Women are key drivers of economic growth in emerging market countries. ACDI/VOCA finds that their unique and important roles in agriculture and other industries coupled with their responsibilities as family, household and community members often provide the basis for multiple gains.
ACDI/VOCA is committed to gender equitable development as a means towards closing gender inequality gaps, reducing global poverty and increasing food security. Learn more using the links below
- ACDI/VOCA’s gender policy
- ACDI/VOCA's gender approaches
- Gender Analysis, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning
- Gender and Food Security
- Gender and Value Chain Analysis
- Reducing Gender-based Resource Constraints
- Women and Leadership
Investing in women and using gender analysis and approaches leads to better results for everyone. Consider what we know:
- If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent. This could reduce the number of hungry people worldwide by up to 17 percent. (FAO)
- When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, compared to men who reinvest 30-40 percent. (Yale News Daily)
- The World Bank found that states in India with the highest percentage of women in the labor force over the past five years grew the fastest and had the largest reductions in poverty. (World Bank)
For more information, read our gender equity statement.
ACDI/VOCA has devised ways to improve agricultural systems for the well-being of farmers and rural workers since our earliest years, including, importantly, women. Often, rural women work in small and less visible trades like growing and selling vegetables in local markets, weaving carpets or sewing clothes. Increasingly, women assume crucial responsibilities in agricultural and rural businesses—roles that we help expand to provide communities greater economic and food security.
Keys to success are reducing gender-based constraints, improving social dynamics and creating environments where women can thrive. ACDI/VOCA uses a variety of gender approaches, tools and methods to ensure that our integrated programs are customized to specific country and community contexts.
ACDI/VOCA has a company-wide gender policy that outlines programmatic steps to promote gender equity and support non-discrimination. Gender equality is part of ACDI/VOCA’s vision to empower people—both women and men—to succeed in the global economy. Closing gender inequality gaps and responding to the gender dynamics of a development context is part of running effective and efficient programs. The policy applies to all ACDI/VOCA projects, regardless of whether they are required by project donors and details specific guidelines on integrating gender equity into core processes, including program design, start-up, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, learning and recruitment.
Our experts use gender analyses and quantitative and qualitative monitoring and evaluation methods to assess how projects influence community gender dynamics as well as how existing issues can affect outcomes. We use data from our studies to shape initial program design as well as assess progress throughout a program lifecycle. Since 2009 ACDI/VOCA has conducted more than 15 gender analyses in countries including Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Women's role in food security and agriculture spans the full spectrum of interventions: women grow, buy, cook and sell food. Yet gender constraints in many countries prevent women from realizing their full potential.
ACDI/VOCA uses a gender lens to guide our nutrition education, food distribution and agricultural development activities to create supportive environments where women have access to the tools and resources they need and are involved in key decisions related to their reproductive and economic roles. Approaches range from public awareness campaigns on health and nutrition to women-targeted agriculture skills training to the creation of social support networks, such as mother care groups, women's producer groups and gender-equitable cooperatives.
ACDI/VOCA's value chain approach analyzes the different parts of a market chain—from input suppliers to final buyers—and the relationships among them. By bringing gender awareness to value chain analysis and development processes, we ensure that interventions produce sustainable results for both women and men.
Key ACDI/VOCA lessons for value chains include
- Addressing gender inequalities that create market inefficiencies and distortions, such as in labor, can improve value chain competitiveness, thereby increasing economic opportunities.
- Integrating gender approaches into programs does not equate to increasing women's participation. Gender approaches are about understanding social norms for men and women and how they affect both problems and solutions.
- Gender roles within a value chain may limit opportunities. By helping communities to consider expanded gender roles, such as women as leaders of firms or exporters (men's roles in some communities) or men as seaweed harvesters or vegetable growers (women's roles in some communities), new economic opportunities may arise.
Related program research on how gender norms influence value chains include:
- FIELD Report 12: Behavior Change Perspectives on Gender and Value Chain Development: A Framework for Analysis and Implementation
- FIELD Report 11: Behavior Change Perspectives on Gender and Value Chain Development: Tools for Research and Assessment
Gender inequality is multidimensional and can limit opportunities for households and communities, as well as for women themselves. By using gender-informed approaches to help remove or lessen inequalities, both women and men are more likely to participate in economic activities and reach their full potential.
Examples of how ACDI/VOCA works to reduce gender-based constraints:
- Financial services give women access to loans, savings programs and business start-up grants. Innovative financial instruments—such as targeted warehouse receipts, land rights and asset ownership initiatives—can improve women's access. Loans to women through ACDI/VOCA-affiliated financial institutions comprise more than 60 percent of total loans disbursed since 2000.
- Business development and market access services support economic growth and market opportunities for female entrepreneurs, farmers and cooperative members. Gender-informed initiatives include international certification programs, Farming as a Family Business training, youth vocational programs, financial skills training for women, and market intelligence services that address both women's and men's needs.
- Improved public services delivery and infrastructure are vital to expanding women's economic and social opportunities. Women's time poverty—the unequal distribution of time women spend in caring for their households—often is exacerbated in communities with poor services and infrastructure. For example, women who must collect firewood and water for cooking may have more limited opportunities because they lack free time. ACDI/VOCA uses gender-informed, context-driven methodologies to shape our community development work.
Women's needs and priorities will not receive the full resources and attention they deserve until women are represented more fully in local, national and international decision-making bodies. Women in conflict, post-conflict and transitional environments are particularly disadvantaged, though those environments sometimes present opportunities to make legal frameworks and social institutions more responsive to women's needs.
ACDI/VOCA facilitates women's representation and voices in decision making by actively promoting or requiring women's leadership in community groups and cooperatives and by providing venues where women have the time and place to voice their opinions. We also strive to build women's local capacity through leadership trainings and support networks.
For more information, read "World Report: Gender Approaches Strengthen Development."
- Bangladesh – Program for Strengthening Household Access to Resources (PROSHAR)
- Ghana – Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) Project
- Haiti – USAID PL 480 Title II Multi-Year Assistance Program
- India – Sunhara Walmart (ASI)
- Liberia – Liberian Agricultural Upgrading, Nutrition and Child Health (LAUNCH)
- Mozambique – MCA Farmer Income Support Project
- Russia – North Caucasus Agricultural Development Project
- Sierra Leone – Promoting Agriculture, Governance and Environment (PAGE)
- Sierra Leone – Sustainable Nutrition and Agriculture Promotion (SNAP) Program
A Selection of Past Projects
- Global – Women in Development (WID)
- Iraq – Community Action Program III
- Kenya – Kenya Maize Development Program Follow-on (KMDP II)
- Kenya – Kenya Maize Development Program (KMDP)
- Tanzania — Smallholder Empowerment and Economic Growth through Agribusiness & Association Development (SEEGAAD)
- Uganda – USAID PL 480 Title II Multi-Year Assistance Program
- Zimbabwe – Market Mechanisms to Achieve Food Security
- Zimbabwe – Restoring Economic Agricultural Livelihoods in Zimbabwe (REALIZ) Program
- Zimbabwe – USAID Gender Assessment: Improving Feed the Future Programming