West Africa Gender and Market Initiative: Case studies


Case Study Map

The case studies represent different approaches to identifying gender-sensitive questions and capturing data :

  1. Using WFP traditional Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping (VAM) tools, and adapting them to capture gender-informed data and data on women’s empowerment in markets;
  2. Using WFP programme activities which have a market component and which aim to promote gender equity, to identify what information/data is needed; and
  3. Using dedicated studies to capture gender-informed data in challenging environments (i.e. emergencies, significant gender inequality).

The primary objective was to develop a set of practical examples of common gender and market information needs and constraints, and how best to respond to these.

The case studies were conducted along a set of common guidelines to respond to the key research questions developed by the RBD VAM Gender + Markets study:

  • What are the roles of women and men in food markets in West Africa?
  • What specific challenges do women face for economic inclusion in food markets?
  • What are the current gender gaps in WFP market-based responses and assessments?
  • What are the current gaps and challenges in gauging and tracking women’s empowerment in markets?
  • What are potential programmatic solutions to address the identified challenges and gaps?

Six case studies were carried out in nine countries to address the key research questions, using mixed methods data. The case studies include:


New studies are currently being conducted: please see the brief notes below: 


#1 Value Chain Development, Gender and Women’s Empowerment in Ghana

Full study (English) (French)
Factsheet (English) (French)

Female commodity-based association leaders, informally known as “market queens”, may control an entire commodity value chain, and will enjoy relative market power over that good (i.e. supply and demand manipulation to regulate and boost prices). They are therefore considered important partners for programming that seeks to promote women’s empowerment.


#2 Assessing Gender and Markets in the Lake Chad Basin Region

Full study (English) (French)
Factsheet (English) (French)

Lack of own capital and insecurity are the two main constraints faced by traders, male and female. Women traders seems to suffer more than men from the lack of capital and the lack of credit suggesting that women disproportionately face financial access barriers that prevent them from participating in the agricultural trade. Therefore, improving access to financial capital while simultaneously streamlining protection against sexual and gender-based violence into programs can have direct positive impacts to women’s empowerment.


#3 Agricultural Value Chains and Gender in Northern Cameroon

Full study (English) (French)
Factsheet (English) (French)

Women struggle with maternity management, often leading to suspension of their economic activities. Poor water, hygiene and sanitation infrastructure in the food markets affects women in particular (management of personal hygiene impossible or unsafe). Investments into market infrastructure (such as UN WOMEN’s gender-sensitive Markets for Change approach[1]) are therefore necessary.


#4 Gender, Markets and Women’s Empowerment in the Sahel Region: A Comparative Analysis of Niger, Chad and Mali

Full study (English) (French)
Factsheet (English) (French)

Niger: Women’s migration presents a fundamental challenge, as it fragments the family and often thrusts rural women into unstable and unsafe living conditions, also leading to the displacement of children out of school when they accompany their mother.  The Cash for Assets program by WFP was highlighted as a best practices because it allows women to avoid seasonal migration not only because it provides income, but because it is partnered with school canteens. After grain reserves of poor households have been exhausted, the canteens provide the necessary incentive to keep girls in school, so that their parents know they will receive at least one nutritious meal per day.

Chad: Traditionally, men do not have the right to take women’s produce without their consent, nor can they seize any animals women have been able to purchase with the profits from their commerce. This apparent autonomy, however, seldom results in empowerment in practice: the burden of daily obligation felt by most women means that they have little opportunity to exercise the privileges they might be accorded in theory. Programmes must ensure they address the risk of overburdening women participants by adding to their already high workload.

Mali: Local procurement programmes support farmers by guaranteeing a market for products in advance of the season to help farmers maximize production of their available lands. However, women’s lack of control over use of oxcarts and plow animals, obliges them to wait until the lack possible moment to prepare fields and thereby limits their ability to benefit from the WFP programme. This needs to be taken into account when designing programmes tailored to women’s needs.


#5 Gender, Markets and Challenges to Economic Empowerment in Burkina Faso

Full study (English) (French)
Factsheet (English) (French)

The roles of women and men in food markets are gender-based. The quantities of agricultural products placed on the markets by men are far more significant than women’s quantities. Wholesalers and semi-wholesalers are mostly men. Women are mainly retailers and stay in local markets near their place of residence.


#6 Senegal: Gender, Markets and Farm-Based Organizations

Full study (English) (French)
Factsheet (English) (French)

Women’s organizations are a critical factor for women’s empowerment, allowing to pool resources and buy large supply quantities. They may also share transformation machinery and storage, and support each other through knowledge sharing and social support. The absence of women's organizations in some communities was shown to reduce women’s economic empowerment, which is why WFP should encourage women’s associations to form around concrete activities such as school feeding.


Case Study Protocol | (English) (French)


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[1] https://unwomen.org.au/our-work/projects/safer-markets/