CGIAR Gender News

Asking the right questions to the right people

Harvesting some maize Photo: Wasim Iftikar/CSISA

Improving governance of water and energy requires a better understanding of how these resources are accessed and used by rural women and men

For Muzna Alvi, a research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s Delhi office, it’s evident that women’s empowerment leads to better outcomes for households, including better nutritional outcomes and better choices for girls. This is much more than hearsay, as assessments using the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) and associated tools have demonstrated over the past decade. But to get to the point where women’s roles and needs in farming households are being taken into account in national policy and development programs, we need to ask women what they really want. For Muzna and the NEXUS Gains initiative, this means asking the right questions.

Muzna began her research career as a labor economist, trained to analyze thousands of employment records collected through labor surveys. During her PhD at Michigan State University, she began studying the relationship between ethnic and social identity and the impacts on economic status, education and employment, particularly for women. With her work at IFPRI, and especially with the NEXUS Gains Initiative, Muzna pivoted to agricultural economics and the design of surveys that consider exclusion and marginalization within and across the interfaces of water, energy, food and the environment (WEFE).