5.6.7. Women's Empowerment in Agriculture

The Women's Empowerment in Agriculture (WEA) framework looks at three components that influence the engagement of women in value chains:

  • Agency. The capacity of women to take action as value chain actors. Spouses, parents and other household members may be mediators of women’s decisions, labor and assets. Contributors to agency include self-image, mobility, access to information, awareness of rights, and group membership. Weak agency is often a critical barrier to women taking advantage of value chain opportunities.
  • Relations. The horizontal and vertical linkages that increase or decrease women’s capacity for action (agency) and the enabling environment (structure). Access to supporting services and linkages is also a critical contributor to how relations function. Value chain governance shapes relations, particularly through labor and outsourcing (e.g., piecemeal) contracts.
  • Structure. The enabling environment (institutions, regulations, policies and norms) that codify gender relations within a value chain and throughout a society. Marriage and kinship norms, practical access to the legal system, and political representation are important elements of structure. Further detail is available on gender as one of the social institutions comprising informal regulations.

The following is an example of the WEA framework applied to land and property rights, demonstrating how the framework can identify opportunities to build women's empowerment across all three dimensions:[1]

Agency Relations Structure



  1. CARE, Gender Empowerment as a Pathway to Poverty Reduction and Economic Development via Value Chains, (undated) 3.