WOCAN has Revised the Theory of Change

March 25, 2016

WOCAN staff and Board of Directors are developing a new Strategic Plan that is expected to be completed in July 2016. Based on experiences and lessons learned over the last 10 years of our existence, we have revised our Theory of Change (TOC). We welcome and encourage you, as members and partners,to send us your comments at info@wocan.org and/or indicate your 'like'. 

Our revised Purpose statement is: To advance women’s empowerment and collective action to tackle climate change, poverty and food insecurity within enabling environments. This divergence from the original mission statement to "build the leadership of women in agriculture and natural resource management for organizational transformation for gender equality through an innovative approach of partnering with motivated professional and rural women” reflects three key insights: 

  1. WOCAN’s vast experience in building the capacities of individuals to mainstream gender in agriculture and NRM related organizations led us to understand how challenging it is to achieve results within organizations that do not reward those champions who support a transformation agenda for gender equality. Gender mainstreaming must be buttressed by a focus on women’s empowerment, to improve women’s position and condition, and remove barriers to their equitable participation before gender integration can be achieved. 
  2. WOCAN has become increasingly convinced through project implementation, capacity building and network building activities of the power and potential of women’s groups and collective action. This is seen at all levels, from that of the community to the boardroom. 
  3. Agriculture and natural resource management sectors present limited opportunities for the large problems the world faces. Climate change, poverty and food insecurity cut across sectoral boundaries, and require solutions that engage actors of different sectors, but also different categories of actors, including individuals, companies, investors, and others, in addition to departments within governments and non-governmental organizations. The new purpose statement focuses attention on the problems to be tackled, and keeps open as to the types of organizations and mechanisms that can best do so.

The new TOC describes describes our understanding that progress in women’s empowerment and gender equality requires changes at two levels:


  1. Individual women and women’s groups at the community level that experience a change in their conditions and positions; 
  2. Organizations that can have an influence and support women’s empowerment and gender equality through their policies, financial allocations and plans (creating enabling environments). 


WOCAN’s strategy to catalyze changes at these two levels is built upon experience and lessons learned from the past 10 years, and includes the following activities:

  1. Women’s Leadership Circles in Agriculture and NRM, 
  2. Development and maintenance of the W+ Standardto measure and certify outcomes at the community level; 
  3. Courses on leadership, gender integrated planning and related topics,
  4. Technical support for W+ applications, research and consultancies,
  5. Membership engagement,
  6. Incubation of innovation. 


These activities are expected to result in higher levels of funding for women’s organizations; increased numbers of organizations applying the W+ Standard; increased and more effective networks at various levels; more demand for technical support to organizations and companies; increased engagement with WOCAN members in projects and consultancy services; and higher visibility for innovations within WOCAN and its membership. 


This will contribute to the following outcomes for women and women’s groups to reach: increased access and control over resources, greater voice and decision making, and more effective relationships for knowledge sharing, leadership and the development of more gender-responsive policies, plans and budgets.