Introduction

The Theory of Change (ToC) of the project Making Market Work for Women (MMWW) flows from the understanding of the situation of constraints inhibiting access to market which is imperfect and biased against the people living in poverty. For women, this constraining condition is double-edged in the sense that they do not get access to service providing and local market institutions on the one hand and their productive role is officially unrecognized due to prevailing notions about value of women’s work on the other. The double-edged constraint as such is reinforced by the stereo-typed gender division of labor where they are perceived as the farm wives rather than independent collectives of women in agricultural entrepreneurial activities. All these constraints have laid the foundation of MMWW initiative with a proposition of whether market could be made work for women.

In overcoming the above constraints, MMWW project has broadly articulated SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights) and Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) as three major pillars of intervention in theorizing the change that could create an enabling market environment that works for women.

Background

Agriculture Status:

Agriculture is the largest employer in the country by far; 47.5% of the population is directly employed in agriculture. Women constitute about 46% of the total farming population. However, they do not have adequate opportunity and skills to conduct business lack adequate representation and voice in the decision-making processes. A major obstacle is their isolation from the agricultural value chain and male actors who dominate the value chain take advantage of this isolation.

Nutrition Status:

Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) 2011 states that 41% of under-five children are stunted (15.3% severely stunted); this is more prevalent among rural children (43%) than urban children (36%). The prevalence of underweight children is 36%, with 10.4% being severely underweight. On average the incidence of severe malnutrition among girls under five is 2-4% higher than among boys.

Sexual and Reproductive Health:

Since ICPD and Beijing 4th World Conference on Women, SRHR concept received commendable policy attention. As a result, Adolescent Reproductive Health Strategy and National Action Plan on ASRHR were produced in 2006 and 2013 respectively from DG Family Planning.  However, on the question of implementation of these important policy documents, Sexually active and/or married men and women do not have clear conceptual knowledge of SRHR nor how to incorporate it into their individual and family lives.

Keeping the above context in mind, MMWW emphasized on awareness raising on sexual and reproductive health rights and nutrition, and capacity building of Community Group and Community Support Group of Community Clinic (CC) on their roles and responsibilities to create SRHR and nutrition sensitive community. In addition, the project focused on strengthening linkages with online market platform with women entrepreneurs’ and promotion of e-commerce for ensuring the sale of agri-products. Lastly, the project also facilitated the process of strengthening the linkages of women entrepreneurs with national level e-market place and other market actors.

Project Activities:

The MMWW project aimed to strengthen food security of the project areas by promoting women agro-entrepreneurship through improving women’s access to nutrition, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and market transformation. The project worked with national-level market actors to influence the stakeholders for endorsing a gender-sensitive market to provide the women entrepreneurs’ access to the local and national level markets.  The project also worked on capacity building of women entrepreneurs on market literacy, agricultural production and post-harvest processing and connecting with market actors at local, regional and national level.

 

Project Focus Areas: 

ActionAid Bangladesh (AAB) with the financial support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands has implemented a project titled “Making Market Work for Women (MMWW)” since November 2015. The project aims to strengthen food security in Bangladesh by changing the market system and behaviour to enable the market system to become women-friendly along with increasing the capacity of women entrepreneurs to engage in a more competitive manner with the market environment. In addition to creating women-friendly market system, the MMWW project also focused on improving the knowledge, attitude and practice of women entrepreneurs and their family members on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and nutrition with the understanding that without adequate health and nutrition women cannot gainfully improve their productivity and thus profitably enter the competitive market.    

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