Making the Strongest Links: A Practical Guide to Mainstreaming Gender Analysis in Value Chain Development

Date of Design: 
International Labor Organization
Contact Institution: 
Pathway Component: 
Agricultural Income, Food Production, Processing & Storage, Women’s Empowerment


Brief Description: This guide is intended to be used by local organizations and individuals that carry out value chain analyses. It aims to improve users’ understanding of gender and build capacity to consider gender-based differences within an analysis.

Uses: This is not a ‘how to’ guide to value chain analysis and development. Rather, it shows how gender concerns should be incorporated into value chain development and demonstrates methodologies for doing so. The tool provides: 

  • A framework and methodology for Gender Equitable Value Chain Action Learning.
  • Practical examples of gender issues and “good practice” in difference types of value chain development (VCD) processes.
  • Details of how the gender framework and methodology can be adapted at different stages of VCD.
  • A core checklist for gender analysis.
  • Diagram tools that can be used in VCD of all types and at all levels. 

Tool Components:

  1. Part 1: Gender Equitable Value Chain Development: Concepts and Frameworks
  2. Part 2: Gender-Inclusive Design: Preliminary Scoping, Mapping, and Participatory Process
  3. Part 3: Gender-Accurate Information: Value Chain Mapping, Research, and Analysis
  4. Part 4: Gender Equitable Proposals: Action Strategy
  5. Part 5: Sustainable Participatory Learning Cycle: Monitoring Changes and Summary Gender Checklist
  6. Part 6: Overview of Diagramming Tools and Techniques


Number of Staff Required: Not specified. The guide indicates that the core team must be balanced in terms of gender skills and gender composition. 

Time: This will be determined by the value chain development process, purpose, and focus. 


Cost of Assessment: Not specified; the cost will vary according to each specific value chain development process, purpose, and focus. 

Training: Gender integration requires training and research experience; the guide provides the basis for gender training. VCD processes will need experienced gender experts at least in the design and training stages, and in identification of action strategies. 

Geographic Targeting: The process focuses on value chains, which may span multiple geographical areas (local, national, international). The geography will be determined by the value chain selected.

Type of Data Collection: Value chain maps are prepared through a combination of secondary data analysis and qualitative participatory processes. It is critical that all economic data be gender-disaggregated. Participatory processes may include focus group discussions, multi-stakeholder workshops, community-led research, individual reflection and investigation, and participant observation and ‘immersion.’ 

Degree of Technical Difficulty: The guide is intended for value chain analysis and can be used by gender consultants, researchers, and policy makers involved in value chain development. Other staff will likely be involved in the process, but trained gender specialists will be required to lead the gender mainstreaming process. 

Complements other Resources: This guide could be used in conjunction with other value chain materials, in particular the ILO’s Guide for Value Chain Analysis and Upgrading.

This summary is part of a larger resource called the Context Assessment Tool Locator.