Category Archives: Agriculture, rural

Learning from forestry and landuse: Good practices for women’s inclusion


In 2013, a group of organisation, led by WOCAN (Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management) produced a very useful distillation of good practices for including women in key climate change mitigation programs, especially REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Most of the good advice in the “Scoping study of good practices for strengthening women’s inclusion in forest and other natural resource management sectors,” however, is applicable to other sectors, including fisheries and aquaculture.

In producing the report, WOCAN was joined by the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries (UN-REDD) Programme, and the USAID-funded Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) program.

Download the report at this Link

The key good practices discussed are organised as follows:

1. Ensuring Women’s Representation and Participation
2. Facilitation and Capacity Building for Women’s Participation
3. Skill Building
4. Gender-Disaggregated Analysis and Planning to Meet Women’s Livelihood Needs
5. Labour-Saving and Time-Reducing Technologies
6. Women-Only Groups
7. Women’s Networks and Federations
8. Presence of Gender Champions and Women Leaders
9. Equitable Benefit Sharing Mechanisms
10. Enterprise Development and Credit Provision

Going all the way: gender-just food security

Children in Cité Soleil (Haiti) receive meals Photographer: UN Photo/Marco Dormino via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) From the BRIDGE report.

Children in Cité Soleil (Haiti) receive meals
Photographer: UN Photo/Marco Dormino via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) From the BRIDGE report.

Food security is often presented as a gender-neutral problem, but unequal access to food affects women and girls disproportionately and so gender-sensitive solutions are needed. The UK-based BRIDGE gender and development initiative has just released a policy brief and report on gender, food security and nutrition exploring the evidence and providing a new vision of gender-justice with implementing principles. The Gender and Food Security: towards gender-just food and nutrition security draft vision is comprehensive, bringing together elements where their analysis indicates transformation is needed:

Gender-just food and nutrition security means a world without hunger, where women, men, girls and boys have equal access to nutritious, healthy food, and access to the means to produce, sell and purchase food. It is a world where the right to food for all is realised. Importantly it is a world free of gender-based violence, where the roles, responsibilities, opportunities and choices available to women and men – including unpaid caregiving and food provision – are not predetermined at birth but can, where possible, be developed in line with individual capacities and aspirations. Finally, it is a world where countries are equipped to produce enough food for their own populations through environmentally sound processes, while also being able to participate in (gender-) equitable global and regional food trading systems.

In short, the recommended five core principles are:

  1.  A commitment to rights, including the right to adequate food for all
  2. People-centred solutions, giving voice to the women and men who are producing and consuming food.
  3. Gender-transformative solutions, promoting gender justice and women’s empowerment and the transformation of unequal gender power relations, as a route to food and nutrition security and as goals in their own right.
  4. Supporting gender-equitable trade and investment policies that promote the local sustainable production of culturally appropriate food.
  5. Ecologically sustainable solutions that respect local knowledge and rights, moving beyond market-based solutions

The report’s recommendations for translating these principles into practice, paraphrased, are:

  • Strategies and instruments for protecting, recognising and realising rights: Formal legislation provides a vital mechanism for claiming rights to food and resources such as land, but to put these laws into practice, all people – especially women – must be informed about their rights and how to claim them.
  • Gender-aware programming that goes beyond ‘instrumentalising’ women: Move towards more comprehensive, contextualised gender analyses that revolve around understandings of power relations and socio-cultural dynamics, to facilitate the subtle shift in thinking and action. Address the invisible issues of women’s unpaid care work and gender-based violence.
  • Recognise and evaluate the multiple dimensions of women’s empowerment in food security programming: Develop appropriate indicators of empowerment that are more able to capture the quality of women’s lives, including the material, social, cultural and human dimensions.
  • Engage men and boys in promoting gender-just food security: There is a transformative potential of engaging men and boys towards both understanding and challenging gender norms around food and also changing norms and behaviours that may result in violence or prevent men from sharing care responsibilities.
  • Support women’s collective action as a lever of change: Creating and supporting women-only groups of producers can provide a means to strengthen women’s bargaining power in both producing and selling goods, and strengthen women’s empowerment more broadly.
  • Invest in gender-aware agro-ecological approaches as an important means to prioritise women’s existing knowledge and to promote increases in yield with low input and at no cost to the environment.
  • Access to information and appropriate technologies for ensuring improved nutrition outcomes within households and for empowering women through knowledge and tools.
  • More coherent, well-funded gender-aware policies, processes and institutions: Move beyond policy silos towards more connected, multisectoral approaches to ensure that positive, equitable actions in one policy area are not undermined by inequalities created by another. Gender-responsive budgeting.
  • Gender-just governance of food and nutrition security solutions: Address the unacceptable gender imbalance in decision-making around food and nutrition security in policy spaces through targeted strategies that include challenging the ‘deep structures’ of organisations that perpetuate exclusionary practices.

The report and the accompanying policy brief can be downloaded.

Although the BRIDGE report only lightly touches on fisheries and aquaculture, more on the links to gender and food security in the fish sectors can be found in the recent report on fish, food security and nutrition published by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. See the HLPE report.

New FAO online policy-makers course on gender and food security

25 July 2013, Ha Trung, Viet Nam - Farmers using a net to catch fish from a pond at their farm.  Photo: FAO

25 July 2013, Ha Trung, Viet Nam – Farmers using a net to catch fish from a pond at their farm. Photo: FAO

To educate policy-makers and programme developers, FAO, with support from the European Commission and the Gender and Water Alliance has created a new online course on gender and food security.

Here is the link for the course

The course is free online; all it takes is your time and dedication. The 14 lessons are grouped into 3 units as follows:

Unit 1 Overview of gender concepts and principles

  • Lesson 1.1 Closing the gender gap
  • Lesson 1.2 Gender roles, gender discrimination and gender equality
  • Lesson 1.3 Gender dimensions of food and nutrition security (FNS)

Unit 2 Gender in Food and nutrition security policy and legislation

  • Lesson 2.1 International commitments on gender equality
  • Lesson 2.2 Gender statistics for informing policy and legislation
  • Lesson 2.3 Producing gender statistics
  • Lesson 2.4 Formulating gender-responsive food and nutrition security (FNS) policies
  • Lesson 2.5 Translating national food and nutrition security (FNS) policies into a gender-responsive plan of action.
  • Lesson 2.6 Gender advocacy for food and nutrition security (FNS)

Unit 3 Gender in food and nutrition security programming

  • Lesson 3.1 Conducting a gender analysis for programme design
  • Lesson 3.2 Designing gender-responsive Food and Nutrition Security projects and programmes
  • Lesson 3.3 Gender-sensitive monitoring and evaluation for Food and Nutrition Security
  • Lesson 3.4 Gender and programme implementation
  • Lesson 3.5 Addressing gender in organizations working on food and nutrition security

How can we incorporate gender into our research and development approaches?

Participants at the ASEM gender in aquaculture training course, 2012 contemplate the basics. Source: Jariah Masud.

Participants at the ASEM gender in aquaculture training course, 2012 contemplate the basics. Source: Jariah Masud.

More development research institute leaders, researchers and project developers are aware of the importance of gender equality in programs and project activities. Some have made public commitments to action through their work. Often, however, these good intentions are thwarted by lack of knowledge and expertise on how to go about it. Of course, in an ideal world, the solution is to call in the experts, and this is still important. However, experts are much in demand and may not be readily accessible. How can you educate yourself about research and project development methods? One way is to learn from what the experts have written, of course!

This post highlights some condensed wisdom that has recently been published, plus provides links to some of our previous posts on gender research and development methods.  If you know of other handy materials, we would welcome learning of them, so that we can help share them with our readers

Standards for collecting sex-disaggregated data

Visit this site to download the document

This 6 page guide is an excellent condensation of the key points, highlighted in the list of “MUST HAVES FOR GENDER ANALYSIS.” It is published by IFPRI on behalf of the CGIAR Policies, Institutions and Markets research program.

  • Collect information about both men and women. Ask questions about specific individuals or groups and identify them by sex.
  • Collect information from men and women. This does not necessarily require interviewing men and women in the same household. Studies that fail to include male and female respondents will be subject to biases; the extent of the bias will depend on the knowledge and perceptions of the respondent(s).
  • All data collection methods must be context specific. Questions must be adapted to the context. Those collecting and analyzing the data need to understand gender roles and social dynamics. This knowledge must also guide the settings for interviews or focus groups.
  • Budget for the additional costs of collecting sex-disaggregated data.
  • Work with a gender expert early in the process to define the research question and methodology.
  • Researchers collecting data from human subjects must ensure that the participants have completed a confidentiality and consent agreement. While these requirements are important for all research, they are essential for gender analyses that address sensitive topics such as asset ownership and domestic violence.
  • Comparing male and female headed households is not gender analysis. Differences between these diverse household types cannot necessarily be attributed to the sex of the household head.

Value chain analysis and gender

This publication, Review of gender and value chain analysis, development and evaluation toolkits, from ILRI on behalf of the CGIAR research program on Livestock and Fish, is essentially a review of qualitative and quantitative tools found in workshop materials, manuals, guide books, handbooks, reports, research papers and toolkits themselves. It also gives sample rapid assessment tools for livestock and crop value chains.

Visit this site to download the publication

other resources from previous posts

We have posted in the past on a number of other research and project development resources. Here are their links.

1. From the FAO-Spain Regional Fisheries Livelhioods Programme

How to mainstream gender in small scale fisheries

RFLP Gender Mainstreaming manual

2. IFPRI on gender data in agriculture

Data needs for gender analysis in agriculture

Gender Strategy for CGIAR livestock and fish research aims for transformation


Egypt fish market. Source: CGIAR Livestock and Fish Research Programme

The Gender Strategy for the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish is designed to “operates along a continuum of gender integration approaches, from the accommodating to the transformative, and will contribute to understanding under what conditions each approach has the potential to advance chain performance and the outcomes of poor women and other marginalized groups.”

The Strategy emphasizes the importance of informing research and action with careful diagnoses of context and constraints to progress, all along the value chain.

Download the Gender Strategy at:

Realistic understanding of gender relations needed when making policy

Photo: Future Agricultures

Photo: Future Agricultures

Christine Okali’s latest blog challenges policy makers to scrap the handy (and often unsupported) narratives on women/gender and climate change.

Here is some of what she said – but do read the whole blog!

“It is time to re-socialise gender policies. For real progress to be made towards gender equity and transforming gender relations across a range of institutions, policies must build on a more realistic understanding of the lives of women and men and their complex and changing relationships.

“In small-scale fisheries, for example, this means acknowledging gender relations between “boat owners, fish processors and sellers who are also wives, husbands, community members, and co-workers”, as one FAO report puts it; and looking at the role of social norms and values in constraining (or, in some cases, supporting) behavioural change and limiting the resilience of many women, but also of many men.

“Narrowly framed strategies are not ideal starting points for adapting to change. Projects with such strategies are unlikely to enhance the capacity of, for instance, small-scale fishing communities to adapt to climate change. A strategy which promotes gender-aware solutions that are fish-specific, focused especially on women characterised as vulnerable – and which ignores the existing evidence of the capacity of individuals and communities involved in fisheries to deal with livelihood threats – is unlikely to succeed.”

Note: The FAO report referred to can be downloaded here:


Empowering women in Africa – legal rights and economic opportunities

coverA new publication from the World Bank’s Africa Development Forum takes a hard look at gender inequality in legal rights and relates this to women’s chances of succeeding in the economic sphere. Particularly, this book looks at family inheritance and land laws, which underlie the (gender-blind) business laws. It examines the laws in all 47 Sub-Saharan countries.

Although the publication does not specifically address aquaculture and fisheries, the legal matters have very similar application to those for agriculture which the book does address, especially in the case of aquaculture.

Download here  

Preface: This book looks at the effect of legal and economic rights on women’s economic opportunities. It focuses on entrepreneurship because women in Africa are active entrepreneurs, and the links between property rights and the ability to enter contracts in one’s own name affect entrepreneurial activities.
The laws that are the focus of this book are not business laws and regulations,
which are generally gender blind and presuppose that individuals can own property or enter into contracts. Instead, the book examines family,  inheritance, and land laws, which oft en restrict these rights in ways that hurt women. Th is book surveys constitutions and statutes in all 47 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to document where gender gaps in these laws impinge on women’s legal capacity, property rights, or both. Th e results are introduced in a new database: the Women’s Legal and Economic Empowerment Database for Africa (Women–LEED–Africa).

The book also looks at some labor law issues, such as restrictions on the types
of industries or hours of work in which women may engage and provisions for
equal pay for work of equal value. These laws affect women as employees and
influence the attractiveness of wage employment versus entrepreneurship. They were also selected because they affect the choice of enterprise women may run.

The equal pay for work of equal value provisions are also of interest as an indicator of the recognition of women’s broader economic rights. This book provides a series of indicators that show whether a country does or does not provide particular legal provisions. Several points are worth emphasizing in interpreting these indicators. First, the indicators are binary; there is no attempt to differentiate between small and large gender gaps. Second, the indicators are not used to generate an index or otherwise aggregate the indicators; no weights are given to differentiate the relative importance of different sets of laws. Third, the indicators reflect whether certain legal provisions are recognized in a country or not; because the link between the indicator and gender gaps is not always straightforward, care must be taken in making value judgments. Although some indicators reveal that women are treated equally or identify gender differences in treatment, others do not. For example, the database includes indicators on whether customary or religious law is recognized as a formal source of law. Although recognition of these sources of law can have implications for women’s rights (as discussed in chapter 3), it does not necessarily imply that women’s rights are stronger or weaker. Conversely, the inclusion of some protections for women’s rights may reflect not the strong standing of women but rather the fact that gender equality is not seen as axiomatic and needs to be explicitly stated.

Chapter 1 argues for the importance of broadening the set of laws that need
to be examined in order to determine how law affects women’s economic opportunities. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on formal rights and how they have been upheld in court decisions. Chapter 4 examines the gap between laws on the books and practice on the ground. Chapter 5 looks at how both the substance of law and women’s access to justice issues can be improved to expand women’s ability to pursue economic opportunities.

Irular women in Tamil Nadu succeed in raising fish and their incomes


Irular women engaged in sea bass (Lates calcarifer) culture. Stocking, feeding, grading and segregating seed. Photos: Dr B. Shanthi.

A report and news story have come out on “Capacity building of tribal women self help groups on brackishwater aquaculture integrated with agro – based technologies” by Dr B. Shanthi,  and her colleagues M. Kailasam, K. Ambasankar,  P. Mahalakshimi, V.S. Chandrasekaran, S.M. Pillai and A.G.Ponniah, all of the the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA, Indian Council of Agricultural Research), Chennai, Tamil Nadu (South India). The report covers work under the tribal Sub Plan demonstration programme titled DEVELOPMENT OF ALTERNATE LIVELIHOOD OPPORTUNITIES AMONG THE (ST) WOMEN SELF HELP GROUPS THROUGH AQUACULTURE INTEGRATED WITH AGRO – BASED TECHNOLOGIES. Under this, in 2012-2013, CIBA  adopted sixty scheduled tribal women self help groups from Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram Districts of Tamil Nadu.

Nursery rearing of brackishwater finfish Asian seabass juveniles in hapas was demonstrated among 30 Irular tribal women SHGs of Kulathumedu village, Tiruvallur dt., farm made fish feed development, ornamental fish farming and mushroom farming were demonstrated among 30 Irular tribal women SHGs at New Perungulathur, Kancheepuram dt.

Read two well illustrated short reports of the Irular women’s achievements here:

pdf_icon_smallFishing Chimes 33(3) article


Capacity building of tribal women self help groups

Also see previous stories on CIBA work with women in brackishwater aquaculture:

Indian Researchers Help Women Succeed in Sea Bass Culture and Crab Fattening 

Successful Women Entrepreneurs in Aquaculture Sectors: Case Studies of Tamil Nadu, India 

Reviewing the Evidence for Links between Gender Equality and Economic Growth

Professor Naila Kabeer. Photo: Arthur, .

Professor Naila Kabeer. Photo: Arthur, .

Naila Kabeer and Luisa Natali recently published a review for the Institute of Development Studies into the two-way relationships between gender equality and economic growth, across sectors and countries. They reviewed studies of labour market participation in different sectors and services, earnings and well-being and rights. Their conclusion is that the relationship between gender equality and economic growth is asymmetric, with gender equality tending to improve economic growth but economic growth not leading to gender equality without concerted efforts on inclusive growth. The review also delves into available evidence for different outcomes in different sectors. Whereas the fishery sector is not touched on, results for agriculture are revealing. such as that greater gender equality in the agricultural labour force contributes to greater economic growth, but this effect does not apply to greater gender equality in agricultural management. Also, economic growth did seem to stimulate female labour force participation for value added industry growth in agriculture (and other sectors). This result certainly resonates with experience in many commodities in fisheries and aquaculture.

The review is called “Gender Equality and Economic Growth: Is there a Win-Win?“, by Naila Kabeer and Luisa Natali, IDS Working Paper 417. (2013)

Read the review and find out more! It can be downloaded at:


To what extent does gender equality contribute to economic growth? And to  what extent does the reverse relationship hold true? There are a growing number of studies exploring these relationships, generally using cross-country regression analysis. They are characterised by varying degrees of methodological rigour to take account of the problems associated with econometric analysis at this highly aggregated level, including the problems of reverse causality. Bearing these problems in mind, a review of this literature suggests that the relationship between gender equality and economic growth is an asymmetrical one. The evidence that gender equality, particularly in education and employment, contributes to economic growth is far more consistent and robust than the relationship that economic growth contributes to gender equality in terms of health, wellbeing and rights. From a growth perspective, therefore, the promotion of certain dimensions of gender equality may appear to offer a win-win solution but from a gender equity perspective, there is no guarantee that growth on its own will address critical dimensions of gender equality. Either growth strategies would need to be reformulated to be more inclusive in their impacts or redistributive measures would need to be put in place to ensure that men and women benefit more equally from growth.

Understanding and measuring women’s empowerment in agriculture

FAC Okali weaiLast year, Genderaquafish posted on the new IFPRI, USAID, OPHI  index on women’s empowerment in agriculture tool (see the post and links). Now, Christine Okali, one of the world’s foremost researchers on rural development and gender,  has challenged the approach of the women’s empowerment index as being too specific, constrained to a point in time and failing to address the linkages between women and men in decision-making in  the  larger life settings. She suggests this is a step backwards to older approaches and concludes: “Surely a better understanding of the dynamics of decision-making, and therefore social change, would be a more satisfactory product for 2015 than an index that will only lead us back into an analytical, policy and programmatic cul-de-sac.”

Read Prof Okali’s blog at: