CGIAR Gender

Raising the profile of gender research

Photo: Gordon Prain/CIP
Photo: Gordon Prain/CIP

“GENNOVATE can provide common lessons that the agricultural research community needs to take seriously” says DFID adviser Andrew Clayton

The empowerment of women and girls in the agricultural sector is a key priority for Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID), reported Andrew Clayton, an adviser with DFID’s Research and Evidence Division whilst attending GENNOVATE’s September workshop in Schiphol, near Amsterdam in the Netherlands last month.

“We need to make sure funding for agricultural research-for-development will benefit women positively and potentially transform gender relations,” Clayton further argued.  In his role he provides specialist social development advice on a wide portfolio of research and innovation programmes, overseeing numerous social development and humanitarian programs.

Clayton carved out time from his busy schedule to join 21 gender researchers from 11 CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), which focus on agricultural research, for the GENNOVATE workshop.  GENNOVATE is an unprecedented collaborative research project exploring interactions between gender norms, agency and innovation in agriculture and natural resource management in nearly 140 rural communities across 26 countries, drawing on the voices and experiences of over 7,000 women and men of different ages and socio-economic groups.

The September workshop focused on building “query” skills to conduct rigorous comparative analysis with GENNOVATE’s data in Nvivo, a leading social science software for working with narrative data.  Clayton has followed GENNOVATE since its inception when it was sparked by discussions on research methodologies at the CGIAR Gender and Agricultural Research Network meeting in June 2013.

In the following interview, Clayton shared his views on the initiative:

Q:  What has changed from the initial meeting you attended in June 2013 in Montpellier, France, to this workshop, from your perspective?

A:  Thinking back, it was a bold initiative from the CGIAR:  there was a CGIAR CRP level gender research agenda but it hadn’t been brought together in the CG system.

I think this initiative is raising the profile of  gender as it advises on underlying issues (gender roles) that affect the uptake of innovations. It helps to target interventions to try to ensure women benefit equally from agricultural innovations. The different barriers for innovation are a critical aspect that hasn’t been looked at, and GENNOVATE draws evidence from across CRPs and fosters learning in the CGIAR.

Q: Are the GENNOVATE research objectives relevant for donors?

A: Yes. For DFID the empowerment of women and girls is a key priority, especially in the agricultural sector given the dependence of poor rural women on agriculture. We need to make sure funding for agricultural research-for-development will benefit women positively, and potentially transform gender relations.

We care about economic empowerment and about improving the overall well-being in communities and therefore also about how gender norms can constrain control and access over resources and income, for example, as well as the development of leadership roles.

The key point is not simply understanding how gender norms affect the uptake of innovations, but really how to strengthen the capacity of research-for-development to transform and catalyze change – to  inform on how one can tackle these issues.

Q: What do you  think about the methodology developed for GENNOVATE?

I’ve been very impressed by the whole coding of data and the use of NVivo to analyze data. It’s a robust methodology and creates opportunity for very interesting analysis of data.

What I like about GENNOVATE is the aspect of going deep and wide because it allows you to compare data, but at the same time provides specific insights of every case.  It also provides key research information at village level that could sometimes be lost in a global comparison. Overall it provides a good comparative view of what happens on the ground, which helps to understand the differencesin adoption of new technologies between men and women.

Q: Finally, what are your impressions of the study? Any general recommendations you would like to give to GENNOVATE’s principal investigators (PIs)?

A: It’s a very broad study that adds weight to a stronger united voice from gender experts. It’s important they work collectively to strenghthen their position.

GENNOVATE can provide common lessons that the agricultural research community needs to take seriously, as the study adds credibility in gender research through the scale of the study and rigour of its methodology.

It’s important the PIs consider the next stage: i) how to use findings in the CGIAR context? Could the CGIAR contribute to transform the context? ii) it’s a public good that can be used by others, therefore: how can they share the findings?

Note: GENNOVATE is a cross-CRP, global comparative research initiative which addresses the question of how gender norms and agency influence men, women and youth to adopt innovation in agriculture and natural resource management (NRM). Learn more here.

Note: This news item was written by Diana Lopez, Research Assistant at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).