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.
Care Responsiveness of Livelihoods Programming: The Enterprise Development Programme, Oxfam Nepal
Oxfam launched the Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) in Nepal in 2011. As a livelihoods programme, it aims to develop capabilities and markets for small rural enterprises, with a specific focus on women. The programme targets those agricultural sub-sectors that create opportunities for women at various levels, including at the levels of production, access to the market and leadership and management. This Programmatic Note examines Nepal’s EDP programme to understand how women’s economic empowerment (WEE) policy and programming can generate a ‘double boon’ – paid work that empowers women and provides more support for their unpaid care work responsibilities. It discusses what works for and what hinders a “double boon’, and makes suggestions on what steps can be taken in order to engender a double boon.
Empowerment Programming and Unpaid Care Work: Learning from 30 years of the Self Employed Women’s Association in Madhya Pradesh (SEWA MP)
This Programmatic Note examines the work of SEWA in Madhya Pradesh (SEWA MP), India, in order to understand how women’s economic empowerment (WEE) policy and programming can generate a ‘double boon’ – paid work that empowers women and provides more support for their unpaid care work responsibilities. The research found that many women had benefited from joining SEWA, due to increased access to information and services, training, better working conditions, access to the SEWA cooperative for savings and loans facilities, and a sense of empowerment emanating from the recognition of the value of the work that they do. It is recommended that order to engender a ‘double boon’, SEWA could take actions that included:
- expanding the range of training courses;
- including men in its discourses and outreach;
- creating childcare arrangements; and
- explicitly engage with the issue of unpaid care work.
Making Karnali Employment Programme More Care-Responsive
The Karnali Employment Programme (KEP) was launched by the Government of Nepal in 2006 with the slogan of ‘ek ghar ek rojgar’ (one household, one job). The aim was to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment, per fiscal year, to households living in extreme poverty without any other source of income in five districts of Karnali zone. A further objective was also to create local public assets that would contribute to enhancing local livelihoods in the longer term. This Programmatic Note examines the KEP programme’s potential to achieve women’s economic empowerment that generates a ‘double boon’ – paid work that empowers women and provides more support for their unpaid care work responsibilities. The research was conducted in two sites in Jumla - Chandannath and Depalgaon. In both sites, the main source of livelihood for low-income households was subsistence agriculture and non-agricultural wage work, especially related to masonry and construction related work. Women from poor households are also engaged in multiple low-income paid work such as agricultural labour, breaking stones and vegetable farming. The research highlights factors that affect “what works for a ‘double boon’” and also “what hinders a ‘double boon’”.
Making Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) More Care-Responsive
Started as a pilot in 200 of the poorest districts of India in 2006, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is a demand-based public works programme which entitles every rural household in India to 100 days of waged employment, per fiscal year. MGNREGA envisages women’s inclusion and empowerment, equal wages at par with men, proximity of residences to worksites, and the provision of facilities such as crèches at worksites. This Programmatic Note examines MGNREGA in the districts of Dungarpur and Udaipur in Rajasthan, in order to understand how women’s economic empowerment (WEE) policy and programming can generate a ‘double boon’ - paid work that empowers women and provides more support for their unpaid care work responsibilities. The research highlights inflexible timings in MGNREGA, hard, back breaking tasks, and poor facilities at the worksite. These, taken in combination with the time-consuming and intensive care work that women need to perform in the absence of essential public services, induces high levels of drudgery in women’s lives. The note highlights women’s chronic lack of rest, physical weakness, and mental stress related to multi-tasking and managing their paid and unpaid care work responsibilities. The note makes recommendations based on the research findings on how MGNREGA could immediately take steps to transform women’s and families’ current depleting scenario to an empowering one.
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.