From its initiation, USAID/BANGLADESH FEED THE FUTURE RICE AND DIVERSIFIED CROPS ACTIVITY undertook several gender integration activities with an aim to increase women’s empowerment in agriculture. A lot of factors play a crucial role in assuring equal participation in this sector. To overcome the challenges in this, RDC undertook several measures in the Khulna, Barisal, and southern Dhaka divisions of Bangladesh (RDC zone).
After 5 years of a successful run of this project, RDC wanted to capture the learnings from the intervention activities and what improvement did those activities bring in the rice and diversified crops sector. LightCastle was hired to conduct the impact study in the RDC zone. The impact study assessed the impact of the gender integration activities over the last 5 years among the beneficiaries of RDC’s interventions.
To capture the all-inclusive picture of the impact created by this project in terms of women empowerment in agriculture, LightCastle Partners used the WEAI (Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index) framework to measure the impact across 6 domains of empowerment- Access (to information, resources and finance), Decision-making overproduction, Control over income, Time allocation, and Participation in leadership roles. In addition to measuring the impact, the study took a deeper look at the why’s and how’s of the changes created.
5 Dimensions of Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture / Source: ACDI/VOCA – USAID
LightCastle Partners collected data from 32 direct beneficiaries from Barisal and Narail, two of the regions in the FtF zone in Bangladesh. In addition, 6 women beneficiaries who are involved in other roles in the agriculture value chain such as agent banking, micro-merchant, retailers, etc. were also interviewed to understand the degree women empowerment reached not only among the farmers but also other women value chain actors. Besides, Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with multiple external stakeholders-private market actors, bank/DFS officials were conducted to gain more insights from them. 2 Focused Group Discussions (FGDs)- one with male and one with a female who is direct beneficiaries in each of the regions were conducted to understand the gender roles and gain a holistic understanding from both the parties.
The analysis from the impact study drew some of the key findings which indicated that the intervention activities significantly increased the participation of the women in economic activities and as such increased their participation in household decision-making and leadership roles. The study also uncovered opportunities for incorporating digital financial services, blended financing, and increasing the digital literacy of these beneficiaries for future interventions.
The results of the impact study conducted by LightCastle Partners may be used to increase women’s empowerment through further incorporation of digital financial services, increased digital literacy among the beneficiaries, and also giving them access to blended financing.
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