What we do

The Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Program is a flagship initiative funded  the Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and managed by the DFAT-appointed Managing Contractor, Cowater International.

The Provincial People’s Committees (PPCs) of Son La and Lao Cai provinces are the Program’s key counterparts. A Vice-Chairperson from each PPC is a member of the GREAT Steering Committee, which is responsible for the approval of the annual work plan and budget and meets formally to discuss the Program’s progress.

Within each province, a Project Management Unit (PMU) works collaboratively with Cowater International to provide an essential coordination and liaison role for Program implementation.

Departments and agencies in each province also participate in the Program as members of the PMU and they include:

  • Department of Planning and Investment (DPI);
  • The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD);
  • The Department of Culture and Tourism (DCST);
  • The Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA); and
  • The Women’s Union.


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 market failure and poverty, rather than just addressing the superficial symptoms.

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.