5 Minutes of Inspiration: How do soybeans empower women?

by 28th Apr 2017
A member of a savings and loan group in Ashamoah village, Ghana A member of a savings and loan group in Ashamoah village, Ghana

Women in CARE Ghana’s PROMISE programme eat three times more soybeans than they did in 2012, and are four times more likely to be involved in household decision-making. Find out how.

What do soybeans have to do with decisions? The PROMISE project got more women involved in the soybean value chain (in fact, the value chain went from being 80% men to 70% women), and positioned them as equal players in the market. They also worked with men to help women be equal players at home.

CARE implemented the PROMISE programme in Ghana from 2012-2016. Take a look at their results.

What did we accomplish?

  • Women get better diets: Women and girls’ consumption of protein-rich foods nearly tripled, up 188% from baseline.
  • Families eat more diverse foods: The number of households eating a diverse diet more than doubled, from 27% in 2012 to 63% in 2016.
  • Women have better access to information: Women’s access to extension services went up 80%, and 70% of women had access to at least 8 extension services by the end of the programme.
  • Families grow more food more efficiently: The yield of soybeans more than doubled, from 89 kg/ha at the beginning of the programme to 212 kg/ha at the end.
  • Equality for women: The number of households where women could make equal decisions more than quadrupled, from 20% at baseline to 94% in 2016. More than that, women are taken more seriously as farmers in cash crops. The women went from being only 20% of the actors in the soy value chain in 2012 to 70% in 2016.
  • Babies are healthier: Government officials in Ghana attribute the significant reduction in low birth weight babies in part to PROMISE’s interventions.

How did we get there?

  • Support women farmers: The project worked with 4,460 women farmers in Upper East and Northern Ghana and facilitated access to certified seed, plowing services, training, weather information, and post-harvest practices.
  • Get leaders involved: The project trained 79 local government leaders (including 23 women) on the importance of gender norms and how to create gender-transformative programming.
  • Focus on getting women into community decision-making: The project trained 2,264 women and 830 men to get more involved in community decision-making bodies, and worked with 435 women and 251 men to improve their advocacy and negotiation skills.
  • Engage men: The programme trained 110 men to be gender champions who reached out to their communities to promote gender equality and women’s voice at the community and household level.
  • Connect women to markets: The project organised women into 20 producer groups, and worked with existing VSLAs. The VSLAs work with local business associations in order to access Rural Enterprise development funds.
  • Build partnerships: CARE partnered with the Presbyterian Agricultural Station of Garu, Partners for Rural Empowerment and Development, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute, and the Ghana Health service.

Want to learn more?

Check out the project evaluation.

The PROMISE programme was implemented with the support of Global Affairs Canada.

Emily Janoch

Emily Janoch is Senior Technical Advisor on Knowledge Management for the CARE USA Food and Nutrition Security team focusing on ways to better learn from and share practical experience on eradicating poverty through empowering women and girls. She focuses on learning from programming and using that learning to improve impact.

With four years of on-the-ground experience in West Africa, 10 years of development experience, and academic publications on community engagement and the human element in food security in Africa, Emily is especially interested in community-led development. She has experience in food security, nutrition, health, governance, and gender programming, and has a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago, and a Masters' in Public Policy in International and Global Affairs from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Email: ejanoch@care.org