CGIAR Gender

The Pulse: Nicoline de Haan

What is on the minds of leading CGIAR researchers as we integrate gender perspectives in pursuit of our system-wide objectives?

Nicoline de Haan
Gender Research Coordinator
CGIAR Research Program on Livestock
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

We need more rigorous conceptual thinking on how gender relations affect the technologies and institutional change that livestock research generates, and in turn how those technologies and institutional changes affect gender relations. We know that women are very active in managing cattle, pigs and small ruminants but often researchers focus on access to new breeds, feeds, or vaccines. Access does not directly translate into uptake or empowerment, so we must go further than that. We need to understand the gendered institutions that constrain (and likewise, those that enable) women and men in pursuit of their aspirations. This means looking at both formal institutions, such as laws and policies, and informal institutions, such as community norms and gender roles.

In CGIAR Research Program on Livestock Agri-food Systems we examine how institutions shape practices, from feeding to the use of new biosecurity protocols. For example, are women farmers’ voices heard in selecting breeding strategies? In feeding and managing animal health? What institutions amplify or dampen women’s voices in these processes? Although formal institutions may adhere to national policies on gender equality, many decisions required for implementation are determined at the community level by established behavioral norms and rigidities embedded in roles.  One of my major objectives at present is to better understand the complex interplay between formal institutions and norms, and behaviors at the community and village level, particularly as they affect the empowerment of women in the livestock sector.