• Li-Ann Chua

A Spotlight on Gender Mainstreaming in Agricultural Value Chains in Southeast Asia

Women have become increasingly visible in agriculture value chains across Southeast Asia. Despite their increased involvement however, their socioeconomic status do not seem to be achieving the same progression. Women on all levels of the value chain across Southeast Asia still face some level of marginalisation today.

While we have not yet achieved gender equality within agricultural value chains in Southeast Asia, it’s encouraging to note the increasing number of women and men - representing numerous stakeholder groups and levels of seniority - championing inclusive practices. At Grow Asia, we view this as a crucial step to increasing women’s empowerment, as addressing the systemic barriers that marginalize women necessitates a multi-sectoral approach and collaboration between every value chain actor.

Seeing this increasing level of commitment and activity, Grow Asia commissioned the development of our first report on women in agriculture in 2020 - "Gender Mainstreaming in Agriculture Value Chains in Southeast Asia". Grow Asia then ran an interactive webinar, using the platform as an opportunity to facilitate collaborative discussion within our network on ways to implement and integrate gender mainstreaming into our partners’ programs. The webinar was organized with the view of allowing participants to:

  • Hear an overview of the diverse strategies Grow Asia partners (both NGO and private sector players) use to mainstream gender across their supply chains and within their organizations.

  • Learn from our speakers on how they design, implement and incentivize gender-inclusive practices and women’s economic empowerment in their programs.

  • Understand the business case for mainstreaming gender in your own organization.

Some insights shared by the speakers include:

“We needed to change our selection process for the key farmers, making an open process, more flexible, where women are aware that if they took on that role as a key farmer, they can also manage their usual expectations within their families. When the women were more comfortable becoming key farmers, we noticed a big difference in impact.” - Stuart Morris, Director, East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer

“Empowerment of women and girls is an expansion of choice. What are the options, opportunities and abilities to make an influence in decisions that affect her life. Strengthening of the voice, which is the capacity to speak up and heard at all levels. To be able to shape and share in decisions that are being made that impact their families and communities.” - Fay Fay Choo, Asia Cocoa Director, Mars

“We really try to ensure that any gender inclusive strategy is commercially sound for our business partners. This is really to ensure sustainability of the initiative and for the impact. We help them analyse women's involvement in the agriculture supply chains. Beyond just collecting the more graphic data, we examine the farming household decision making process, which reveals a lot on how much different members of the household, both women and men, are involved in agri based decisions. We then use this data to produce cost-effective marketing strategies.” - Nisa Usman, Business Consultant, PRISMA

“Understanding incentives, reasons and arguments for why partners would be interested in reaching women or including women in their business models is the one most helpful way to address any resistance. Capturing, analysing and sharing data to illustrate how partners will benefit can help some of the resistance. However, it is important to note that partners may be at varying levels/stages in terms of their interest, understanding and ability to work towards gender inclusive practices. In some cases, we have realised working with businesses and establishing trust, relationship and credibility helps them in expanding the business model later to be more inclusive.” - Maryam Piracha, Portfolio Advisor, Agriculture, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, PRISMA

Following the panel discussion, the webinar also provided an opportunity for the audience to voice their opinions and feedback on the recommendations outlined in the report.

Next Steps:

Grow Asia has begun reviewing the feedback proposed by participants on plans for our gender mainstreaming program. Furthermore, we have begun and will continue to reach out to partners who have expressed an interest in collaborating with Grow Asia around operationalizing our gender mainstreaming program. Finally, Grow Asia will continue to initiate and explore ways to facilitate best practice sharing and learning exchange around this critical issue.

The link to download the report can be found here. Additionally, we invite anyone interested or currently working on women’s economic empowerment and/or gender mainstreaming to engage directly with us in our upcoming activities. For more information and collaboration opportunities, visit us online or reach out to li-ann@growasia.org (through 30 April) or erin@growasia.org.

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