Posts Tagged ‘gender’

Religions and babies

Yet another excellent and entertaining talk by Gapminder‘s Hans Rosling on the influence of religion on fertility rates.


Addressing gender in priority setting for agricultural research

06/12/2012 4 comments

An interesting contribution to the first Global Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development discusses when and how to address gender in agriculture. While it is worthwhile to read the whole paper, in particular the demands towards priority setting for agricultural R&D that are formulated attracted my attention:

  • Where and how are the differential needs, interests, and priorities of women and men reflected? For example, are women farmers’ associations consulted at any point? Do female farmers have a voice in male-dominated farmer associations?
  • Who makes the decisions regarding the kinds of agricultural R&D that will receive investment? This leads to consideration of the representation of women in management at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and national agricultural research centers.
  • Are there mechanisms to take the needs of women and men as both producers and consumers into account? We will address this question in detail in the following section of the paper; however, it is important to note that it relates even to the way “agricultural research” is defined. Conventional definitions have been gender biased, focusing on activities most likely to be dominated by men, such as the production of field crops. Activities of greater salience to women—such as homestead gardens, postharvest processes, supply chains, and nutrition outcomes—have, in comparison, been neglected. Thus, thinking of “agriculture” in terms of “food” is likely to lead to a more gender balanced picture. In addition, research priorities on postharvest processing and the broader food sector—which includes fish, livestock, garden production, water, trees, soils, and natural resources—needs to be conducted not only with the aim of reaching high-value markets, but also to ensure food safety and reduce drudgery (which tends to be borne most often by women).

The first point highlights the importance of getting the voices of women heard. The second point concerns the influence of women in the decision making at the level of the research institutions (good question: how well are women represented at the research management levels of the CGIAR?). The third point asks about the potential impact of the products of agricultural R&D, i.e. how women are affected by a particular output of agricultural research. It also calls for orienting agricultural research towards areas where women can benefit.

With his analysis, the authors certainly hits the mark. At the operational level of priority setting, however, the last point is probably the most challenging. How can we adequately assess the gender impacts of a particular research activity? Taking into account that priority setting often takes place at a relatively aggregate level, how can we deal with the complexity of gender, which very often depends on micro-level factors, such as power relationships within a household?

Comments are highly welcome!