There is now widespread recognition of the importance of gender in development. This is reflected in the growing prominence of gender strategies for development institutions and their programs, the emergence of compelling approaches for gender mainstreaming, and the development of indicators for tracking performance. The agricultural research community has built on this progress to pursue increasingly more substantive approaches to gender as reflected most recently in the improved gender dimensions of the new CGIAR research programs.
Yet despite this real progress there is growing concern that recent achievements need to go much further if we are to fully succeed in integrating gender into agricultural development, and achieve our desired impacts on poverty and hunger. This concern lies in the recognition that unless women are truly empowered and the power dynamics shaping social and economic disadvantage change, sustainable progress towards development goals is unlikely to be achieved. Such transformation in gender roles and social norms lies at the core of innovative strategies to improve household well-being. These gender transformative strategies hinge on:
Understanding gender relations and the importance of working with men on gender, acknowledging shared and conflicting interests within the home, and responding to the multiplicity of identities shaping women’s and men’s positions, motivations and opportunities;
Encouraging critical awareness among men and women of the consequences of the inequalities embedded within gender roles, norms and the resulting distribution of resources; and
Challenging and changing power relationships between and among women and others in the community such as service providers or traditional leaders.
As individuals and as organizations, we need to transform our own assumptions, understandings, practices and relationships to achieve gender transformation. Innovative organizational change processes and activities that go beyond conventional gender mainstreaming approaches are required to ensure that gender integration becomes part of standard research in development practice. Staff need to understand how and why gender matters to successful agricultural research and practice and to be equipped with ways of integrating it into their work.
As the CGIAR embarks on a new suite of research programs to radically increase the contribution of agricultural research to reducing poverty and hunger, there is a great opportunity to develop and test the effectiveness of transformative approaches to gender. The workshop ‘Building Coalitions, Creating Change: An Agenda for Gender Transformative Research in Agricultural Development’ has been convened to help foster this approach. By bringing together a wide range of gender practitioners and researchers from various development sectors we will review the current state of knowledge on gender transformative approaches, and distill learning that can be applied in the design and implementation of the work of the CGIAR research programs and other new development programs. Building on this approach, participants at the workshop will identify a set of follow up actions that can sustain the momentum generated through the workshop and provide an on-going mechanism for support to, and learning between, new efforts in gender transformative research and development.