Scientific Publication

How do agricultural development projects empower women? Linking strategies with expected outcomes.


Increasing numbers of development agencies and individual projects espouse objectives of women’s empowerment, and there is a growing body of conceptual and empirical work on how to define and measure empowerment. What is missing is an evidence base on how and how much agricultural development projects can contribute to empowerment. What activities or combinations of activities contribute to empowerment, through what mechanisms, and in what contexts? While it will take time to fill that gap, this paper makes two contributions in that direction. First, it develops a framework for clarifying the objectives of development projects that differentiates between projects that seek to reach, benefit or empower women. Next, the paper identifies and analyzes the strategies of 13 agricultural development projects that were designed to empower women. Strategies are analyzed in terms of activities undertaken and domains of empowerment targeted. While strategies vary across projects, they have several characteristics in common that would be expected to contribute to empowerment.