Our interest in expanding women’s market inclusion stems from its positive impact on both women’s economic empowerment and inclusive agricultural transformation, a dynamic process in which rising agricultural productivity spurs growth in the rural non-farm economy, fosters out-migration from rural to urban areas, and strengthens connections between rural and urban areas. Attention to the inclusivity of agricultural transformation will help ensure that both women and men benefit as the agricultural economy evolves.
As we investigated efforts to improve WMI, we identified four intervention types—producer collectives, outgrower schemes, farmer field schools, and poverty graduation programs—that have been shown to work in different settings with clear evidence from multiple RCTs or quasi-experimental studies.
At present, most market interventions are gender-unintentional because their design and implementation do not work to disrupt gender-based inequality. To make investments gender-intentional, care should be taken to:
Expanding women’s access to decent work opportunities has been shown to have a significant positive impact on women’s labor force participation, wages, and agency—all of which contribute directly to women’s economic empowerment.
A key aspect of decent work opportunities is women's market inclusion (WMI), which we define as women’s equitable participation in and ability to capture value from agricultural market systems. Equitable participation involves both the level and nature of participation and value capture refers to the ability to earn income and strengthen one’s economic position through agricultural productivity, both in absolute terms and relative to men.
WMI has a direct impact on WEE in that exclusion from agricultural markets tends to restrict women to low-skilled, low-paying work. Furthermore, as the agricultural sector evolves women who lack access to agricultural markets often find themselves falling further behind men. In addition to earning less than men, these women are often unable to control or make decisions about their earned income, which further constrains their economic empowerment.
The value proposition of WMI is its potential to increase poor women’s incomes at scale, which in turn contributes to gender equality and poverty reduction. Numerous studies in LMIC settings have shown that women’s agency in spending decisions increases as their earned income rises. Such gains benefit women and their families and can contribute to country-level economic growth.