger when, prior to treatment, women felt that they had a relatively high status—precisely the group of women for whom the prime should have had the greatest impact. A message randomly read to half of women and designed to support increased women’s empowerment does very little to alter beliefs regarding gender roles or to attenuate the effect of the relative deprivation prime. Despite the negative impacts on women, however, we do not find a similar pattern for men. The results underscore the deleterious effects that feelings of relative deprivation can have on women’s own gender attitudes.


Simone Faas, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Using the pro-WEAI for Market Inclusion (pro-WEAI+MI) to assess the empowerment of participants in the Agricultural Technical Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) for Women program in Benin.
We use the pro-WEAI for Market Inclusion (pro-WEAI+MI), in a mixed-methods evaluation to assess the impact of the Agricultural Technical Vocational Education and Training for Women (ATVET4Women) program in Benin on women’s empowerment. Data were collected from 598 men and 879 women via a sex-disaggregated household survey with beneficiary and non-beneficiary households following the completion of program implementation. Both beneficiary and non-beneficiary households were selected from four target commodities: rice, poultry, soy, and compost. The survey also collected data on pro-WEAI+MI “candidate indicators,” contextual information on working environments, and productivity in the value chain. We also collected qualitative data from interviews and focus group discussions with program participants, value chain actors, and program staff to examine local understandings of empowerment and asses both value chain experiences and program outcomes from multiple viewpoints. We use propensity score weighted regression analysis to compare beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries. Preliminary average treatment effects demonstrate a statistically significant increase of women beneficiaries being empowered overall, as well as statistically significant positive treatment effects on self-efficacy, respect among household members, and control over use of income. However, there were statistically significant negative treatment effects on women’s work balance, group membership, and membership in influential groups. Qualitative results reveal that the increased time burden from value chain activities may drive declines in group participation. They also find high satisfaction with the program and highlight difficulties related to transportation to trainings and difficulties finding support for childcare and completing household duties to participate in the trainings.


Khin Zin Win, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Project-level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture: results from cognitive testing in Myanmar
When designing and evaluating policies and projects for women’s empowerment, appropriate indicators are needed. This paper reports on the lessons learned from two rounds of pretesting and cognitive testing of the project-level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (pro-WEAI) in a total of five States/Regions in Myanmar. We assess if respondents understand the modules as intended and which questions require modification based on the cultural context. We find that the questions also present in the abbreviated WEAI are generally well understood, particularly on instrumental and group agency. The challenge to respond to hypothetical and abstract questions did become apparent in the domains representing intrinsic agency, and was problematic for questions on autonomy and self-efficacy. Also, the internationally validated questions on attitudes towards domestic violence were too abstract, and responses depend on the scenario envisioned. We also suggest including an adapted version of the module on speaking up in public, to reinforce the domain on collective agency. Our findings provide an encouraging message to those aspiring to use pro-WEAI, but emphasize the need for continued attention for context-specific adjustments and critical testing of even those instruments that are widely used and deemed validated.