Anticipating social differentiation and unintended consequences in scaling initiatives using GenderUp, a method to support responsible scaling

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A key strategy in progressing towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is scaling innovations to improve livelihoods of marginalized populations globally. Consequently, there has been a heightened emphasis on Agriculture Research for Development (AR4D) innovation teams’ ability to swiftly identify innovations that can be scaled for broad impact. However, insufficient attention has been paid to the equitable distribution of benefits among different demographic groups, leading to documented unintended consequences affecting some of the most marginalized communities. To effectively contribute to the SDGs and avoid harm to specific groups, AR4D innovation teams must conscientiously consider various dimensions of diversity, including gender and other relevant factors.

Our objective is to introduce GenderUp, a new conversational method for responsible scaling, oriented to making scaling initiatives more inclusive and anticipatory of socially differentiated trade-offs. This new AR4D scaling tool seeks to ensure that scaling efforts not only contribute effectively to the SDGs but also consider and mitigate unintended consequences for marginalized communities.

This paper describes a new socially responsible scaling tool. Starting with a defined innovation, GenderUp helps: i) identify relevant diversity and intersectionality among intended innovation users; and ii) re-direct scaling strategies to better anticipate and mitigate unintended consequences for specific social groups. Through a series of five stages, a GenderUp facilitator guides teams through discussions, learning activities, and practical integration to develop a socially responsible scaling strategy. We provide details about each stage and reflect on the results of two early pilot experiences.

There is a need for increased recognition of the distribution of innovation benefits based on dimensions of diversity. GenderUp is proposed as a new method to systematically address social differentiation in the scaling of AR4D innovation. GenderUp supported two different innovation and scaling teams to rethink their scaling strategies. Both innovation teams identified at-risk intersectional profiles and made adjustments to their scaling strategies to ensure these groups were not harmed by the innovation or scaling activities. These promising examples suggest that GenderUp provides a simple ex-ante analysis that can reduce unintended consequences more broadly within AR4D.

Although gender and social equity are prioritized globally there are very few experts, tools, and systems in place to achieve these cross-cutting goals. While GenderUp only addresses innovation at the scaling stage, it is a step towards systemizing responding to social differentiation within AR4D to at least do no harm, and at best improve social outcomes.

McGuire, E., Leeuwis, C., Rietveld, A.M. & Teeken, B.

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