Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment (AWE) Program

Background Narrative

The Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment (AWE) program is a five-year activity to enhance women’s empowerment and gender equality in agricultural systems and programming.

ACDI/VOCA is a leading member of the AWE consortium, which is managed by EnCompass LLC. ACDI/VOCA provides technical leadership in gender in agricultural systems as well as scaling up technologies and practices that maximize women’s empowerment in agriculture and expanding the evidence base in areas like women’s engagement beyond production (e.g., enterprise and employment) and decision making.

In addition to our robust gender and female empowerment practice, we bring to the team practical experience as a leading implementer of major Feed the Future agricultural development programs globally as well as proven ability to learn and evolve institutional practice in an inclusive, collaborative manner, cultivated through over a decade of work on the influential Leveraging Economic Opportunities (LEO) and Accelerated Microenterprise Advancement Project-business Development Services (AMAP BDS) K&P I & II contracts.

To achieve its objectives, AWE provides targeted technical assistance to missions, implementing partners, the Bureau for Food Security, and other USAID offices to increase women’s participation, productivity, profit, and benefit in agricultural systems.

View the activity’s landing page on Agrilinks.

Explore how to access AWE services.

Access the AWE Services Menu

Project Objectives

  • Enhance Feed the Future agricultural programming to engage more women and improve women’s returns to agriculture.
  • Improve women’s empowerment in the domains of the Feed the Future Gender Integration Framework (GIF).

Project Activities

“Women’s Empowerment in Beyond-Production Activities” Webinar, March 2021 

Three ACDI/VOCA staff members—Melissa Matlock, Jennifer Himmelstein, and Jenn Williamson—participated in the Agrilinks – Feed the Future “Women’s Empowerment in Beyond-Production Activities” webinar on March 31, 2021, as part of the Advancing Women’s Empowerment (AWE) Activity, which is implemented by EnCompass, ACDI/VOCA, and MarketShare Associates.  

Melissa Matlock, Associate Director of Gender & Social Inclusion, provided an overview of the June 2020 AWE report “Good Practices for Women’s Empowerment in Beyond Production Agriculture Interventions: A Gendered Landscape Analysis.” Jennifer Himmelstein, Director of Corporate Analysis and Technical Assurance, spoke about collecting and analyzing beyond-production data to promote women’s economic empowerment. Jenn Williamson, Vice President, Gender & Social Inclusion, moderated the attendees’ plentiful questions.  

During the webinar, AWE Activity Manager, Aslihan Kes, Senior Gender Advisor at USAID, Resilience and Food Security described the overall work of the program, upcoming learning and research activities, and ways Missions and implementers could get involved.

 Access the June 2020 AWE Beyond Production Landscape Analysis report here.

Access the webinar recording here.

Access the presentation slides here.

Access the chat transcript here.


In 2021, the AWE activity launched a virtual learning series for USAID Missions called Increasing Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture and Market Systems through Co-Creation and Private Sector Engagement. The learning series consists of three highly participatory seminars that are designed with a regional focus, bringing together staff from multiple Missions in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region who can share cultural and contextual challenges related to gender and women’s empowerment, as well as leverage relationships across regional Missions. ACDI/VOCA designed the learning series based on findings from a global USAID Missions needs assessment and with input from AWE partners and LAC Missions. The series is tailored for Mission staff contexts, blends technical content with application to process, and provides opportunities for expert delivery and peer learning. ACDI/VOCA led the design and implementation of Seminars 1 and 2, and AWE partner, MSA, is leading the design and implementation of Seminar 3. Moving forward, AWE will replicate the learning series with USAID Missions in other regions.

Seminar 1: Getting to Shared Value: Creating Alignment with the Private Sector to Achieve Inclusive Development Results (June 2021)

This seminar covered how Missions can set the stage for working effectively with implementing partners and the private sector in agriculture and market systems programming that engages, benefits, and empowers women and youth. Using a virtual knowledge café approach, this seminar included 14 participants from four Missions who shared learning and best practices around three themes: 1) Increasing Private-Sector Awareness and Capacity for Female Empowerment and Inclusion; 2) Identifying “Common Ground” for Female Empowerment with the Private Sector; and 3) Creating and Maintaining Positive Relationships with the Private Sector that Promote Inclusive Development.

Further information can be found in the Seminar 1 Learning Brief here.

Seminar 2: Designing a Strategy for Private Sector Engagement: Conducting and Using Inclusive Market Research (October 2021)

This seminar covered how to develop an evidence-based vision for better performing sectors and markets that offer more opportunities for women and youth. The seminar convened 12 participants from three Missions and included presentations on inclusive market research and tools, small group discussions, and a fireside chat with staff from the USAID Colombia and Honduras Missions who shared their experiences in conducting and using inclusive research to inform Activity design and identify private sector partners who are interested and willing to invest in social change and women’s empowerment.

Further information can be found in the Seminar 2 Learning Brief here.

The presentation can also be found here.

Seminar 3: Measuring Transformational Results: Engaging the Private Sector to Capture and Apply Evidence (March 2022)

This seminar will cover how to work with the private sector to go beyond standard project performance indicators and co-create to improve measurement of social inclusion goals. It will include discussions of how, during co-creation, missions and partners can work with the private sector to capture, assess, and improve the value inclusive activities bring to business, to customers and suppliers, and to the market systems.

Funder: USAID
Contact: Alex Dunkel, adunkel@acdivoca.org