Gender Gap and Access to Productive Assets: A Conceptual Framework

GAAPHow can agricultural development programs help improve women’s access to assets, thus reducing gender gaps and leading to more well-being? The latest report “Learning from Eight Agricultural Development Interventions in Africa and South Asia” from The Gender, Agriculture, & and Assets Project (GAAP) focuses on that question. GAAP developed a conceptual framework for the evaluation of development projects and presents the results of eight agricultural programs.

GAAP is a gender focused project led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). It aims to reveal gender gaps with regards to the different distribution of productive assets between men and women of a household, and how agricultural development projects can improve the access to assets and thus diminish the gender gap (GAAP, 2013).

The report stresses the fact that “[a]ccess to, control over, and ownership of assets are critical components of well-being” (GAAP, 2013). Having productive assets can help  increase income as well as facilitate dealing with shocks (e.g. natural disasters or family health crises). Assets can be controlled separately by men and women or as joint assets. However, since assets and their control are unequally distributed in a household between man and woman, their bargaining power over resources is unequal as well, leading to a varying in well-being with regards to food security, nutrition, and education (GAAP, 2013). Therefore, development programs should rather focus on the improvement of access to assets and their control than just on the improvement of incomes.

For the outcome evaluation of agricultural development programs GAAP drafted a framework to ”offe[r] a starting point how gender and assets influence household and individual well-being” and “the way gender relations influence the different ways men and women experience constraints and opportunities when building their asset stock” (GAAP, 2013). The framework includes seven elements, which are all interconnected and gendered. The overall element to be aware of the context, since ecological, social, economic, and political conditions have different effects on women and men. The further components are now shortly presented (GAAP, 2013):

  • Assets: access to and control over assets are key determinants of individual agency
  • Livelihood strategies: the decisions about how to invest assets to generate returns, such as income or food, depend on contextual factors as well as assets which are available  
  • Shocks: shocks such as conflicts and diseases are experienced differently by men and women, also depending on their responsibilities; assets are differently used to respond to them
  • Full income: household members differ in their contribution to household income; women often spend more of their income on food, healthcare and children’s education
  • Consumption & savings: consumption and saving can affect asset accumulation or loss; income of women, men or the joint income can be used for different types of investment, however, women are not always able to invest in the same assets as men
  • Well-being: assets can impact well-being, e.g. by increasing status and empowerment through asset ownership or by providing a buffer against shocks  

This framework is a useful tool for project developers to analyze “how their interventions are gendered and likely to influence outcome and long-term asset accumulation” (GAAP 2013).

To download the report click here.

To read the project notes click here.