The analysis done during the planning phase confirmed that a large proportion of women in the four countries work in agriculture. Gender-based inequalities and classical gender division of labor for household tasks contribute to unequal bargaining power for women and other vulnerable groups within the community.
The analysis done during the planning phase confirmed that a large proportion of women in the four countries work in agriculture. Despite the great amount of work that is on women’s shoulders in the agriculture sector, gender-based inequalities and classical gender division of labor for household tasks grounded in social norms contribute to unequal bargaining power for women and other vulnerable groups within the community and therefore limited access to land, assets, and food and nutrition. The analysis attests also that active engagement of women along the seed and food systems is necessary to translate sustainable agricultural development into food and nutrition security.
In order to have a long-term impact on these issues, CROPS4HD designed its project to take women’s different roles and realities into account. Specifically, following recommendations extracted from the four preparatory gender and conflict studies the project integrated the study findings in the project design and will characterize the work in the four countries:
Promote co-responsibility of men and women and gender-sensitive division of labor
Since the division of labor is unequal for women both at household level and in agriculture, CROPS4HD will enhance gender sensitive division of labor. The project does so by, for example
- investing in labor saving technologies and practices in the project areas like processing units for neglected crops (e.g. millets) owned and managed by women’s groups/women agripreneurs.
- setting up agriculture production and processing systems run by women collectives to support agricultural work traditionally performed by women.
- promoting women’s social enterprises for the production of e.g. bio inputs to reduce peasant women workload within women traditional role.
Beside such gender-positive interventions, the project will work also with a gender transformative path by, for example
- sensitizing men and boys through gender trainings and launching masculinities groups to get them as allies and agents of change (reducing women’s workload/unpaid care work, eradicating gender based/domestic violence etc.) and
- awareness-raising of traditional authorities.
Build women’s capacities and bargaining power
It is usually men, who take the produce to the market and retain control over the profits generated from the sale. Women are hesitant to go to the market, as they do not have the confidence, skills, and bargaining power to deal with the market actors. The first step therefore is to enhance the development of women (youths and minorities) leadership and bargaining skills and expose women to market interactions. CROPS4HD will link women to markets so that they connect to local, regional and global economy from which the current patriarchal system and many men currently keep them away. The project will combine such efforts with facilitated access to information on market dynamics and enable women to make informed choices about when and where to sell their produce.
Strengthen women participation, leadership and decision-making
With the aim of boosting women, youth and minorities leadership, the project will support women peasant groups depending on their specific needs such as with literacy courses (e.g. Chad, Niger), technical agroecological training, administrative/management/agribusiness courses, using forms of communication and training appropriate for reaching women (as well as men). For example, greater use of audio-visual communication will be required for women with low literacy levels, the level of language used will depend upon the level of education, and time and location of meetings is a function of the convenience and mobility of rural peasant women.
Advocate for women and other vulnerable groups rights
Women and vulnerable groups lack adequate representation in their local, regional, and national institutions, and there is lack of gender mainstreaming in many national sector regulations and policies. Strong women and committed men/allies are the best advocates for women and minorities rights and equal access to resources both at household level as well as at local, regional and national institutions level. CROPS4HD will equip women and vulnerable groups with skills and tools for national and regional advocacy.
Enhance gender-sensitive food security and healthy diets
Experience shows that seed banks and vegetables warehouses, usually managed by women’s groups, contribute to increased food security at the community level, helping poor families to access food, particularly when shocks target the community (like crops fail or when the family is facing a financial crisis). CROPS4HD addresses access to nutrition and food security within households by creating awareness among men and women about differential access to food and differences in food consumption patterns and practices (social customs determine both). Furthermore, nutrition education will enable women (since they most often cook the food) to provide their families with a healthy diet.