Gender workshop for HortImpact project private sector partners
The HortIMPACT project organised a Gender workshop for its horticulture private sector partners. The two-day workshop took place in SNV’s Kenya office in Nairobi on 7 and 8 March 2019. The workshop was facilitated by Claire Van der Kleij, a consultant from Fair & Sustainable Consulting. Ms. Van der Kleij is a gender expert based in Zambia, who provides consultancy services on gender inclusiveness for NGOs and private companies
The Kenyan Market-led Horticulture Programme (KMHP) (HortIMPACT) organised a Gender Workshop for the horticulture private sector partners that the programme works with. The two-day workshop took place in SNV’s Kenya office in Nairobi on 7 and 8 March 2019. The workshop was facilitated by Claire Van der Kleij, a consultant from Fair & Sustainable Consulting. Ms. Van der Kleij is a gender expert based in Zambia, who provides consultancy services on gender inclusiveness for NGOs and private companies.
The workshop’s objective was to provide HortIMPACT’s private sector partners with a self-evaluation workshop on gender inclusiveness in their business activities. Attendees included HortIMPACT business case partners made up mainly of agribusinesses. The two-day event provided participants with guided exercises to self-evaluate how they engage women in an equitable way in business activities. Finally, the event provided partners with the tools needed to develop concrete strategies and a work plan to improve women’s participation and benefits in their companies activities.
The workshop stemmed out of a recommendation in HortIMPACT’s 2018 Mid-Term Evaluation. The specific recommendation underscored the importance of considering more women and youth in the interventions where the programme is involved.
Day 1 of the workshop explored how the focus on gender inclusiveness has become more important in the development and private sector agendas. At the same time, it was explained how programmes and development institutions have changed their approach on gender.
“Over the last years, programmes who focused only on women empowerment as a main tool have moved their attention to a more inclusive conceptualisation of gender.” Ms. Van der Kleij said. “There was too much of a reliance on empowering women, when the focus should be – and is being done – on youth, women, men and the dynamics of society as a whole.”
Improving gender inclusiveness in business activities can reap tangible results for companies who do so. Disaggregating women and youth in market studies, for example, can reveal important information regarding consumer types and trends. Details of who consumes or buys a product, can provide companies with key data to create more strategic marketing strategies. The benefits created by improving gender inclusiveness varies from activity to activity, and from business to business.
“I tried to underscore how improving the engagement of youth and women makes business sense for private sector companies.” Ms. Van der Klei mentioned. “The approach in the workshop was to explain how improving inclusiveness in business activities can make actual profits and long-term improvements for the business in terms of cost reduction, quality improvement, etc.”
Day 2 of the workshop looked into the actual gender considerations in specific business activity of 4 pre-selected partners: production, commercialisation, processes, supply etc. Private sector partners were able to identify how specific activities engaged and affected often overlooked gender divisions – young women, elder women, young men, and elder men. The activity provided partners with insights on how specific activities effect in a different extents these groups.
In the second half of day two, partners analysed in detail the specific constraints impeding these groups from becoming engaged. In other words – why certain groups are left out from some or all processes. One of the major challenges among private sector partners in this part, was pointing out the actual core causes of these constraints, as opposed to secondary effects.
“Private sector partners often fail to see the core problems as to why youth and women are not being engaged.” Ms. Van der Kleij mentioned. "Rather than pointing out the main cause, companies point out the symptoms as the main root problem."
HortIMPACT partners who attended the workshop were able to develop an action plan with specific activities that would better engage women and youth in specific processes, depending on the bottlenecks and opportunities identified in the business. Partners were also able to establish when and how Ms. Van der Kleij could provide her expertise and coaching services in the implementation of these activities. Over the next six months, partners who carry out these action plans, will hopefully be able to improve the equity in engaging women and men in their businesses.