Increasing women smallholder farmers’ agency and leadership in rural livelihoods

Barriers to women's economic empowerment targeted

With an increasing middle class, dairy products are in rising demand. Women outnumber men in the dairy value chain and the potential for more women producers to benefit is significant.

However, access to agricultural markets for inputs, services and outputs is poor and women have both a limited ability to engage and negotiate fair trade terms with market actors and to lobby for social services to enhance their living standards and promote their agricultural work. In addition, there is limited leadership skills and collective action among women smallholder farmers.

The prevalence of HIV and child malnutrition also puts a significant burden on women’s care work, given the continued lack of basic social services to rural communities.


The project approach involves setting multi stakeholder platforms to facilitate engagement meetings between private sector companies and producer groups and cost-sharing mechanisms with the private sector to develop products and services that respond to the needs of women smallholder farmers. In addition, working with industry associations such as dairy association of Zambia, the project will create a critical mass of women dairy farmers for more effective private sector engagement.

The project will also support women farmers with the establishment of aggregation facilities such as milk collection centers to promote commodity marketing.

Another component intended to improve women's collective action includes capacity building in leadership, assertiveness and lobbying.

In order to reduce women's care work, the project supports attitude change among men to be more supportive to women and promotes the use of labour-saving technologies such as improved braziers.

Evidence of impact on WEE

  • Indications of reduced care burden on women resulting from changing attitude among men to be more supportive to their women; adoption of labour saving technologies such as the use of chemical weed control methods, improved stoves
  • Increased household income
  • Improved cash flow for households
  • Farmers becoming more assertive and able to effectively engage private sector and other players
  • Farmers able to conduct market research and influence private sector for more favorable trade terms
  • Women farmers able to influence government officials in their areas for the provision of extension and other social services
  • Farmers becoming more resilient to both climatic and economic shocks as seen from the adoption of better farming methods, tree planting and promotion of savings groups among participating women smallholder farmers
  • A range of private sector has invested their time and resources to tap into the opportunities presented by the participating women smallholders. Organized in groups, trained in group dynamics, soya beans production and dairy management practices.

Back to map


Zambia - Copperbelt Province


Oxfam GB




GBP 1,596,114

Start date

June 2014

End date

September 2017

Value chain(s)




Beneficiary reach

Over 5000 farmers benefiting directly from the project with wider impacts expected from the market systems change

Key project documents available


Norman Chisamo

© 2019   Oxfam. Created by Helen Moreno.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service