CGIAR Gender

How is One CGIAR research supporting rural women during times of crises?

A climate emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic and a global recession are among the crises that have upended the lives of millions of people this year. Rural women are particularly vulnerable to these upheavals, but are at the same time emerging as front-runners and leaders when it comes to building back better.

Pratima Baral (right) CIMMYT researcher demonstrates the use of a farming app in the field with Sita Kumari (center), farmer, and her friend Nilam (left). The technology assists farmers in remote areas, who would otherwise have limited access to information on market prices and services. Photo by C. De Bode/CGIAR.
Pratima Baral (right) CIMMYT researcher demonstrates the use of a farming app in the field with Sita Kumari (center), farmer, and her friend Nilam (left). The technology assists farmers in remote areas, who would otherwise have limited access to information on market prices and services. Photo by C. De Bode/CGIAR.

On the occasion of International Day of Rural Women, we have asked CGIAR centers and programs to answer this question:

How is One CGIAR research supporting rural women during this time of unprecedented crises?

  1. By distributing high-iron and zinc bean varieties to women farmers during COVID-19 (Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT)

  2. By building just societies and resilient landscapes alongside rural women (Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR))

  3. By gendering agriculture so women take the lead in feeding Africa (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA))

  4. By getting rural women’s perspectives on COVID-19 (Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT)

  5. By overturning ingrained cultural beliefs that have hampered women from owning animals and making decisions about their health (International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI))

  6. By understanding gender relations for landscape restoration and rural women’s empowerment (World Agroforestry)

  7. By supporting empowered rural women to take on entrepreneurship (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT))

  8. By ensuring rural women have equal opportunity to use the technologies needed to prevent further spread of pests and diseases (CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB))

  9. By equipping women to steer towards resilient agricultural systems and livelihoods (International Rice Research Institute (IRRI))

  10. By ensuring that women can benefit, alongside men, in the process of rural transformation (CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM))

  11. By building resilience and gender equity in the face of COVID-19 (International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI))

  12. By reshaping gender norms in northern Ghana (International Water Management Institute (IWMI))

  13. By developing resources for R4D that keep rural women’s needs at the core of COVID-19 responses (WorldFish)

  14. By enabling Malagasy women farmers to champion good agricultural practices (AfricaRice)

  15. By investigating the paradox of transitions in rural women’s lives (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT))

  16. By building a better future (CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS))

  17. By supporting resource-poor women farmers to form collectives (CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE))

  18. By understanding the roles of rural women in the Latin American agri-food system (CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH))

  19. By uncovering women’s hidden contributions to rural dryland farming practices (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA))


One CGIAR supporting rural women

This year’s crises risk deepening existing inequalities, with devastating social and economic consequences for women and girls. The impacts on rural women are especially concerning as rural women tend to lack resources and safety nets that can help buffer shocks, and they typically live further away from healthcare and aid options, such as direct cash or food distribution.

What’s more, disruptions to rural women’s mobility, work and responsibilities have serious knock-on effects on the food security, nutritional health and incomes of whole families and communities.

These threats were recognized by Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres when he recommended putting women’s leadership and contributions at the heart of resilience and recovery efforts. The imperative need to include women in crises responses has since been echoed by leaders in government, development and science around the world.

Research by One CGIAR centers and programs have long sought to support rural women, both to better cope with shocks, but also to take on their rightful roles as equal partners in agriculture, businesses and communities. CGIAR gender research spans a wide range of efforts: From building tools that can help decision-makers monitor and evaluate women’s empowerment, developing new crop varieties and consulting women on their preferences, to direct action research that helps women and men farmers break down inequitable gender norms.

The examples of how such CGIAR research improves the lives of rural women are plentiful. For example, women in Malawi are inspiring the next generation of smallholder farmers to adopt climate-smart technologies and, in Peru, women and youth are inspired to pursue careers cultivating high-quality varieties of cacao. All the while, women in Zambia, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Nigeria lead biofortified food businesses that advance nutrition and health. Still, opportunities to do more remain.

Now, more than ever, there is a need to share research for development that addresses gender issues and strengthens rural women’s access to resources, decisions and assets, protecting them—and their families—against shocks and crises.

Follow along for the next ten days as we publish posts, with evidence and insights, on the relevance and efficacy of investing in research for development to support rural women.