What we do

The Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Program is a flagship initiative funded the Australian Government and managed by Cowater International. The first phase of GREAT ran from 2017-22 and the second phase (GREAT 2) will run from 2022-27 with a total investment from the Australian Government of AUD 67.4 million.

The Provincial People’s Committees of Son La and Lao Cai provinces are the Program’s key counterparts. Within each province, a Project Management Unit (PMU) works collaboratively with Cowater International to provide an essential coordination and liaison role for program implementation.

The expected program outcomes for GREAT 2 are:

Women, particularly ethnic minority women living in Son La and Lao Cai, have improved economic benefits.

Women, particularly ethnic minority women living in Son La and Lao Cai, have increased confidence and social status, including more balanced workloads and greater decision-making within the home, workplace, and community.

Women, particularly ethnic minority women and household members living in Son La and Lao Cai, benefit from more gender-responsive, inclusive, and effective provincial and national policies, plans, strategies, and programs.

GREAT has adopted a multipronged approach to stimulating change in partnership with the private sector, government and civil society organisations in the tourism and agriculture markets.

Women’s Economic Empowerment

We are working to enable women to access economic opportunities, determine their own path, be recognised for the value of their contributions and receive equitable economic returns. Our approach to women’s economic
empowerment focuses on:

Reach: Engaging women in all project activities and addressing barriers to participation.

Benefit: Improve women’s access to assets, financial services and support services.

Empower: Strengthen the ability of women to make strategic life choices and put these into action.

Fostering Inclusive Market Systems

We work with partners to identify and implement solutions that improve the way markets function and elevate the ability of women to participate more actively and equally.

Importantly, GREAT works to facilitate change in market systems without becoming embedded in it. This approach promotes sustainability by helping long-term system actors affect changes they have a stake in – providing an incentive to maintain any new practice. We aim to tackle the underlying causes of system dysfunction and poverty, rather than temporarily addressing the symptoms of it.

Strategy: Ambition to transform systems to be more inclusive of ethnic minority women.

Diagnosis: Understanding the causes of ethnic minority women’s disadvantage.

Vision: Focusing on sustainable outcomes.

Facilitation: Intervening to develop, not distort, system actor capacity and incentives.

Understand, Adapt, Innovate

Inherent to our approach is a cycle of constant learning. If something is not working, we adapt and seek alternative solutions.

This approach fosters innovation as we encourage the pursuit of solutions to specific market problems and/ or women’s participation. It also provides us with a body of practical knowledge and evidence, which we share with relevant agencies and policy-makers to advocate for sector governance and policy change.