Project model shows potential for women's empowerment
According to recent research, an economic development project in Indonesia funded by World Vision Australia has contributed to progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment even though these were not intended project outcomes.
By identifying gender outcome indicators for future Local Value Chain Development (LVCD) projects, this study makes a major contribution to the design and measurement of World Vision’s economic development projects around the world.
Download the research summary
World Vision commissioned Dr Katharine McKinnon from the Institute of Human Security and Social Change at La Trobe University in Melbourne to lead this research on a 2009-2012 project conducted in eastern Indonesia’s Flores-Timur Province, which piloted the LVCD model.
Earlier evaluations have revealed that this project led to participants – mostly small-scale farmers – consistently securing better prices for their agricultural products and higher household incomes as a result of collective marketing, which is a cornerstone of the LVCD model.
Gender inequality is a significant issue in rural Indonesia, with women commonly bearing a heavier workload than men, but with more limited decision making power at the household and community level.
Dr McKinnon and her team explored how the economic development that resulted from this project affected gender relations, and they investigated the LVCD model’s potential to empower women and promote gender equality goals.
What was learned about the project and gender equality?
Research results showed that the LVCD model has significant potential to help communities work towards gender equality and women’s empowerment if a gender component is incorporated into the LVCD project model and gender indicators are adopted.
The research indicated that the LVCD model’s collective marketing approach is ideally positioned to interact positively with other changes taking place to maximise opportunities for both women and men in their communities.
The changes introduced by the project appeared to have provided an opportunity for both women and men to take up new roles, and for a shift in attitudes about women’s capabilities. Through the project, some women had stepped into leadership roles in their communities, managing and leading collective marketing groups.
Overcoming a common evaluation challenge
As well as producing valuable findings that World Vision can use to inform project design, the researchers worked to overcome a considerable and common challenge faced by teams evaluating the impacts of international development projects: lack of baseline data to assess change.
In the absence of baseline data, the research team relied on gaining a snapshot of current gender dynamics at the household and community level, alongside participants’ own reflections on change in their communities.
Triangulating (cross-checking) data gathered through complementary field methods, and comparing this with findings of anthropological studies of the region, allowed the team to establish insights into what had changed in local gender relations and gendered roles in local economies, and what may have influenced the direction of those changes.
The research findings will be used to help World Vision strengthen the LVCD project model’s contribution to achieving women's empowerment and to advancing its gender equality goals.