An AWEsome First Year
As we mark one year of our work on the Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment (AWE) Program, I’m proud to look back at this team’s progress and to reflect on the connections we’ve begun making with a global community of partners.
Milestones like this one are good moments to remind ourselves why we do this work. Our programmatic focus means helping enhance agricultural projects to engage more women and improve their empowerment in agricultural markets and systems. One way AWE does this is by generating evidence, analysis, and tools to build on what works for USAID missions and implementing partners. Our work also helps identify and share stories of the gender-related realities and progress that often remain under the radar in agriculture and food security programming. One of AWE’s most important roles is to synthesize those stories and the evidence behind them, so programs can integrate gender equality more effectively as a key to successful, sustainable development.
What We’ve Accomplished
As I reflect on AWE’s work in this first year, I see progress in a number of areas. First, the team has built some great connections with USAID missions, the Bureau for Food Security, and implementing partners. Hundreds of you receive our newsletter, and I’m pleased to see we’ve had nearly 300 views or downloads of the AWE Menu of Services, which is a primary way to understand how to work with this team.
In a rapid learning needs assessment, AWE reached out to missions, implementing partners, and USAID bureaus through interviews, focus groups, and a survey, and drew on the responses to construct a learning agenda that reflects priorities for applied research and capacity building. We heard that this is an important moment for addressing gender-based violence in agriculture and for building on women’s work in agriculture beyond smallholder production. We’ve begun raising the profile of gender-based violence in agricultural systems through participating in a Twitter relay last November and our collaboration last month with Agrilinks and AWE partners on a series of blog posts and a well-attended webinar.
The AWE Program is also working to shine a light on one of Feed the Future’s under-told stories— progress in gender integration in Feed the Future’s agricultural research portfolio. A forthcoming report will look across 20 research activities, including Feed the Future Innovation Labs, to share accomplishments and lessons on how the projects have brought gender issues into their research on topics ranging from plant genetics to small-scale irrigation. Stay tuned!
We also had the chance to work with USAID’s Ghana Mission on a gender and youth assessment to support food security programming. We learned a lot through this process, and we’re grateful to the team in Ghana for being our first Mission client!
Where We’re Going
Building on our first year, the AWE team has kicked off applied research on gender-based violence in the agriculture sector and on women’s empowerment in agriculture systems beyond production, with the aim to identify good practices that agriculture-centric activities can apply. We’ll also soon be diving into how market systems approach in agriculture programs have engaged with and affected young people and women.
As we look to our second year and beyond, I’m excited to learn more alongside our missions, partners, and communities. I’m proud to celebrate this one-year milestone with the AWE team and with all of you— whose ideas and skills are contributing to evidence-based action for a global community of agriculture and food security practitioners and programs. I look forward to AWE’s continued work to support gender equality and women’s empowerment in the years to come.