Market Development programme using the MSD approach in dairy, sheep and beef value chains in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia
SDC and Mercy Corps Georgia
The Alliances programme is one of the very first interventions that has taken conscious efforts to mainstream gender and focus on women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in a market development programme. There are several key lessons we can learn from the way this programme applied a gender lens throughout their project lifecycle.
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The Alliance programme initiated its programming with a stand-alone gender analysis as part of the larger market analysis process. This allowed for the development of preliminary gender sensitized programming. In a new cycle of market analysis, all research outputs were fully gendered rather than just having a separate gender analysis. This was followed up with stand-alone analyses for those regions where the results illustrated the need for more in-depth information. As a result, the team was able to set sophisticated definitions of their target group and design effective interventions.
The programme team was essential in ensuring full inclusion and actualization of WEE. Therefore, team confidence and ownership of gender and WEE were built and nurtured. Additionally, the team built its capacity in gender to ensure that gender and WEE would be considered throughout. Most importantly, the management team nurtured an organisational ethos of gender equity and created a safe space for dialogue. This encouraged the programme team to always speak frankly and openly about gender norms.
The generation of WEE indicators requires an understanding of what to measure, how to measure it and how to report it. The programme used WEE indicators that went beyond gender disaggregation. They measured the impact on women in terms of not just access but also agency, i.e. choice, decision making and increase in control in the use of resources. To ensure that the collected data would provide a true picture of the impact of an intervention on women, it was backed up by qualitative data that allowed for an interpretation of the figures beyond face value.
Measuring the impact on WEE indicators required amongst others gender-sensitive fieldwork on the household level. Therefore, team members were also trained to navigate local contexts, persuading communities, households, and market actors to understand the importance of gender-equitable impact. The team saw the need to generate and follow rules to create a safe space for women to join in-depth interviews, including engaging with male and female community leaders and male family members to get respect and trust and showing respect for local traditions.
Data was gathered, presented, and discussed regularly by the team, allowing for contextual and programmatic insights to be used to interpret the data and potentially resulting in finding ‘hidden’ beneficiaries or people benefiting indirectly. This created the possibility for re-calibrating an intervention or undertaking a piece of research to further understand an aspect of an intervention which once understood, may unlock the potential for further impact.