With the expansion of agricultural production for the global market, interest among research and developmentactors in developing more “inclusive” value chains has grown (Stoian et al. 2018a). While mainstream value chain development (VCD) has focused on enhancing the efficiency of processes along the chain, policies increasingly endeavor to address poverty, emphasizing the inclusion of poor and marginalized people in global markets (Bolwig et al. 2010).
While women contribute significantly to global agricultural production, they often lack access to credit and finance, training and extension services, resources, and land rights, putting them at higher risk of malnutrition, food insecurity, and poverty. Increasing women’s empowerment in agriculture is a critical step in ensuring gender equity and reducing hunger for all.
On International Women’s Day (March 8), the Food Security Portal, in collaboration with the IFPRI Gender Team, launched a new e-learning course on the project-level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (pro-WEAI). The WEAI was the first comprehensive, standardized instrument to directly measure women’s empowerment and inclusion in the agricultural sector. The pro-WEAI, established in 2018, enables agricultural development practitioners to assess women’s empowerment in project-specific contexts in order to better design strategies to address gaps in empowerment and monitor project outcomes.
The new e-learning course aims to introduce the pro-WEAI to researchers and development practitioners with comprehensive coverage of the Index’s background and methodology all the way to its practical project-level applications. The self-timed course consists of six modules covering different aspects of the pro-WEAI methodology.
Pro-WEAI defines empowerment as “a process of change involving three inter-related dimensions: resources, agency, and achievements.” The core methodology measures three domains of power: power from within (intrinsic agency), power to (instrumental agency), and power with (collective agency). Pro-WEAI indicators examine both qualitative and quantitative data and include: input in productive decisions; autonomy in decisions about income; ownership of land and other assets; access to and autonomous decision-making regarding credit; control over income; work balance; group membership; self-efficacy; attitudes toward domestic violence; ability to visit important locations; and respect among household members.
Another key concept covered in the FSP’s new e-learning course is the Reach, Benefit, Empower framework. This framework highlights the ways in which different development programs and projects approach the issue of gender. Programs with a “Reach” mindset focus on including women in the program and ensuring they have the same opportunities to participate in program activities as men. “Benefit” programs focus on not only including women but also on improving their well-being through the program activities; this means paying attention to women’s needs, constraints, and preferences when designing the program itself. Finally, programs with an “Empower” mindset aim to strengthen women’s ability to make choices about their life and put those choices into action. These program
s go beyond trying to reach and benefit women – they aim to increase women’s agency and shift gender norms to enhance gender equity.
 N. Kabeer. (2002). “Resources, Agency, Achievements: Reflections on the Measurement of Women's Empowerment.” Development and Change. The Hague: International Institute of Social Studies.
The Pro-WEAI course is the second e-learning course released on the FSP e-learning platform. The platform also features a course on designing and implementing impact evaluations for agricultural development projects. This course covers the stages and concepts involved in a proper impact evaluation, including identifying outcomes of interest and underlying assumptions, including a control group in the evaluation design, and selecting the proper evaluation methodology based on the goals and structure of the program. The course consists of three modules.
In addition to the video presentations included in each course, each FSP e-learning course also features quizzes throughout each module and a final quiz at the end. Students who successfully pass this final quiz will receive an official Certificate of Completion.
Additional e-learning courses will be launched on the FSP platform later in 2021, including courses on partial equilibrium (PE) modeling, computable general equilibrium (CGE) modeling, and value chain analysis.