Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Inspired by FAO's estimate that if women got the same access to resources as men, there would be 160 million fewer hungry people in the world, CARE designed the Pathways program in 6 countries for women farmers. We have recently completed a cost benefit analysis of expanding extension services to women farmers, combined with gender dialogues and marketing techniques.  The results were remarkable, and remind us that expanding extension services can have big impacts on gender.

What did we see?

* For every $1 invested in the program, communities saw a $31 return in benefit (split among women's empowerment gains, food security, and livelihood gains.

* Improved women’s access to extension services: Women’s access to extension more than tripled in every country Pathways worked in. Farmers’ Field and Business Schools were a particularly important way that we opened up access to information and extension for farmers.

* Women are more empowered: The number of women who meet CARE’s definition of empowered on the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index more than doubled in Ghana and Tanzania, and women’s empowerment scores increased an average of 14 points for Mali and Tanzania, and 6 points for India, Ghana, and Malawi.

* Women can make more decisions: women’s ability to influence household decisions about assets went up by about 25 percentage points—with the highest impact in Mali—a 37 percentage point change.

* Better access to inputs: In India, Ghana, and Tanzania, seed replicators and agri-kiosks have lowered costs and barriers of high-quality inputs for farmers. In every country, access to inputs went up by at least 10%, and in India and Tanzania it more than doubled.


Women often sited that being the person who got agricultural knowledge from an extension agent changed their standing in the household and the community.  Having that respect, and the authority of being the person who had new information, mattered to them.  Becoming better farmers, and the increased income that resulted, also gave them power and respect in the communities. Extension services won't do this alone, but they are a critical component of building women's empowerment as farmers.