The impact of women’s collective action
Evidence from three African countries
Does organizing groups of rural women producers contribute to empowerment as well as increasing their incomes? Yes, it can be a step towards increased empowerment under the right conditions.
Women rarely have equal say in or leadership of mixed groups, while women-only groups may face challenges with business viability. Empowerment was greater when women participate in informal as well as formal groups.
Learning from experience, development actors need to adopt flexible approaches to supporting collective action, taking the wider context into account, and supporting women’s own initiatives.
We also need to pay more attention to the policy environment, setting explicit targets to address women’s participation and leadership, and protecting the space for informal association.