International Women’s day provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the link between women and agricultural research. This day also allows us to look at how CGIAR reform has provided an opportunity for collaborative and concerted action to promote and support the crucial role of women in our work by identifying and planning for research activities which would strengthen the gender strategies of the CGIAR Research Programs.
The 2012 World Development Report reminds us that “greater gender equality is also smart economics, enhancing productivity and improving other development outcomes, including prospects for the next generation and for the quality of societal policies and institutions. Economic development is not enough to shrink all gender disparities – corrective policies that focus on persisting gender gaps are essential”. Take the example of Malawi and Ghana: if women were to have the same access as men to fertilizers and other inputs, maize yields would increase by almost one-sixth.
Success in development programs targeting women is not uncommon, but comprehensive or wide-scale success is rare. That is why each of the fifteen new CGIAR research programs (CRPs) will include a gender strategy, and will be held accountable for it.
On the 12th March, gender representatives from all of the CRPs will meet in New Delhi to establish a new cross CRP gender network. The network will enable the gender components of the 15 programs to work together in a planned and linked manner.
However, we are not starting from scratch. CGIAR Research Programs will be building on quality gender research already taking place at several CGIAR Consortium research centers.
For example, CIFOR scientists examined the value chains of non-timber forest products in Africa. The team assessed the role of women, the benefits they gain and the challenges they face in securing their livelihoods through the trade.
The study suggested practical ways to build economic opportunities for women.
In another example, the Worldfish Center is working with Save the Children on a five–year, USAID-funded food security program in one of Bangladesh’s most poverty stricken and disaster-prone areas. The goal is to maximize the participation of, and benefit, to poorer households with pregnant and lactating women or children below the age of two. The research is being used to identify employment opportunities for the poor, especially women; helping achieve food security, and reducing the incidence of malnutrition in children, which is highest in the country.
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, we also want to give three examples of the special women we work with in our research:
- Elisabeth Nibigira, an ex-combatant from Burundi, who took up rice farming;
- Misku Abafaris from Gudeta in Ethiopia who uses sheep fattening to increase her family’s income; and
- Aïssata Konaté, a pioneer seed producer, from Mali;
Join our centers and programs in honoring of the International Women’s Day:
- The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) talks about “Balancing gender mainstreaming in urban agriculture”
- The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) gets “to the heart of gender issues” in their research
- The International Lifestock Research Institute (ILRI) takes a look at WILD (the Women in Livestock Development) with an amazing photo collage
- The International Potato Center (CIP) puts some of their female scientists in the spotlight and honors Black History in the Month of the Woman
- The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) recently launched the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index, which was introduced in London yesterday
- The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) describes how women rice producers in West Africa form the heart of small community-based seed enterprises, and dedicated their 2012 calender to women.
- The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) highlights the importance of empowering rural women
- Bioversity International shares stories from three female farmers, they work with in Kyrgyzstan, Peru and Kenya
- The Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) argues “It is not just about ‘engendering’ research projects for the rhetorics of it; it is about how robust your research is.”
- The World Agroforestry Centre shows how Purity Gachanga from Kenya learned how to use tree fodder instead of commercial feed for her cattle
- The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) put up a splendid slideshow with their best pictures of women in agriculture
- The International Maize and Wheat improvement Center(CIMMYT) highlights the plight of female farmers
Have also a read in “Our Growing Talents”, a booklet about “Youth in Agriculture” featuring nine young women working with us.
More inspiring stories of our research work with and for women:
- Women in Tajikistan gain international access for their mohair production
- Vitamin A-rich maize research targets women and children in sub-Saharan Africa
- Felista Mateo from Tanzania, grows our high yielding maize
- Our “Mama SASHA” program links agricultural, nutritional, and prenatal health-care services targeting pregnant women and infants
- Eunice Makenga, a small agro-dealer in Kenya sells drought-tolerant seeds of sorghum, pigeon pea, cowpea and beans in ‘trial packs’
- Orange Sweet Potato reduces the risk of Vitamin A Deficiency in children and women in Mozambique
- Emma from the Philippines talks about Vitamin A-rich Golden Rice
- Neglected and underutilized crops empowering women in Bolivia and India
- Kothapally women use successful drought adaptation practices in India
- Emily Marigu Ireri, a farmer from East Kenya, explains how she adapted her crops and farming techniques to cope with the climatic shifts
- “Seeds for Needs” helps Ethiopian women farmers adapting to climate change
- Women use microdosing to increase crop production in sub-Saharan Africa
- Restored wasteland benefits women in Sahel
- Margaret Silas, a Kenyan farmer uses simple techniques to increase her yield
Picture courtesy Neil Palmer/CIAT