Influencing change, gender mainstreaming

Recommended reading!

Guinea pig farmer, DR Congo. Photo: CIAT

Influencing Change: Mainstreaming Gender Perspectives in Agricultural Research and Development in Eastern and Central Africa.”

Edited by: Barun Gurung, Elizabeth Ssendiwala, Michael Waithaka

Link to download publication

Part of the CGIAR Particiaptory Research and Gender Analysis Program, the project from which this very useful report came sought to influence the policies of agricultural research and development systems, while improving implementation and delivery of services directly benefitting vulnerable groups, such as poor women, through improved targeting. It wanted to develop mechanisms in national agricultural R&D institutions for making gender an explicit criterion for programming and effectiveness, and to enable the organizations to think more deeply about gender relations, away from the earlier “add women and stir approach”.

The researchers identified four challenges:

1. the limitations of the R&D institutions to effect real changes in social relations of their constituency groups, the small scale farmers

2. the tendency within the R&D institutions to define gender mainstreaming only in instrumental terms (investment in women has high pay-offs) and subsequently focus narrowly on emphasizing women’s visibility and their capacities and needs. This instrumental approach to mainstreaming emphasizes reliance on ‘tool kits’ and ‘checklists.’

3. the ‘logic of bureaucracies’ or how bureaucracies react to new challenges. When a new challenge is posed, the bureaucracy’s response will be determined by the level of threat or opportunity. When it comes to gender equality or women’s rights, both the opportunity and threat are low.

4. the culture of organizations is influenced by the larger society in which they are situated.

The project developed and trialed approaches to gender mainstreaming for meeting these challenges in agricultural R&D institutes of the following East African countries: DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

For fisheries and aquaculture specialists, the Introduction and Project Evaluation chapters will be of most interest, unless you work in one of the project countries, in which case you will find your country chapter also of interest.

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