Challenging Chains to Change


moderated by Caroline van der Molen

Challenging Chains to Change

Gender equity in agricultural value chain development

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Very often, efforts to improve value chains miss out half of the population - the female half. It is men who sell the products and who keep the money from those sales. The women, who do much of the work but are not recognized for it, often have to work even harder to meet ever-increasing quality requirements. But they see few of the benefits. 

How to change this? This book explains how development organizations and private entrepreneurs have found ways to improve the position of women in value chains - especially small-scale women farmers and primary processors. it outlines five broad strategies for doing this: (1) working with women on typical "women's products" such as shea, poultry and dairy, (2) opening up opportunities for women to work on what are traditionally "men's commodities" or in men's domains, (3) supporting women and men in organizing for change by building capacity, organization, sensitization and access to finance, (4) using standards and certification to promote gender equity, and (5) promoting gender-responsible business.  

The book draws on dozens of cases from all over the world, covering a wide range of crops and livestock products. These include traditional subsistence products (such as rice), small-scale cash items (honey, vegetables) as well as export commodities (artichokes, coffee) and biofuels (jatropha). The book includes a range of tools and mothodologies for analysing and developing value chains with gender in mind. 

By bringing together the two fields of gender and value chains, this book offers a set of compelling arguments for addressing gender in value chain development. It proposes an analytical framework that builds on both fields. It outlines five strategies for development organizations and enterprises to ensure that women can participate in value chains as full partners and decision-makers. The overall result is to improve value chain perfomance, with both women and men able to enjoy the benefits. 

This publication is jointly produced by: Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), AgriProFocus and International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR). 

Interested in learning more? Please check out the toolkit on Gender in Value Chains and the toolkit on Coffee as a Family Business.