The new year brings about new beginnings and opportunities. A new project titled ‘Evaluating the impacts of livestock and aquaculture microcredit and value chain programs on women’s empowerment’ held its official inception workshop on 12 January 2011. This project aims to improve the impacts of livelihood programs on women and their households by integrating two critical components: creating economic opportunities for women, and women’s rights. Over its two-year implementation period starting January 2012, the project will seek to understand the links between women’s economic empowerment and women’s agency and the exercise of choice from a rights perspective.
Empowerment is multi-dimensional!
It has been widely assumed that the empowerment of women is related to their economic improvement, but scientists in this project strongly believe that women’s empowerment is also related to their ability to freely make choices and decisions based on their options. By having an evaluation and learning component, the project will critically examine women’s economic status and their ability to exercise political and legal rights, which has lacked rigorous research in the past.
Case studies from carefully selected projects that integrate women’s economic empowerment through livestock and aquaculture and women’s rights will be analyzed. These projects are:
- Livestock and asset financing by Juhudi Kilimo;
- Women and aquaculture project by Kenya Women Holding;
- Agriculture value chains project implemented by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI); and
- East Africa Dairy Development Project (EADD).
These case studies fall in the two types of economic development programs that the project addresses, namely, micro-financing programs for livestock and aquaculture; and livestock value chains.
“Many people in NGOs and the private sector face a lot of challenges in measuring social impact. The method that the project is taking is good because it takes a holistic approach of the women and the men as well. In the long term, it will help us to see the different ways this can be done better,” said Kamathi Ngaruiya of Kenya Women Holding.
Participants at the workshop were extremely excited about this new project as they were confident that the data, information and resources generated would enable them to see how increased opportunities and women rights relate to empowerment. In addition, it is hoped that the project findings will have significant contributions on how gender transformation and women’s empowerment are measured and evaluated. At the inception workshop, participants brought their diverse experiences to discuss an effective action plan for carrying out the project successfully towards the expected outcomes.
The workshop was attended by project partners from EADD, Juhudi Kilimo, Kenya Women Holding, KARI, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Ford Foundation. The project is led by Jemimah Njuki of ILRI’s Poverty, Gender and Impact Team and financed by the Ford Foundation.
You can find project profile here
Photo credit: Stevie Mann/ILRI