iDE has long recognized the central role women play in agricultural development. Women provide the majority of farm labor—including crop production, livestock development, and the provision and use of water for household and farming needs. Although women do much of the work, they often lack the resources available to men. Given equal access to resources and control over outputs, women farmers are as productive as male farmers. They are also more likely than their male counterparts to use their increased income to pay for children's food, education, and health care.
Highlights of iDE's Global Experience
Recognizing women farmers as a significant market segment, iDE ensures that women farmers are as likely as male farmers to benefit from program interventions. iDE selects agricultural value chains in which women can actively participate. Currently, we are partnering with women's unions in central Vietnam to provide technical advice to ethnic-minority Katu women engaged in pig-raising, which is predominantly "women's work." By selecting the pork value chain and partnering with women's unions, iDE guaranteed that program interventions would primarily target women.
In Nepal, under the USAID-funded Marketing, Production, and Services Project (MAPS), iDE implemented a women's microenterprise development program to provide female household heads—many of whom had lost husbands to the war or migrated to find work—with income opportunities. By combining numeracy and literacy skills development with market opportunities, more women were inclined to enter business for themselves.
iDE designs micro irrigation technologies that meet the needs of women farmers. The Rural Prosperity Initiative, a multi-country program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is conducting gender-specific Voice of Customer surveys to determine the necessity and value of gender-appropriate micro irrigation technology designs and/or adaptations. Furthermore, to increase women's access to these technologies, iDE uses rural marketing strategies that appeal to women, and promotes products and services in places that are easily accessible to women.
Whenever possible, iDE hires female program staff as way to overcome some of the gender barriers that may arise when working with female clients. Also, by recruiting female staff, iDE demonstrates to client households the importance of giving girls and women educational and productive opportunities.
In Ethiopia, to attract and retain female staff, iDE created female-focused job announcements and more attractive employment arrangements, including good benefits and not requiring female field officers to ride motorbikes. Today, the proportion of female staff holding key positions within iDE Ethiopia is over 30 percent.
iDE's Gender Statement
It is iDE's fundamental belief that all poor people have the right to a secure livelihood, and that both men and women play vital, yet often different, roles in the pursuit of secure livelihoods for their families.
iDE helps poor families generate additional income by increasing access to affordable micro irrigation technologies and market opportunities. We follow a market-based approach, treating smallholder farmers, whether male or female, as customers rather than charity recipients.