Promoting inclusive household decision-making to empower rural women

MINDANAO — Women and girls in rural communities have been providing invaluable contributions in development, particularly towards nutrition, food security, and building climate resilience. However, gender and development indicators have consistently shown that rural women and girls are generally more vulnerable to poverty and the impacts of climate change as compared to rural men and women in urban communities.

In 2019, Action Against Hunger Philippines with the guidance of our International Gender Desk conducted a gender analysis within our partner communities at the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The results of the analysis showed that roles in Mindanao seem to have changed from traditionally assigned gender roles and responsibilities, with women now being more involved in productive activities. However, this does not seem to have reduced the allotted time women dedicate to reproductive work. With women spending more time on productive tasks, but not less reproductive ones, a significant increase in their overall workload was noted.

Door-to-door nutrition and hygiene promotion sessions in Lanao Del Sur | Photo by Theresa Cortes for Action Against Hunger (Lanao del Sur, Philippines © 2020)

The gender analysis also noted that although both women and men participate in income-generating activities and decide together on some key issues, key decisions like mobility, heritage, what specific work is assigned to each person, and the use of family land, etc. still fall under the decision of men. Evidently, this is one of the factors barring women’s access to income-generating activities since farming is considered the region’s main source of income. Agricultural labor like tending to the fields is mainly considered as the responsibility of men. Therefore, it comes with no surprise that men also present the highest percentages of agriculture knowledge.

Because of our commitment to mainstream gender equality in all our programs, we are aiming to maximize project outcomes while promoting gender empowerment. To do this, we plan to integrate interventions that are influencing household decision-making into existing food security & livelihoods programming.

HHDM Session in Calanogas facilitated by the project team | Photo by DRR-BHA Project Team for Action Against Hunger (Calanogas, Philippines © 2021)

Household decision-making impacts child health and nutrition in multiple ways. It influences underlying causes of undernutrition: decisions related to household production, household consumption, and caregiving practices. Household decision-making can also lead to improvements in women’s mobility; control of own time and income; men’s trust, confidence, and respect for women; women’s own self-confidence; and the sharing of household chores.

Photo by Rosa May Maitem for Action Against Hunger (Maguindanao, Philippines © 2013)

Using the Household Decision-Making (HHDM) Approach, we aim to shift household behaviors regarding decision-making and distribution of household work by spotlighting the work performed by women at reproductive and productive levels and adding more value to their contributions. The HHDM approach will hopefully encourage family members to contribute equitably—allowing each member to learn, cope, adapt and transform in the face of shocks and stresses and therefore increase household and community resilience in the long run.

“This innovative approach will enhance our FSL strategies making it more inclusive and gender transformative,” – Menchie Lacson

The HHDM approach is based on the household dialogue toolkit developed by Mercy Corps, which we’ve adapted appropriately to the context of Filipino communities, particularly in Mindanao. This was made possible through the support and guidance of Bishnu Bahadur Khatri, a seasoned international expert, and researcher on household dialogue along with human rights, child rights, social inclusion, gender-based violence, climate change, and gender equality among many others.

HHDM Session in Calanogas facilitated by the project team | Photo by DRR-BHA Project Team for Action Against Hunger (Calanogas, Philippines © 2021)

A Household Decision Making Approach Facilitator Guidebook is currently in the works, which we will be piloting through our USAID-funded disaster risk reduction project. In the meantime, the HHDM approach nonetheless has since been implemented following an online ‘training of trainers’ (ToT) on Family and Household Dialogue. The five-day training was facilitated by Bishnu Khatri last from April 8-12, 2021 and was participated by Action Against Hunger staff from the Philippines’ Manila head office, Cotabato field office, and international headquarters.

Action Against Hunger staff with Bishnu Khatri (top-right) during the last day of the HHD Training (April 12, 2021)

“This innovative approach will enhance our FSL strategies making it more inclusive and gender transformative, [We’re] grateful for your generosity in sharing your knowledge and expertise on this approach Bishnu,” says Menchie Lacson, the Food Security & Livelihoods (FSL) Coordinator and selected Gender Champion for Action Against Hunger Philippine Mission.

As we push for long-term development, we are hopeful that more women and girls in rural communities will have active involvement in decision-making and community participation through effective and inclusive household dialogues.

‘Strengthening Local Resilience and Building Capacities in Area at High Risk of Natural Hazards in BARMM, Mindanao’ is a disaster risk reduction (DRR) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and implemented by Action Against Hunger.

Written by Joyce Sandajan Read more

Empowering Rural Women: Community Savings Group Leader joins online dialogue in support of UN Food Systems Summit 2021

In celebration of the International Day of Rural Women tomorrow, we honor Alma Bayawan and her dedication to empowering her community towards resilience by promoting sustainable livelihoods.

“As a leader of our Community Savings Group, I will share with my members the importance of planting more types of crops and use practical ways to increase our crop production and would increase income and most especially we will ensure that our families have food to eat,” Alma Bayawan, Uswag CSG Leader

Bilang leader sa among Community Savings Group (CSG), akong I share sa akong mga members ang importansya sa pagtanom ug pag gamit sa praktikal nga paagi aron mas modaghan among tanom ug makadugang sa income ug masiguro nga adunay makaon among mga pamilya, shares Alma.

Alma is the incumbent leader of the Uswag CSG in Barangay Illomavis, Kidapawan City. On September 9, 2021, she represented her community as she participated in the Food Systems Independent Dialogue, ‘Building Resilient Local Food Systems by 2030’ which was last spearheaded online by the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR).

Alma joins the Food Systems Independent Dialogue: Building Resilient Local Food Systems by 2030 online via Zoom | © Photo by Roger Cabiles for Action Against Hunger

She provided her insights from the discussion, wherein she mentions, Natun-an nako nga dili lang dapat isa ka klase ang itanom sa uma, mas mayo nga magtanom pud ug laing klase nga tanom nga mohaum sa klima sa among lugar ug mosukol sa taas nga init o kanunay nga pag-ulan sama sa kamoteng kahoy o kamoteng balagon. Aside sa makadugang kini sa among income, aduna pud kami dugang nga kakuhaan ug pagkaon sa among mga pamilya.”

“I learned that I should not rely on a single variety of crop to be planted in the field, it is better also to plant other types of crops that will suit the climate of our place and could resist in drought or frequent rains such as cassava or sweet potato. Aside from increasing our income, we would also have additional sources of food for our families.”

The main objective of the activity is to solicit concrete actionable commitments from various stakeholders. These will be their contribution to the quest in ensuring safe and nutritious food for all, which is also in support of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021.

© Photo by Roger Cabiles for Action Against Hunger

“Daghan kong natun-an sa akong pag apil gahapon sa virtual dialogue. Una, na meet nako ang uban nga participants sa laing lugar nga pareha pud nako usa ka farmer ug padayon nga naningkamot sa pagtanom aron maka income ug adunay makaon ang pamilya,” she said. Alma hopes to share with her fellow members the resilient strategies she had learned from the dialogue with her fellow CSG members.

“I have learned a lot from my participation in the virtual dialogue, I met other participants in other places who are also farmers like me and continued to grow crops to earn an income and have food for the family,”

Like Alma, we recognize the work of rural women ─ they are real-life heroines in the world’s food systems. “Uswag” means ‘develop’ and agreeably, rural women’s significant contributions to nutrition, food security, and climate resilience put their communities on the right path towards sustainable development.

© Photo by Louie Bullanday for Action Against Hunger

The Food Systems Independent Dialogue was convened by IIRR in partnership with the Philippine Coalition of Advocates for Nutrition Security, Inc. (PhiLCAN), Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians, Inc. (PSND), PROLINNOVA Philippines Country Platform (PROLINNOVA), and Scaling Up Nutrition-Civil Society Alliance Philippines (SUN-CSA PH). Action Against Hunger is a member of PhiLCAN.

Moving Urban Poor Communities Towards Resilience (MOVE UP 4) is a consortium project that offers durable solutions in terms of capacitating local governments and communities in mitigating the adverse socio-economic effects of disasters. With funding from the European Union, MOVE UP 4 is implemented by Action Against HungerPlan InternationalCARE Philippines, and ACCORD Incorporated.

Written by Roger Cabiles, Jr. | Edited by  Joyce Sandajan.