Gender in WHEAT
Gender refers to the socially-constructed roles and status of women and men, girls and boys. It is a set of culturally-specific characteristics defining the social behavior of women and men, and the relationship between them. Gender roles, status and relations vary according to place (countries, regions, and villages), groups (class, ethnic, religious, and caste), generations and stages of the lifecycle of individuals. Gender is, thus, not about women but about the relationship between women and men.
Source: Gender Toolkit for Scientists
In most places where wheat is grown in the developing world, women own less land or poorer quality land; they are less likely to have access to improved seed, fertilizer, pest control measures or mechanical tools; they use less credit or do not control the credit they obtain; and they generally have lower levels of education.
Since women bear and care for children, their resource and power constraints directly limit children’s welfare and development. Women in rural areas are also usually responsible for growing staple food crops.
For all these reasons, more equitable gender relations and access to resources can benefit all household members. Studies (FAO 2011) suggest that if women were given equal access as men to key production resources, 150 million more people in developing countries would be fed and hunger reduced by 15 percent. A clear understanding of and focus on gender issues is crucial for the success of WHEAT research-for-development effort
WHEAT has developed a strategy to ensure that gender research is properly integrated into all projects.
The gender strategy covers 2015-17 and reflects the idea that gender equality is essential to agricultural growth, food security and sustainable use of natural resources. The goal of the strategy is to create collaboration between wheat research for development and gender development goals.
The outcomes of a 2013 gender audit (<- click to download summary report) are helping to refine our use of gender to study the impacts of WHEAT research-for-development activities.
Through surveys and focus group discussions with organizations, partners and others who are “watching what the organization does,” the audit assessed how WHEAT addresses gender.
The auditors found evidence of steps to integrate a gender focus into WHEAT research projects, but said that dominant gender-related attitudes and practices needed to be challenged in those projects, if gender strategy goals are to be achieved.
Identifying gender inequalities in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan
“We lack evidence about which groups are poor and excluded and about the nature of their production, consumption and marketing issues,” said Tahseen Jafry, a professor at Glasgow Caledonian University, UK, who specializes in gender and justice issues associated with climate change and agriculture. “But such groups clearly need better ways to access, adapt, adopt and apply new knowledge about technologies, institutions, policies and markets, so they can fully benefit from new developments.”
On behalf of WHEAT, Jafry led a scoping study on gender and equity in wheat farming in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. “The study examined the social architecture around wheat-based activities,” Jafry said. “As part of this, it analyzed how cross-gender relationships and social positions vary and how this may influence access to and use of improved agricultural technologies, knowledge and practices.”
The study asked two questions:
- How are gender and social equity issues around agricultural research currently being addressed in South Asia?
- How can gender and social equity issues be tackled in the future wheat research in South Asia?
Results of the study revealed that women’s roles in wheat farming vary greatly across social groups and locations and described the factors that determine who gets access to key goods and services. The study also revealed partnerships that address gender and social exclusion issues in agriculture and which could play a positive and influential role.
Going forward, Jafry recommended broadening collaboration, developing a regional strategy and setting impact targets for gender equality and social inclusiveness that are closely in line with the overall policy environment. “The aim,” she explained, “is for wheat research to better align with the broader development agenda, agricultural research-for-development, food security and nutrition, and the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals.”
Gender equality entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles or prejudices.
Source: WHEAT Gender Strategy