Posts Tagged ‘GENNOVATE’

From working in the fields to taking control

This story by Alison Doody was originally published on the CIMMYT website.

Using data from 12 communities across four Indian states, an international team of researchers has shed new light on how women are gradually innovating and influencing decision-making in wheat-based systems.

The study, published this month in The European Journal of Development Research, challenges stereotypes of men being the sole decision-makers in wheat-based systems and performing all the work. The authors, which include researchers from the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat (WHEAT)-funded GENNOVATE initiative, show that women adopt specific strategies to further their interests in the context of wheat-based livelihoods.

In parts of India, agriculture has become increasingly feminized in response to rising migration of men from rural areas to cities. An increasing proportion of women, relative to men, are working in the fields. However, little is known about whether these women are actually taking key decisions.

The authors distinguish between high gender gap communities — identified as economically vibrant and highly male-dominant — and low gender gap communities, which are also economically vibrant but where women have a stronger say and more room to maneuver.

The study highlights six strategies women adopt to participate actively in decision-making. These range from less openly challenging strategies that the authors term acquiescence, murmuring, and quiet co-performance (typical of high gender gap communities), to more assertive ones like active consultation, women managing, and finally, women deciding (low gender gap communities).

In acquiescence, for example, women are fully conscious that men do not expect them to take part in agricultural decision-making, but do not articulate any overt forms of resistance.

In quiet co-performance, some middle-income women in high gender gap communities begin to quietly support men’s ability to innovate, for example by helping to finance the innovation, and through carefully nuanced ‘suggestions’ or ‘advice.’ They don’t openly question that men take decisions in wheat production. Rather, they appear to use male agency to support their personal and household level goals.

In the final strategy, women take all decisions in relation to farming and innovation. Their husbands recognize this process is happening and support it.

“One important factor in stronger women’s decision-making capacity is male outmigration. This is a reality in several of the low gender gap villages studied—and it is a reality in many other communities in India. Another is education—many women and their daughters talked about how empowering this is,” said gender researcher and lead-author Cathy Farnworth.

In some communities, the study shows, women and men are adapting by promoting women’s “managerial” decision-making. However, the study also shows that in most locations the extension services have failed to recognize the new reality of male absence and women decision-makers. This seriously hampers women, and is restricting agricultural progress.

Progressive village heads are critical to progress, too. In some communities, they are inclusive of women but in others, they marginalize women. Input suppliers — including machinery providers — also have a vested interest in supporting women farm managers. Unsurprisingly, without the support of extension services, village heads, and other important local actors, women’s ability to take effective decisions is reduced.

“The co-authors, partners at Glasgow Caledonian University and in India, were very important to both obtaining the fieldwork data, and the development of the typology” said Lone Badstue, researcher at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and another co-author of the paper.

The new typology will allow researchers and development partners to better understand empowerment dynamics and women’s agency in agriculture. The authors argue that development partners should support these strategies but must ultimately leave them in the hands of women themselves to manage.

“It’s an exciting study because the typology can be used by anyone to distinguish between the ways women (and men) express their ideas and get to where they want”, concluded Farnworth.

Read the full article in The European Journal of Development Research:
From Working in the Fields to Taking Control. Towards a Typology of Women’s Decision-Making in Wheat in India

Engagement with local gender norms key for equitable, sustainable agricultural development, say experts

Agricultural research for development must foster deep, structural and systemic change in gender-based power relations

A provocative new article in the journal Development In Practice uses evidence from the global comparative research initiative GENNOVATE to make a powerful call for changing the way development researchers work to reach greater gender equity in agricultural innovations.

The article authors, including CIMMYT researcher Lone Badstue and CGIAR Research Program Manager Victor Kommerell, point out that gender norms —  the social rules that frame what is considered appropriate for a woman and a man to be and do in their society —  constitute a critical component for improved agricultural livelihoods that has been largely ignored by agricultural research for development (AR4D).

The views expressed by the authors are informed by experience and evidence from GENNOVATE, a collaborative research initiative among eight CGIAR Research Programs, including the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat on how gender norms and agency interact to shape agricultural change at local levels. They advocate for approaches which engage with local gender norms and challenge underlying structures of inequality.

Drawing on research findings from diverse world regions and agri-food systems, the paper argues that gender norms are part of the enabling — or disabling —  environment for agricultural interventions, shaping who is able to learn about, access and benefit from agricultural innovations, and who is not. Agricultural markets, extension services, agricultural development programs and research systems are shaped by and tend to uphold dominating gender norms. The authors argue that for agricultural research for development to contribute seriously towards equitable and sustainable agri-food systems, it must engage with gender norms and power relations to foster deep, structural and systemic change, including within the agricultural research for development system.

The new Gender Social Norms Index released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) confirms the power of gender norms.  The index measures how social beliefs obstruct gender equality in areas like politics, work, and education, and contains data from 75 countries, covering over 80 percent of the world’s population.  It finds that close to 90% of men and women globally hold a pervasive bias and prejudice against women, forming an invisible barrier to women’s equality and progress.

As the process to define and orient One CGIAR moves forward, this paper points to the need for an invigorated research agenda which emphasizes:

  • critical self-reflection and introspection among research institutions on the norms they bring to the research process;
  • partnerships with civil society and other organizations with long-term, trusted local presence; engagement with both women and men from different social groups on the structures and mindsets that hinder and enable equality and local people’s empowerment;
  • sufficient time and resources to accompany a process of social change;
  • and mechanisms to scale advances made using gender transformative approaches.

Read the full article here:

Making room for manoeuvre: addressing gender norms to strengthen the enabling environment for agricultural innovation

Global study paves the way for developing gender-transformative interventions

By Dina Najjar

Gender norms – a set of cultural or societal rules or ideas on how each gender should behave – matters deeply on whether people adopt and benefit from innovations. Gender norms are also fluid, as they respond to changes in society, yet many of us fail to catch up with the changing norms.

Example: As farming becomes less and less profitable, men leave rural areas for cities in search of jobs. This leaves women in charge of farms, especially in subsistence farming, but many policymakers mistakenly believe that women’s roles are still confined to the house. This then becomes a barrier for women to benefit equally from agricultural innovations as men do, which negatively affects agricultural production in the household and community, more broadly.

A breakthrough CGIAR global comparative research initiative “GENNOVATE” has paved the way for developing gender-transformative interventions.

Among many resources it offers is a unique, in-depth gender knowledge base, established following five years of painstaking research – undertaken by 11 CGIAR centers, including ICARDA, and gender specialists across the globe. The study’s vast data and analyses have enabled researchers to move beyond smaller, unconnected studies that have largely defined gender research.

In order to address the question of how gender norms influence men, women, and youth to adopt innovation in agriculture and natural resource management, GENNOVATE has engaged 7,500 participants from 137 rural communities in 26 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The qualitative comparative study employs a framework based on the understanding that for innovation to be effective, women and men on the ground must exercise “agency” and be active participants in adopting new technology or practice.

The findings cast light on hidden norms within rural farming societies, as well as biases that influence decision making, technology access, and adoption within these societies and in rural development programming.

GENNOVATE also provides tools and resources to help the integration of gender sensitivities into agricultural research for development projects. These evidence-based inputs and recommendations can facilitate the development of less-biased, customized interventions that meets the specific needs of target populations. They can also ensure that this is done in an inclusive, responsible manner in tune with local norms.

This means scientists, practitioners, and policymakers can more easily incorporate gender into their work on climate-smart agriculture, conservation agriculture, mechanization, and farmer-training events, just to name a few. In short, it optimizes the chances of adoption of agricultural and environmental innovation.

ICARDA and GENNOVATE

ICARDA has contributed 10 case studies to GENNOVATE. Three case studies from Morocco focused on linking gender norms and agency with innovations in agriculture, such as drip irrigation, and improved wheat and chickpeas varieties. Uzbekistan’s four case studies linked gender norms and agency with improved wheat varieties. Three cases in India’s Rajasthan studied the link of gender norms and agency with improved barley varieties, contract barley farming, and improved goat breeds.

ICARDA also contributed to three of the six studies featured in The Journal of Gender, Agriculture, and Food Security’s special issue dedicated to GENNOVATE.

The paper “What drives capacity to innovate? Insights from women and men small-scale farmers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America” demonstrated that gender norms and personality attributes influence men’s and women’s ability to try out, adopt, and benefit from agricultural innovations, as well as their ability to make decisions around them – this is an area that has been largely underreported in the innovation literature.

“Gendered aspiration and occupations among rural youth in agriculture and beyond” shows that youth and gender issues are inextricably intertwined, and as a result, they cannot be understood in isolation from each other. The study also shows that deeply-ingrained gender norms often dissuade young women from pursuing agriculture-related occupation.

“Community typology framed by normative climate for agricultural innovation, empowerment, and poverty reduction” made a case that inclusive norms can lead to gender equality and agricultural innovation, deepening the capacity to make decisions that can lead to escape from poverty.

ICARDA’s contribution to GENNOVATE has been made possible with support from CGIAR Research Program on Wheat and CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals.

Dina Najjar is a gender specialist at ICARDA.