Rural women’s participation in producer organizations: An analysis of the barriers that women face and strategies to foster equitable and effective participation
This review paper (PDF) in Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security analyzes the factors that hinder women’s participation in producer organizations, and identifies and documents good practice that can be applied by agricultural research and development institutions. In the last decades, participation in producer organizations has become a key principle of development, enabling people’s empowerment, inclusiveness, and facilitating democracy. However, studies show that women and youth often remain excluded from participation and leadership roles, decision-making processes and services. This review identifies several factors as major barriers for women’s participation, including: socio-cultural norms; women’s double burden and triple roles; women’s status, age and previous membership in organizations; access to assets and resources; educational level; organizations’ rules of entry, and; legal and policy environment. It provides strategies for strengthening women’s participation in producer organizations at the household, producer organisation, and policy level. At the household level, strategies to improve individual capabilities and intra-household relations were assumed crucial for promoting women’s participation and leadership. At the producer organizational level, strategies to ensure that the structures and governance mechanisms are more gender sensitive, and promote inclusion, are crucial. Equally important are policies for promoting gender-sensitive producer organizations. The paper also provides a summary of lessons, good practices and lists more strategies for strengthening women’s participation in producer organisations on different levels.