West Africa Gender and Markets Initiative: Working towards Zero Hunger by Empowering West African Women

Please visit www1.wfp.org/gender-and-market-initiative-west-central-africa


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Background  |  
Organization of Resource Centre  |  Acknowledgements  |  Contacts

In September 2015, the WFP Regional Bureau for West Africa (RBD) Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping (VAM) team, with support from USAID, launched the Gender and Markets Initiative with the objective to strengthen the collection and analysis of gender-informed data on the different roles of women and men in markets in the region, their challenges, and their 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.

WFP works from the assumption that gender analysis is an essential aspect of any humanitarian assessment intended to inform programmatic action. Gender analysis is needed to achieve the Agenda 2030’s objective of achieving Zero Hunger (SDG2) and leaving no one behind. The role of women in ending hunger is well documented: women feed their families, produce and market food, and hold essential roles in ending the intergenerational cycle of hunger[1]. In many Sahelian countries, women are responsible 60-80% of agricultural production. It is critical to understand how women can best be supported in this role and to choose an empowerment approach to build their agency and resilience. 

The first investigative phase of this initiative was completed in August 2016. Among its main achievements, the first phase counted the completion of a desk review of relevant literature and eight case studies, the design of an indicator to measure women’s empowerment through markets as well as the building of a regional partnership network. Findings from Phase I reveal that both women and men are generally active in markets in West Africa, but tend to hold different and gender-specific roles and responsibilities at each level of the value chain. In most contexts, women participate in higher numbers in agricultural market sales, but predominate roles with low profit margins, compared with men. Primary constraints include women’s lack of, or comparatively limited control over productive inputs to improve businesses, increase profits margins, and be empowered by their economic activities. Despite these broad commonalities, the effect of gender imbalances is different depending on context.

The second phase (December 2016-November 2017) uses case studies to test and build on results across a range of contexts and sub-regions. The three main objectives of the current Phase II are:

  1. Make key findings, results, tools best practices and documentation about women’s participation in West African markets accessible to WFP offices and their partners, as well as the broader humanitarian community;
  2. Strengthen accountability for gender-sensitive food security and nutrition analysis within WFP and establish synergies with other Regional Offices and with Headquarters to sustainably improve the integration of gender, protection and empowerment into food security and nutrition assessments across Africa;
  3. Build capacities for measuring women’s empowerment in and through markets within WFP RBD, affiliated COs and partners.


Organization of Resource Centre

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:



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 Specialists Analee Pepper and Desiree Zwanck, Regional Markets Analyst Matthieu Tockert, Junior Gender Consultants Pamela Sanou, Aicha Awa Ba and Karen Diop, 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 Mr. Eric Branckaert.


[1] See Gnisci, D. (2016), “Women’s Roles in the West African Food System: Implications and Prospects for Food Security and Resilience”, West African Papers, No. 03, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jlpl4mh1hxn-en.