Gender integration has become a common topic within research and development circles. The key question is now not whether to integrate gender in a program, but how. Most people now recognize that agriculture research and development must be gender responsive and must address the needs of both men and women, while recognizing and addressing the unequal access to resources and differential levels of productivity between men and women.
There are several imperatives to integrating gender in agriculture research and development programs. One is the recognition of the different roles that men and women play in agriculture, especially in developing countries, and with these different roles, comes different needs and constraints.
There has been extensive documentation of the inequality in the allocation of, access to and ownership of key productive resources in Agriculture that has an impact on productivity. There is also the increasing argument that improving access to resources by women smallholders alone is not the answer. For women’s voice and agency to be increased, social and cultural norms that inhibit and limit their choices too must be addressed (World Bank, 2014).
While organizations have developed strategies to integrate gender in their work, implementation has posed to be more difficult owing to a lack of clarity on the entry points for gender integration and broad gender policies and strategies that lack specificity which will enable the successful integration of gender.
Outlined below are 4 clear entry points that provide guidance to research organizations and programs alike on a systematic process for gender integration:
- The focus of the research and expected outcomes: a good understanding of the needs and aspirations of men and women smallholders from the perspective of consumers and producers can help guide the focus of the research. Technology is also an important aspect for consideration from the perspective of how it can be used to improve time spent on agriculture related activities and provide information of related factors such as climate variability.
- A gender sensitive research: the gender dimension in the research approach together with aspects related to equal opportunities should be addressed simultaneously in the process of conducting research.
- Capacity building in gender integration and gender research: a key factor that influences the lack of integration of gender in research activities and processes is often a lack of skills and capabilities. Resources therefore must be allocated to address the lack of capacity in this area.
- Ensuring accountability for gender outcomes: What is the end goal of doing what we do? Gender outcomes and the empowerment of women, girls and marginalized groups must be a clear and well-articulated goal from the organizations perspective. Staff must be held accountable for their contribution (or lack thereof) in the progress of achieving these outcomes.
Neither of these points are an end unto themselves. Gender integration is a continuous process and researchers and practitioners alike must recognize that organizations must invest time and resources to develop the necessary skills, capacities and levers needed for successful implementation.
By Jemimah Njuki, Senior Program Specialist, International Development Research Centre
Jemimah Njuki is the Editor-in-Chief of Agri-gender: a journal of gender, agriculture and food security. Access the complete set of practical notes on the critical elements for integrating gender in agricultural research and development projects and programs here (link url: http://agrigender.net/uploads/JGAFS-132016-6-Paper.pdf).
Access the November 2016 issue here: http://agrigender.net/
A preliminary blog on this topic, entitled Gender integration in research: so where do we start? was first published on the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security in June 2017 here (link url: https://agrigenderjournal.com/2016/06/27/gender-integration-in-research-so-where-do-we-start/)