Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research: gender audit: may 2018
The Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) was established in 1966 to nationally coordinate agricultural research and advise the Ethiopian Government on agricultural policy formulation. EIAR is comprised of 17 different centers spread across the country’s regions and agro-ecological zones. This participatory gender audit was undertaken to examine gender in EIAR’s workplace; gender in research; and capacity for gender. A mixed methods approach comprising key informal interviews, focus group discussions, online surveys, bibliometric analysis of peer reviewed Scopus indexed publications, and a documentation analysis of grey literature was conducted. EIAR has made efforts to mainstream gender. Each center has a gender focal person, led by a senior gender officer in Addis Ababa. Gender training has been delivered in different projects and affirmative action is implemented. This audit highlights the need to build on these past efforts because mainstreaming requires thought, effort, commitment, budget, policies, and guidelines. Enabling staff to better mainstream can be clearly articulated in a gender policy, through budgeting, and by establishing minimum standards. In particular, removing the unhelpful association of gender equality with women’s participation should be a priority. Efforts to integrate gender into research projects have been observed across all directorates. However, the standard response to incorporating gender in research is to count the number of women participants and consider the gender work complete. The way women are included and how consistently this is attempted requires improvement. One common false assumption is that if invited women do not turn up to meetings then there is little else the researcher can do. Researchers are not aware that they should uncover the barriers to attendance first and reduce them through additional effort. Gender analysis is a crucial aspect of gender-responsive research. It can illuminate gender-related barriers that may not be immediately obvious to the researcher and leads to more gender-responsive research and projects. However, most researchers interviewed have never conducted a gender analysis. This means that most projects run on assumptions and gender-blind facts. It is not surprising that researchers have trouble accessing women’s needs when they do not understand the gender basics of a community or sector. Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is a critical factor for ensuring gender concerns are captured during research projects. It enables sex disaggregated data to be systematically collected and analyzed. It also helps to measures program progress and learn what works. Yet, EIAR’s capacity for gender responsive M&E is currently low. Annual performance reports inconsistently report sex disaggregated data and under-report gender-related work and achievements. There is a tendency for all gender reporting to be done by the gender directorate, rather than all directorates having to do their own gender reporting (which would be in line with mainstreaming gender). All government ministries, including MoANR, are mandated to report on gender budgeting to the Ministry of Finance, however EIAR has not been asked to report their gender budgeting to MoANR. Many respondents raised the lack of resources for gender as a barrier to mainstreaming and some had never considered reserving budget for gender activities. This lack of gender budgeting makes it impossible to account for spending on gender equality, or to re-allocate funds within budgets for gender-focused activities. The under-resourcing of gender signals its low priority within EIAR. While some projects refer to gender as a cross-cutting activity, it is rare to have gender appear in publications or comprehensively in reports. The knowledge management/communications department organizes, designs, and records publications, yet their expertise in supporting projects to communicate gender results to a wider audience is underutilized and needs sensitizing using a gender lens. EIAR should consider producing more glossy publications on gender. These take less time to produce than journal articles so are a quicker way to disseminate gender results. Part of the challenge facing EIAR researchers who wish to publish in peer reviewed journals on gender is that they are not able to access literature on gender that has been published. The fees for journal access is higher than the EIAR budget allows. The capacity assessment component of the audit indicates an absence of capacity to adequately mainstream gender. There is a tendency for EIAR to recruit internally for gender positions and the people appointed are not adequately trained or resourced, and yet are expected to train others. Gender experts should be recruited for these roles, even if this means externally hiring gender experts without agricultural knowledge and/or significant research experience. Despite numerous gender trainings, few staff feel that they have the knowledge or skills to implement gender tools. This illustrates the inadequacy of training in isolation. The institution must change for gender training to have relevance or they will continue to waste funds. An organization’s commitment to gender equality is not just reflected in the programs and projects it implements, but also in its internal processes and culture. EIAR’s Human Resources (HR) department has reached a stage where they can refine policies to make them more effective, but they acknowledge that they need more support to make EIAR a gender friendly workplace. A common belief among male employees is that women are favored in recruitment. As such, women are judged more harshly on other matters, such as taking time off for child care needs and for illnesses. This emphasizes the need to discuss gender more frequently with staff to build familiarity and understanding with the issues and to hold units accountable for recruiting diverse teams. Leave approval and grievance claims require review with a gender lens. The supervisor role has enormous discretionary power, which can lead to bullying, harassment, and a poor work-life balance. EIAR’s culture is masculine; the male attributes of working hard (without care responsibilities) and being a joker are the norm. Discrimination and harassment is evident across EIAR’s research centers. However, there are a range of attitudes and beliefs within EIAR that work for and against gender equality. Within EIAR’s leadership, those with the greatest influence are the leaders of large portfolios in terms of budget. They have the power to block or champion the implementation of policies that would improve gender equality. These leaders must therefore be held accountable for leading the way on gender reforms. If leaders are not aligned with the need to change behavior, attitudes, and norms then EIAR will not mainstream gender. Engaging leaders is therefore of utmost importance.