Learnings on women's empowerment

Women’s empowerment and livestock vaccination: Evidence from peste des petits ruminants vaccination interventions in northern Ghana

Immaculate Omondi

Healthy livestock provide meaningful opportunities to enhance women’s empowerment in low- and middle-income countries. Animal vaccines are important to keep livestock healthy and productive. However, gender-based restrictions limit women’s access to animal health services, thereby affecting the potential of livestock to enhance their empowerment. While growing empirical evidence reveals that women-controlled livestock (for instance, small ruminants) are important for women’s empowerment and support better household nutrition outcomes, little empirical evidence exists from rigorous analyzes of the relationship between women’s empowerment and animal vaccines for women-controlled livestock species. Our analysis explores the relationship between women’s empowerment and involvement with peste des petits ruminants (PPR) vaccination in Ghana. Using the Women’s Empowerment in Livestock Index tool, data collected from 465 women and 92 men farmers (who keep goats in northern Ghana) was analyzed using the partial least squares structural equation model. It revealed a significant direct positive association between knowledge about animal health and PPR vaccines, and a significant indirect positive association between access to PPR vaccines and empowerment. A few (not all) indicators of empowerment jointly and significantly explained empowerment of women goat farmers in terms of the relationship between empowerment and vaccine facets. The significant indicators were “asset ownership” and “input into decisions” concerning livestock. These results reveal important considerations in designing effective and equitable livestock vaccine systems.

Valuing control over income and workload: A field experiment in Rwanda

Berber Kramer

Agricultural development programs often aim to enhance women’s control over income, but as an unintended negative consequence, these programs may increase women’s already heavy work burden. Using a lab-in-the-field experiment with 1,000 women and men in rural Rwanda, we elicit women’s and men’s valuations of control over income, changes in workload and trade-offs between them. Survey data indicate that women in this setting are less empowered than men. Control over the use of income contributes less to disempowerment than high workloads. Moreover, in the experiment we find that women are willing to sacrifice more household income to gain control over income than their husbands, but both women and men are willing to forgo even more personal and household income with the aim of reducing their workload. This indicates that in the context of the experiment, agricultural development programs that introduce time-saving practices and technologies have potentially greater welfare impacts for both women and men than programs which increase women’s control over finances.

An understanding of community perceptions of women empowerment in Kiboga District, Central Uganda

Nakyewa Brenda

The concept of women empowerment has been widely embraced in development efforts aimed at achieving gender equality outcomes. However, intended outcomes are not always achieved due to a disconnect between how the concept of women empowerment is perceived by target communities and development actors. An understanding of how targeted communities perceive women empowerment helps development actors design context specific women empowerment approaches suited to prevailing social cultural norms and perceptions of women and men. This study therefore aims at understanding perceptions of women empowerment by local communities in rural farming villages of Kiboga District in Central Uganda. A qualitative case study design was used to collect data on community perceptions about women empowerment through key informants and sex-disaggregated focus group discussions. The data were coded using Atlas Ti and analyzed to identify themes. We found that men perceived an empowered woman as un-submissive, and a competitor to men’s household head position. To women, an empowered woman was perceived as un-submissive, hardworking and taking over men’s culturally assigned household responsibilities. As women become empowered, what do men become, and at what cost to women? Findings indicate that an empowered woman takes over the responsibilities of an “ideal man”; this adds work burden to women and elicits a backlash from men. In order to counter this, development agencies should target women and men, investing in interventions and approaches that transform local gender norms that disempower women. The study is ongoing and further data collection will be completed in August 2022.

Is women’s empowerment bearing fruit? Mapping Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) results to the Gender and Food Systems Framework

Emily Myers

This review examines the relationships between domains of women’s empowerment and food system outcomes, as defined by the Gender and Food Systems Framework (Njuki et al. 2022). We reviewed papers that cited both the original WEAI and/or pro-WEAI papers, Alkire et al. (2013) and Malapit et al. (2019), between 2013 and April 2022. The literature search had the following additional inclusion criteria: published in English; published as a journal article or working paper; calculated a WEAI, A-WEAI or pro-WEAI metric and/or indicator; and reported significance level of a food system outcome. We found that women’s empowerment is significantly associated with various outcomes, though which aspect of empowerment matters for a particular outcome varies across contexts. Many studies found significant positive associations between women’s empowerment and intrahousehold gender equality, with various children’s dietary and nutrition outcomes, household food security and agricultural production indicators. Several studies document significant associations between empowerment indicators and women’s dietary diversity scores, but with mixed results. The findings suggest that increasing women’s empowerment and closing empowerment gaps contribute to improved dietary and nutrition outcomes, but household wealth, gender norms and country-specific institutions are also critical. Most papers identified associative relationships; future research may investigate these relationships more deeply to determine causal relationships that drive desired food system outcomes. Further, stronger commitments to address structural and institutional barriers to gender equality in policy may enhance food system outcomes.