Workshop on integrating livelihoods and rights in livestock microcredit and value chain development programs for women’s empowerment: 25 February 2013

Livestock farmer Jinny Lemson brings her cows home to stable in central Malawi


Within economic development there has been a shift from a focus on income to a focus on assets, empowerment and sustainability.

Earning an income can increase women’s autonomy and enhance their economic and social status.

But earning an income or having access to credit and other financial assets cannot be assumed to bring automatic benefits for women or for households (Esplen and Brody 2007).

More critical is how increased access to resources can be translated into changes in the strategic choices that women are able to make – at the level of the individual women, household and community.

For empowerment to happen, the processes through which women gain access to resources should be empowering and the impacts of these processes should lead to broader changes in gender relations and norms.

The movement on human and women’s rights has focused on ensuring women enjoy the same rights as men and has also addressed some gender-specific circumstances, such as reproductive issues and domestic violence.

When addressing rights and equality issues, many liberal and multicultural feminist views on women’s rights often neglect economic issues and end up limiting the benefits of discussions on universal human rights for poor women.

The basic argument is that the granting of rights is empty without the corresponding ability to exercise those rights.

The economic status of women is bound up not only with their quality of life, but also with their ability to exercise political and legal rights.


Although combining women’s economic opportunities and women’s rights could have the potential to lead to broader women’s empowerment and changes in gender relations, these two dimensions have rarely come together.

Recently, however, researchers have recognized that providing women with economic opportunities does not necessarily lead to empowerment. Similarly, women being aware of their rights without the financial resources to exercise those rights often does not lead to empowerment.

This workshop seeks to develop strategies of combining livelihood and rights in development interventions aimed at women’s empowerment.

It will bring together practitioners from the fields of economic development and advocates for women rights to a sharing forum where they will establish how best these two (often mutually exclusive) approaches to development can be integrated in the same project in order to accelerated the process of sustainable economic development.

Mozambique, Maputo


To improve the impacts – at individual and household level – of livelihood programs and rights programs that target women, through the simultaneous integration of livelihood and women’s rights.


To bring together development practitioners working on livelihood programs and those working on rights programs that target women to share lessons and develop strategies for practical and simultaneous integration of livelihoods- and rights-based approaches for women’s empowerment.


  1. Share experiences of simultaneously integrating livelihoods and rights in programs that target women.
  2. Share findings on a pilot study to measure impacts of livelihood projects on women’s empowerment, including rights, using the adapted Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI).
  3. Develop strategies for simultaneously integrating livelihoods and rights in programs aimed at enhancing  the empowerment of women.


A strategy of integrating livelihoods and rights for empowering women and their households through livestock microcredit and value chains.



For more information, please contact Elizabeth Waithanji (

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