Gender integration in research: So where do we start?

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Jemimah Njuki

Gender integration has become a common topic within research and development circles. The key question is now not whether to integrate gender in a program, but how. So where to start?

Most people now recognize that agriculture research and development must be gender responsive and must address the needs of both men and women, while recognizing and addressing the unequal access to resources and differential levels of productivity between men and women.

There are several imperatives to integrating gender in agriculture research and development programs. One is the recognition of the different roles that men and women play in agriculture, especially in developing countries, and with these different roles, comes different needs and constraints. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that globally, women provide 43% of the agricultural labor and in some countries in Africa, this can often go to as high as 60%.  This is in addition to the roles played by women in care work, which often goes unrecognized (FAO, 2011).

There has been extensive documentation of the  inequality in the allocation of, access to and ownership of key productive resources in Agriculture, that has an impact on productivity. Reducing the gaps in access to productive resources has been shown to increase agricultural productivity by upto 30% (FAO, 2011). The Wold Bank however argues, that this access to resources by women smallholder farmers must be accompanied by increasing women’s voice and agency and addressing social and cultural norms that limit their choices (World Bank, 2014).

As a result, organizations have developed strategies to integrate gender in their work and to ensure they are empowering women. More often than not however, most organizations have struggled to identify what the entry points for gender integration might be and how they can make the process more systematic and the integration more meaningful. Many organizations and programs have as a result ended up with gender policies and strategies that are broad, not clear on actions and therefore unimplementable.

While there is a lot of nuance in how gender should be integrated in different kinds of research programs, based on whether the research is upstream or downstream, the focus of the research and existing capacities, below are 5 clear entry points that provide guidance to research organizations or research programs looking for a systematic process for gender integration.

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Supporting rural women to benefit from Agriculture

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Today is the first anniversary of the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security (AgriGender). What an incredible  year it has been! We continue to publish high quality, open access papers that document what works for supporting men and women in agriculture to achieve gender equality, and secure the food and nutrition security of their households, and the advancement of their communities.

This current issue is special as it focuses on some very key topics:  how to ensure women participate and benefit from agricultural value chains; how market development can be designed to support nutrition outcomes especially for children; and the opportunities and barriers to women’s participation in rural producer organizations.

Karolin Andersson, Johanna Bergman Lodin and Linley Chiwona-Karltun  from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences explore the gender dynamics in cassava leaves value chains in Tanzania. They  find that women farmers are mainly responsible for harvesting and selling the leaves to brokers and wholesalers at farm gate. This is done on an ad hoc basis and for a low price. The low prices are due to a combination of factors including; a lack of market information and, lack of horizontal coordination and vertical integration. Women  reported being constrained by their reproductive responsibilities at home which prevents them from taking the leaves to market places themselves.  Improving the value chain through upgrading, access to information and technologies by women, and organizing them to better access markets is critical to ensuring their economic empowerment as well as ensuring these leaves contribute to nutrition.

Read the paper here

Lora Forsythe and Adrienne Martin  from the Natural Resources Institute in the United Kingdom and  Helena Posthumus from the Royal Tropical Institute in the Netherlands document women’s experiences in cassava commercialization in Nigeria and Malawi. They find that gender plays a significant role in these commercialization processes, as the factors which enable or constrain commercialization are influenced by household structure, bargaining power and gender norms. This is complicated further by the intersection with other factors of social difference such as ethnicity and age. These factors, in turn, determine which market value chains men and women can participate in and the benefits they obtain. Their results highlight various points at which women can participate and be excluded from commercialization, on the basis of their gender and bargaining power. However, trends within any one context can be contradictory and complex, with different spaces and opportunities that can empower or disempower women. The study poses additional questions for example how market interventions can be designed to enable women to increase and sustain their benefit from processing and marketing activities.

Read the paper here

Birhanu Megersa Lenjiso and Jeroen Smits of Radboud University, the Netherlands and Ruerd Ruben of Wageningen University analyse the relationship between participation in milk markets and  the nutritional status of young children in Ethiopia. The analysis reveals a direct relationship between household milk market participation, household and intra-household dietary diversity and nutritional status of young children. Milk market participating households have better dietary diversity scores than non-participating households. Children in market participant households have better dietary diversity and nutritional status compared to children from non-participant households. The authors conclude  that transforming the dairy sector from subsistence to a market oriented production system and integrating dairy farmers into the milk market has the potential to improve food security in rural Ethiopia.

Read the paper here

Susan Kaaria, Martha Osorio, Sophie Wagner and Ambra Gallina of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN analyse rural women’s participation in producer organizations to assess the barriers that women face and strategies to foster equitable and effective participation by women. The review identifies several factors as major barriers for women’s participation, including: socio-cultural norms; women’s double burden and triple roles; women’s status, age and previous membership in organizations; access to assets and resources; educational level; organizations’ rules of entry, and; legal and policy environment. The review identified strategies for strengthening women’s participation in producer organizations at the individual/household, community/producer organization, and policy level. At the individual/household level, strategies to improve individual capabilities and intra-household relations are crucial for promoting women’s participation and leadership in producer organizations.

Read the paper here 

Happy International Women’s Day 2016

Jemimah Njuki PhD, Editor in Chief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 List of Scholarships for African women and Developing Countries

 

scholarshipsBelow is an updated list from AfterschoolAfrica, of scholarships (undergraduate, Masters, MBA and PhD) that are open for women from African and developing countries. Some of these scholarships are for international students but are also open for the said demography.

Please note that application deadlines and other information provided on this site can change at any time. You are therefore advised to visit the recommended scholarship organisation website.

MasterCard Foundation Scholarships Program at Wellesley College, USA

As part of the Scholars Program, Wellesley will provide nine (9) African women with comprehensive support that includes scholarships, mentoring, counseling, and internship opportunities. Scholars at Wellesley will build experiences, values, and competencies that are critical to success in the global economy, and that enable them to give back to their communities and home countries.

Previous Deadline March 1

Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarships for Women in Africa, Europe and the Middle East

Google offers The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship for women in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to study in the field of computing and technology for Bachelors, Masters or PhD degrees.

Previous Deadline 1 February

VLIR- UOS Masters & Training Scholarships in Belgium for African and Developing Countries

VLIR-UOS offers 180 Masters & 70 training Scholarships in Belgium for students from Developing countries – 50% of scholarships will be offered to African students and almost 50% for Women. The eligible training or master programmes are taught in English.

Previous Deadline 1 February

MMMF Scholarship for Women from Developing Countries in US & Canada

Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund (MMMF) scholarship applications for female students from Developing Countries who are currently studying in the United States or Canada

Previous Deadline: January 9th Continue reading

From 1995 to 2015: What has changed for rural women?

Susan Kaaria and Regina Laub, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

 

Looking back at the last 20 years, what has changed globally?

In many ways, we are looking at a world that is a much better place now, than it was two decades ago. Millions of people have moved out of poverty. Worldwide there are 216 million people less undernourished than in 1990-92. We have evidence that food production has tripled since 1945, and average food availability per person has increased by 40%. Global governance of food systems has changed dramatically, and is now seen as a multi-actor process. Development now actively includes civil society and private sector, amongst other actors. Each of these different partners are recognized as a fundamental part of the development process. Technology has also advanced at an astonishing rate since 1995 when the internet was only used by around 2 million people worldwide. Today, 3.2 billion people are connected to the internet, of which two billion live in developing countries. Through mobile phones, almost half of the world’s population, has essential access to markets, health systems, weather forecasts, agricultural information, money transfer and much better communication, even in the most remote rural areas. Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS has advanced too over the last 20 years, claiming the lives of around 39 million people and infecting 78 million people.

Why focus on the year 2015?

Governments, Civil Society, UN Agencies and Development Partners worldwide marked the year 2015 in their calendars. It is an important year that signaled the end of the Millennium Development Goals, and it is time to take stock of lessons learned, achievements and failures. It is also the year that 193 Member States adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, a bold new agenda that commits every country to take an array of actions that would not only address the root causes of poverty and inequality, but would also increase economic growth and prosperity and meet people’s health, education and social needs, while protecting the environment.

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New Issue of AgriGender: Making Women Visible in Agriculture

To coincide with the International Day of Rural Women, the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security is pleased to announce it’s current issue which is focused on making women more visible in agriculture policies, institutions and markets.

Rural women the world over play a major role in ensuring food security and in the development and stability of the rural areas. Yet, with little or no status, they frequently lack the power to secure land rights or to access vital services such as credit, inputs, extension services, training and education. Their vital contribution to society goes largely unnoticed. The International Day of Rural Women aims to change this by dedicating a day to recognise the important role that women play in ensuring food security.

In the current issue of the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security, we focus on gender in policies, institutions and markets. The issue is published in collaboration with and funded by the CGIAR Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets led by IFPRI.

Twyman, Muriel and García in their paper- Identifying women farmers: Informal gender norms as institutional barriers to recognizing women’s contributions to agriculture – discuss the invisibility of women in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador especially in agriculture data and statistics. Due to the non-recognition of women as primary decision makers in households, very rarely is information collected from them and about them. Women often do not consider themselves the primary rice producer or farmer in the household and they see their role as being in the home and helping with rice production when needed. Researchers, field staff, and community leaders often assume that women are not farmers, thus, women are not interviewed. For these reasons, most researchers determine that there are few women rice producers, further reinforcing the notion that women are not farmers. Data shows that women are indeed involved in rice production and data collection should take this into account and not only collect data about women, but also from women. For gender and agricultural researchers, it is thus important to recognize how gender-norms impact what data is collected from whom and how this can limit our knowledge of women’s contributions to agricultural production and gender differences in agriculture. How data is collected also has implications for policy as women may be missing from policies and policy interventions if the policies are based on such data.

Mudege and her colleagues from the International Potato Centre and partners from the University of Zimbabwe in their paper- Gender norms and the marketing of seeds and ware potatoes in Malawi-discuss how gender dynamics shape and influence the nature of participation in, as well as the ability of women to benefit from, seed and ware potato markets in Malawi. Through discussions with men and women from the patrilineal and matrilineal systems in Malawi, the authors find that men and women participate in different markets for different reasons. Women are more likely to participate in ware potato markets than seed markets, are more likely to sell from home to their neighbors, and are more likely to sell smaller volumes compared to men. Results demonstrate that agricultural market interventions that do not address underlying social structures—such as those related to gender relations and access to key resources—will benefit one group of people over another; in this case men over women. In addition to gender-related issues, structural issues such as the weakness of farmer trading associations also need to be addressed. The authors recommend strengthening of such organizations to give women voice and bargaining power, and for private sector companies engaging smallholder farmers to pay attention to gender issues.

Gumucio and Rueda in their paper – Influencing Gender-Inclusive Climate Change Policies in Latin America – analyze the extent to which climate change policies, noting that most climate change policies in the region do not adequately address gender. The authors discuss a rubric for analyzing gender inclusion in climate policies that can be applied across sectors and countries. From their analysis, they conclude that participatory processes can help promote the inclusion of gender in policymaking. Additionally, national policies on gender and social inclusion, as well as international legal instruments that effectively highlight gender equality as a crosscutting objective, can all provide important guidance and motivation for including gender. Alliances that include the state and civil society can introduce valuable gender expertise into the policymaking process, as well as promote a greater commitment to gender inclusion at the institutional level. The authors recommend that gender considerations must be taken into account from the beginning of a policy’s formulation and policies must rely data and evidence.

Marenya, Kassie and Tostao in their paper – Fertilizer use on individually and jointly managed crop plots in Mozambique – analyze fertilizer use on plots managed individually by men, individually by women and jointly by men and women and find that joint management of agricultural plots is associated with higher fertilizer application rates on maize plots but with lower fertilizer application on non-food cash plots. The authors conclude that in land-scarce environments where women are less likely to have parcels to cultivate autonomously, improving women’s bargaining power under joint management of agricultural activities may be one way to improve gender equality in agriculture.

PIM and Agri-Gender host write-shop to strengthen gender research

by Caitlin Kieran and Sue Dorfman

Women-farmer_WorldFishPhoto-dupeFor scholars researching the intersection of gender, agriculture, and food security, few outlets exist to publish their findings. Yet such research is considered critical for developing program and policy recommendations that can achieve gender-equitable development outcomes. Without sufficient empirical evidence, interventions may fail to increase gender equality or worse yet, exacerbate existing inequalities.

The Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security (Agri-Gender), an international, peer-reviewed journal, provides a forum for research on these issues. In order to build the capacity of agricultural researchers to conduct rigorous gender analyses and translate their research findings into recommendations, Agri-Gender and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) co-hosted a write-shop on July 14, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. 

For scholars researching the intersection of gender, agriculture, and food security, few outlets exist to publish their findings.

Bringing Researchers Together

The write-shop, a one day academic paper review intensive, provided in-depth discussions on research methodologies and best practices for preparing papers for journal publication. Participants received constructive feedback from other write-shop participants and from Dr. Cheryl Doss, Senior Lecturer at Yale University and Gender Coordinator of PIM and Dr. Jemimah Njuki, Editor-in-Chief of Agri-Gender and Senior Program Officer at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

The ten participants, eight women and two men, came from several CGIAR Centers as well as research institutions, foundations, and intergovernmental organizations – some with years of research experience and numerous publications and others at the beginning of their careers. Their research topics ranged from analyses of the role of gender and changing social norms in specific value chains to a broader conceptual framework integrating value chain, livelihoods, and gender perspectives; from wage equity in the agricultural sector in Morocco to the influence of women’s involvement in groups on group performance across five countries in Africa and Asia; and from analysis of how social programs empower women in El Salvador to the role of social institutions in agricultural research in Latin America.

Each write-shop participant presented a paper to the group. After these presentations, participants reviewed the contribution of new knowledge to the body of research on gender and agriculture, provided feedback on the methodologies for data collection, examined the validity of the conclusions, and identified common themes across the papers. In the afternoon, the participants broke into two groups for detailed discussions of each paper, led by Cheryl Doss and Jemimah Njuki.

Dr. Doss highlighted the need to draw out the overarching story from the research to identify the key takeaway messages and what the paper contributes to the body of knowledge on the role of gender in agriculture. She provided suggestions on how to frame and organize a paper around answering a specific research question. She noted the literature review should present the findings from previous research and identify gaps in the literature, and the text accompanying tables and figures should emphasize the patterns that help answer the research question. Finally, she provided concrete recommendations on what should and should not be included in descriptions of the sampling methods, study sites, and techniques for analysis.

The write-shop proved instrumental in strengthening capacity for analysis and scientific writing, and sharing results and lessons from different researchers working in this area.”

The Write-shop Model Works

“My paper greatly benefitted from the write-shop in Berlin,” remarked Dina Najjar, Associate Social and Gender Scientist at ICARDA. “In particular, I appreciated the thorough comments from four readers, which were constructive and insightful. This was largely due to the format of the workshop, which required us to read each other’s papers before meeting. My questions were addressed in the write-shop, such as how to analyze some of my findings that were sex-disaggregated and how to present findings with low number of respondents. Altogether, I think the write-shop was indispensable for improving my paper.”

Dr. Cheryl Doss concurred. “The write-shop provided an excellent opportunity for researchers on a variety of topics related to gender in the areas of policies, institutions, and markets, to come together to share ideas and research.  We expect the revised papers will be substantially stronger as a result of this opportunity.  In addition, the researchers had the opportunity to see how their individual work fits into a broader set of literature.”

Entering data in Bangladesh

In Fall 2015, Agri-Gender will publish a special issue on the ways in which gender interacts with policies, institutions, and markets to influence agriculture and food security. The participants were invited to incorporate the feedback they received and submit the revised papers for consideration for publication in this issue.

Dr. Njuki noted “The upcoming special issue is important as it brings together evidence on how gender intersects with policies, markets and institutions. The write-shop proved instrumental in strengthening capacity for analysis and scientific writing, and sharing results and lessons from different researchers working in this area.”

PIM and Agri-Gender envision this initial effort as one more way to enhance the rigor of research on gender in agriculture and to create a forum for debates and knowledge sharing will result in improved programs and policies to reduce gender disparities in agriculture and rural development.

Featured and bottom image photo credits: M. Yousuf Tushar, WorldFish

Youth in agriculture: Inspiring stories of young people changing agriculture

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According to the World Bank, agriculture is essential for sub-Saharan Africa’s growth. The sector employs 65 percent of Africa’s labor force and accounts for 32 percent of the region’s gross domestic product. Increased agricultural production is expected to continue to support growth in Africa’s economy.

The demographic in agriculture is however aging rapidly: the average African farmer is between 50 and 60 years old. At the same time, the need for greater agricultural production is acute. In order to feed the projected population of 2050, global food production will need to increase by 60%. That’s about 2.5 million more tons of just grain alone – per day – than we produce right now.

Africa is uniquely positioned to meet this challenge. It contains over half of the world’s undeveloped arable land, great potential for increased crop productivity, and a burgeoning population of young people, with all their energy and creativity.

With 10 to 12 million youth entering the labor market every year, the number of youth ready for employment far outstrips the jobs being created. While a growing number of rural youth are migrating to cities, 70 percent remain in rural areas. Those who stay often lack the skills and knowledge necessary to capitalize on available opportunities. In the long term, youth unemployment can hinder economic growth and lead to political and social unrest.

Africa’s agriculture sector presents unique opportunities for young African leaders who want to serve as change agents on the continent. The sector can also benefit from the resourcefulness, technology savviness and organizational capacity of young people.

More and more young Africans are discovering that they can make farming a profitable career. The Young African Leadership Initiative profiles some of these young agriculture entrepreneurs.

Below are a few that have inspired me: Continue reading