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Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Mainstreaming Agency for Women Empowerment in the post- COVID world: Evidence from Malawi  

Authors:

Maggie Phiri (Lincoln University)
Nazmun Ratna (Lincoln University)
Christopher Rosin (Lincoln University)

Paper short abstract:

COVID-19 exposes disconnection between women’s empowerment and how policy has achieved empowerment in agriculture. Using Kabeer’s concept of empowerment located in ‘resources’, ‘agency’, ‘achievement’, this paper examines how conceptualizations of empowerment correspond to agency

Paper long abstract:

Women play a key role in Malawian agriculture, producing 70% of locally consumed food. However, they remain disadvantaged in policies and agriculture interventions. Women experience inequality across multiple dimensions that inhibits their capacity to manage risks and shocks, and limits their adaptive capacity. For example, floods and droughts exacerbated by climate change have significantly greater consequences for women participating in Malawi’s agricultural sector. These existing challenges are further compounded by COVID-19, which exposes the disconnection between women’s empowerment and how policy has achieved empowerment within the agricultural sector. Using Naila Kabeer’s (1999) concept of empowerment located in ‘resources’, ‘agency’ and ‘achievement’, this paper examines how conceptualizations of empowerment in Malawian institutions and policy correspond to agency. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 32 expert key informants from the public and private sector. Thematic codes were generated from initial transcripts, and then modified, refined and organized during coding and analysis. Results show consensus among key informants regarding the role of COVID-19 as a wakeup call to reconceptualise and redevelop policy to empower women beyond access to material and economic resources to also cater for human and social resources. They further reveal poor targeting, limited information access and shortage of extension staff as challenges to empowering women. Informants had varying views on the best ways to promote empowerment including policy stipulating agricultural diversification to build resilience to shocks through expanded farmer incomes, systems-level change across farming sector, and an improved policy and regulatory environment to empower women farmers.

Panel P26b
Unsettling 'gender' within research, policy and practice II