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Sep
23

Impacts of COVID-19 on women and youth at MEDA: Learning from our projects

Woman entrepreneur in Jordan #GenderEqualityWeek

 

During this year’s Gender Equality Week, we turn our attention to what is threatening to roll back gains made on furthering gender equality around the world - the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

We have written about the global consequences of the novel coronavirus on communities experiencing oppression where the socio-economic effects have laid bare the fissures in our social safety nets and market systems, but have since taken the opportunity to learn more about the localized effects on gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) in MEDA’s programming.

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Sep
21

Measuring impact: How MEDA measures progress on gender equality within households

Gender Equality Week Jordan

 

MEDA’s Jordan Valley Links (JVL) project has been using Gender Progress Markers (GPMs) as a measurement tool, supplementing its other monitoring and evaluation techniques, to thoughtfully and deliberately observe the changes in social and gender dynamics affecting women and men in their families and local communities. These markers help us move beyond numbers and quantitative data; they let us look at how attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to gender progress changes over the life of a project.

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Sep
18

The truth about the global gender wage gap

young professional - international pay equity day

 

At age 15 I got my first job as a cashier at a Farmer’s Market. One day, after working there for about two years, I overheard a new hire, a boy, make a comment about how much money he made. I was shocked. He made a dollar more than me an hour for the same job and with less experience. Even as a teenager, I knew this was wrong, and promptly put in my two-week notice. Over the years, I’ve heard countless personal stories similar to my own, and this gender wage gap isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, which looks at gender gaps in economic participation, education, health and politics, revealed that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years.

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Aug
31

Can technology shift gender roles on the farm?

Nicaraguan farmer"Productive technology is also a women's thing."
-- Mensaje

The Technolinks+ project in northern Nicaragua is equipping more women producers with the technological tools to help their businesses succeed and thrive while promoting greater gender equality within farming families. Through the use of technology, producers can improve productivity, increase the quality of their produce, and enhance their profit margins.

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Aug
17

COVID-19: Moving From Response to Resilience

Farmer in Ethiopia #COVID19

 

As experts working in market systems for the past 65 years, we have witnessed shocks and stresses before, in countries like Nicaragua, Ukraine, Haiti, Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya. We have worked through environmental, economic, and social challenges such as conflicts, natural disasters, price volatility, political instability, and recessions.

But we have never faced such a disruptive, global market crisis as COVID-19.

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Jul
29

Engaging Men: A key to equality and rights for women in rural Tanzania

Women in Tanzania

 

Moving the needle on equality and the rights of women in rural Tanzania requires a multi-faceted approach. Girls grow up watching (and helping) their mother conduct all household tasks, care for the children, and still find time to engage in farming or minor trade to support the family. Boys watch their fathers leave for the farm in the morning and return in the afternoon, often to sit and sip coffee or tea with their friends or sometimes head to the local bar.

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May
21

Gender equality and social inclusion in a COVID-19 world

COVID and Gender Equality

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds around the world at varying speeds and levels of intensity, one thing has become clear - the socio-economic effects are felt very differently by women and men, and by minority and excluded populations.

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Dec
02

The MEDA Approach: Human Rights in Business

Ghana GROW farmerA woman from MEDA’s GROW project exercising her economic rights protected under 2 of the 9 core human rights instruments: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

The international development industry’s understanding of human rights stems from a commitment to the fulfillment of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights; a seminal document for human rights policy and goal-setting. More recently, development actors have used the fundamentals as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to consider and express the dynamic relationship between duty-bears, right-holders and responsibility bearers.

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May
27

Myanmar, a country of kindness

Teresa in Myanmar

In the beginning in a new place you feel like you’re floating because everyone else is busy. They are not used to including you in their plans and you don’t have any of your own busy-ness yet. My first day in the MEDA office in Kayin, Myanmar there was a matching event between rice millers and milling equipment suppliers. With so many people around, it took me awhile to figure out who my colleagues were! In my first interactions, Burmese people came across as very kind and often shy. I felt shy too because I couldn’t express myself in the ways I was used to; but whenever I smiled at someone I received a genuine smile in return and I couldn't shake the feeling of being so very lucky to be in such a beautiful country.

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Apr
05

Canadian government commits over $873M for blended finance initiatives. Here’s why that’s good news for MEDA.

Myanmar

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, it will take between $5 - $7 trillion US. On their own, current levels of Official Development Assistance are not enough, resulting in an investment gap in developing countries of about $2.5 trillion.

That’s a challenge. But MEDA, in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, is tackling this issue head on through blended finance.

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Apr
05

MEDA launches GEM Framework to empower women through business growth and impact

Gender Equality Mainstreaming Framework

Women are key drivers of economic growth, engaging in business as consumers, employees, leaders, suppliers and community stakeholders. Yet, women are frequently overlooked and underrepresented in the private sector throughout the world. 2017 marked the first year that the Global Gender Gap – an index measuring 144 countries’ gender disparity in health, education, politics and the workplace – worsened since its inception in 2006 (WEF). Recent events like the #MeToo campaign signal a sea of change for the world, including the corporate sphere. This is good news, since $28 trillion could be added to annual global GDP by 2025 if women participated in the economy at the same level as men (McKinsey, 2015). Businesses and investors who seek to understand and respond to the barriers women face will be rewarded – both in terms of growth and impact. 

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Nov
24

16 Days of Activism & the White Ribbon Campaign

DSC03467

Today marks the beginning of two important global campaigns, 16 Days of Activism (Nov 25-Dec 10) and the White Ribbon Campaign (Nov. 25). Both global campaigns advocate for the eradication of gender-based violence and, broadly, the empowerment of women.

In GROW, our project in Ghana, the team engages with male gender activists to promote equity with respect to caregiving, fatherhood, and division of labor.

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Oct
16

Should we be working in Myanmar?

Burma Blog AI started working in Myanmar almost two years ago. At that time, in order to have access to a phone I rented a sim card for over 200$; ATMs were non-existent and Yangon was still relatively traffic-free. My first assignment for a large INGO was to study three separate markets in the country’s central dry zone. I looked at goats, groundnuts and plums. The latter, seemingly banal as a crop, turned out to be the more exciting of the three. A plum farmer could channel the components of her plums to five separate markets, from dried fertilizer to juice, to fire fuel and Chinese medicine.
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Sep
15

Red Roads Over Green Hills: Contemplating Gender Equality in Ethiopia

Ethiopia WEO

The state of the roads in Ethiopia’s Oromia region (a western region bordering South Sudan) are not for the faint of heart – nor week of spine. Worse yet was the speed with which our driver dodged crater-sized potholes and slip-slided through meters of slick red mud. This drive might have been a teeth-clenching test of endurance had it not been for the verdant green pastoral landscape that stretched out from the road on all sides. Having traveled in numerous countries in western and eastern Africa, I was more accustomed to views of dense, tropical jungles or semi-arid savannah, not to a landscape that more closely resembled Ireland with its greener-than-green fields dotted by grazing animals. The only striking difference being the dirt road that blazed like a red ribbon lain haphazardly over green velvet.

As our ancient Range Rover moved with alacrity through this landscape, my mind drifted back to the conversation I had had with my colleague on the airplane from Addis Ababa to Assosa. She had asked, innocently enough, about my other work at MEDA and I launched into a discussion about my projects and MEDA’s approach to women’s economic empowerment. This somehow took a turn to discussing the state of women in Pakistan (site of a MEDA value chain project focusing on women’s entrepreneurship), and as I discussed honor killings, acid attacks, and the Islamic custom of purdah (limiting women’s mobile outside the home), my colleague’s face became one of astonishment. I was surprised, however, that my colleague used this information as further evidence against Islam and not as a discussion point for women’s equality more broadly. Ethiopia, she informed me, did have this “problem.” While it may be true that Ethiopia doesn’t have the same kind of violence towards women witnessed in some parts of Pakistan, Ethiopia is not a shining example for the equitable treatment of women, despite being predominantly Christian (Muslims make up approximately 33%). While Christianity may not have as overt cultural practices segregating women, are not the subtle messages of submission and subservience on the part of women found throughout Christian teachings indicative of a pervasive, and deeply-rooted prejudice toward women?

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Sep
01

Engaging Women in the Economy in Latin America

I was recently asked to join a panel discussion at the Inter-American Development Bank on better engaging women in the agricultural sector in Latin America. A conversation that needs to be had more often.

Having lived in Central America, I know all too well the realities of gender inequality that exists in the region. Typically, in the household, a woman cooks and cleans; doesn't work and therefore, doesn't have any control over the financial or operational decisions within the home. This goes as far as to say that some women were not even privy to the prices of milk or eggs. "Machismo" as they call it, is the mindset that the man is better than the women. I saw many homes where this wasn't the case; however, for the majority of women, living in the shadows is a reality.

Recently I performed and managed a short consultancy that worked with 4 agribusinesses in Peru to promote gender equality in the workplace and homes of the farmers working downstream in their supply chains. A "Gender Coordinator" led the efforts at each business and also hosted "Gender Workshops" for both men and women in the community from which they sourced. The Gender Coordinators educated the men and women about gender equality (a phrase some had never heard of before) and conducted activities, such as learning to cook nutritious foods together, as a couple. The consultancy lasted only 8 months. The goal was to determine the financial and operational implications of gender dynamics on the household and business. 8 months was rather short to be measuring these things; however, even within that time, a difference could be seen. Woman began to engage in agriculture, which for these communities, is the primary source of income. Two of the companies even had enough supply that they began to market a new product - coffee specifically grown by women. Maybe it is the next "fair trade"? One company found a niche market in Germany and demand is over the roof.

The most prominent change; however, could be seen in the women themselves. The increase in confidence was astonishing and the community had never been stronger.

Check out the recording of the panel discussion on the IADB website here. The CEO of Women's World Banking and Project Manager from Cafe Femenino join me and provide interesting takes on their experiences working in the area, as well.

Enjoy! And keep the conversation going!
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Aug
11

Empowering Women – Changing Lives

WEO blog 3
WEO blog 4
WEO blog 1a
 

MEDA’s Women’s Economic Opportunities team knows how money in the hands of a woman can change lives. This blog has been created to share the learnings, ideas and the insights from our projects that excite and energize us in our work.

Our team has close to a decade of experience working alongside women producers and entrepreneurs to grow their incomes and businesses. We support them in strengthening their business and leadership skills and help to build social, business and financial networks. To date, we have worked with over 100,000 women and have learned much along the way.

We designed and piloted new methodologies for empowering and connecting women entrepreneurs to markets in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In recent years, we have adapted and expanded our women’s economic empowerment programming into Ghana, Libya, Haiti and Burma (Myanmar). New projects will be starting soon in Jordan and Ethiopia that will challenge us to work at different levels in the market system. We continue to work at innovating new information communication technology (ICT) and appropriate technology solutions for women, and on building our private sector and university partnerships.

Share and contribute

MEDA values the learning that we gain from working with others. Beyond helping us to understand gender relations and socio-cultural dynamics in different country contexts, our work with local and private sector organisations helps to build their capacity in value chain analysis and market based approaches. Strong partnerships ensure that our women’s economic empowerment programming is scalable, replicable and sustainable, and that the learning continues even beyond the life of our projects. I invite you to check in for our monthly posts. We look forward to sharing and learning with you.

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Jan
27

Back to the Future?

Check out what MEDA's Women's Economic Opportunities team has to say about Inclusive Market systems. Introducing guest blogger Christine Faveri, Director of Women's Economic Opportunities.

New tools to integrate gender equality into market systems thinking.

Having worked both as an advocate for gender equality and as a development practitioner for over 20 years, I know how hard it can be to translate concepts such as gender analysis and empowerment into practical tools that people can use in their work. Although many would now agree with Robert Zoellick that "gender equality is smart economics," many of us are aware that showing this to be true is easier said than done.

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