Despite decades of agricultural research and development efforts, the challenges of poverty and hunger persist. Experts now recognize that effectively integrating gender issues in such projects will help to improve food security, well-being and equity.
WorldFish, the organization leading the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS), hosted a group of renowned agricultural and gender researchers and practitioners at their headquarters in Penang last week to engage in a dialogue to develop an agenda for gender transformative research in development for the agricultural sector.
A gender transformative approach goes beyond improving women’s access to resources, and helps communities to understand and challenge the social norms that create inequalities between men and women.
According to WorldFish Director General Dr. Stephen Hall, “overcoming these constraining gender barriers gives agricultural innovations a much greater chance of improving people’s lives."
The AAS Program is integrating a gender transformative approach into the Program’s design and execution. WorldFish Senior Scientist Dr. Ranjitha Puskur, an organizer of the event, says, "the workshop discussions were instrumental in sharpening the focus and encouraging debate and discussion on how this approach can be used in the AAS program’s research in development efforts".
“The AAS program will assimilate the discussions, and use the principles and lessons from the workshop to design the gender transformative research approach in the program countries,” Dr. Puskur says.
Dr. Hall believes that this is a major step towards putting a gender transformative approach at the center of WorldFish’s efforts, which he says is essential for WorldFish to continue “harnessing research that makes a difference."
Workshop discussions reinforced that gender needs to be incorporated into agricultural development research plans from the beginning, and that if successful transformative approaches help to expand the quality of life choices for men and women.
Dr. Puskur explains that this can lead to changes in the roles and responsibilities within households and communities, leading to shared decision-making and lasting improvements in agricultural productivity and food security.
The workshop also initiated the formation of a committed group of researchers and practitioners who are dedicated to promoting the approach.
“We have kick-started a dialogue and a long term process to create momentum to influence the adoption of these approaches. The workshop helped us to identify some sticky points in the road ahead, and provided guidance for the way forward,” says Dr. Puskur.
“The imperative to move away from relegating the social science to the end of the research cycle was stressed. The need for a strong and compelling narrative for gender transformative research and how it is embedded within the broader theories of change in agricultural development was expressed,” she adds.
The AAS program together with partners will begin to generate an evidence base to demonstrate the effectiveness of the approaches, and encourage partnerships to help achieve lasting agricultural development impact.
WorldFish, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is an international, nonprofit research organization committed to reducing poverty and hunger through fisheries and aquaculture.
CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.
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