Gender was more strongly integrated into the research agendas of the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) during 2018. The CRP on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) in particular made substantial advances regarding its gender research and activities, with their Gender Equity and Empowerment (GEE) unit publishing the Reach Benefit Empower (RBE) framework and launching the pilot version of the project-level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (Pro-WEAI). Pro-WEAI is a survey-based index for measuring empowerment, agency and inclusion of women in the agriculture sector.


An index for women’s empowerment in livestock
LIVESTOCK 2018 annual report


In 2018, a team of scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a partner of LIVESTOCK, in collaboration with Emory University, developed the Women’s Empowerment in Livestock Index (WELI), a new index to assess the empowerment of women in production systems in which livestock are important. The WELI was tested in two countries and is gaining ground as a way for projects to understand how livestock is empowering women.

The pilot findings of WELI were published in Social Indicators Research in 2018. This article focuses on six dimensions of empowerment, including women’s decisions about agricultural production; decisions related to nutrition; access to and control over resources; control and use of income; access to and control of opportunities; and workload and control over their own time.


Source: LIVESTOCK, AR 2018.


Capacity-building workshops and technical support provided by the WEAI Resource Center keep the attention on the critical role gender has in agricultural research and increase the volume and quality of evidence. In response to recommendations from a 2017 review, A4NH commissioned a set of studies on equity in agriculture, nutrition and health in 2018, with results from these studies expected to help shape their overall equity research strategy (A4NH, 2018).


WLE is transitioning from women-inclusive to gender transformational approaches – where the focus will increasingly be on enabling structural changes to unequal gender relations and addressing institutional and systemic barriers to change at scale (WLE, 2018). This is because gender equality interventions often result in reinforcing women’s burdens, rather than resolving them. An important lesson is that research on gender will not translate into transformational change if key institutional actors and implementers are not motivated, or incentivized, to change (WLE, 2018).


Uptake of the gender-transformative approach beyond CGIAR
FISH 2018 annual report


The uptake of the gender-transformative approach, which was pioneered in CGIAR, progressed during 2018. The European Commission is drawing on approaches that measure gender-transformative change; the CGIAR Gender Research and Integrated Training (GRIT) program incorporated FISH insights and case examples in a bespoke module, supported by FISH staff; and the Zambian NGO Caritas incorporated the FISH gender-transformative model into their microcredit program.


Source: FISH, AR 2018.


CCAFS research found that a lack of gender-disaggregated data constrains prioritization and vulnerability studies (CCAFS, 2018). Research in Tanzania and Uganda found that while gender is increasingly being mainstreamed into climate change-related policy, there are often resource and knowledge constraints when it comes to implementation. However, collaboration with policymakers can produce positive results (CCAFS, 2018).


The PIM hosted flagship-level CGIAR collaborative platform for gender research supported a second set of collaborative studies on the feminization of agriculture, with co-investment from PIM, CCAFS, FTA, LIVESTOCK, MAIZE, RTB, WHEAT and WLE in 2018 (PIM, 2018). RTB leads the Gender and Breeding Initiative, which created new tools for the design of gender-responsive product profiles linked to the stage-gates proposed by EiB to leverage gender considerations. This resulted in 2018 with the publication of three working papers on gender and social targeting in plant breeding; a framework to capture and respond to demand through breeding; and case studies on gender in breeding (RTB, 2018).


The GENNOVATE program releases research findings and tools
WHEAT 2018 annual report


In 2018, the CIMMYT-led gender 11-CRP GENNOVATE program came to a close, with the release of a special issue in the Journal for Agriculture, Gender and Food Security and 17 tools or guidance notes that non-gender specialist researchers within and outside CGIAR are using. Though proper tracking of the use of tools remains to be established, there is evidence, for example, of gender awareness and gender-sensitive approaches spreading into Ethiopian agricultural research, extension and policy.

One GENNOVATE article published in 2018 based on 25 case studies investigated young rural women’s and men’s occupational aspirations and trajectories in India, Mali, Malawi, Morocco, Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines. The findings of this study demonstrate that opening pathways for young women in agriculture will require addressing the intersecting inequalities they face on the basis of age and gender. Transformation is required, as current gender norms render the contributions of young women to agriculture and other productive activities invisible.

One of the approaches adopted is the use of community videos to generate intergenerational discussion and the opportunity to influence policymakers. A guide for gender responsive participatory videos was published and used with communities in Uganda and Vietnam.


Source: WHEAT, AR 2018.


CGIAR research in 2018 demonstrated that substantial negative social, environmental and economic impacts can result from a failure to pay attention to gender inequalities. As gender considerations become more integrated across the work of the CRPs, the workload of gender specialists is increasing. In November 2018, CGIAR’s Funders endorsed the SMB’s proposal for an elevated ‘Gender Equality in Food Systems Research Platform’. The design of the new platform will take place in 2019 and will commence in 2020.


Gender research impacts investments and approaches to irrigation infrastructure management in Tajikistan
WLE 2018 annual report


USAID reoriented its investment based on a WLE/International Water Management Institute (IWMI) evaluation of an irrigation training program in Tajikistan which found that only male farmers were targeted for training. This risked irrigation performance, as women are increasingly taking over irrigation infrastructure management due to male out-migration.

USAID adopted the recommendation to train female farmers in order to sustain the irrigation systems and improve home garden productivity. The recommendations informed USAID’s Feed the Future’s global learning agenda.


Source: WLE, AR 2018.




Photo by A. Habtamu/ILRI