Women small-scale producers are central to meeting the growing global demand for food and are becoming more involved in agricultural markets in developing countries. Yet in comparison to their male counterparts, women are often limited by poor access to the services and resources needed to properly enter and compete in agricultural markets. Thus, their engagement in markets does not necessarily result in increased incomes and control over assets.
What is Women's Economic Leadership (WEL)?
Women's Economic Leadership, or WEL, means women gaining economic and social power to move out of poverty. In practical terms, this means:
Our starting point for promoting women's economic leadership is one of rights. Women have the right to participate equally and fully and enjoy equal control in the economy.
We also base our work on a fundamental economic argument that gender inequality slows economic growth, and conversely, gender equality can increase the productivity of investments in agriculture and other livelihoods initiatives.
Women economic leaders can be producers, entrepreneurs or waged workers.
Promoting WEL in agricultural markets
Programmes that promote WEL in agricultural markets aim to:
- Enable smallholder women to access markets independently and equitably
- Enhance their ability to decide how resources get invested in agriculture at household level and more widely
- Make visible the significant economic contribution of women smallholders to agricultural development
- Incorporate a long-term strategy for facilitating systemic change with many value-chain stakeholders, like traders, processors, exporters, government authorities and producer organisations by transforming gender roles and relations in agricultural markets and raising women's share of the benefits from agricultural development.
Researching women's collective action
Oxfam is currently conducting research on women's collective action in order to gather evidence on effective ways for women smallholders to organise in order to enhance their economic leadership.
Read more about researching women's collective action and download the latest research findings.
Women in vulnerable livelihoods
In order to provide guidance to Oxfam and partners interested in developing programmes with urban women and women in vulnerable livelihoods, we have recently commissioned a research report.
Building Better Lives for Working-Poor Women provides a conceptual framework and results of scoping research on initiatives with urban working-poor women in eight countries.