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“Gender sensitive participatory approaches to building Producer Organizations"

FAO’s Participation Website E-Newsletter

No. 21, December 2011

Glossary on Gender in Farmers'Organizations


Agricultural cooperatives: cooperatives which carry out their activities by individually or collectively exploiting land and land-related products, within the broadest contractual  framework, even allowing for the conclusion of trusts with members or third parties (3).

Associations: membership-based organizations where members have access to particular services and benefits. Among other reasons, associations can be formed simply to allow members to meet and discuss common issues, exchange ideas and devise collective solutions (4).

Associative entrepreneurship: Mechanism for cooperation between organizations, in which each organization maintains its legal independence and managerial autonomy, deciding voluntarily to pool their efforts with other partners to achieve a common objective (3).

Business networks: Groups of firms that organize themselves to carry out joint activities, exchange information and experiences, or facilitate horizontal cooperation. Business networks can be used to organize specialized and complementary activities (3).

Collective action: Initiative of a group motivated by a shared goal to achieve a common or group interest (3).

Competitiveness agreements: Written instruments setting out the results of a consultation process between the various actors in a production chain. Competitiveness agreements can be national or regional (3).

Consortia: Business groups comprising legal entities whose purpose is jointly to conduct a specific business activity (3)

Cooperative:  an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their  common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a  jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise (1)

Cooperative federation: a tertiary cooperative, comprised of at least two cooperative unions. Where there are no cooperative unions, federations can allow primary cooperatives to become members. Cooperative federations are often defined by sector or region (2)

Cooperative movement: An encompassing term for all cooperative forms of organization, guided by cooperative values andprinciples (1)

Cooperative organization: a term encompassing cooperative organizations at all levels, including primary cooperatives, secondary cooperatives (unions), tertiary cooperatives (federations) and quaternary cooperatives (confederation) (2)

Cooperative union:  a secondary cooperative, comprised of at least two primary cooperatives (2).

Food chain councils: Official dialogue and consultation bodies, comprising representatives of the stakeholders in a country or region’s food chains. (3)

Gender: a concept that refers to the social differences between women and men thathave been learned, are changeable over time and have wide variations bothwithin and between cultures. These differences and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through the socialization process. They determine what is considered appropriate for members of each sex. They are context-specific and can be modified. Other variables, such as ethnicity, caste, class, age and ability intersect with gender differences. (6, 2)

Gender analysis: the study of differences in the conditions needs, participation rates, access to resources and development, control of assets, decision making powers, etc. between women and men and their assigned gender roles. (6)

Gender audit: The analysis and evaluation of policies, programmes and institutions in terms of how they apply gender-related criteria. (6)

Gender contract: A set of implicit and explicit rules governing gender relations which allocate different work and value, responsibilities and obligations to men and women and is maintained on three levels – cultural superstructure – the norms and values of society; institutions – family welfare, education and employment systems, etc.; and socialisation processes, notably in the family. (6)

Gender equality: The concept meaning that all human beings are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by strict gender roles; that the different behaviour, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally. (6)

Gender equity: fairness in women’s and men’s access to socio-economic resources. Example: access to education, depending on whether the child is a boy or a girl. A condition in which women and men participate as equals and have equal access to socio-economic resources. (6)

Gender impact assessment: examining policy proposals to see whether they will affect women and men differently, with a view to adapting these proposals to make sure that discriminatory effects are neutralised and that gender equality is promoted. (6)

Gender mainstreaming: concerns planning, (re) organisation, improvement and evaluation of policy processes so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all development policies, strategies and interventions, at all levels and at all stages by the actors normally involved therein. (6)

Gender roles: a set of prescriptions for action and behaviour allocated to women and men respectively, and inculcated and maintained as described under ‘Gender Contract’. (6)

Informal organizations: unregistered organizations that have no legal rights. (4)

Partnership or corporation: Legal forms arising from a consensus, requiring contributions in cash, kind or business. (3)

Peer­Support Models: This involves one­on­oine contact and support for people who share, or have shared, a common concern . These models can take on various forms (e.g.telephone support networks, issue specific pen­pal networks or e­mail exchanges). (5)

Production alliances: Cooperation agreements or links established between two or more actors  sharing a strategic objective. These links enable them to coordinate resources,  efforts and expertise, and to tackle problems or exploit production and business opportunities. (3)

Self­Help Groups: This category includes traditional face­to­face groups (open orclosed), transitioning groups (moving from professionally led educational/support group model to a self­help one), and Internet/on­line self­help discussion groups (5).

Self­Help Networks: Groups of self­help groups networking around common issues. (5)

Self­Help Organizations: Organizations with a significant proportion of their work focused on self­help initiatives. (5)

Self­Help Centres: Clearinghouses or centres responsible for maintaining contact information for self­help initiatives in a given location (i.e., city, province, state). These centres may also be engaged in assisting the development of new self­help initiatives. (5)


Go to: FAO's PW newsletter n. 21 "Gender sensitive participatory approaches to building Producer Organizations" (English, Français, Español)



(1) ILO, The Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (English, Français, Español)

(2) ILO/COOP AFRICA, Project design manual, A step-by-step tool to Support the Development of cooperatives and other forms of self-help organizations, 2010 (English)

(3) Santacoloma, P.; Röttger, A.;  Tartanac , F.; Course on agribusiness management for producers’ associations. Module 2 Organization principles for producers’associations , 2009, Rome (English)

(4) Kassam, L.; Subasinghe , R.; Phillips, M., Aquaculture farmer organizations and cluster management. Concepts and experiences, FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 563, 2011 (English)

(5) http://www.selfhelp.on.ca/resource/shfacts.pdf

(6) EC, Toolkit on Mainstreaming Gender Equality in EC Development Cooperation Section 3: Glossary of gender and development terms, 2004 (English, Français, Español)

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