Women’s empowerment is high on the global agenda. Business and society are wising up to the gender dividend delivered when women can take an active role in public life. Beyond occasional cultural sensitivities around gender relations, it’s also a challenge to engage meaningfully with development interventions. Most people agree that women’s empowerment is a good thing. But what does women’s empowerment actually mean, and how will we know when it’s been achieved?
These are questions Cocoa Life has been considering with Ipsos, our research and learning partner. As we promote women’s empowerment across all key intervention areas, we’ve tried to ensure we understand how and why interventions have the effect they do on local women, and how the whole community can be affected.
Women’s empowerment doesn’t usually progress in a linear fashion. Women do not just become empowered by receiving training or access to new platforms. Structural societal issues and norms must be addressed. This takes time, and progress happens at different rates in different places, according to local contexts and circumstances. Supporting factors must be present for inputs to produce the desired outputs. For example, while an intervention that increases farm productivity may help local women to increase their income, without social norms and attitudes around a woman’s household responsibilities being addressed, they may still lack the autonomy to decide how to spend this income. The table below, taken from a recent Ipsos paper on measuring women’s empowerment, conveys some of the complexity at play here, and how a female individual experiences empowerment can be different, depending on the immediate context.
Cocoa Life is at an exciting point in its journey in progressing women’s empowerment in cocoa growing communities. We launched our women’s empowerment action plans in October 2018, and look forward to being able to share more learnings and insights in the future. We’re also keen to hear from you if you have similar experience in this space.
For more information, read a report about empowering women in cocoa communities that we produced with Ipsos. This report features first insight into data collected across cocoa farming households, indicative of the status of the “Arenas of Empowerment” to learn more about women in cocoa communities.