Gender Across USAID’s Feed the Future Innovation Labs: Lessons and approaches that cultivate gender-transformative agricultural development

The USAID Feed the Future (FtF) Initiative’s Innovation Lab system partners faculty and extensionists at U.S. universities with in-country researchers to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues related to agriculture and food security. The increasingly critical area of gender research is a major cross-cutting priority in the Innovation Labs. Gender disparities throughout the food system result in detrimental effects on production, health and nutrition, and overall wellbeing for men, women, and children.

In this panel session we first explore approaches to gender  research across the FtF Innovation Labs, finding value in variation and diverse methods, and the applicability of the  research into different parts of food systems and/or in
global contexts. Next, we highlight individual Innovation Lab approaches emphasizing different perspectives, strategies, and findings. Lastly, we discuss the collective lessons and how these lessons can move us toward systemic change and gender transformation in the food system. We present an opportunity for collaboration and forward-looking action by sharing about the nascent Community of Practice (CoP) and its focus on gender and capacity development. Engaging with the CoP provides space to develop mutual understanding and shared language regarding gender-responsive and transformative approaches benefiting agriculture productivity and food security - particularly within the research for development framework - and contributes to the agenda of leading donors such as USAID.

Organizer and moderator:

Cheryl O'Brien, USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Processing and Post-harvest Handling (FPIL), Purdue University, USA


  • Kathleen Colverson, University of Florida, USA
  • Kathleen Ragsdale, Mississippi State University, USA
  • Paige Castellanos, Penn State University, USA
  • Daniel Sumner, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), USA
  • Cheryl O’Brien, San Diego State University, USA
  • Mary Read-Wahidi, Mississippi State University, USA
  • Elisabeth Garner, Cornell University, USA
  • Jamie Rhoads, USAID