Do Women Have A Meaningful Role In Gobal Value Chains, Read!

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Do women have a meaningful role in global value chains
Do women have a meaningful role in global value chains

Integration of small-scale farmers into value chains across the globe has been a cherished goal of rural development for several decades, but including women in this process has proved to be a challenge. The latest research conducted by IIED examines the extent to which progress, if any was made, and what could be the next steps.

Smallholder inclusion is considered to be one of the best ways to increase investment, opportunity and improved livelihoods in rural areas. Many organizations, governments, and practitioners of development have been working hard to do this right.

It could be beneficial for the CSR (corporate social responsibility) reputation and may assist in identifying new sources of supply. It is beneficial for governments hoping to reap the multiplier benefits of trade formalization within rural regions, as well as aiding donors in achieving their poverty reduction goals by focusing on trade, not aid..

What are the issues?

There are many challenges women face in being able to take part in GVCs:

  • The standards that are required for a successful farming operation – farmers must have access to the required inputs, assets as well as the skills and know-how. Women in business and agriculture are currently on the back foot in this regard since they are more disadvantaged than men.
  • Women typically have many roles within the home and on the farm that makes it challenging for them to go to courses, or even to communicate with men who might be their main point of communication in trade negotiations
  • They could also be subject to religious or cultural restrictions on their mobility. This could restrict their ability to take part in trade or training.
  • Capacity building can be constructed in a manner that is not gender-specific. It is the case that in Tanzania, Madagascar and Ethiopia for instance the majority of women don’t have access to extension agents (most of them are males) and consequently, they are not trained can be viewed as insensitive to engage with them. It could also be that only the head of the household is allowed to interact, and the household head is typically males.
  • Women rarely own farms. Therefore, men are more likely to choose what crops to plant and control commercial crops and their resulting income. This makes it difficult for women to establish new trading relations, particularly those which have more strict trade and production terms and
  • Since women aren’t in control of the growing and selling of high-value crops, like avocados with high-end export qualities which is why they usually choose to not participate in these chains and concentrate on markets with lower value instead. (Conversely an mango cultivator we talked to from Kibwezi, Kenya, noted that women who profit from export agreements tend to be the chiefs of their households, also known as widows or mothers with no children).

The imbalance needs to be addressed

As a way of addressing the difficulties of incorporating women in GVCs groups and donors have concentrated on women’s economic inclusion through alternative livelihood options or value chains that aren’t limited to the primary cash agriculture.

Although this may seem like an easy solution but an review of the study in 2018 found that when the markets grow for women-dominated commodities the gender dynamics can change to the positive. In the case of one particular commodity that is found in Brazil (babassu oil) the males are taking on more domestic duties as women have been able to participate in the production.

But as certain commodities gain in value and men can see the benefits in the financial aspect while, being the main family decision maker take advantage of the rewards. For instance, when the demand for sweet potatoes increased in Malawi the country, men assumed the production of seeds and traded the roles previously held by women.

This can lead women to steer to less lucrative crops. They are more likely to get contracts for farming agreements for crops with low initial costs and minimal margins, like beans, than other crops like coffee, which requires massive upfront investment, but produces higher profits.

What could be the best way for the future?

  • Monitoring and evaluating the impact of inclusion programs on women’s empowerment is just crucial as is their practical implementation. The conventional focus on households rather than on the individual can conceal impacts on income, decision-making/agency and wellbeing – all of which are important determinants of women’s empowerment. Tools that are appropriate are needed to better track gender-related issues like measuring household decision-making as a baseline, and monitoring changes in time.
  • Bring women and men of the same household to the training sessions.
  • Make safe spaces for women and men to be able to freely discuss decisions or asset control, as well as managing income in the home. This will help in the elimination of deep-seated cultural obstacles.
  • Women should be encouraged to participate in the informal market – which generally provide a better trading conditions for women. Polititicians must be able to comprehend these markets more deeply, work with the informal sector as well as invest money in the infrastructure for improving.
  • To be able to enjoy participating in the global chain of value, women must be in control of resources as well as decision-making authority and the freedom to move in addition to other. Land rights are a major restriction and isn’t a place that the majority of interviewees believed they could make a difference. There is also an important function for civil society organizations, donors and policy makers to influence structural aspects (public law and policies relating to the tenure of land) that are outside the control and business of businesses.

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