Making Gender Work

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Making gender work

Cultivating diversity INTERVIEW

Louise Anten: ‘Women’s rights must be taken into account’


FrieslandCampina: Investing in water points


To include gender in your work

This one-off magazine is published by AgriProFocus. AgriProFocus is a network that brings together businesses, civil society, knowledge institutes and governments working towards food security. United in diversity, our members share the conviction that business and development are not mutually exclusive. AgriProFocus is active in 12 countries in Africa, SouthEast Asia and in the Netherlands. Gender in Value Chains is one of the themes AgriPro­Focus is exploring as a global network. On the website you can find discussions on this theme, a toolkit, an online training, publications and a video library



Louise Anten: ‘Women’s rights must be taken into account’





‘Partners can accuse you of imposing Western values’

Better milk, more maize BLOG


Coaching fosters self-confidence

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Women bring better business results

COLOPHON AgriProFocus Arthur van Schendelstraat 500 3511 MH Utrecht The Netherlands   030 - 303 9745 Production: AgriProFocus Text and editing: ImpactReporters Design: Het Lab - Arnhem Print: DPN Rikken Print

FOREWORD Who picks the fruit and who milks the cows? Who has access to quality seeds, to land, to finance or knowledge? Who has their voices heard? Gender plays an important part in all these questions. Gender refers to the social and cultural differences between men and women. It is not the same as sex (the biological characteristics) nor does it equal women. Gender refers to activities and responsibilities that are considered typical for men or for women. Gender is an integral part of our identity, shaped by our upbringing, culture and religion, and in turn influences our relations, work and the opportunities we get in life.



6 ways‌. to include gender in your work



Blamed for being born a girl

Diversity and inclusiveness, and specifically gender, are rising up the international sustainable development agenda. But why? Having equal rights for men and women is our shared responsibility, and a major step in creating a fair and sustainable environment. But next to social justice, there are also very compelling business arguments. Tapping into the full potential of both sexes will increase productivity, innovation and creativity, which in turn will lead to more impact and higher profits. This makes gender the perfect example of how social and business values can be mutually reinforcing. That is why the AgriProFocus network has been active on this topic for several years, developing tools and knowledge on gender sensitive value chain development. This magazine focuses on the practical implementation of the available tools and knowledge. What are the obstacles and how can we overcome these? What are the success stories and what can we learn from them? By sharing the views of experts from all four sides of the Dutch Diamond, we hope to inspire you to start or further develop gender sensitivity in your work. This magazine, as a representation of our network, would not have been possible without the contribution of our members. Thank you all for sharing your insights, your experiences and your stories! Caroline van der Molen Programme Coordinator Inclusive Business Making gender work - 3




‘Gender equality must be taken into account’

Women’s rights and gender equality must be taken into account in all development cooperation, and not just receive attention in projects specifically directed towards women. To ensure that this happens, it is crucial to find business cases for gender inclusive development.

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‘To integrate respect for women’s rights and gender equality in everything we do,’ was Louise Anten’s reply when asked about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ policy on gender in development cooperation. Projects on gender equality and women’s rights have seen their annual budget grow from 40 to 65 million euros in recent years. Anten: ‘Gender needs to become mainstreamed in the areas of focus that have far bigger budgets, such as food security. Expenditures on gender are growing in these fields. Former minister of development cooperation Liliane Ploumen encouraged this policy, and her successor Sigrid Kaag is continuing it.’

Louise Anten is part of the Task Force for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is composed of people from different divisions within the Ministry. Her focus is economic empowerment of women in private sector development.

What do you expect from businesses? ‘Companies working internationally must comply with OECD guidelines for responsible business conduct, and with UN guidelines. Gender is included in these, but often not explicitly. It’s almost impossible to check compliance. Often, companies lack real commitment.’

What does Foreign Affairs require from organisations to ensure gender inclusiveness? ‘Implementing organisations such as NGOs and companies that are involved in public-private cooperation have to offer equal opportunities and rights to women in the projects that we finance. It has to be clear how women will obtain equal opportunities, and this has to be based on a gender analysis. For exam-

What are the ambitions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? ‘The Netherlands subscribes to the EU target that 85 per cent of all development cooperation projects must have a gender-related objective by 2020, whether it’s a main or subsidiary objective. At present the figure is only 33 per cent. So it’s a problem, and a challenge. Many colleagues support the objective but wonder how to go about achieving it. For example, how should we deal with the 155 countries whose laws restrict women’s economic participation? And how do you offer guidance to implementing organisations on this matter?’

about the number of women reached, but how this is to be done.’

What advice would you give our readers? ‘It helps if there is commitment in the upper layers of the organisation and sufficient expertise, as well as the capacity to implement the plan, within the organisation. It also helps if concrete gender targets have been set and sufficient funds have been set aside. Women’s rights and gender equality are work in progress. We can learn a lot from each other, and it is important that if businesses, NGOs and governments share their experiences and collaborate on gender. In this respect the AgriProFocus network has an important role to play. We regard them as a colleague and partner.

‘The Netherlands subscribes to the EU target that 85 per cent of all development cooperation projects must have a gender-related objective by 2020.’ ple, in a programme to improve farmers’ access to credit I want to see an analysis of the difference in access for men and women, and how access can be made equal for both. Interesting proposals have been made by a number of partnerships in the programme ‘Dialogue and Dissent’. These provide hope. It is not the case that a proposal will not receive a subsidy if its gender strategy is not up to the mark. But it must include a feasible yet far-reaching plan on how to achieve gender equality. It’s not just

It works better to talk about opportunities rather than focus on risks. Look for business cases where greater gender equality has already had an impact. But even if businesses do not benefit economically, this is no reason not to introduce such measures. Combatting the violation of women’s rights remains fundamental.’

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Women make up on average

Giving women the same access as men to agricultural resources could increase

Did you know…?

the agricultural labour force in developing

20% in Latin America to almost 50% in East and

production on women’s farms in developing countries by

countries, ranging from

20 to 30%. This

could raise total agricultural production in developing countries by

43% of

Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

2.5 to 4%.

10% of total aid provided

925 million

for agriculture, forestry and

people are

fishing goes to women.

currently undernourished. Closing the gender gap in agricultural yields could

The reduced agricultural productivity

bring that number down by as much as

100–150 million

of women due to gender-based inequalities in access to and control of


productive and financial resources costs





100 million, Tanzania USD 105 million and Uganda USD 67 million Malawi USD

of all

landholders are women.

every year.3

In developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, women typically work

12 to 13 hours per

Female farmers only receive

5% of all

week more than men; yet, women’s

agricultural extension services. Worldwide,

contributions are often ‘invisible’ and


services are women.4


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15% of those providing these




UN Women/World Bank, 2015,


UNESCO, 2014,




‘Gender is still too often a separate paragraph’

Arno de Snoo, Angelica Senders, Julie Newton

It is not easy to integrate a gender perspective into a programme. Partners can accuse you of imposing Western values, women are not allowed to participate, colleagues don’t take the issue seriously, and so on. There are, however, many ways to persevere and to enjoy success, according to three experienced gender specialists ‘One way is building a relationship of trust.’

When Julie Newton, senior gender advisor at KIT Royal Tropical Institute explained for the first time to the scientists of the African Chicken Genetics Programme the value of integrating a gender perspective, she experienced some resistance. ‘National scientists initially felt we were imposing Western values of equality, or even feminism. In these cases I remain respectful and I first listen. Then I explain how relations within the household affect who will benefit from the new technology or products, and that addressing these issues is thus crucial for the programme’s goal of poverty reduction.’ Arno de Snoo, lecturer in Agronomy at Van Hall Larenstein University, The Netherlands, has also encountered resistance. ‘Many of my students are interested in the subject. But it also happens that male students laugh about it, and start making the inequality problem seem smaller. Then I often state that women can be far better farmers or business people than men. That provides the basis of a good discussion.’


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Angelica Senders, gender specialist at Fair & Sustainable Consulting, notes how difficult it is, even for benevolent professionals, to really integrate a gender perspective into a programme. ‘Actually all programmes are still developed in a general manner. Then halfway through the trajectory, the project leaders realize that they also have to do something with gender. At that point they hire me to give a training course or to write an advisory document, but the gender perspective is not taken up from the start. There are always more urgent things to do.’ De Snoo fully agrees: ‘The gender issue is too often a separate paragraph in a proposal, it is not seen as serious business.’ Newton and Senders note that, although donors stress the importance, adequate resources are not usually available.

What to do if additional money is not budgeted? According to the three specialists, not all improvements need to be expensive. Scientists, for example, could start collecting data from both women and men in households and analyse these separately. Newton: ‘We have supported the scientists of the chicken genetics programme to collect separate data on trade preferences for poultry. Men want big chickens, because of the meat. These bring higher prices at the

TO CONVINCE PARTNERS, IT ALSO HELPS IF MALE ECONOMIC SPECIALISTS ARGUE FOR A GENDER APPROACH market, which they control. Women want chickens that lay more eggs, because they have control over the income from eggs.’ Training couples instead of individual household members could be another improvement that does not have to cost a lot more money. There are already several methods developed for this, such as training couples in joint budgeting.

What arguments do you use? Senders: ‘In economic programmes, we first stress that gender sensitivity generates profit and business, because this is important for companies. But we always emphasize social arguments, such as the need for equal rights, as well. We do not want women to be exploited. De Snoo: ‘If we want true sustainability, we need to address social injustice, and we must recognize that global trends such as climate change affect women in different ways than men. For example, droughts can have a direct effect on the time women need to collect water.’ Newton warns against a focus on the business case that is too one-sided: ‘If you only stress the economic argument, you will never address the root causes of not having access to resources and knowledge.’

What else can be done to convince partners? KIT specialists have experienced how important it is to build a relationship of trust over time. Newton:

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‘Developing a gender strategy for the African Chicken Genetics Programme took a whole year. This was a very important lesson for us. A participatory approach over a longer period is much better than flying in for one or two weeks. In the end, the national scientists came up with solutions to genuinely empower the women themselves.’ To convince partners, it also helps if male economic specialists argue for a gender approach, adds Senders. ‘Sometimes, taking up a gender approach in an assignment is even easier for my male colleagues than for me. They are quite good at explaining the issue.’ De Snoo noticed the need to involve men in Indonesia, where he worked to convince traditional elders to give women equal access to knowledge and resources within their rice cooperation. He told them that participation of women would make their cooperation and their own position stronger. ‘Sometimes I felt that men were more interested when I was arguing than when my female colleague spoke to them.’


Julie Newton, KIT Royal Tropical Institute: ‘Experience shows that it is good to convince the most influential men and women in a community. For instance in Bangladesh, mothers-in-law have a lot of power over young women. So you need to bring them on board.’

Angelica Senders, Fair & Sustainable Consulting: ‘In Afghanistan, development organizations have involved imams to change values. They use arguments from the Koran, such as that the wife of Mohammed also had a business.’

Arno de Snoo, Van Hall Larenstein: ‘It is important that students are aware of the inequalities that exist between men and women, also in the Western world. Awareness is the first step to social justice.’ Making gender work - 9


These tips will enable you to seriously address gender in your work. Women will benefit, and even better, you will discover that paying attention to gender will increase the success of your work.

Six ways to include gender in your work by Angelica Senders, Fair & Sustainable Consulting

Be explicit about benefits



To get companies, NGOs and other partners on board, it is important to be explicit about the benefits of including women throughout the project. In many developing countries, women play an important role in agriculture, but lack access to resources. Addressing the constraints faced by women leads to better performing value chains, better agricultural production in general, and economic empowerment of women. The benefits of including women throughout the project should be specified, not only in the introduction of your proposal, but also in the strategy and monitoring. When dealing with companies, it can be useful to stress the economic benefits of including women.

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Specify how you will reach women


Whether you deliver agricultural extension services, inputs, financial services or improved technology, make sure you reach women. Monitor the number of male and female beneficiaries. If the number of female beneficiaries lags behind, try to find out what the reasons are, and adjust your activities. For example, it may be necessary to adapt the time or place of training courses. Women may be in need of technologies to reduce their workload. In financial services, women may not have access to collateral and may need adapted services. To know how to reach women, make a gender sensitive situation analysis, that lists the roles, tasks and gender based constraints of both men and women.

Ensure that women truly benefit


Ensure that women truly benefit from their increased access to resources. The programme strategy should set objectives for this, for example, a reduction of women’s work loads, an increase in jobs or income, or increased food for home consumption and food security.


Empower women Train for gender You need to have a clear expertise in your eye for the empowerment team of women. Women’s control


over their work and income should increase. Only increasing access to resources may increase the workload for women and is no guarantee against low paid, temporary jobs with bad working conditions, or sexual harassment. Your programme should increase the decision-making capacities of women at household level, and in companies and producer organisations. Objectives should be set for the number of women in management, and this should be monitored.


Build the gender expertise of your staff by training and coaching. Calling in a gender expert at the end of the programme to mend a gender-blind approach, doesn’t work. Also, realize it needs training to build gender expertise and to ask the right questions: what are the consequences of our programme for women? Last but not least, make sure you have a balanced gender composition in your own staff.

Reserve budget for your gender strategy


Your gender strategy goes with costs for training and coaching staff, doing a gender analysis and developing gender responsive services. Ensure that a budget is reserved, and monitor the expenditure. If these are insufficient, the gender strategy is unlikely to be implemented. On the other hand, also recognize and monitor the financial benefits of your gender sensitive approach, which will result in better performing value chains and higher agricultural production. Coffee buyers in Uganda, for example, paid higher prices for coffee after the quantity and quality increased as a result of including women in training on growing and selling coffee.

For more background information, see Meinzen-Dick et al., 2017. Do agricultural development projects reach, benefit, or empower women? International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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Miriam Kyotalimye is a gender coach in Uganda. She wrote to us about the success of one of her coachees, Nancy Akumu.


Bringing the market closer to women

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BLOG ‘Nancy participated in a trajectory that the AgriProFocus network organized for the private sector in Uganda. Her Agri&Food company, Amatheon-Agri Uganda (AAU), wanted to receive more and better maize from its out-growers. Initial assessments by Nancy at field level showed that average yields were, indeed, low compared to the national average. Closing the yield gap would translate into a potential gain of 6822,556 megaton maize a year.

Diagnostic tools To assess the gap between male and female out-growers in participation, leadership and access to extension, Nancy used the diagnostic tools from the AgriProFocus Gender in Value Chains Toolkit. Her findings showed that weeding, which takes a lot of time, is largely delegated to women, but that they have no access to labour-saving tools. Overall the use of improved tools, practices and inputs is limited. Women also participate only marginally in marketing, decision making and control over sales incomes.

Closing the Gender Gap The firm has since organized its 1,420 out-growers (30 per cent of whom are women) into 71 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA). These Associations have provided a platform for fostering a savings and investment culture and a link to training courses. Eleven stores have been set up to bring the market closer to the women. Men and women can sell their soya and maize there, and also get seeds and other inputs from the company.

Evidence base I expect that Nancy will receive support for the Gender Strategy and Action Plan that she is currently developing. Her company has already begun to address the gender gaps identified. They have recruited two female tractor operators, and an additional woman besides Nancy in the management team. Hearing these positive stories makes me proud to be a Gender Coach for AgriProFocus!’


Gender in Value Chains programme - AgriProFocus Results until end 2017 (start 2015) The programme Gender in Value Chains (2015-2018) is funded by the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The objective is to build practical gender in value chain expertise by training national coaches. Through coaching tracks, these coaches support organizations and companies in making value chains gender sensitive.

14 contributing partners Funds pooled

36 coaches trained Workshops for coaches Exchange meetings for coaches Nationalities

â‚Ź 481,000.-

3 2 15

Knowledge development E-modules Tools

3 2

419 participants in training Coaching tracks 26 Countries 17

1028 members online community Making gender work - 13


AgriProFocus members support entrepreneurial women in a male-dominated business, strengthen sectors that are dominated by women, or support female farmers while bringing their husbands on board. Here we present six projects that illustrate what these different approaches can mean for women and the value chain. Scouting talents in rural India Indian rural development organization Srijan started Self Help Groups for female farmers in 2009. ‘In the beginning it was difficult for these women to see the benefits’, says Arno de Snoo, lecturer at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences. Eight years later, however, the benefits are clearly visible. De Snoo, who started collaborating with Srijan last year, gives the example of Savitri Gaud, a champion in developing her talents. Because Savitri persevered

where other female farmers hesitated, or left altogether, her group became one of the strongest in the area. Recognized for her success, Savitri started assisting the formation of women’s groups in other areas and joining Srijan as service providers. Now, she is the respected chairperson of the cooperation Smridhi Mhila Crop Producer, with an annual turnover of 140.000 euro.


Projects that m Ethiopia: A women-led company in the coffee business Like many industries, coffee tends to be a male-dominated business, while 70 per cent of the work is done by women. This is one reason why the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), as part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency ( supports female entrepreneurs in its Ethiopia Coffee Program.

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‘We work with local organizations, to identify women’s needs from the start of a project’, explains Lisanne van Beek, gender coordinator of RVO. nl. For example, CBI supported Sara Yirga, owner of YA Coffee Roasters. Yirga’s ambition is to roast and export traceable, high quality Ethiopian coffee. CBI helped her to develop an export marketing plan, offered her advice on the market potential, and supported her with branding and packaging. Furthermore, CBI connected her to the international organization Women in Coffee Alliance. Yirga is now promoting her company, in which 85 per cent of her employees are female, as a ‘women-led global brand’.

Supporting Bengali women to become successful food entrepreneurs SaFal is Solidaridad’s food security programme in the southwest of Bangladesh, implemented together with local partners and the Dutch Embassy. So far, the partners have supported 57,000 families (women and men) to become successful entrepreneurs in dairy, vegetables or aqua fisheries. Altogether, 1,500 producer groups now deliver their products to 20 local companies. ‘We pay special attention to creating togetherness’, says Emma Feenstra from Solidaridad. ‘We empower women and bring men on board.’ Women have ben-

efitted from equity interventions such as financial literacy training, and training to improve family health. Men and women have benefitted from mixed leadership training courses that increased their skills as entrepreneurs. In one of the ‘life stories’ collected by field staff, Jolly Mondol from a village called Jessore explains what such training courses mean for her community: ‘My mother and grandmother were confined to the household. With increasing awareness and the spread of literacy, women can take part in business and employment.’


ake a difference Tanzania: Income for female chicken farmers Many female farmers in Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Nigeria have a few chickens for home consumption and for sale. To empower these women, several research institutes have partnered with governments and private sector actors within the African Chicken Genetics Gain programme (ACGG). The programme supports the female farmers with new productive breeds, and services to sustain these.

Research shows, however, that whenever chicken rearing becomes more profitable, men often take over the business. ‘For example, they may ask their wife for the income from selling eggs or chicks’, says Julie Newton, gender specialist at KIT Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. To guarantee that women really benefit, KIT has formulated a gender strategy. The strategy helps to make the needs and position of female farmers more visible. Where possible, they are invited to speak up and share in discussions and decisions about access to services and inputs. The ACGG website presents successful role models including Rhoda Mwile, a Tanzanian farmer who is moving towards a goal of ‘raising 500 chickens for a minimum profit of Tsh 1,000,000 (365 euro) to benefit the family’.

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New markets for shea nut harvesters in Mali In Mali, collecting nuts of the native shea tree is popular among female farmers. After having eaten the sweet flesh, they sell the nuts directly, or they process them and sell shea butter and oil for food production and cosmetics. To strengthen this women-led sector, ICCO, USAID-Mali and two shea-oil companies supported more than 12,000 women

harvesters by facilitating the certification of their shea products and by linking them to new markets. Altogether, 25 women-led cooperatives received training to improve harvesting, boiling, drying, storing and packaging. They also enhanced their entrepreneurial and marketing skills. ‘They now produce better quality butter and oil, and know how to negotiate, giving them a better price’, says Jaap ’t Gilde from ICCO. The trained women cooperatives obtained long term contracts from the shea oil companies (SOATAF and Olvea), together with a 200 per cent increase in the shea price per kilo.

Training female farmers, milk collectors and extension entrepreneurs Since FrieslandCampina established its Dairy Development Programme in the 1980s, the company has trained over 170,000 local dairy farmers in nine countries. The programme increasingly noticed that women often do not show up at training sessions, despite being responsible for rearing young stock, milking and bookkeeping. FrieslandCampina and partners therefore started to develop training courses especially for women in Nigeria and Pakistan. ‘In Pakistan, over 26,000 women are now trained in husbandry practices’, says project manager Tanja Goedhart. As well as this, 300 women have been trained as female extension entrepreneurs and 300 as village milk collectors. This has resulted in over 600 female-

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led micro enterprises, an increase in yield of 1-2 litres more milk per cow per day on average, and better milk prices. A film was made in which four women tell how the training courses have improved their lives. One could afford a washing machine and another rebuilt her house.

B LO G ‘Using coaching tools allows us to understand the challenges people face, and to jointly identify goals and actions. Coaching is based on the assumption that the client is resourceful and active in realizing change. Coaching unleashes the coachee’s potential and fosters self-confidence. It is thus more sustainable than giving advice or training, which are less customized to the client’s needs and are usually provided over a shorter period of time.

Relationship of trust

Coaching does not, however, work for everyone. Coachees must be able to change, and to take a lead in the process. I have come across people who had been ’enrolled’ by their supervisors, and others who, on the contrary, did not have the support of their bosses. Some clients confused coaching with advice and were expecting me to solve their challenges. The process failed in all these cases. Such shortcomings can be partly addressed by clarifying roles, objectives and expected results in a coaching agreement.

Coaching fosters selfconfidence

Leadership Many blockages that prevent clients from reaching their goals are linked to poor management and leadership. Coachees and their bosses or colleagues may find it difficult to build a common vision on gender equality, to communicate that vision and to deal with resistance. I believe that coaching can help solve such internal problems.’


What I personally enjoy about coaching is the relationship of trust with the clients. I like adapting myself to their different agendas. For example, some organizations begin with an internal focus: how can discriminatory practices be changed in their own organization? Others focus on their work in the field: are the women, men, and young people in the cassava, vegetable or fish value chain fairly remunerated for their contributions? How can we eliminate barriers to their participation?


Jacqueline Terrillon is a gender coach in East and West Africa. She discovered that coaching is more effective than a training course.

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Women bring better business results Instead of focussing on how women benefit from economic development, the question can be turned around: how does business benefit from including women. Experts of Fair & Sustainable Consulting discuss three cases. Three companies, each playing a different role in the value chain, benefit from actively engaging women in their business. Companies can have different roles in agricultural value chains: buyer, input supplier, or employer. All types of company can benefit from including women in their businesses, in many different ways.

Buyer in Nigeria: Better quality of local milk The dairy company Wamco in Lagos, Nigeria, owned by the Dutch multinational FrieslandCampina, mostly imports milk powder. The main reason for this is the poor quality of local milk from cattle owned by Fulani herdsmen. With the programme 2SCALE, the company works on increasing the supply of local, high-quality milk. After a gender analysis, it appeared that women have a key role in this. Although Fulani men own the cattle, women collect the milk. There were, however, problems with hygiene, because there was no safe water for washing the milk churns. As a consequence, the milk had low quality. Women also had to walk long distances to fetch water. FrieslandCampina invested in

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water points at milk collection centres, and involved women in training courses on milk quality and business. ‘Since women saved a lot of time from collecting water, they were actually able to participate in these courses’, explains Stella Ling, consultant with Fair & Sustainable Consulting. ‘Milk quality improved dramatically, and so did the profits of the company. Women also got the chance to produce their own cheese and yogurt and to sell these products in the local market.’ What’s more, the involvement of women also changed the labour division. Men were ready to engage in cleaning the milk churns, and women were acknowledged for creating a business. The readiness of FrieslandCampina and 2SCALE to acknowledge the key role of women was partly the result of involving gender coaches from AgriProFocus at an early stage. Ling says that analysis of other cases shows that more companies in the value chain benefit from involving women.


Input supplier in Mali: 100 per cent repayment rate

Employer in Solomon Islands: Gender analysis explains absenteeism

An input supplier can also benefit from involving women. In Mali, women play a key role in growing onions, an important local vegetable. The company Toguna in Ségou, supported by 2SCALE, is supplying smallholder farmers with seeds and fertilisers based on credit. The director of Toguna testified that he prefers to do business with women, as the repayment rate of loans from women farmers, unlike male farmers, is 100 per cent. ‘For men it might be easier to get a loan’, comments Ling. ‘A woman doesn’t get so many opportunities and that might be a reason why she is more careful to repay.’

For an employer, a gender analysis can reveal other opportunities. An example is the company SolTuna on the Solomon Islands, which has a large tuna canning facility with 1,800 workers –two thirds of whom are women. One of the biggest challenges is the absenteeism and turnover of production staff. At the end of each month, many don’t show up for work, which generates high costs for the company. A gender analysis revealed that many of the poor and illiterate women run out of money at the end of the month. To feed their families, they need to go to the market to sell products to secure immediate cash.’ Moreover, women lacked career opportunities and didn’t benefit as much from company housing as men. SolTuna changed that and gave financial literacy workshops to help women understand their payslips and spend more wisely. As a result of these measures, absenteeism and staff turnover decreased, reducing costs by an estimated 160,000 US dollars per year.


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BLOG Intan Darmawati is a gender trainer in Indonesia. Her commitment to gender issues comes from her own experiences as a girl in a patriarchal family.

Blamed for being born a girl ‘My engagement began with my personal experience of being born a girl in a minority patriarchal family. People blamed me for being born a girl (rather than a boy) to justify the reason why our father left us. At the same time, family members criticized my mother because she had now become a single parent. I was also a victim of sexual abuse. These experiences have made me realize that there is something ’wrong’ with our social structure. I am now more sensitive to discrimination, and highly motivated to do something against it.

Tradition I have seen many women and men who are not aware of discrimination, because they consider existing relationships to be normal, as taught by tradition and religion, and controlled by laws and regulations. I have also seen many gender-based violence cases being justified by religion, culture, and accepted norms.

Valuable I see how women work very hard, and do all kinds of work that that is really valuable. Others, however do not consider these women as working, and the women do not consider themselves as working. When they are paid for their work, they are paid poorly. And when women have control over their family income, I am surprised to see how these women have to bear all the burdens and responsibilities.


Marginalized people Not only women, but also men, children, the LGBT community and minorities can be victims and perpetrators. I therefore think we need to adopt structural, cultural and personal approaches. Becoming a coach is something that I hope will contribute to a better world. Critically reflecting on my personal experiences is another. By reflecting on our own experiences, we can increase gender awareness.’