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Integrating Gender Inclusion into Agricultural Value Chains

Contributing writer: Value for Women

Executive Summary

Women play important roles throughout the agriculture sector, despite being underrepresented in leadership roles in agri-SMEs. There are persistent barriers to women’s inclusion and equality in agricultural SMEs and value chains that require intentional efforts to overcome. While commitment to gender inclusion and equality is widespread, it can be difficult to solidify goals into actions. By following an iterative four-step process – commit, assess, implement, and measure– organizations can support gender inclusion and equality in their programs and partnerships.

Grow Asia is a multi-stakeholder platform that builds partnerships for more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable food systems. As Grow Asia accelerates the activities under the Women’s Economic Empowerment Flagship, Grow Asia invited Value for Women to lead a 2-hour capacity building on “Integrating Gender Inclusion in Agricultural Value Chain Projects”.

This training aims to provide Grow Asia’s network partners with:

  • A better understanding of gender inclusion and how to apply practices within and outside an organization and through multi-stakeholder partnerships

  • Knowledge of the importance gender inclusive practices, as well as the barriers women face within agriculture value chains

We hope that these tools and examples will help you to begin and strengthen your gender inclusion and equality journey.


Participants at the training workshop in September 2022

This session focuses on supporting businesses to adopt practices that take into account the differentiated needs and priorities of their employees and customers of different genders to further business as well as social goals. For more information on a Value for Women’s approach to gender inclusion in the workplace, read more here: A Business- First Approach to Gender Inclusion - Value for Women.

The case for gender inclusion and equality is clear

Incorporating gender inclusion and equality into programs and products can have meaningful commercial, social and ethical outcomes– a three-part benefit which is sometimes called “the business case, impact case, and duty case”. Research shows that progress in gender equality has a ripple effect and that greater gender equality is linked to greater economic and social development. This means that even relatively small efforts and investments to promote gender inclusion and equality can create additional positive outcomes in the economy and in society.

Four steps to incorporate gender inclusion and equality

Once we answer “why”, we must also answer “how”. Drawing on examples from Grow Asia’s network partnerships in the region and Value for Women’s experience supporting agricultural lenders and SMEs around the world, the workshop explored what actions organizations and businesses can take to include gender considerations in their operations and internal policies using an iterative four-step process:

  1. commitment of time and resources to reach a specific goal by the organization’s leadership,

  2. assessment of existing data and programs,

  3. implementation of strategies for gender inclusion and equality, and

  4. measurement and evaluation of the success of the strategy.

Companies and organizations, whether they have in-house gender experts or not, can all use these steps to promote gender inclusion into their workplace.

It’s important to acknowledge that gender inclusion and equality is a journey, not a destination, and that organizations may have different levels of experience and resources to invest in gender inclusion efforts.

Value for Women provided a list of potential actions at every stage. For example, for the commitment step, an action can be to be a gender champion within your organization. For assessment, an action can be “conduct surveys and/or focus group discussions to understand any gender-related barriers facing agents and employees”, or implementation: “Develop business development services based on an understanding of women’s needs”, and for measurement: “set KPI related to targets for utilization of services by women and women-led business.”

While these specific actions might only be appropriate or the most effective for some organizations and companies, they give you an idea of the type of actions that might work for you. For links to case studies and resources, see, Gender in Business: Lessons Learned for Last Mile Distributors.

The importance of inclusion in value chains at all levels

It’s important to consider women in every part of the business and value chain, specifically in four roles: women in Leadership, women in Workforce, women as Customers / Clients, and women in the value chain as Suppliers and Distributors. Being purposeful about addressing gender gaps in your business across all of these roles women can occupy in agricultural value chains enhances business opportunities and revenues, makes value chains more resilient, supports better problem-solving, and creates more effective sales and marketing.

Because of structural inequality and gender norms, women face specific challenges to accessing resources, tools, and opportunities that are difficult to see unless you are being intentional about using data to identify gender disparities or “gender gaps”. At the core of addressing gender barriers is data, and there are several assessment and measurement tools you can use to benchmark your current practices and identify areas to improve. A few examples of measurement tools are:

  1. The Gender Smart Nexus by Value for Women - link

  2. Gender Equality Scorecard by SEAF - link

  3. Gender Equality Index by Bloomberg - link

  4. Gender Scorecard by Equileap - link

  5. Certification in Gender & Intersectional Equity by EDGE - link

  6. WEPs Gender Gap Analysis Tool - link

If you need further support to use these tools to identify gender gaps in your business or to address gender gaps through intentional gender inclusion and equality strategies, please reach out to Grow Asia’s Erin Sweeney <> or Ranthi Whesi Umbarani<>.

About Value for Women
Value for Women is a specialized advisory firm at the intersection of business, finance and gender. We have specific experience with agricultural finance and value chains, and our website hosts a number of case studies and publications to help you take advantage of opportunities to be more gender inclusive in your organization or business.

Organizations and companies at all stages can benefit from gender-smart technical assistance to understand business opportunities and make their internal teams and operations more inclusive and effective. Rather than distracting from the core of the business, gender is part of it. If you are interested in finding out more, contact Value for Women at:

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