Book / Monograph

Gender norms, agency, and innovation in agriculture and natural resource management: the GENNOVATE methodology


Innovation in agriculture and natural resource management (NRM) that ignores gender inequality is limited in its impact and risks worsening the poverty, workload, and wellbeing of poor rural women and their families. Due to deep-seated gender norms—i.e.,societal rules prescribing women’s and men’s roles and behaviors—women and men have different capacities to take advantage of new opportunities in agriculture and NRM. Resultant gender inequalities in the costs and benefits of innovation sometimes contribute to harmful outcomes for different population groups. Yet, how and why this occurs in some circumstances and not others is poorly understood. This limits our capacity to design and scale out agricultural innovations that deliver benefits fairly and efficiently to poor women and men. Tackling this knowledge gap is urgent to achieve more inclusive and prosperous rural development. A team associated with 11 CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs, from Phase I) collaborated in launching a global qualitative field study entitled GENNOVATE (Enabling Gender Equality in Agricultural and Environmental Innovation). The objectives for the research initiative are to: provide robust empirical evidence on the relationship between gender norms, agency, and agricultural innovation, and how these interactions support or hinder the achievement of its development objectives across varied contexts; and inform the CRPs’ theories of change and related research portfolios through identifying the gender-based constraints that need to be overcome in different contexts in order to achieve lasting and equitable improvements in agricultural outcomes. The study will generate in-depth understanding of how gender norms both shape and are shaped by capacities for exercising agency—understood as “the ability to define one’s goals and act upon them” (Kabeer 1999, p. 438)—in agricultural innovation and other development processes at the local level in CRP target regions. It will do so by identifying broad patterns in these interactions and describing local manifestations of these patterns in contexts with different social, economic, agro-ecological, political, and cultural features. Through the collaboration of CRPs in conducting Case studies, the global research initiative will provide comparative findings of relevance across world regions, agricultural systems, and cultural domains