From May 23 – 25, 2017, Propcom Mai-karfi participated in the SEEP Network Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) Global Learning Forum, which brought together over 300 participants from 61 countries spanning 129 organisations. The objective of the forum was to stimulate discourse onWEE in market systems programmes, focusing on three main themes of the rural economy, employment and financial inclusion.
Halima Ahmed, our Gender & WEE Specialist who represented Propcom Mai-karfi at the forum said some of the lessons from the event for her were:
- A greater understanding of women’s roles in the value chain, especially that the hidden or unrecognised roles are critical for any successful WEE strategy in a market systems programme. Understanding roles of women essentially requires gender analysis to be incorporated into market systems analysis from the onset. When programmes fail to do this, they end up having to retrofit gender and WEE issues into interventions, which makes it difficult to achieve the designed impact. Programmes like Market Development Facility in Pakistan and TOMAK in Nepal provided useful insights on how such analysis can greatly inform intervention design and ultimately the WEE impact.
- It is important for M4P programmes to critically assess if their interventions are really resulting in genuine and transformative change in women’s roles in agricultural value chains. Despite years of support, women are still concentrated in the lower end of the value chain, which is often the least profitable segment. Where there has been an upgrading of women’s roles in the value chain, it is due to external factors and not deliberate programme efforts. An upgraded role for a woman could entail any of the following: women entering new roles, new sectors, having greater job security, better working conditions, sustained access to capacity development, increased flexibility or improved status. The consensus is that it needs to be a combination of economic and social upgrading that is sustained over time. Programmes like ELAN DRC are leading the thought process and challenging others to do the same!
- Building the business case for WEE in private sector partnerships remains a challenge for many market systems programmes. Essentially, the value of a market systems programme is in being able to propose models to private sector partners which demonstrate an economic opportunity that makes business sense, whilst at the same time impacting on poor women and men in a sustainable manner. But this is easier said than done! Nonetheless, efforts such as the Coca Cola 5 by 20 initiative are demonstrating that big businesses are willing and ready to invest in women.
These are just some highlights from a thought-provoking three days with WEE practitioners from across the globe. As the development world continues to gather knowledge and best practices on WEE, Propcom Mai-karfi will follow closely for opportunities to apply the learnings as well as to contribute its quota to the knowledge base.