ActionAid's Food Security and Economic Empowerment Programme in Muko Sector, Northern Rwanda: Guidelines for Achieving the Double Boon
Despite an impressive socioeconomic transformation over the past few decades, Rwanda ranks as one of the least developed countries in the world. Today, over 75 per cent of the population remain dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, of which women constitute a disproportionate majority. ActionAid Rwanda's (AAR) Improving Food Security and Economic Opportunities for Women project in Muko sector, Musanze District in the Northern Province aims to combat these intersecting deprivations. AAR’s project aims 'to enable 1,200 of the most vulnerable women smallholder farmers and 300 vulnerable male smallholder farmers to improve their food security and economic security through increased agricultural profitability'.
This note examines how the AAR programme has contributed to heightened economic empowerment amongst female beneficiaries and the extent to which it may have promoted a ‘double boon’; that is, paid work that empowers women and provides more support for their unpaid care work responsibilities, rather than a double burden of additional hard work without taking into account women’s heavy care responsibilities.
Making Rwanda's Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme Public Works Care-Responsive
Rwanda's Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP), which comprises cash transfers, public works and financial services, aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2020. Public works, the focus of the research outlined in this note, provides paid employment for extremely poor households with at least one able-bodied adult. The aim of the VUP is for the very poorest to ‘graduate’ out of poverty through the programme.
This note examines how VUP Public Works can avoid a ‘double burden’ on working women and instead generate a ‘double boon’ by providing paid work that empowers women and supports their unpaid care work responsibilities. The research was carried out using a mixed-methods approach in four sites. The focus of this note is on Simbi and Gishamvu in Huye District, where women were participating in VUP. Findings of the research show that that women strongly value paid work, prioritising income-generating opportunities over care work. Wages earned pay for a range of essential needs, such as food, education, and health-related expenses. Finally, those women who are able to balance paid work and unpaid care work benefit from family support and sharing of care responsibilities.
However the note also highlights the barriers to the ‘double boon’: VUP Public Works can intensify the double burden of paid and care work and can increase women’s time poverty, with negative consequences for women’s physical and psychosocial wellbeing; cultural gender norms still place the responsibility for household tasks with women; and the conditions of VUP Public Works – poor pay, difficult labour conditions, and distance from the worksite – all increase the drudgery of women’s work.