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ÉLAN RDC’s Commitment To Gender Equality

ÉLAN RDC is acutely aware of poor women’s particular disadvantage in accessing and benefiting from economic opportunities in DRC. As such, in addition to the programme’s primary objective of poverty reduction, ÉLAN RDC also aspires to contribute to women’s greater economic empowerment, recognising this as a meaningful vehicle for broader social empowerment and gender equality.

What Approach Does ÉLAN RDC Take To Promote Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE)?

ÉLAN RDC’s approach to WEE is focused on identifying what incentives exist for market actors (businesses, government, civil society) to change their existing gender-blind / discriminatory behaviours. By supporting these actors to make their practices and business models more gender-inclusive, the programme realises impact for poor and disempowered women, at scale. 

In a departure from many market system development programmes, we look beyond female participation and incremental income increase, instead working towards more transformative empowerment outcomes including improvements in women’s roles (see our BEAM Exchange blog here). Critical to this is supporting private-sector actors to identify, buy into, and act upon the commercial case for gender-responsive business practices.

What Are Some Of The Ways In Which ELAN Is Supporting Women To Become More Economically Empowered?

ÉLAN RDC has contributed to women’s upgrading across a range of interventions, for example:

ELAN RDC has supported commercial farms to prioritise the recruitment of women into contract farming positions.
This supports women’s labour to be recognised and rewarded as women move from invisible production (where they are often the primary labourers, but are not recognised or directly rewarded as the contract is registered under their husband’s name) to visible production (where women are registered as a contract farmers in their own right and receive direct remuneration).

This in turn can contribute to other dimensions of role change. For example sustained and direct access to capacity development and improved conditions through access to the commercial farms’ mechanised services.

To learn more about ÉLAN RDC’s work upgrading of women’s roles in maize read our WEE Learning Series – Case Study 1

Renewable energy
ÉLAN RDC has supported renewable energy companies to improve the design, marketing, and distribution of improved cookstoves (ICS). Women are now benefiting from access to goods and services catering to women’s needs.

This has also lead to improved conditions for women within the household. Time spent on unpaid care (cooking, fetching fuel etc) is more than halved through the use of ICS.

To learn more about ÉLAN RDC’s work upgrading of women’s roles in renewable energy read our WEE Learning Series – Case Study 2.

ÉLAN RDC has supported women to move into new positions. 30 per cent of the leadership roles at Muungano cooperative are now assumed by women. 70 per cent of female members are now involved directly in trading, compared to women’s negligible involvement in leadership or sales transactions previously.

This in turn has contributed to women reporting improvements to their status – another important dimension of role change. Women have also taken on new positions in IFCCA. This is a new representative body for women in coffee and cocoa, whose set up was co-facilitated by ELAN RDC.

To learn more about ÉLAN RDC’s work upgrading of women’s roles in coffee read our WEE Learning Series – Case Study 3.

Measuring WEE

Recognising the limitations of income change as a proxy to understand gendered impact, and the inadequacy of sex-disaggregated data to do this , ÉLAN RDC has incorporated log-frame indicators at output and outcome level focussed on the progression of women’s roles within market systems. This focus on delivering and measuring changes to women’s roles within market systems is pioneering –  and we believe, unprecedented for a DFID- funded market systems development programme. You can read more about our Methodology for Measuring Progression in Women’s Roles.