Gender and Market Initiative: Empowering West African Women through Market-based Food Assistance

In September 2015, and with support from USAID/OFDA, the Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa (RBD) Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) team launched the West Africa Gender and Markets Initiative to strengthen the collection and analysis of gender-informed data on the roles of women and men in markets in the region, their challenges, and their varying levels of empowerment. The initiative, Empowering West African Women through Market-based Food Assistance, builds on the global VAM gender analysis capacity building efforts conducted in 2015 to support gender responsive food security assessments and monitoring across WFP – See here for global resource materials.

The WFP RBD VAM team works from the assumption that gender analysis is an essential aspect of any humanitarian assessment intended to inform programmatic action. Failing to conduct thoughtful, rigorous and carefully targeted gender analysis, risks failure to understand a context. Subsequently, programmes which fail to consider gender analysis because information is unavailable, will be based on flawed explanations of identified challenges.[1] Adopting this logic, the Gender and Markets initiative addresses several research questions on gender dynamics in markets, how women and men are empowered (or not) in markets, and what this means for WFP and partner market-based humanitarian interventions. In addition, gaps are identified in terms of WFP assessment activities to identify internal capacity needs.


Organization of Resource Centre

The first phase of the West Africa Gender and Markets Initiative involved the development of key research questions and a desk review of current practices and available information and secondary data on the region. The second phase uses case studies to test and build on results across a range of contexts and sub-regions.

This resource center provides all key results, developed and tested tools and resources from the regional initiative, available in French and English, to support WFP staff and partners in designing and implementing gender equitable market-based approaches to humanitarian interventions, including for cash-based transfers, resilience-building, local procurement and others. This resource center also serves researchers to build on the findings included herein in order to further expand the knowledge on gender dynamics in agricultural markets and value chains to achieve greater food security and human development.

The resource center is organized according to the following categories:


Steps forward

In October 2016, and thanks to continued USAID/OFDA support, the Gender and Markets Initiative will enter into the second phase of implementation, to be carried out into August 2017. The focus of this second phase is to build on the research and developed tools presented here, and to use this foundation to implement a capacity building action plan. Expected results of the second phase include:

  • Investigation into relationship between women’s empowerment in agricultural value chains and gender dynamics at household and community levels, and the programmatic impacts.
  • Apply gender analytical tools to investigate key intervention areas such as: livelihoods in urban settings; household nutrition; emergency planning; and agricultural value chain development.
  • Establish accountability framework and mechanism for humanitarian assessments.
  • Develop, test and roll out training resource package for WFP staff.
  • Participatory sharing and adaptation of tools with key partners.



WFP is grateful to USAID/OFDA for their generous support, without which the Gender and Markets Initiative: Empowering West African Women through Market-based Food Assistance would not have been possible. Also fundamental to the success of this initiative have been WFP partners, both in the region and globally, including, but are not limited to IFAD, Helen Keller International, FAO, UN Women, ACF, Mercy Corps, UNICEF, WARC, WECARD, World Vision, and regional government ministries, researchers and academics, and from individual experts in the thematic areas, among others, to whom our gratitude is extended. The team also thanks partners who contributed to, and participated in the regional consultation on Gender Analysis, Women’s Empowerment and Humanitarian Action, held in June 2016 in Dakar.

The team thanks internal colleagues who contributed to the initiative, both directly and indirectly. In particular, thanks goes to the WFP Gender Office for their advocacy role and technical support, including to Director Kawinzi Muiu for her continued support and encouragement, to Programme Advisor, Veronique Sainte-Luce for her contributions as facilitator of the Regional Partner Consultation, to former regional Gender Focal Point for West Africa, Marie-Therese Ndiaye-Onoma, former Senior Gender Advisor, Patricia Colbert, and former Programme Advisor, Maria Fernanda Santamarina, for her valuable contributions during the design stages of the initiative.

A special thanks go to the WFP West Africa VAM team, as well, to WFP country office staff in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, and Senegal, who took the lead in conducting case study research in their respective countries, and the experts recruited to undertake this process: Elise Paule Henry (Burkina Faso), Thaddée Yossa (Cameroon), and Cheikh Mane (Senegal), respectively. Tara Deubel and Micah Boyer from University of South Florida are thanked for their work on the Sahel case study looking at Chad, Mali and Niger, and the country offices and partners who supported their activities. Special thanks to Stéphanie Brunelin and Paige Enfinger for their research and analysis on the Lake Chad Regional Market Assessment, and to Senior GenCap Advisor, Christine Ouellette from the Global Food Security Cluster for her comments and support during the finalization process of this material.

Finally, special thanks to the individuals directly responsible for the development, implementation and follow-through of the Gender and Markets Initiative, specifically Regional Markets Advisor, Simon Renk, Regional VAM Gender Specialist, Analee Pepper, Regional Markets Analyst, Matthieu Tockert, Junior Gender Consultants, Pamela Sanou and Aicha Awa Ba, and Intern, Paige Enfinger. Our apologies to those we may not have mentioned by name.



For questions and additional information regarding the Gender and Markets Initiative for West Africa, please contact Regional Market Advisor, Simon Renk.


[1] Enloe, C. Seriously! Investigating crashes and crises as if women mattered. University of California Press (Berkeley & Los Angeles, CA) 2013. pg 16-17.