Implications of agricultural innovation on gender norms: gender approaches in aquatic agriculture in Bangladesh

Studies have shown that gender norms and gender relations restrict the innovation capacity of women in aquatic agricultural systems. This article explores the converse question: in what ways do and can aquatic agricultural innovation programs, including new and improved practices, technologies and economic opportunities, affect gender norms? Much literature has revealed that the inclusion of women has advanced their economic situation, especially through increasing income. There is limited evidence; however, if or how such economic improvements benefit gender norms and narrow the existing gender inequalities. In this chapter we explored this question by analyzing qualitative data collected in six villages in the Southwest of Bangladesh. We found that innovations in the CGIAR Research Program on aquatic agricultural systems (CRP-AAS) included both men and women on an equal basis, increased women’s income, and contributed to improved local social acceptability and recognition of women as financial providers. Yet, it became apparent that such a program did not lead to gender transformative change as it did not address all of its three inseparable aspects, i.e. agency, relations and structures. Especially underlying gender norms were not questioned but largely accommodated to. By using the adapted gender integration continuum framework, we came to the conclusion that a gender accommodating approach can bring change in certain aspects of agency and relationships, but substantial sustainable gender transformative change calls for a purposeful gender transformative approach beyond accommodating to the existing gender norms.


Citation:

Behailu, L., Rajaratnam, S., Choudhury, A., McDougall, C., van der Burg, M. (2020)
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