Glossary of terms

We have compiled a list of key terms relating to WEE in Agriculture.


Adaptation and Risk Reduction (ARR) incorporates Oxfam's work on Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

Business Development Approach aims to strengthen the business viability of poor people’s enterprises. This involves viewing groups of farmers and producers as small-scale enterprises and working with them to ensure that they have sufficient production, marketing, financial and organisational capacity to run successful businesses and receive decent returns for the products they grow or make.

Care work, ‘unpaid household work’ or reproductive work encompasses all the tasks that take place in the household and are required on a daily basis for society to continue, including giving birth and nurturing children, preparing food and providing clothes, fetching water and fuel, as well as caring for sick or elderly people. In general, care work is the responsibility of women and does not afford status or power to women because it is unpaid and undervalued, and its time-consuming nature can often isolate them from public life.

Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) refers to adjustments people make in response to, or in anticipation of, a changing climate. This includes changes to the things they do, the way they do them, or to the organisational or physical elements of the environment (Misselhorn, 2008). 

Collective Action (CA) can most simply be defined as voluntary action taken by a group to achieve common interests (Marshall 1998). For Oxfam, collective action refers to various forms of ongoing group activity involving women and men separately or together, with a shared purpose of promoting their roles as direct actors in specific agricultural markets or of accessing services that enable access to specific markets. Collective action can be formal or informal:

  • Formal collective action is the formation of a registered group that has an official name, written policies, explicit membership, etc.
  • Informal collective action is voluntary, organised collaboration of smallholders on a regular basis, in order to carry out certain functions or access services e.g. buying inputs together or organising storage or transportation of their product.

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) refers to the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and manage the causal factors of disasters (UNISDR, 2009).

Gendered market map displays information on the numbers of women and men participating at all levels and in all positions in market chain(s) or benefiting from market service providers. The map helps make visible women’s current roles and contribution to a certain market and highlights the policies/practices in the wider environment that enable or disenable women’s economic leadership and the beliefs/attitudes about gender equality of key actors in the market.

Household economy refers to work, finance, production and consumption at the household level. Work includes both productive and caring (or reproductive) labour, production for the market and for consumption by the family. Analysis of the household economy highlights the division of labour by age, sex and other variables, and the control and use of family assets (including finance) and time use.

Livelihoods analysis is a systematic study of the issues affecting people’s livelihoods and the range of opportunities that exist to improve them within a particular geographical area. A livelihoods analysis reviews the five forms of assets (natural, human, social, physical, and financial) that all people possess to a greater or lesser extent and highlights how the vulnerability context and policies and institutions affect their ability to use these assets to improve their livelihoods.

Market system refers to several related markets or value chains, the market services provided to support the chain (e.g. transport, finance, information, extension services), and the environment that enables or disables the functioning of the chain (e.g. infrastructure, natural or policy environment).


Market-systems approach emphasises the importance of understanding all elements in a market sector, including government policy, infrastructure, and hidden forces such as cultural beliefs and practices. The market-systems approach makes visible power relations in markets between small and large actors, men and women, and dominant and excluded populations.

Power in Markets is a markets-based approach that addresses power imbalances between smallholders and other agricultural market actors, by supporting the organisational development of smallholder collective action, working with the private sector and influencing local and national government to prioritise developing fairer, more accessible markets.

Producer Organisation (PO) can be defined as an enterprise or business that a) generates enough profit to tangibly benefit its members and cover costs, b) is owned and controlled by its members – small-scale producers and c) collectively markets the commodities produced by members.

Resilience is the ability of women and men to realise their rights and improve their well-being despite shocks, stresses, and uncertainty.

Sub-sector refers to an aggregation of alternative marketing channels or value chains for one or a group of closely related products. Sub-sectors can be delineated by a final product or by a key raw material. The scope of a sub-sector will depend on the extent or range of sub-products made from a primary commodity in a given region, and the complexity of actors within this area of wider market systems.

Value chain refers to the full range of activities that are required to bring a product (or a service) from conception, through the different phases of production, to delivery to final consumers and disposal after use.

Value-chain analysis is the process of understanding the relationship between the different actors in the value chain and the ‘added value’ that is generated at each stage, with the primary objective of understanding how the value chain can work better for poor people. For example, women and men may not receive the same ‘value’ for their activities along the chain as women’s work may be hidden or sometimes unpaid.

Women's Economic Leadership (WEL) refers to an approach that involves groups of women gaining both economic power and social power to move out of poverty. It means securing economic resources and gaining power in markets whilst changing attitudes and beliefs so as to enable equal relations with men and equality in economic decision-making – at the individual, household, community or wider level.


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