What are the Consequences of Male Out-migration on Women’s Work and Empowerment in Agriculture?


Vanya Slavchevska, Susan Kaaria, Erdgin Mane, Riccardo Ciacci and Sanna Taivalmaa

Migration has risen to the top of the international development agenda, in part triggered by the higher visibility of international migrants and refugees’ perilous journeys to Europe and North America. In 2017 there were 258 million international migrants, up from 220 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000 (UN DESA, 2017). Additionally, internal migration, generally from rural to urban and peri-urban areas, is a much larger phenomenon. In 2005, there were more internal migrants in Asia alone, at 282 million, than international migrants in the entire world, at 191 million (UN DESA, 2013). The limited evidence we have also suggests that migration originating from rural areas is predominantly male (Mueller, Kovarik, Sproule, & Quisumbing, 2015). However, statistical data on rural male out-migration – its trends, drivers and consequences including on rural areas and agricultural production – are surprisingly scarce.

There is even less evidence on how the rural areas are changing as men move out of agriculture, and in many developing countries, as women stay (or move out significantly more slowly). As men in prime working-age leave rural areas, what are the consequences on the women, children and elderly who stay behind? As their partners emigrate, are women seeing their roles and responsibilities in agriculture and in the household expand? Is male out-migration associated with higher women’s empowerment including increased decision-making in production decisions and access to and control of resources? Or is it the exact opposite – is migration exacerbating the existing gender inequalities with women becoming more dependent on their migrant husbands for support and men migrants cementing their roles as main providers for the household? These are some of the issues that this paper aims to highlight.

What are the channels through which male out-migration affects women’s role in agriculture?

There are two main channels through which male out-migration can affect women’s role and empowerment in Agriculture: Firstly, in response to the absent male migrant labour, women may have to increase their labour allocation to the family farm, to keep agricultural production at the same level. Alternatively, migrant households may choose to reduce agricultural production. Secondly, remittances may have a separate effect on women’s labour supply. They may raise the women’s reservation wages resulting in reduced time in remunerated employment or they may relax constraints for family farming making it more attractive than other paid or unpaid activities.

Less attention has been paid to the fact that migration can also alter intra-household decision-making processes. In the absence of their migrant husbands, women may increase their roles in decision-making around a range of household and farm activities. Their control and management of household resources, including remittances, may also increase. Particularly concerning for women’s welfare is unsuccessful migration, where the migrant is unable to send adequate remittances back home. In such cases women will likely experience disempowerment as they have to deal with the financial consequences of the migration and may actually see their work burden and their vulnerability to poverty increase.

While these issues may be difficult to assess without panel data, some indications can be gathered from comparing women and men in migrant household with those in non-migrants households. In this regard, in 2017, FAO in collaboration with the World Bank, IFPRI-PIM and IFAD, carried out a study to shed light on the consequences of male out-migration on women’s work and empowerment in Agriculture, in Nepal. The study uses the abbreviated Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (A-WEAI) survey tool to collect detailed information on migration of household members, remittances, employment of all household members, agricultural production, and intra-household decision-making.

What are consequences of male out-migration on women’s work

Women do not reduce labour market participation in response to the migration of their partners: In the survey we collected information for all economic activities of the adult population. Almost all economically active men and women report farming as one of their economic activities. We find that women and men in migrant households are just as likely to be economically active as men and women in non-migrant households. So in contrast to previous studies we find no evidence that women reduce labour market participation in response to the migration of their partners or other family members.

Women in migrant households are classified as self-employed: In the study, we differentiate between self-employment in farming and contributing family worker. We find that about 35% of women in migrant households are classified as self-employed compared to 21% of women in non-migrant households. Thus, women in migrant households are significantly more likely to be identified as self-employed and less likely to be seen as contributing family workers compared to women in non-migrant households.

Is migration associated with changes in women’s empowerment?

Women in migrant households have lower control over non-agricultural income, as they are also less likely to engage in off-farm employment. Whether this is a source of empowerment or disempowerment depends on the quality of the off-farm employment, which appears to be largely seasonal, casual or temporary and continues to be concentrated in the agricultural sector and is not, therefore, any better than family farming.

Women in migrant households are not more empowered than women in migrant households: We find some but not many differences in empowerment between women in migrant and non-migrant households. In fact, women in non-migrant households participate in the decision-making over more activities than women in migrant households. Our results show that in terms of other aspects of empowerment, women in migrant and non-migrant households are rather similar. They have similar control over agricultural income, similar access to assets, and equal probability of participating in local groups (such as agricultural, microfinance or other self-help groups).

Women in migrant and non-migrant households are equally constrained access to and control over resources and equally over-burdened: Compared to men in non-migrant households, all women are significantly disadvantaged. Women in migrant households continue to have lower access to land compared to men. Only one-third of women own land compared to 64% of men. Moreover, only about one third of men report working more than 10.5 hours a day compared to more than half of all women.

What can we conclude?

While still very preliminary, the findings from the Nepal study show small or no differences in empowerment between women in migrant and non-migrant households. However, what is worrisome is that although women in migrant households are more likely to be seen as self-employed in agriculture rather than contributing family workers, they still face significant disadvantages in the control and access to productive resources and assets, including land. They also face significantly greater workloads than men and continue to be primarily responsible for the care work in the household.

Policies and programs need to better address these constraints and to provide adequate support for the increasing number of women as primary or sole farmers.


Mueller, V., Kovarik, C., Sproule, K., & Quisumbing, A. (2015). Migration, Gender, and farming Systems in Asia: Evidence, Data, and Knowledge gaps. IFPRI Discussion Paper 01458.

UN DESA. 2013. Cross-national comparisons of internal migration: An update on global patterns and trends. Technical Paper No. 2013/1. (http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/technical/TP2013-1.pdf)

UN DESA. 2017. The International Migration Report 2017. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/migrationreport/docs/MigrationReport2017_Highlights.pdf


Empowering rural women through business development: examples from the Kenyan dairy sector

Agriculture, Gender, Women

Regina Laub and Johanna Schmidt, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,

In recent years, the commercialization of agriculture, global trade liberalization, technological advancement and other major trends have deeply changed the agricultural sector and broader food systems.

While these trends have created opportunities and positive results, such as opening up new markets and creating successful linkages between farmers and markets, they also pose challenges for rural many actors, especially smallholder farmers, in accessing and benefitting from local, national and global markets.

Rural women in particular, experience difficulties in participating in and benefitting equally from agri-food value chains. Women’s productive and entrepreneurial potential is often constrained by their limited access to assets, services and productive resources. As a result, women remain overrepresented in the low-paid, low-skilled nodes of the chain, and excluded from more promising market and business opportunities that might be emerging from value chain development.

Moreover, evidence shows that this gender gap in agriculture, not only hinders women’s economic potential, but also affects the overall performance of agri-food value chains, and as such represents a missed opportunity in achieving zero hunger and improving food security and nutrition for all. Eliminating gender-based constraints in agri-food value chains, will therefore not only improve women’s opportunities for economic empowerment, but it will also contribute to value addition, reduce food losses and improve the lives of rural women and men and their families.

Launch of the Agrigender Journal


photography by kevin ouma

On Friday July 7, we officially launched the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security. Although the journal has been publishing since March 2015, it has come of age and it was time to introduce it to the broader research community.


photography by kevin ouma

The launch was co-hosted by the journal publisher, the Africa Center for Gender, Social Research and Impact Assessment and the African Women in Agriculture Research and Development.

photography by kevin ouma

Three members of the editorial board of the journal, Dr Salome Bukachi of the University of Nairobi, Dr Jemimah Njuki, Founder and Editor in Chief of the journal and Dr Cheryl Doss of Oxford University were at the launch.

The launch was attended by over 200 social scientists from the CGIAR, national research organizations and universities from around the world.


Visit the journal at http://www.agrigender.net


Special issue on catalyzing and measuring women’s leadership and empowerment in African agricultural research and development


While women are a vital force in Africa’s agriculture, agricultural research and higher education are disproportionately led by men. Only one in four agricultural researchers are women and even fewer – one in seven – of the leadership positions in African agricultural research institutions are held by women[i]. This special issue focuses on a range of approaches to build the scientific and leadership capacities of women scientists, the outcomes of these interventions, and methodologies for measuring women’s empowerment at this professional level.

The volume builds on the work of  African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), which invests in African women scientists and institutions to deliver innovative, sustainable, and gender-responsive agricultural research and development solutions to tackle the biggest challenges facing African smallholder farmers. Since 2008, AWARD’s tailored career-development fellowships have equipped top women agricultural scientists across sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their science and leadership skills. More than 1000 African women scientists (465 fellows, 398 mentors and 297 mentees) at over 300 institutions have participated in the program since its inception.

This issue is part one of a two part series on catalyzing and measuring women’s leadership and empowerment in African agricultural research and development. The papers in this issue can be broadly categorised under three themes:

There has been a lot of progress in increasing the number of female scientists but a lot still needs to be done: Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) has been tracking sex-disaggregated data on agricultural researchers in developing countries. Beintema, in her paper on “An assessment of the gender gap in African agricultural research capacities” uses the latest survey data to provide an updated measurement of women’s participation in agricultural research and development. Beintema first highlights various demographic details of sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural research capacity, disaggregated by gender and across countries and time. These demographic details focus on female researchers in terms of overall share of researchers across time and countries, qualification levels, age, and position levels.  Secondly, the author assesses the participation of women in African agricultural research within a broader global perspective.  Beintema notes that recent trends indicate a growth in Africa’s female researcher shares, and it is expected that the number of women participating in agricultural research will continue to grow. Despite this growth in numbers, female researchers are often less qualified and younger than their male colleagues, and the proportion of women in management positions remains low.

Contributing not only to change, but also to how change is measured: Right from its inception, AWARD was explicit in its goal to develop, test, and document effective and innovative models for measuring the progress and impact of its complex career-development program. Mentz’s paper on The benefits of both worlds: Towards an integrated mixed-methods approach for evaluating women’s empowermentexplores the value of employing mixed methods both for the purposes of increasing the credibility of results, and for improving understanding of the ways in which the fellowship facilitates and enables change to happen. Mentz describes the development and implementation of, a multi-phase, parallel convergent mixed-methods design applied by AWARD in implementing monitoring, evaluation and learning to understand not only the empowerment of the AWARD fellows, but to identify in which ways (and to what degree) the fellowship contributes to empowerment. The article looks at practical considerations for evaluators and program leaders who intend to use integrated mixed-methods approaches for monitoring evaluation and learning.

The whole of AWARD is much more than just the sum of its parts; in other words, AWARD contributes to women’s empowerment because of the variety of its interventions that combine to uniquely build different skills and capacities within individuals. The components of the AWARD program interact in multiple ways, with many reinforcing loops that greatly augment total effect. This complementarity increases the chance of success, the depth of the empowerment fellows experience, and the potential for sustainability of the agency gained. Through analyses AWARD has found that, depending on the needs of its diverse fellows, one activity can contribute to several domains or expressions of power while, on the other hand, several activities can help address a deficit in one domain or expression of power. The three complementary components of AWARD which encapsulate its various activities are aimed at: fostering mentoring partnerships, building science skills, and developing leadership capacity.

In their paper on Designing effective leadership capacity development programs for women agricultural researchers in Africa, Bomett and Wanglachi argue that the diversity of women scientists in Africa, and the low representation of women leaders in agriculture research and development, calls for the design of effective yet tailored capacity-building programs to ensure that these women scientists benefit fully. Recognizing this, AWARD designed leadership courses tailored to the specific needs of women in science, in order to inspire and equip them to fully develop their potential as leaders in agriculture research and development. The authors explore the extent to which the desired outcomes of leadership development in the program were achieved, and how and to what degree (if at all) AWARD contributed to these outcomes.

Building science skills is another pillar of the AWARD fellowship, and comprises a portfolio of courses and services designed to build fellows’ science capacity by affording them opportunities to gain insight into smallholder priorities as relating to women; improve their skills in presenting science and proposal writing; acquire technical skills and knowledge; and access highly relevant scientific networks and resources. In their paper “Building science skills to improve the contributions of women to agricultural research and development in Sub-Saharan Africa” Mukhebi, de Villiers, Okoth , Wilde and Nkwake discuss the rationale and theory of change for AWARD’s science program, as well as the extent to which fellows going through the program demonstrated science-related outcomes. These outcomes include capabilities to conduct research (including gender responsive research), and fundraise for research projects. Using mixed-methods the authors evaluate the extent to which the science component of the program has been implemented successfully and whether it has led to the development of crucial skills needed by female participants to advance their science careers.

In “Strengthening mentoring partnerships for African women scientists in the agricultural research and development system in sub-Saharan Africa” Mukhebi, Otunga, Mentz, and Wangalachi explore the mentoring component of the two-year AWARD fellowship. Echoing the sentiments expressed in the article on leadership, they note that strengthening Africa’s agricultural research capacity needs not just more women participating in absolute terms; but in senior, decision-making roles. An important component of enabling increased high-level participation is mentoring – a proven and powerful driver for career development and, particularly, for retaining women in science. The authors use data obtained from three cohorts of AWARD fellows and mentors to understand the effectiveness of the mentoring partnership, and the factors influencing mentoring outcomes. The authors ultimately address the question of whether mentoring can contribute to closing the skills gap among African women scientists in agriculture research and development.

This special issue is edited by Apollo M Nkwake, Wanjiru-Kamau Rutenberg, and Melody Mentz all of AWARD, with the support of Jemimah Njuki, Editor in Chief of the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security.

[i] Beintema, N. M. and Marcantonio. F. D. (2010) Female Participation in African Agricultural Research and Higher Education: New Insights Synthesis of the ASTI–Award Benchmarking Survey on Gender-Disaggregated Capacity Indicators. IFPRI Discussion Paper 00957, March 2010

Crossing borders: Challenges of African women involved in informal cross-border trade


By Regina Laub,  Florence Tartanac and Cristina Scarpocchi


There are strong regional and continental level efforts towards formalizing trade within Africa. Despite these efforts, it is very common to see women crossing the borders with their heads and backs laden and arms overloaded with goods for sale. These traders are carrying goods that include industrial and agricultural commodities, they are engaged in what is known as “Informal Cross Border Trade (ICBT)”.

Many of the traders that are involved in ICBT are self-employed women.  Very often their engagement in  in informal trade gives them an entry point in selling their local produce. They would not be able to enter  the formal sector due to various reasons, including difficulties in getting access to traveling documents or trading licenses, long waiting times at borders, overcharging by customs officials, and lack of knowledge of official procedures. Moreover, due to the nature of this trade and the lack of an adequate legal framework, the informal women traders traders are often faced with challenges such as corruption, where officials solicit bribes in order to smuggle goods, sexual abuse and confiscation of goods.

The objective of this paper is to highlight the potential women small traders can have in poverty reduction in many African countries and the need for policy makers at national and regional level to take into account their specific role and economic contribution and include measures to address the challenges they face in their day-to-day life in the negotiation of trade policies and regulations. This note is based on the experience and lessons learned from the work carried out at field and policy level to support women informal traders in the Great Lakes region, and specifically in Rwanda, within the framework of the Cross-border Trade Support Initiative led – since 2013 – by FAO, UN Women and other development partners.

70% of informal cross border traders are women in the SADC region (East Africa Community 2006).In some African countries informal regional trade flows represent up to 90 percent of official flows (Hall 2013; UN Economic Commission for Africa).The contribution of women informal traders to national GDP amounts to 64 percent of value added in trade in Benin, 46 percent in Mali and 41 percent in Chad (Charmes 2000, quoted in ILO 2004).Trade is the most important source of employment among self-employed women of Sub-Saharan Africa providing 60% of non-agricultural self-employment (ILO 2004).

Informal cross-border trade and its economic importance

 ICBT refers to imports and exports of legitimately produced goods and services. The traded good or service does not pass formally through custom controls and therefore escapes the regulatory framework for taxation and other procedures set by the government. This form of trade is unrecorded and does not appear in official national statistics of the trading countries. It is complex and context-specific.

ICBT provides a significant contribution to national economies: In Africa, it is estimated that it represents 43 percent of official gross domestic product (GDP), this percentage is almost equivalent to the formal sector.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, ICBT features prominently among women’s individual strategies for self-employment, poverty reduction and wealth creation. Overall, trade provides 60 percent of non-agricultural self-employment to women in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, most of women’s small scale business between Rwanda and Burundi is informal. The types of goods these women trade include agricultural products mainly vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, traditional vegetable varieties, carrots, peas, cucumber, maize, sorghum, beans, rice and maize flour and cassava.

Strengthening Gender Equality in Land Ownership and Control


By Brave Ndisale

Image result for women and landIn October 2016, 50 women from Sub-Saharan Africa climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro as part of the Kilimanjaro Initiative Women’s Land Rights Campaign. Their objective was to lobby leaders to address challenges faced by African women in accessing land. In many sub-Saharan African countries, legal provisions supporting gender equality in land ownership and control have not led to women de facto enjoying secure and equal rights to land. Although women contribute substantially to the agriculture labour force, in many instances social norms discriminate against women’s ownership to land. In practice, this means that women rarely have decision-making power over land, with their rights heavily dependent on relations with their husbands or male relatives.

In many developing countries limited enforcement of statutory laws, gender biased social and cultural norms, and structural barriers undermine progress on women’s land rights. While land registration programs aimed at increasing tenure security have proliferated, these have not always led to an increase ownership by women. Family land is still frequently registered in the name of the male head of household. Indeed the results are telling, with estimates from FAO[1] (2011) indicating that women own less than a quarter of land holdings in the developing world. Such estimates should be interpreted with caution, given that many countries do not disaggregate land ownership by sex.

The inclusion of women’s land rights as a specific target within Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality underscores the importance of addressing the ongoing deficit in women’s land ownership and control. Target 5a provides that states “undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.” (emphasis added). The inclusion of this target and its land-related indicators reflects the empirical evidence that secure land rights correlate with important gains in women’s welfare, productivity, equality and empowerment.

Yet the impact of gender equality in land ownership and control goes well-beyond SDG 5. There is evidence that gender equality in land matters is critical to poverty reduction, food security and rural development. Improved land ownership among women is also linked to reduced child malnutrition and increased school enrolment.

Through several interrelated initiatives, FAO is working with countries to realise target 5a on gender equality in land ownership and control by 2030.

First, as the custodian agency for the second indicator of target 5.a., “proportion of countries where the legal framework (including customary law) guarantees women’s equal rights to land ownership and/or control”, (indicator 5.a.2) FAO is currently finalizing a methodological guide and related instruments, to provide robust support to countries in the collection and submission of relevant information for the monitoring of progress under this SDG indicator.

Second, FAO is supporting countries in the collection of high quality sex-disaggregated data on land tenure. This is important as the absence of such data frequently impedes the design of effective gender-equitable land reform programs and can limit countries’ capacity to measure the impact of land tenure reforms on reducing gender inequalities. Such data also enables countries to report on indicator 5.a.1 of target 5a, on (a) the percentage of women or men with ownership or secure rights over agricultural land and (b) the share of women among owners or rights-bearers of agricultural land, by type of tenure.

Third, in 2010 FAO launched the Gender and Land Right Database (GLRD), an online platform that presents information on women’s land rights in more than 85 countries via country profiles, gender and land-related statistics and the recently-developed Legal Assessment Tool (LAT). The LAT uses 30 indicators to capture the extent to which national legal frameworks are conducive to gender-equitable land tenure. This data helps governments to identify gaps in the legal and policy framework, and to plan and prioritise key reforms necessary to improve women’s equal and secure access to land. FAO continues to work with countries and partners to scale-up the availability of the LAT information, using a country-driven and participatory approach. These efforts serve to prepare countries to report under target 5.a.2 of the SDG.

Fourth, FAO supports the development of gender-equitable land tenure systems through the provision of tailored policy support tools to national governments for specific sectors. One example of this is the Gender in Agricultural Policies Assessment tool, which offers practical and evidence-based guidance on how to facilitate gender equality and women’s empowerment in agricultural policies. The tool supports stakeholders involved in policy processes to analyse and assess existing agricultural policies with a view to identifying gaps and developing concrete solutions.

Finally, to encourage the development of gender sensitive and inclusive legal and policy land governance frameworks, FAO is providing capacity development support at the national and regional level to actors involved in the land sector through the program “Governing land for women and men”. The program involves an e-learning course combined with a mentoring and a face-to-face training program.

At FAO we are acutely aware that these initiatives alone will not guarantee women’s equal rights to land ownership and control. What we firmly believe, is that by raising awareness, supporting the collection of sex-disaggregated data on women’s land ownership, and providing hands-on and accessible support to policy makers, we can help to make important inroads on guaranteeing land rights for women, and tackle some of the barriers that women face in claiming these rights.

By working closely with national governments, development partners, academic institutions and civil society organisations, we are confident target 5a of the SDGs can be realised by 2030, without needing to climb any more mountains.

Brave Ndisale is the Director ad interim, Division of Social Policies and Rural Institutions, Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations

[1] FAO (2011). The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11. Women in Agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, Italy.

Read the current issue of AgriGender journal

Agriculture, Gender, Women

LogoThe current issue of the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security focuses on the intersection of gender, agricultural productivity, value chains and nutrition and contains papers from research carried out across the globe including in Cameroon, the Himalayas, Ethiopia, India and Malawi.

Nathalie Me-Nsope and Michelle Larkins, both of Michigan State University discuss the gender based constraints and opportunities along the pigeon pea value chain, their implications for legume adoption/expansion, for income gains, and for the food security status of legume producing/selling households. They find that due to their culturally prescribed role as heads of households, men are mostly responsible for legume cultivation decisions at the farm level and across all regions of the country. Cultural restrictions on women’s mobility and gender disparities in transportation assets exclude women from participating in markets, thereby giving men more access to pigeon pea sales revenue. Men’s predominant role in pigeon pea marketing and their power to make major decisions on the allocation of crop revenue creates a disincentive among women to expand the legume at the farm level, especially since women make major labor contributions towards the cultivation and post-harvest handling of the legume. Our results indicate that income from pigeon pea sales may not always translate to improvements in household food security, especially when intra-household gender differences in market participation, consumption needs and preferences are considered. The authors recommend that development efforts targeting increases in household food security through the promotion of pigeon pea must take into considerations and address these gender barriers.

Read the full paper here

Hannah E. Payne from Brigham Young University, the USA and her co-authors from Freedom from Hunger and the Indian Institute of Health Management Research University in Jaipur India address the critical issue of food insecurity among women and children and describe the associated factors  in rural Rajasthan, India. By surveying pregnant women and women with young children belonging to self-help groups the authors find that factors associated with food insecurity for both women and children include increased poverty, low dietary diversity, belonging to a tribe, and failing to save money to cover food expenses. For women, using more coping strategies and having a husband who made decisions about how money the woman earned was used were associated with food insecurity, while not having received food from an Integrated Child Development Service center was associated with food insecurity in children.  These findings suggest that actions for improving food security may include facilitating saving for food needs, improving decision-making power among women, and increasing ties to organizations that cater to child development needs.

Read the full paper here

Gender integration in research: So where do we start?


Image result for gender equality continuum

Jemimah Njuki

Gender integration has become a common topic within research and development circles. The key question is now not whether to integrate gender in a program, but how. So where to start?

Most people now recognize that agriculture research and development must be gender responsive and must address the needs of both men and women, while recognizing and addressing the unequal access to resources and differential levels of productivity between men and women.

There are several imperatives to integrating gender in agriculture research and development programs. One is the recognition of the different roles that men and women play in agriculture, especially in developing countries, and with these different roles, comes different needs and constraints. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that globally, women provide 43% of the agricultural labor and in some countries in Africa, this can often go to as high as 60%.  This is in addition to the roles played by women in care work, which often goes unrecognized (FAO, 2011).

There has been extensive documentation of the  inequality in the allocation of, access to and ownership of key productive resources in Agriculture, that has an impact on productivity. Reducing the gaps in access to productive resources has been shown to increase agricultural productivity by upto 30% (FAO, 2011). The Wold Bank however argues, that this access to resources by women smallholder farmers must be accompanied by increasing women’s voice and agency and addressing social and cultural norms that limit their choices (World Bank, 2014).

As a result, organizations have developed strategies to integrate gender in their work and to ensure they are empowering women. More often than not however, most organizations have struggled to identify what the entry points for gender integration might be and how they can make the process more systematic and the integration more meaningful. Many organizations and programs have as a result ended up with gender policies and strategies that are broad, not clear on actions and therefore unimplementable.

While there is a lot of nuance in how gender should be integrated in different kinds of research programs, based on whether the research is upstream or downstream, the focus of the research and existing capacities, below are 5 clear entry points that provide guidance to research organizations or research programs looking for a systematic process for gender integration.

Supporting rural women to benefit from Agriculture


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Today is the first anniversary of the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security (AgriGender). What an incredible  year it has been! We continue to publish high quality, open access papers that document what works for supporting men and women in agriculture to achieve gender equality, and secure the food and nutrition security of their households, and the advancement of their communities.

This current issue is special as it focuses on some very key topics:  how to ensure women participate and benefit from agricultural value chains; how market development can be designed to support nutrition outcomes especially for children; and the opportunities and barriers to women’s participation in rural producer organizations.

Karolin Andersson, Johanna Bergman Lodin and Linley Chiwona-Karltun  from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences explore the gender dynamics in cassava leaves value chains in Tanzania. They  find that women farmers are mainly responsible for harvesting and selling the leaves to brokers and wholesalers at farm gate. This is done on an ad hoc basis and for a low price. The low prices are due to a combination of factors including; a lack of market information and, lack of horizontal coordination and vertical integration. Women  reported being constrained by their reproductive responsibilities at home which prevents them from taking the leaves to market places themselves.  Improving the value chain through upgrading, access to information and technologies by women, and organizing them to better access markets is critical to ensuring their economic empowerment as well as ensuring these leaves contribute to nutrition.

Read the paper here

Lora Forsythe and Adrienne Martin  from the Natural Resources Institute in the United Kingdom and  Helena Posthumus from the Royal Tropical Institute in the Netherlands document women’s experiences in cassava commercialization in Nigeria and Malawi. They find that gender plays a significant role in these commercialization processes, as the factors which enable or constrain commercialization are influenced by household structure, bargaining power and gender norms. This is complicated further by the intersection with other factors of social difference such as ethnicity and age. These factors, in turn, determine which market value chains men and women can participate in and the benefits they obtain. Their results highlight various points at which women can participate and be excluded from commercialization, on the basis of their gender and bargaining power. However, trends within any one context can be contradictory and complex, with different spaces and opportunities that can empower or disempower women. The study poses additional questions for example how market interventions can be designed to enable women to increase and sustain their benefit from processing and marketing activities.

Read the paper here

Birhanu Megersa Lenjiso and Jeroen Smits of Radboud University, the Netherlands and Ruerd Ruben of Wageningen University analyse the relationship between participation in milk markets and  the nutritional status of young children in Ethiopia. The analysis reveals a direct relationship between household milk market participation, household and intra-household dietary diversity and nutritional status of young children. Milk market participating households have better dietary diversity scores than non-participating households. Children in market participant households have better dietary diversity and nutritional status compared to children from non-participant households. The authors conclude  that transforming the dairy sector from subsistence to a market oriented production system and integrating dairy farmers into the milk market has the potential to improve food security in rural Ethiopia.

Read the paper here

Susan Kaaria, Martha Osorio, Sophie Wagner and Ambra Gallina of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN analyse rural women’s participation in producer organizations to assess the barriers that women face and strategies to foster equitable and effective participation by women. The review identifies several factors as major barriers for women’s participation, including: socio-cultural norms; women’s double burden and triple roles; women’s status, age and previous membership in organizations; access to assets and resources; educational level; organizations’ rules of entry, and; legal and policy environment. The review identified strategies for strengthening women’s participation in producer organizations at the individual/household, community/producer organization, and policy level. At the individual/household level, strategies to improve individual capabilities and intra-household relations are crucial for promoting women’s participation and leadership in producer organizations.

Read the paper here 

Happy International Women’s Day 2016

Jemimah Njuki PhD, Editor in Chief










2016 List of Scholarships for African women and Developing Countries



scholarshipsBelow is an updated list from AfterschoolAfrica, of scholarships (undergraduate, Masters, MBA and PhD) that are open for women from African and developing countries. Some of these scholarships are for international students but are also open for the said demography.

Please note that application deadlines and other information provided on this site can change at any time. You are therefore advised to visit the recommended scholarship organisation website.

MasterCard Foundation Scholarships Program at Wellesley College, USA

As part of the Scholars Program, Wellesley will provide nine (9) African women with comprehensive support that includes scholarships, mentoring, counseling, and internship opportunities. Scholars at Wellesley will build experiences, values, and competencies that are critical to success in the global economy, and that enable them to give back to their communities and home countries.

Previous Deadline March 1

Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarships for Women in Africa, Europe and the Middle East

Google offers The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship for women in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to study in the field of computing and technology for Bachelors, Masters or PhD degrees.

Previous Deadline 1 February

VLIR- UOS Masters & Training Scholarships in Belgium for African and Developing Countries

VLIR-UOS offers 180 Masters & 70 training Scholarships in Belgium for students from Developing countries – 50% of scholarships will be offered to African students and almost 50% for Women. The eligible training or master programmes are taught in English.

Previous Deadline 1 February

MMMF Scholarship for Women from Developing Countries in US & Canada

Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund (MMMF) scholarship applications for female students from Developing Countries who are currently studying in the United States or Canada

Previous Deadline: January 9th