While there is a lot of research about how women organise to access tangible resources, such as credit or land, our understanding of how women organise to access markets is limited. In response to this gap in knowledge, Oxfam GB launched a research, learning and communications project in December 2009, entitled Researching Women’s Collective Action. This project is gathering evidence across a range of agricultural sectors in Tanzania, Mali and Ethiopia on how women smallholders’ collective action in markets can improve their incomes, strengthen their assets and increase their empowerment. Overarching research question for the project is To what extent and under what conditions does women smallholder’s engagement in market-focused collective action lead to gender equitable outcomes? We are also interested in identifying Which types of organisation or collective action are most likely to yield beneficial to women smallholders, and Which strategies of support by development actors are most effective in promoting effective collective action for women smallholders So having given a brief overview of the project – I wanted to quickly introduce to you our plans for the WCA webinar, starting first with a brief introduction of how Coady, Care and Oxfam came together to organise these webinars.
In recent years, there are a number of other organisations that have embarked on similar research related to the issue of women’s collective action. Some of these organisations (such as IFPRI, ODI, Care, Coady) have been involved in the project’s international advisory group, which provides strategic guidance on project design and implementation. Though the advisory group has enabled some initial inter-agency sharing on research in this area , it became evident quite quickly in the advisory group meetings that a space for enabling wider sharing of work on this issue was needed. It is because of this that Oxfam, Care and Coady decided to co- organise a series of WCA webinars (online seminars) -- to bring together the thinking of a community of researchers and practitioners working on WCA. It is important to clarify that the focus of the webinars is not just about women’s collective action for selling in markets – but rather the wider notion of collective action for ‘acting in’ markets. This includes collective action for increasing production, accessing inputs, training, finance or other services that will increase production or quality of production, or transportation, as well as selling in markets. Oxfam-Care-Coady are engaging in these discussion from different perspectives, but on a common interest/platform a. Introduce CARE’s pathways program Goal of the program is to increase poor women smallholder farmers’ productivity and empowerment in more equitable agriculture systems at scale (Bangladesh, India, Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana). As part of Care’s planning work for this programme over the past few years, care has developed an approach for understanding smallholders and the different pathways that different types of smallholder households take towards change, including the role of collectives in these pathways. This work is quite useful for understanding which women smallholders join and benefit from collective action, and which don’t. b. Coady’s research on MBOs though it is broader than just the realm of CA in agricultrual markets, it nevertheless sheds light on how to analyse innovations in collective action Coady is also undertaking other research with technoserve and care on farmer organisations.
Introduction to and overview of conceptual framework. Introduction to conceptual framework This conceptual framework is a ‘work in progress’ and a cumulative result of various efforts. It has been revisited in the current phase of the project based on: The original ‘pathways for change’ proposed for the project at its inception by researchers from KIT A review of some relevant existing literature and conceptual frameworks on gender and collective action (especially work done by IFPRI in the framework of their CAPRi – Collective Action and property rights initiative) - carried out by Daniela Lloyd Williams, who was the lead research adviser in Phase II of the project A review and discussion of the ‘revised’ conceptual framework at the recent ‘International Advisory Group meeting Taking on board – as best we can – the comments of IAG participants – the latest version has has been mainly developed by myself and Carine Pionetti, who is also on this call. This conceptual framework articulates the key relationships and assumptions underpinning the research we are conducting on women’s collective action in agricultural markets, in all its phases, across the three countries. In particular, the framework is intended to help us clarify (a) the key factors determining women’s smallholders engagement in collective action (b) the key factors influencing where and in what form collective action occurs in agricultural markets (and how it evolves) and (c) what determines the outcomes (or benefits) of women’s engagement in different forms of CA in agricultural markets. We have refined this framework – in part based on findings of Phase II – to inform the intensive phase of field research in ‘Phase III’ of this project. The field research will ‘test’ the importance of the different factors identified and help to clarify their relationships with different outcomes. We are keen – at this stage – to share this framework and get more feedback and very open to your comments and critiques. We also are contending with some unresolved issues which I will flag as I go along in the hope that they’ll get picked up in the discussions. Overview of framework: As you can see, the framework, represented visually in this slide, has three ‘levels’ of analysis: motivations and capacities; patterns of collective action and outcomes (collective and individual). At the first two levels of analysis, different groups of factors are important – in shaping women’s decision to engage in CA for example – or in influencing where and in what form collective action occurs and the ‘dynamics’ of the CA. These decisions and patterns contribute to changes or improvements in how effective women can be in agricultural markets at group level – and ultimately to individual impact on smallholder women (Green arrows). We have focused on those factors or features of CA and outcomes that seem most relevant for a gender analysis. The different factors may interact with each other within each level. There are also relationships and feedback loops between different levels of the framework – e.g. the impact on individual women will feed back into their motivations and capacities to engage in collective action. The various arrows try to capture these ‘dynamic’ aspects of the framework. A couple of ‘issues’ to flag: We have an ongoing challenge on how to articulate the relationship between patterns of collective action and (gendered) market systems in this framework. Should/ could this be more central? Should we narrow our focus to only the CA that occurs in the direct market chain – or do we focus also on those which enable market access through providing (market) services? (Especially given how weak women’s direct engagement is in some sectors) Equally, given our interest in how development actors can intervene more efffectively to support positive outcomes for women in agricultural markets, is the actual or potential role of external intervention (and in turn the factors they can directly impact on) given sufficient weight here? Finally – are we trying to be too ambitious? Can we really cover all these levels?
Motivations and capacities The first level of the conceptual framework deals with the motivation and capacity of women smallholder to participate in CA. It takes as its entry point the individual woman smallholder – and her decision to engage or not in whatever collective action possibilites may be available to her in the context of a particular agricultural sub-sector. Key questions relating to this level are: Women’s agency is central here – and we need to understand why women may choose not to – as well as choose to – engage in CA (represented by the red arrow). For development actors understanding whether there are particular sub-groups or categories of women smallholders who are systematically ‘excluded’ from some forms of CA is important information for designing or targetting interventions. Andrea’s work on Pathways in Care – and thinking on differentiating characteristics of smallholders – is helpful here. It is also important that we do not implicitly assume that those who not participate in CA will not benefit from markets and thus that we have a ‘control group’ of women in the same markets that are not in CA. Thus our research needs to also look at those involved in specific markets but not engaging in CA (with similar characteristics). [and perhaps at women who have left collective action groups?] We have identified two sets of factors which we believe have a direct relationship in shaping women’s motivations and capacities. Farming systems – which set the overall parameters for any agriculture related activity - including the nature of risks and opportunities. Women’s assets, characteristics, status (and ‘bargaining position’?) within the household. A couple of issues: We may need to think – in the context of women’s agency and motivation – about both ‘incentives’ and ‘preferences’ as well as ‘constraints’. Some reflections on this would be useful? ‘Incentives’ ...which may relate to characteristics of sub-sector – i.e. collective action becomes much more attractive when a profitable subsector opens up and/or to external intervention – which may provide direct access to key resources/ benefits ? Preferences may be shaped by gender identity and roles... e.g. women may prefer to engage with other women – and also be more comfortable with women only spaces. Constraints to engagement in CA may be by virtue of ‘conditions’ for participation (e.g. requirement to own land, or be a household head) which limit
Patterns of collective action This central section in the graph represents the dynamic space where groups are formed, evolve, merge or dissolve. This space is represented as a circle (with arrows going in a circular motion) to account for the vitality and non-linearity inherent to collective action groups. Collective action groups vary and evolve in composition, function and form – this is captured here as the idea of ‘patterns’ of collective action. Key dimensions in which they vary (include: size of membership (determined by a combination of internal and external criteria); gender composition of membership (a continuum from single-sex and mixed groups); functionality (they may be single-purpose or multi-functional groups and the functions will differ depending on where they are ‘located’ in the market system) degree of formality (a continnum from informal to formal groups). These characteristics are represented in the centre. We have examined several of these dimensions in our Phase II research – and this is contributing to the development of a ‘typology’ which we will discuss next time and which may ‘extend’ our conceptual framework. Collective action groups are continually evolving: change is linked - on the one hand - to group dynamics and composition (influenced by the context for the formation of the group and definition of its objectives, as well as evolving membership, size, mandate, etc), and - on the other- to rules and functioning (the governance structure of the group) which sets the framework for negotiation within the group. The circular arrows in the diagram represent these ongoing processes of change. This ‘internal dynamic’ is also directly influenced by external interventions (which e.g. may come in and introduce new ‘activities’ or reshape the mandates or ways of working of existing groups) as well as the extent of social capital and the nature of gender relations. Whilst already have some very broad and preliminary insights into these processes –within specific communities and sub-sectors - they can only really be captured by more in-depth qualitative research looking at specific cases. We have an ongoing challenge on how to articulate the relationship between patterns of collective action and (gendered) market systems in this framework. [say more on this] Should we narrow our focus to only the CA that occurs in the direct market chain – or do we (continue to) focus also on those which enable market access through providing (market) services? (Especially given how weak women’s direct engagement is in some sectors)
Slide 4: Collective outcomes and individual impact At group level – we are characterising the outcome of participation in CA in terms of women’s increased capacity to be effective in markets. This can be defined in terms of e.g. new (or more visible) roles in markets; reduced barriers to access (e.g. costs of transport?), increased capacity to negotiate better terms of trade (through e.g. improved skills or better access to information), gaining collective assets which facilitate market engagement . These group outcomes translate - at individual level –into specific changes including: Increased incomes Building up of (individual) assets Empowerment These three dimensions are also inter-related and dynamic. For example, an immediate outcome of effective market engagement via a collective action group might be increased income. But the capacity to control that income or reinvest in into building up assets may also depend on the ‘empowerment’ dimension of engagement in collective action (i.e. over time women gaining voice within the household, or gaining leadership / bargaining skills due to particiaption in CA group). [NB: quote from Ethiopia report here – about woman asking group to tell her husband that she should have control over the income from things she sells?] Issues not captured to flag: Women as a group may gain more direct access to markets and benefits (e.g. through entering new activities/ training, or group being involved in negotiating with buyers? ) but depending on their individual or household capacities – and also how the group allocates benefits internally - benefits to individuals may differ Another issue raised in IAG was that of indirect benefits / outcomes for wider household even where individual – woman - does not directly participate? Framework does not really capture this possibility?
Bodies of work to take into account Deepening understanding of factors that influence motivations and capacity to join CA: Insights from Anirudh Krishna’s work on Active Social Capital – 3 key determinants: Propensity towards collective action (i.e. relatively high levels of social capital, strong history of positive experience of collective action) Motivation/incentives for collective action (i.e. realisable access to markets as a collective) Leadership that connects the propensity to, and motivation for, collective action
Should the conceptual framework be tweaked as a “theory of change” matching positive outcomes and impacts with positive determining factors? How to capture dynamics of change? If the conceptual framework is to have value for practice, should we add a dynamic dimension to it so that we can anticipate change, adapt to it or mitigate it? Technical and social change Changes due to male migration Climate change Trends in both normative and actual gender relations at h/h level
-What factors influence women’s motivation and capacity to join CA? What factors lead women to decide not to join CA? -What are the factors that enable CA to promote women into new roles in markets and negotiate better terms of trade? -When women organise and collectively access markets, what processes enable transformational change in gender relations to happen so that women are empowered (beyond just one time income or other material gains)? -How may this framework be useful for advancing your work?
Webinars on Women’s Collective Action (WCA) in Agricultural Markets Webinar 1: Conceptual Framework August 23, 2011, 12:00-13:30 GMT Facilitated by
… that enable women to take on strategic roles in markets in ways that increase women’s incomes, assets and empowerment. Oxfam’s research on WCA A research, learning and communications project on women’s collective action (WCA) in agricultural markets
Three organisations with different perspectives, but a common issue of interest Collaboration to co-host WCA webinars WCA Webinars –a space where different organisations can share their research and learning on WCA WCA Pathways Programme Researching women’s collective action project Research on member-based organisations, etc.
Webinar 3: Synthesis of findings, WCA project Sep. 20 Webinar 1: Conceptual framework Aug. 23 Webinar 2: Typology of collective action Aug. 30 Webinars 4-6 Starting in November Theme 1: Tools for Analysing Collective Action Themes and topics not yet identified Suggestions welcome! Road map for webinars
Objective for today’s webinar on the ‘Conceptual framework’:
To enrich and further develop the conceptual framework to be used to guide phase III of the Researching Women’s Collective Action project
To help participants further develop their own analytical frameworks or thinking
Many large scale agricultural development programs targeting smallholder farmers (even those that were evaluated successfully) have not been effective for poorer segments of smallholder farmers, especially women.
Development actors need to adapt interventions based on a better understanding of the specific needs of different types /segments of women smallholders.
Women’s collective action to access markets is one important element of some pathways that some segments of poor women smallholder farmers take toward more secure and resilient livelihoods and empowerment
Understanding the role of collectives in these pathways is key
FARMING SYSTEM MOTIVATION AND CAPACITY ASSET ENDOWMENT AGE, SKILLS, LITERACY HOUSEHOLD DYNAMICS NO COLLECTIVE ACTION LEGAL/POLICY FRAMEWORK PATTERNS OF COLLECTIVE ACTION Gender relations Social capital External intervention Membership Gender Composition Functionality Degree of formality Group dynamics & evolution Governance structure CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DIFFERENT SUB-SECTORS IMPROVED CAPACITY FOR WOMEN TO BECOME EFFECTIVE ACTORS IN THE MARKET BUILD UP OF ASSETS EMPOWERMENT INCREASED INCOMES IMPACT COLLECTIVE OUTCOME LEVEL 1 LEVEL 3 Conceptual Framework
MOTIVATION AND CAPACITY Of a woman smallholder to join collective action ASSET ENDOWMENT AGE, SKILLS, LITERACY HOUSEHOLD DYNAMICS NO COLLECTIVE ACTION JOINT COLLECTIVE ACTION Level 1: Motivations and capacity
LEGAL/POLICY FRAMEWORK - Membership criteria - Registration procedure - Trading permit PATTERNS OF COLLECTIVE ACTION Gender relations Social capital External intervention Membership Gender Composition Functionality Degree of formality Group dynamics & evolution Governance structure
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DIFFERENT SUB-SECTORS
Barriers to women’s entry
Gender segregation in various market segments
Risks and opportunities
IMPROVED CAPACITY FOR WOMEN TO BECOME EFFECTIVE ACTORS IN THE MARKET New spaces and roles for women Capacity to negotiate more equitable terms of trade Fewer barriers to women’s participation in the sub-sector Level 2: Patterns of collective action
IMPROVED CAPACITY FOR WOMEN TO BECOME EFFECTIVE ACTORS IN THE MARKET New spaces and roles for women Capacity to negotiate more equitable terms of trade Fewer barriers to women’s participation in the sub-sector
BUILD UP OF ASSETS
Capacity to build and secure control over assets
Diversification of coping strategies
Self-confidence and leadership skills
Skills, access to information, opportunities
Capacity to influence decisions
Improved bargaining power
INCREASED INCOMES Capacity to generate and control income IMPACT COLLECTIVE OUTCOME Level 3: Collective outcomes and individual impact