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CARE’s Pathways program works in six countries to increase food and nutrition security for 65,000 women farmers, their families, and their communities.

Its objectives include increasing the productivity and empowerment of 50,000 poor women farmers in sustainable and equitable agricultural systems; enhancing the scale of high-quality women-responsive agricultural programming within and beyond CARE; and influencing debates and policy dialogue on women and agriculture at local, national, and global levels.


With the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CARE’s Pathways program is based on the conviction that women farmers possess enormous potential to contribute to long-term food security for their families and substantially impact nutritional outcomes in sustainable ways. The goal of Pathways is to increase the productivity and empowerment of women farmers in more equitable agriculture systems at scale. A December 2016 evaluation by the New Economics Foundation shows that for every $1 invested, communities get a $31 return on investment.


CARE’s Pathways program is using several innovative approaches to achieve our results. A couple of our innovations at work are:

  • Focusing on Gender Equality: We know that the face of hunger is largely female, and promoting equality helps reduce food insecurity. We use our women’s empowerment framework to guide our interventions to make sure we are building equality by looking at agency, structures, and relations. Read some approaches for measuring gender equality.
  • Farmers’ Field and Business Schools: An experiential learning approach that puts farmers at the center of learning and includes sessions on nutrition, marketing, and gender equality in addition to agricultural practices.
  • Push-Pull Approaches: A model that aims to graduate people out of poverty by building their skills and assets and connecting them to markets.
  • Participatory Performance Tracker: A tool that lets communities assess the changes that have happened and decide what steps we need to take next.
  • Engaging Men and Boys: A framework that helps men and women think about how more equal relationships help everyone accomplish more.
  • Looking at Resilience: Through a generous donation from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, CARE is exploring how to make sure that all of the agriculture and livelihood skills we support are climate-resilient, and that communities have the tools they need to face an increasingly unpredictable agricultural context.

Program achievements

Using improved agricultural methods, Farmers’ Field and Business Schools, new marketing techniques, and lessons on nutrition and gender equality, CARE and the communities we work with have been able to have a huge impact. Since the program began, Pathways has:

  • Seen a $31 return on every $1 invested, as measured in Ghana, Mali, and Malawi.

$15.1 million in savings through Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs).

Increase income by $7.2 million on agricultural yield increases and marketing techniques.

  • Supported access to $1.8 million in loans through VSLAs and an additional $66,000 in loans from formal institutions.
  • Grown more food: Women in Pathways have been able to grow 537,498 metric tons of increased agricultural production.
  • Built women’s leadership: Women in leadership positions increased by 20% to 60%, depending on the country.
  • Taught farmers improved techniques: Adoption rates of improved agricultural techniques ranged from 70% to 90%, depending on the practice and country.
  • Perhaps most importantly, Pathways has promoted more equal relationships and decision-making at home. In all of the project areas, women and men are telling us stories of how they now work together to increase income and food and nutrition security. As a woman in Ghana told us, “This is the first time my husband has given me land to farm my own crops. Over the years, any time I asked for land he would tell me that the land is not even enough for him to share with me, and that if I were such a great farmer I wouldn’t have left my father’s house to come and marry him. So I thank you people for changing the minds of our husbands.”

The importance of Pathways

The program design is guided by a consistent Theory of Change derived from in-depth analysis of barriers facing women farmers in the six Pathways countries and beyond. This theory focuses on five “change levers” to help women reach more secure livelihoods: capacity, access, productivity, household influence, and the enabling environment.


Pathways Program Overview

This 2 page brief highlights impacts of the Pathways program funded by the Gates Foundation, which was enacted in 6 countries.

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Pathways Final Evaluation: Global Report

Using a strong gender focus, CARE’s Pathways has sought to increase poor women farmers’ productivity and empowerment in more equitable agriculture systems at scale.

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Pathways: Deeper Dive Program Brief

This brief report presents progress achieved during the third year of program implementation (2015).

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