Gender mainstreaming in value chain development: Experience of gender action learning system in Uganda.
Linda Mayoux, global consultant for Oxfam Novib (The Netherlands)
Partnership (KFP), Uganda
Paineto Baluku, Bukonzo Joint
Thies Reemer, Oxfam Novib (The Netherlands)
Mayoux, L. (2010), Tree of Diamond Dreams, Visioning and committing to action on gender justice. Gender Action Learning System Manual 1. The Hague, Oxfam Novib.
Mayoux, L. (2010). Steering Life’s Rocky Road, Gender action learning for individuals and communities. Gender Action Learning System Manual 2 for field testing and piloting. The Hague, Oxfam Novib.
Mayoux, L.; Reemer, T.B.;et al. (2012 forthcoming), Growing the Diamond Forest: Community-led action learning for gender justice in wealth creation Gender Action Learning System Manual 3. The Hague, Oxfam Novib. (http://www.wemanglobal.org/1_WEMANVision.asp)
Applied Participatory Approaches:
Gender Action Learning System (GALS: overview)
GALS is a structured community-led empowerment methodology aiming at ‘constructive economic, social and political transformation’. GALS originated in a generic methodology for livelihood development: Participatory Action Learning System (PALS) developed by Linda Mayoux. It which started to be used in 2004 by the two organisations whose experience is discussed here: Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Microfinance (BJMC) and Green Home Women’s Development Association (GHWDA) as part of a poverty-targeted grant programme supported by Trickle-Up US. From August 2009 as part of a joint IFAD and Oxfam Novib pilot project they started to use GALS specifically for gender mainstreaming in value chain analysis and planning with other private sector and government stakeholders. BJMC focused on coffee with some work on maize and other chains identified by members, GWHDA focused on beans and fruits. The project had gender justice as an explicit and fully integrated aim and the methodology is presented in detail elsewhere (Mayoux, Baluku et al. 2011 forthcoming).
GALS works with women and men to develop their visions for change, appreciate their strengths and achievements and analyse and address gender inequalities within the family and community as challenges which prevent them from achieving their life vision. It adapts very simple diagramming tools: Diamonds, Road Journeys, Trees and Circles to specific gender issues, contexts and organisational needs. Use of the tools empowers women and men, as individuals and collectively, to collect, analyse and use information to improve and gain more control over their lives at the micro- and macro- levels. The tools and process continually reinforce underlying principles of equity, inclusion and gender justice and women’s human rights as stated in international agreements like Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Use of diagram tools and participatory principles enables full and equal inclusion of very poor people who have not had the opportunity to learn to read and write as informed and respected partners in participatory planning processes. Using the same diagram tools and drawing provides a universal language for communication between stakeholders and increasing stakeholder participation, as well as cutting through verbose and lengthy definitions and concepts at higher levels. The participatory methodology also develops the analytical, participatory, listening and communication skills of institutions and policy-makers to increase the effectiveness of their pro-poor interventions – as well as staff’s own personal reflection planning.
The methodology is upscaled mainly through peer learning with minimal organisational facilitation beyond initial capacity-building in the methodology.The tools can be used independently by people who cannot read and write as well as organisational staff and academic researchers to analyse issues and strategise change. Participants keep their own individual diaries in ordinary A4 exercise books which they themselves buy, together with coloured pens. Women and men farmers and entrepreneurs design their own pictorial manuals to teach others the tools they themselves have found most useful. They share their strategies and the methodology with others in their households and communities as well as in group meetings, church and local government meetings. The core of the training is voluntary peer training of other people within their own support networks – people they have a personal interest in helping. The peer trainers with the best track record become community trainers paid from the organisation’s increased profits to train in new groups aoutseide their own support networks.
Balancing the tree: Changing gender inequalities
Bukonzo Joint is a successful cooperative with 3887 members 3303 female and 584 male, a well-established savings and credit programme, and profitable coffee marketing into both of which the GALS methodology is now fully integrated and financially sustainable. Green Home is a local Community-Based Organisation (CBO) with a more informal structure and about 1,000 members, most of whom are women. It does not have its own marketing cooperative and its savings and credit programme is still developing.
Right from the start the focus of GALS is on immediate actions which people themselves (at all levels) commit to after the very first meeting as part of a cumulative change process. In both organisations outreach and impacts have exceeded targets. Available information indicates that while there still remains much to be done, many changes can occur for a significant number of households in a relatively short period of time through a combination of individual actions by men and women, backed by information and support from the organisation.
The GALS process has had a very positive effect on incomes of women and men producers and small traders. Before the GALS value chain process the quality of coffee and other products were extremely low and could only command low prices on the market and productivity was also low. Information on impact on incomes was collected as part of the participatory pictorial survey. From this it was estimated by participants from Bukonzo Joint that of the 184 members attending the workshops all except 15 had increased their incomes between 2 and 8 times since the start of the GALS process. In Green Home all 163 out of 170 members at the workshops had increased their incomes by 1 to 5 times.
Box 1 - Examples of increases in incomes for women and men coffee producers after 1 year
“Before the GALS process I had no idea how much my husband was earning. He was spending his income anyhow. Now we have a joint household vision and we are sharing our incomes. This means that our household income has doubled. “
“I experienced an increase in income of four times. This was because I found two new markets when we shared the marked mapping in the group. Things I needed to buy were cheaper there, and products I have been selling fetched a better price.”
“The main cause for the change in income is unity between me and my wife. I have a small shop that I used to manage alone. When I was not there, the shop was closed. But now my wife takes over when I am out. I have also been training others in GALS, and Bukonzo Joint paid me for that. Instead of spending the income on alcohol, I have re-invested it. This gives us more flexibility. When we supply coffee to Bukonzo Joint we don’t need to ask for direct payment, which gives a lower price then waiting for payment after the bulk sale. All this has led to a six-times increase of income for the household.”
There have been significant increases in women’s land ownership as a result of the individual analysis of the potential benefits of joint ownership of land, and sustained lobbying of the local authorities and clan elders by staff and members of the two organisations. By March 2011 706 out of 802 households visited had signed government land documents as a result of the GALS process. This process was further accelerated as part of a certification process following which out of 2717 households visited, 2,068 had signed joint family agreements and 66 women had individual ownership – a total of 76%.
There have also been significant changes in division of labour. By March 2011 Out of 2717 households interviewed as part of the certification process 864 (41%) had husband and wife now working together and 635 (31%) sharing some tasks.
A key part of the GALS value chain strategy is to work with more powerful stakeholders and traders up the chain, rather than seeking to displace them the process aims to harness their skills, energies and resources to develop the markets and chains. The coordinators of the process were surprised at the enthusiasm of men and women traders who voluntarily gave up their time to attend the GALS trainings. It quickly became clear even from the initial capacity-building workshops with traders that gender inequalities were fundamental to gender inefficiencies not only in their supplier households and hence affected the quality of supply, but also in their own households and businesses.
Box 2 - Some examples of changes in gender relations in coffee trader households
Trader A has 3 wives and 4 gardens and 2 commercial premises. Before the workshop he bought and did everything without consulting any of his wives. After the workshop he called a meeting with his wives and also other clan members and they made a family agreement that from that time on they would all be sharing. He signed an agreement for one plot of land for each of two wives, and had started to purchase a plot for the third wife. He said he used to treat his wives like children, like people who can’t think. Now it is much better for him. He feels he has much more freedom. Before he had responsibility for everything and his wives would complain. Now they have their own responsibilities and trust. If there is no money, they understand. He also thinks it is a mistake not to put a wife’s name on the land agreements because if he dies then not only his wife, but also his children will suffer because his brothers will take the land.
Trader B did not allow his wife to pick or handle coffee before the September workshop, only cassava, beans and other food crops. He controlled all the money and spent part of it himself in town. After the workshop he discussed with his wife to work together. They both take the coffee to the store and his wife now knows exactly how much they have. 90% of the income is now with her, he does not spend so much in town and they have been able to buy a goat (but in his name).
Moreover the GALS process has led to a mushrooming of information sharing and informal forms of collaboration and a strengthening of member associations, some of which have been established as a result of the GALS process itself.
Wider implications: sustainability and potential for upscaling and replication
The GALS methodology and also the changes it has brought about are sustainable and continuing. In Bukonzo Joint all the costs of all GALS capacity building are now covered by the increased profits from micro-finance and/or coffee. Peer training is occuring, effective and self-expanding using pictorial manuals designed by people themselves based on what works best for them. People trained in this way then train others. In Bukonzo Joint where the peer training process has been developed since September 2009, and given particular emphasis since May 2010, 184 women and men responding to a participatory pictorial assessment in October 2010 had peer trained 1,649 people (1,050 women and 599 men) ie average of 9 people trained per respondent over a period of 6 months through home visits and group trainings. Projections by these members themselves for the next 6 months anticipate an additional 2,214 people trained by the same respondents – an average of 12 per person. So, assuming these plans are fulfilled, about 20 people peer trained per person per year. Outreach is significantly higher for the small core of longstanding peer trainers who are now paid by Bukonzo Joint from the increased profits the cooperative is making because of improved quality of coffee. In Green Home where both GALS itself and the peer training process are much more recent – starting for value chains only in May 2010 – from 117 members trained, a further 233 had been reached through peer training with a further projected 430 people to be trained over the next 6 months. An average of 3.7 people per member, all on a voluntary basis. Peer training has not been tracked beyond this first tier but is known to occur and those trained are then supported through their groups.
In addition to the peer training process a process of organisational replication is also occurring between CBOs in the local area, generally without external funding, as a result of peoples’ interest in the success cases. The extent and impact of this has yet to be monitored. But potential for upscaling through these means through networks in the local Rwenzori region is many thousands of people. In addition to the private sector, the process has received a lot of support from local government. The next stage will be to further adapt the methodology for local economic development planning as a reliable and representative methodology for constructive popular consultation on a range of issues.