Our Approach

Our Approach

Building on what we already know from research and experiences

Youth and inclusivity

The environment in which people grow up has a strong influence on the further course of their lives. For example, friends and family play a critical role in providing young people with initial access to key resources such as capital, land, and work opportunities (Yeboah et al., 2020; Sumberg, 2017). Also, certain norms that are learned in the household, such as domestic violence and responsibility for house and care work, often prevail strongly throughout generations (Fernández & Fogli, 2009; Farré & Vella, 2013; Agarwal & Panda, 2007; Yount & Carrera, 2006). The norms and roles that are learned in this environment are often reinforced by market signals and institutions. For example, gender disparity in the responsibility for house and care work, as learned in the household, is reinforced by discrimination in labor markets and a lack of child-care services (World Bank, 2012). These norms and practices are a key driver of occupational segregation. Mostly due to these traditional norms and structures, women make up a larger share of those who have “soft skills” – compared to disruptive technical skills. This eventually results in women being underrepresented in jobs with the highest employment growth rates, such as engineering, artificial intelligence, and product development – i.e. the jobs of the future – and therefore not being sufficiently included in future economic growth (World Economic Forum, 2020). This in turn only reinforces traditional gender roles and creates a cycle in which women get trapped. 

It is time to break this inequality trap. Especially in traditional and/or low-income countries, career education and guidance in schools can help girls break loose from these gender roles and narrow, female-prescribed occupations (Sultana, 2014; Sultana & Watts, 2008). Similarly, exposure to female role models in positions of leadership or power can reduce these intergenerational gender norms and result in higher aspirations for women (Beaman et al., 2009). So, it is time to lead the way for these young women and create a new cycle.

Food security and nutrition

Women make up 40-70% of the agricultural workforce worldwide, and therefore are major contributors to food production and security (NEPAD, 2013; Meinzen-Dick et al., 2011) However, in most countries, women often lack security of land tenure and access to productive inputs – such as land, credit, fertilizers and new technologies – which leads to lower productivity (World Bank, 2012). These differences in productivity almost always disappear completely when the level of access to inputs is taken into account (Croppenstedt et al., 2013). This indicates that in reality, there are no differences between male and female farmers in terms of economic efficiency. Closing the gender gap in agriculture enables female farmers to increase their yields significantly, which leads to a higher total production of food. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the increase in total agricultural production in developing countries can be as high as 2.5-4 percent, and that this alone could lift 100-150 million people out of poverty (FAO, 2010-11).

What is more, women often play a crucial role in household food security. Increasing the resources that women control has been shown to significantly improve the nutritional and health outcomes of their children (Meinzen-Dick et al., 2011; Doss, 2006; Thomas, 1990). Therefore, in order to improve food security, it is essential to include and empower women not only in agricultural practices but in the household as well.

Education, research and extension

Crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, often disproportionally affect women. Social distancing measures have a particularly large impact on female-dominated sectors, the closing of schools and daycares causes increased childcare needs of which the burden mostly falls on working mothers, and because women have less access to and control over resources, they are less able to cope with crises in general (Alon et al., 2020; Quisumbing et al., 2011). However, while it is clear that men and women experience the impact of crises differently, there is not much data available on these gendered effects. This lack of research on gendered impacts causes policy responses to be inadequate, as they are gender-blind and so not take into account women’s experiences and needs (Quisumbing et al., 2011).

The same holds for agricultural research. In order for it to produce meaningful changes, the differential needs, preferences and constraints of female farmers must be recognized (Meinzen-Dick et al., 2011). For example, gender-responsive research should not only focus on increasing the quantity of agricultural production, but go beyond this objective and focus on characteristics that are particularly important to women, such as improving quality, taste, nutrition, processing and resilience. This can increase the effectiveness of agricultural research by producing and improving crops that reflect the needs of all actors along the value chain, not just those of farmers (Meinzen-Dick et al., 2011; World Bank, FAO & IFAD, 2009; Quisumbing & Pandolfelli, 2010). So, women’s needs and preferences need to be included and weighted equally when designing research projects and investments.
 
Businesses and value chains
 
Misallocating and underutilizing women’s skills and talent also comes at a high economic cost, due to both horizontal and vertical segregation of men and women. Horizontal (or: occupational) segregation of men and women refers to the disproportionally high share of women in lower-paid, soft-skill jobs. This type of segregation contributes to lower innovation levels in professions that lack gender diversity and strengthens the gender pay gap (World Bank, 2019; World Bank, 2012). Vertical segregation refers to glass ceilings, i.e. barriers that prevent women and minorities from being promoted to positions with high power within an organization. This type of segregation often causes women to leave the organization and work somewhere else or start their own businesses, which translates into a cost to the organization in terms of loss of productivity and rehiring costs (Wickwire & Kruper, 1996). Gender equality is therefore very much in the direct economic interest of businesses.
 
Gender equality also has many positive economic impacts on society as a whole. Research has shown that greater control over household resources by women leads to more investment in children’s human capital, with dynamic positive effects on economic growth (Doss, 2006; Thomas, 1990Qian, 2008; Luke & Munshi, 2011).
Therefore, it is of great importance for economic prosperity and equity that women are provided with the same opportunities as men within organizations and the labor market as a whole.


Youth and inclusivity

The environment in which people grow up has a strong influence on the further course of their lives. For example, friends and family play a critical role in providing young people with initial access to key resources such as capital, land, and work opportunities (Yeboah et al., 2020; Sumberg, 2017). Also, certain norms that are learned in the household, such as domestic violence and responsibility for house and care work, often prevail strongly throughout generations (Fernández & Fogli, 2009; Farré & Vella, 2013; Agarwal & Panda, 2007; Yount & Carrera, 2006). The norms and roles that are learned in this environment are often reinforced by market signals and institutions. For example, gender disparity in the responsibility for house and care work, as learned in the household, is reinforced by discrimination in labor markets and a lack of child-care services (World Bank, 2012). These norms and practices are a key driver of occupational segregation. Mostly due to these traditional norms and structures, women make up a larger share of those who have “soft skills” – compared to disruptive technical skills. This eventually results in women being underrepresented in jobs with the highest employment growth rates, such as engineering, artificial intelligence, and product development – i.e. the jobs of the future – and therefore not being sufficiently included in future economic growth (World Economic Forum, 2020). This in turn only reinforces traditional gender roles and creates a cycle in which women get trapped. 

It is time to break this inequality trap. Especially in traditional and/or low-income countries, career education and guidance in schools can help girls break loose from these gender roles and narrow, female-prescribed occupations (Sultana, 2014; Sultana & Watts, 2008). Similarly, exposure to female role models in positions of leadership or power can reduce these intergenerational gender norms and result in higher aspirations for women (Beaman et al., 2009). So, it is time to lead the way for these young women and create a new cycle.

Food security and nutrition

Women make up 40-70% of the agricultural workforce worldwide, and therefore are major contributors to food production and security (NEPAD, 2013; Meinzen-Dick et al., 2011) However, in most countries, women often lack security of land tenure and access to productive inputs – such as land, credit, fertilizers and new technologies – which leads to lower productivity (World Bank, 2012). These differences in productivity almost always disappear completely when the level of access to inputs is taken into account (Croppenstedt et al., 2013). This indicates that in reality, there are no differences between male and female farmers in terms of economic efficiency. Closing the gender gap in agriculture enables female farmers to increase their yields significantly, which leads to a higher total production of food. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the increase in total agricultural production in developing countries can be as high as 2.5-4 percent, and that this alone could lift 100-150 million people out of poverty (FAO, 2010-11).

What is more, women often play a crucial role in household food security. Increasing the resources that women control has been shown to significantly improve the nutritional and health outcomes of their children (Meinzen-Dick et al., 2011; Doss, 2006; Thomas, 1990). Therefore, in order to improve food security, it is essential to include and empower women not only in agricultural practices but in the household as well.



Education, research and extension

Crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, often disproportionally affect women. Social distancing measures have a particularly large impact on female-dominated sectors, the closing of schools and daycares causes increased childcare needs of which the burden mostly falls on working mothers, and because women have less access to and control over resources, they are less able to cope with crises in general (Alon et al., 2020; Quisumbing et al., 2011). However, while it is clear that men and women experience the impact of crises differently, there is not much data available on these gendered effects. This lack of research on gendered impacts causes policy responses to be inadequate, as they are gender-blind and so not take into account women’s experiences and needs (Quisumbing et al., 2011).

The same holds for agricultural research. In order for it to produce meaningful changes, the differential needs, preferences and constraints of female farmers must be recognized (Meinzen-Dick et al., 2011). For example, gender-responsive research should not only focus on increasing the quantity of agricultural production, but go beyond this objective and focus on characteristics that are particularly important to women, such as improving quality, taste, nutrition, processing and resilience. This can increase the effectiveness of agricultural research by producing and improving crops that reflect the needs of all actors along the value chain, not just those of farmers (Meinzen-Dick et al., 2011; World Bank, FAO & IFAD, 2009; Quisumbing & Pandolfelli, 2010). So, women’s needs and preferences need to be included and weighted equally when designing research projects and investments.
 


Businesses and value chains
 
Misallocating and underutilizing women’s skills and talent also comes at a high economic cost, due to both horizontal and vertical segregation of men and women. Horizontal (or: occupational) segregation of men and women refers to the disproportionally high share of women in lower-paid, soft-skill jobs. This type of segregation contributes to lower innovation levels in professions that lack gender diversity and strengthens the gender pay gap (World Bank, 2019; World Bank, 2012). Vertical segregation refers to glass ceilings, i.e. barriers that prevent women and minorities from being promoted to positions with high power within an organization. This type of segregation often causes women to leave the organization and work somewhere else or start their own businesses, which translates into a cost to the organization in terms of loss of productivity and rehiring costs (Wickwire & Kruper, 1996). Gender equality is therefore very much in the direct economic interest of businesses.
 
Gender equality also has many positive economic impacts on society as a whole. Research has shown that greater control over household resources by women leads to more investment in children’s human capital, with dynamic positive effects on economic growth (Doss, 2006; Thomas, 1990Qian, 2008; Luke & Munshi, 2011).
Therefore, it is of great importance for economic prosperity and equity that women are provided with the same opportunities as men within organizations and the labor market as a whole.


Theory of change

The first step in change is creating a climate that enables change. Our activities are aimed at contributing to this climate of change, for example by organizing gender awareness workshops. It is important to stress that a climate of change is only then successful if both women and men are aware of the positive effects of gender equality for their environment, for their lives, and for the lives of their children. That is why we put effort in reaching and engaging both women and men.

The second step in the change process is engaging and enabling organizations and institutions with impact, like schools (TVETs), colleges and universities. Examples of our activities are: gender mainstreaming in educational curriculum, actively avoiding stereotyping in lesson material, and providing safe and good facilities within these educational institutions that help women and groups with additional needs to follow the courses they want.

The last step in the change process is monitoring and sustaining the change. One of our activities is conducting gender audits to see if gender activities within organizations are really leading to the desired outcomes.

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Policy plan

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