Editorial Chief: Jemimah M. Njuki, Africa Centre for Gender, Social Research and Impact Assessment

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Vol. 1, Issue 2, pp 148-167, 2016

Rural women’s participation in producer organizations: An analysis of the barriers that women face and strategies to foster equitable and effective participation

Author: Susan Kaaria, Martha Osorio, Sophie Wagner, and Ambra Gallina
Social Policies and Rural Institutions Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)


Over the last several decades, participation in producer organizations has become a key principle of development, enabling people’s empowerment, inclusiveness, and facilitating democracy. Producer organizations have become crucial actors to provide services to the rural poor, and women’s participation and leadership in producer organizations has become a focus of rural and agricultural development efforts. This review paper aims to document the factors that hinder women’s participation in producer organizations. The review identifies several factors as major barriers for women’s participation, including: socio-cultural norms; women’s double burden and triple roles; women’s status, age and previous membership in organizations; access to assets and resources; educational level; organizations’ rules of entry, and; legal and policy environment. The paper also provides a review of lessons and good practice that can be applied by Agricultural Research for Development institutions. The review identified strategies for strengthening women’s participation in producer organizations at the individual/household, community/producer organization, and policy level. The review found that at the individual/household level, strategies to improve individual capabilities and intra-household relations were crucial for promoting women’s participation and leadership in producer organizations. Similarly, at the producer organizational level strategies to ensure that the structures and governance mechanisms are more gender sensitive, and promote women’s inclusion, are crucial. Equally important are policies for promoting gender-sensitive producer organizations and specific measures geared at promoting women’s active participation in producers’ organizations.

Keywords: Rural women, participation, producer organizations, agriculture

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DOI : 10.19268/JGAFS.122016.8
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