In recent years Government, NGOs, donors and development actors are increasingly focusing on gender sensitive agriculture value chain promotion as a key strategy for stimulating economic growth and for women empowerment. Development sectors are also placing analysis framework in selecting value chains and engaging women at different tires of the value chain potential for achieving gender goal. Women’s engagement in the value chain have been in the center while developing women’s economic empowerment strategy too. Nonetheless, we have to be in the same page in understanding women’s engagement while putting this at the center of value chain selection. What do we mean by engagement? Does it mean that women are not engaged at value chain or poorly engaged?
An analysis of Pathways program of CARE Bangladesh shows; women have higher engagement than men in agriculture; especially in home gardening, livestock rearing and in management of crop harvest and postharvest activities. Result shows women have high engagement in thirteen activities out of twenty nine agricultural activities whereas men have in eleven. Then how to engage women in agriculture value chain?
If we want to scratch from the grab, we need to analyze on the gender barriers and obstacle that women faces in agriculture. Women who should be recognized for their crucial role in agriculture and the rural economy rather challenged by acute wage disparity compared to their male counterparts. CARE’s experience as well as evidence suggest that women are not only routinely under paid and inequitably compensated for their agricultural labor compared to men but also continue to carry a disproportionate share of household workloads, are often excluded from agricultural decision making, under-represented in community based agricultural organizations and overlooked by local institutions responsible for resource allocation.
While, engaging women, need to look back at the entire tire of the value chain and examine on the challenges that limits women’s participation as farmer, as input and output market actors as well.
Engaging women is not only increasing their workload with some additional roles but facilitating system change that ensures women’s economic, social and political empowerment, ensures equal compensation for men and women in agriculture, ownership and access over productive resources, reducing workload that impedes their ability to participate in other earning opportunities, ensures their freedom to manage income. Engaging women is innovative approaches, making market more inclusive for women. Engaging women is more than partnerships include increased dialogue among development actors that ensures women’s recognition for their contribution in agriculture.