Agriculture

Capturing the Gender Effect

Capturing the Gender Effect
Guidance for Gender Measurement in Agriculture Programs

Anjala Kanesathasan, Krista Jacobs, Margo Young, Adithi Shetty
2013

Over the past decade there has been growing recognition of the contribution that women make to agricultural production around the world. Despite this attention, many agricultural programs struggle to capture the difference—or the ‘gender effect’—that gender integration makes on key outputs and outcomes.

This technical brief, produced for the Tanzania Gender and Agriculture Forum (TaGAF), draws on the experiences of two projects in Mbeya, Tanzania—Faida Mali’s Integrated Soil Fertility Management and TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative—focusing on the steps they have taken to measure the ‘gender effect’.  It is a follow-on to an earlier TaGAF brief that presents some of the promising gender responsive practices these project have underway.  

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A Community of Practice on Gender and Agriculture in Tanzania

Women play a central role in agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. However their contributions to agricultural productivity at the household, community and national levels are limited by a diverse range of social and economic constraints that vary by crop and local context. Overcoming gender-related barriers requires innovative and practical solutions informed by a context-specific understanding of “how to” initiate and sustain gender transformative change in agriculture.

To help foster a deeper understanding and application of gender integration, ICRW, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) implemented a pilot program to develop a community of practice among agriculture practitioners in Tanzania.  This forum provided a space for peers to share knowledge and experiences in addressing gender within their work, creating a sustainable platform for technical support, problem-solving and new ideas on gender and agriculture. 

The community of practice, named Tanzania Gender and Agriculture Forum (TaGAF) by its members, was launched in March 2012 and is comprised of interested BMGF grantees, as well as other agriculture and gender practitioners and resource persons currently working in Tanzania.  TaGAF uses workshops, technical briefs and an online platform to facilitate interactions and peer learning and sharing.   

Duration: 
2011 - 2013
Location(s): 
Tanzania

Innovations in Gender Equality to Promote Household Food Security

Despite their central role in the sector, women farmers face a number of constraints stemming from gender inequality, including limited access to farm inputs and technology, information, credit, and training services, all of which adversely affect their productivity.  Research shows that if women farmers in Kenya had more equitable access to farm inputs, household agricultural output could increase by 10 to 20 percent. 

Agro-dealers are locally-based independent entrepreneurs who sell certified improved seeds and fertilizers, as well as other agricultural inputs, offer trainings on input use, link farmers to credit and markets, and mobilize farmers to form Farmer Input Savings and Loan (FISL) groups,. Recent ICRW research in Kenya shows that women farmers interact closely with agro-dealers, attending their trainings and demonstrations more frequently than men.  Women also constitute the majority of FISL members. However, the services agro-dealers offer are largely gender-blind and do not take into account women’s particular needs, preferences and constraints to enable women to better access inputs and services. Thus a gendered response to the needs and preferences of their customer base can potentially improve agro-dealers’ business returns while also improving the productivity and food security of Kenyan farmers. 

The goal of the project is to design, implement and evaluate an innovative, gender-responsive capacity development intervention targeting agro-dealers and men and women farmers in FISL groups. The three-arm study will test the hypothesis that a gender-responsive agro-dealer business model combined with a package of technical training, group strengthening and gender training for FISL members leads to the best outcomes for agro-dealers (profitability) and women and men farmers (productivity increases, food security).   

Duration: 
2012 - 2014
Location(s): 
Kenya
Location(s): 

Cultivating Women's Participation: Strategies for Gender-Responsive Agriculture Programming

Cultivating Women's Participation: Strategies for Gender-Responsive Agriculture Programming

Anjala Kanesathasan
2013

Programs designed to enhance smallholder productivity must go beyond a focus on technical agricultural issues to address the underlying gender-related norms, priorities and constraints that may prevent women farmers from reaching their full potential.  This technical brief highlights promising approaches in reaching women based on the experiences of two projects working with farmers in Mbeya, Tanzania: TechnoServe's Coffee Initiative and Faida Mali's Soil Health Project. The brief was developed through an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and ICRW to support a community of practice on gender and agriculture called the Tanzania Gender and Agriculture Forum (TaGAF).    

Key learnings from the two projects include:

  • Set a Gender Goal
  • Communicate Gender-Related Intentions from Day 1 
  • Be a Role Model for Women's Participation and Equality
  • Incorporate Women's (and Men's) Perspectives into Project Design 
  • Use Communication and Training Approaches that Facilitate Women's Engagement

The brief is part of a larger effort of TaGAF to support peer learning, capacity building and sharing on the practical "how to" of gender integration. 

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We encourage the use and dissemination of our publications for non-commercial, educational purposes. Portions may be reproduced with acknowledgment to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). For questions, please contact publications@icrw.org; or (202) 797-0007.

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Agrodealerships in Western Kenya: How Promising for Agricultural Development and Women Farmers?

Agrodealerships in Western Kenya: How Promising for Agricultural Development and Women Farmers?

Bell Okello, Silvia Paruzzolo, Rekha Mehra, Adithi Shetty and Ellen Weiss
2012

Agriculture is a critical driver of economic growth in Kenya. Agrodealers link input suppliers to farmers and farmers to output markets. Unfortunately, access to and appropriate use of agricultural inputs is often cited as one of the biggest challenges facing most small-scale farmers, especially women. This paper highlights findings from an assessment of the agrodealership model in Western Kenya and the model's potential to deliver inputs and services to women farmers.

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We encourage the use and dissemination of our publications for non-commercial, educational purposes. Portions may be reproduced with acknowledgment to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). For questions, please contact publications@icrw.org; or (202) 797-0007.

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Invisible Market

Invisible Market
Energy and Agricultural Technologies for Women's Economic Advancement

Kirrin Gill, Payal Patel, Paula Kantor, Allison McGonagle
2012

This research explores what it takes for technology initiatives, specifically in the energy and agricultural sectors, to reach and economically benefit women in developing countries through market-based strategies that have the potential for achieving scale and financial sustainability. It builds on ICRW’s landmark paper, Bridging the Gender Divide: How Technology Can Advance Women Economically, which made the case for how technologies can create pathways for strengthening women’s economic opportunities.

Through a field-level investigation and interviews with experts, the authors examine how women’s use of technology and their involvement in the development and distribution of a technology can not only advance women economically, but also can benefit enterprise-based technology initiatives by expanding their markets and helping them generate greater financial returns.
 

(3.02 MB)

We encourage the use and dissemination of our publications for non-commercial, educational purposes. Portions may be reproduced with acknowledgment to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). For questions, please contact publications@icrw.org; or (202) 797-0007.

Terms and Conditions »

G(irls) 20 Summit: Catching Up With Women Farmers

Mon, 05/21/2012
Huffington Post

Rekha Mehra writes about women farmers in the Huffington Post. Despite women being responsible for all the tasks related to producing a crop, women farmers do not get much in return. In her blog post, Mehra stresses the importance of including them in business associations and field training.

Q & A with ICRW’s Silvia Paruzzolo

ICRW expert discusses how to create agriculture programs that reach women
Tue, 03/27/2012

ICRW economist Silvia Paruzzolo discusses what it means to create “gender-responsive” agricultural programs and how ICRW approaches its workshops on the subject.

Agriculture programs risk failure when they don’t consider the social realities of gender – that is, the distinct roles and norms assigned to women and men in a society. However, organizations, foundations and governments increasingly recognize that they must address these realities if they want to help rural women progress economically – as well as help ease hunger across the globe.

For instance, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) this month launched a new gender policy – the first in 30 years – that strives to close the gap in opportunity between women and men worldwide and prioritizes women’s empowerment as a central component of any strategy to end global ills such as hunger. Meanwhile, the coalition Farming First recently produced the Female Face of Farming, an interactive visual that lays out rural women’s role in agriculture, inequities that exist between female and male farmers, such as land ownership, and the impact of such “gender gaps.” And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offers up a creative infographic that illustrates how investing in women farmers can benefit entire communities.

While such new endeavors cast an important spotlight on the contributions of rural women a well as the barriers they face, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) provides strategies for how to empower women farmers to be economically successful. ICRW’s workshops on gender and agriculture are a first step in that process. In these customized trainings, ICRW experts help organizations understand how programming that responds to women farmers’ unique needs can make a difference for entire communities – as well as for implementing organizations. ICRW also provides guidance on how to design, deliver and evaluate effective programs and services related to gender and agriculture.

In the following Q & A, Silvia Paruzzolo, an ICRW economist who leads gender and monitoring and evaluation trainings for economic development programs, discusses what it means to create “gender-responsive” agricultural programs and how ICRW approaches its workshops on the subject.

Q: What are some of the common misperceptions that organizations have about gender?

Paruzzolo: We find that staff at many organizations that work on agricultural development acknowledge the role of gender in agricultural programming. Yet there is some degree of skepticism about the importance of analytically addressing gender in agricultural projects because of beliefs that gender is a “soft” issue, not a science. At ICRW, we believe that this skepticism usually is because of a lack of clarity on the rationale for addressing gender in programming. And, there are differences in understanding around what “gender” and “gender-responsive programming” mean as well as around the use and usefulness of techniques such as gender mainstreaming and analysis. There is also a diffused perception that women’s roles and responsibilities are rooted exclusively in household work. However, growing evidence illustrates how women contribute substantially to agricultural production and related income, which makes them key economic agents in the agricultural economy. They are not only home producers or “assistants” in farm households. 

Q: What are the elements needed to ensure a program is “gender-responsive”?

Paruzzolo: Gender-responsive programming requires understanding how gender operates, its centrality to good programming, and the need for appropriate funding and assessment of outcomes.Key to ensuring that a program is gender-responsive is to understand that it cannot be treated as an “add-on.” Instead a successful program addresses how gender influences and will be influenced by the program at every single phase of the project cycle. In agriculture, this requires identifying differences in the needs, roles, statuses, priorities, capacities, constraints and opportunities of women and men farmers, and realizing how these differences affect power relationships within farming households. 

Gender-blind programs risk failure. Two ways to avoid this is to recognize that gender issues affect how a program achieves its results; and that gender also plays a role in how people respond to interventions; not everyone is affected in the same way. Essentially, designing and implementing gender-responsive programs truly requires organizations to rethink traditional practice.

Q: What are some of the challenges to implementing gender-responsive programming and how can organizations begin to address some of these challenges?

Paruzzolo: Implementing gender-responsive agricultural programming requires an in-depth understanding of gender and intra-household dynamics relevant to an organization’s specific programs. Developing this understanding and the implications for programming is definitely challenging; it requires the right techniques and skills. For example, quantitative data collection methods may not be able to capture the nuances of changing dynamics in relationships within a farming household.

ICRW’s customized workshops help overcome this challenge by introducing participants to the concepts and techniques of gender analysis, which is defined as a systematic process of using research methods to identify differences in the needs, roles, statuses, priorities, capacities, constraints and opportunities of women and men. We then train participants how to apply this information to the design, implementation and evaluation of research, policy and programs. While available frameworks and tools guide gender analysis in practice, they cannot substitute for organizational commitment to gender-responsive programming.  Sound gender analysis requires skilled professionals, appropriate financial support and a commitment to use the results to shape policies, projects and actions.

Q: Explain ICRW’s approach to gender training workshops.

Paruzzolo: Most commonly, the main objectives of a gender training workshop are to illustrate the difference it makes to women, men, families and programs when an intervention is gender-responsive, to demonstrate how critical this is for achieving an organization’s goals, and to facilitate learning and capacity building. 

At ICRW, we tailor each workshop to the specific capacity and learning needs of an organization. Our workshops are designed to draw out participants’ current understanding of gender, hear their experiences and ideas, and resolve different concepts of gender in the context of an organization’s strategy. We also engage participants in hands-on activities and focused case studies on how to incorporate gender in agricultural interventions. 

To do this, ICRW usually begins with a “needs assessment” to better understand the organization’s staff work, how they currently integrate gender into their programming and their existing capacity, and what concerns they may have about weaving gender into on-going and upcoming projects. The information generated from the needs assessment then feeds directly into how we design the workshop and its materials. 

During the workshops, participants are usually guided through a fast-paced series of alternating content presentations, videos, practical, hands-on exercises and games designed to promote experiential and participatory learning. We focus on demonstrating the importance of gender integration for agricultural development by using empirical examples that, wherever possible, are drawn from the organization’s own work. Finally, we dedicate time each workshop day to reflect on and synthesize what was learned. 

For more information on how to partner with ICRW, please email WorkWithICRW@icrw.org
 

Commentary: From Farm to Fork

Experts Need to Better Analyze Women’s Roles in Agricultural Productivity
Mon, 05/23/2011

The agriculture sector needs to better examine the varied roles of men and women in the production, processing and sale of food. Without such data, agricultural experts fail to reach women farmers in an authentic, sustainable fashion.

The agriculture sector needs to better examine the varied roles of men and women in the production, processing and sale of food. Without such data, agricultural experts fail to reach women farmers in an authentic, sustainable fashion.


Small-scale farmers – many of whom are women – are critical to growing economies and reducing hunger. But we lack proven solutions that link small-scale farmers into agriculture markets in ways that enable these producers and their countries’ economies to benefit.

Small-scale farmers – many of whom are women – are critical to growing economies and reducing hunger. When small-scale farmers have equitable access to markets and opportunities to boost their production, farm incomes increase. Farmers are able to feed their own families as well as provide food to the general population – all of which ultimately helps reduce poverty and hunger.

Women play a crucial part in this effort and in the overall agriculture sector. But despite increasing attention to women’s key roles in agriculture, there is still much we don’t understand. We don’t know how women make decisions about the types of crops they produce or how they process and sell their products. How do women farmers benefit from increased agricultural productivity? And what risks do they perceive when trying to expand their production and incomes? This dearth of information undermines the effectiveness of agriculture investments. Without understanding how women participate in the sector, programs continue to bypass nearly half of the agricultural workforce – to the detriment of women, their families and the sector overall.

We can change this. But doing it in ways that ensure women’s equitable inclusion into larger agriculture markets first requires a detailed examination of the value chains in which small-scale farmers work. Such an analysis essentially traces a commodity, such as maize, from the farm on which it’s cultivated to the dinner table where it’s ultimately consumed. The analysis identifies points along this “chain” where there are opportunities to increase the commodity’s quantity and quality of production as well as the value added to the product, such as through processing maize into flour. And it identifies inefficiencies, one of the greatest of which remains the grave inequities between how women and men participate in agriculture.

With that, it’s imperative for value chain analyses to focus on gender. Examining the journey from “farm to fork,” with an eye toward the varied roles of women and men, allows us to capture the complexities of how they each engage in specific commodities at all stages – from production to processing to sales. It reveals what women and men do and with what resources. It shows how they, their families and the agriculture marketplace benefit. Finally, it assesses these factors in the context of broader social and economic forces, such as how women’s household responsibilities can limit their time to produce crops for commercial markets or how inheritance laws can bar women from owning land.

Take for example a gender value chain analysis of dairy in Africa. Membership to dairy cooperatives was based on households, and only the head of the household was allowed to participate. That person also had to provide proof of land ownership. The analysis showed that the membership rules limited women’s participation in and benefits from cooperatives. So to better incorporate women, the analysis proposed changing the rules to relax the property ownership requirement and allow individuals, instead of households, to join.

The benefits of conducting such a value chain analysis are widely understood but how to do it in a manner that accurately represents women’s opportunities and constraints remains the challenge. At ICRW, we believe that investments in gender analysis of agricultural value chains are vital because analysis results can then be integrated into existing and new agricultural development programs to improve their effectiveness. Without data on women’s roles in farming, processing and marketing, agriculture development experts won’t reach women in an authentic, sustainable fashion. And global efforts to feed the world’s hungry and help lift them out of poverty will continue to fall short.

To that end, agriculture researchers and practitioners can no longer operate in separate silos – especially in light of increasing budget constraints and skyrocketing food prices. They need to work together to find synergy in their complementary interests and expertise. They must set a unified agenda for effectively analyzing the gender inequities at each stage of a commodity’s journey from the farm to the dinner table. And then, they need to identify ways to overcome them.

By taking steps to truly understand the lives and livelihoods of women farmers as well as processors and traders, global endeavors to increase agricultural productivity, boost economies and alleviate hunger will be far more successful.

Paula Kantor is ICRW’s senior gender and rural development specialist.


ICRW will host a workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, with agriculture practitioners and researchers in an effort to jumpstart a shared agenda on creating more gender-responsive research, practice and learning in agricultural development.

Equality for Women Helps to Reduce Hunger

Tue, 04/05/2011
The Japan Times Online

The Japan Times Online highlights ICRW research in a commentary that calls for women farmers to have equal access as men to opportunities and resources in order to alleviate global hunger. The opinion piece also was republished in the Pakistan Observer.

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