Adding Value for Women: Advancing Agri-Practice

26/05/11

On Monday and Tuesday this week, our UN Rep in Nairobi, Alice, was invited to attend a two day workshop on the importance of considering gender issues within the agricultural sector. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together researchers and practitioners in the agricultural sector and share information on gender issues, with a vision of having national data on responsibilities and activities on the agricultural sector, using an appropriate framework. 

The Workshop was sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates and organized by International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The underlying factor was that women, particularly small-scale farmers, are always constrained due to lack of productive resources, capital, capacity as well as social barriers, amidst increasing sophistication in the value chains. Despite this fact, research has shown that women spend 90 percent of their income on their families, while men spend 30-40 percent only.  On this basis, if women had the same resources as men, it could increase yields by 20-30 percent and reduce the number of hungry people by 100 – 150 million. 

It was therefore emphasized that women’s roles, productivity and outcomes need to be increased at the higher and more lucrative nodes of the value chains.  It is therefore important to face the underlying challenges which are responsible for the barriers, such as cultural resistance to change, gender blind programming (in terms of capacity, inadequate information and data for gender programming), as well as inadequate political and institutional commitment.  Some of the solutions proposed to counter these underlying challenges include:

·       Capacity building at all levels on gender analysis and planning

·       Defining gender specific objectives and allocating specific funding to those activities

·       Developing gender specific Terms of Reference (TORs) and output for all staff

·       Mainstreaming gender issues and activities in all programme activities

·       Putting in place a gender sensitive monitoring and evaluation programme (better data collection and analysis)

·       Enabling technology is required

·       Women need to influence their environment and change the value chain, particularly in the marketing and transport systems

·       Increase the proportion of women in shareholding/economic participation as well as leadership, whereby, representation is not confused by participation

·       Advocacy and education programmes aimed at men

·       Women should be included in contracts for services and benefits

·       Sponsoring of women in research and integrating gender education at all levels, from certificates, to diploma and to degree certificates.

A number of frameworks for Gender Analysis in Agricultural Value Chains (GAAVCs) were given, and it was concluded that several frameworks need to be integrated for better precision.

SI needs to participate actively in advocacy, to widen women’s choices in value chains, with emphasis on access rights to productive resources.

 

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