As yesterday’s first morning at the AgriGender 2011 workshop wrapped up, we found ourselves reflecting on the four presentations, all emphasizing the critical role of women in market-led agriculture.
One common thread shared by all four presenters was the need to address BOTH men and women simultaneously, to increase women’s decision-making roles.
Besides the presenters, a participant from the World Food Program, Policy Officer Ngassam Tchaptchet, tells how their program used to focus mainly on women, trying to reach and make a difference targeting women only. But with time, they realized that even if income increased in the household, children could still suffer from malnutrition. We can do harm meaning good. They now look more and more at activities that target women WITH men.
Women getting access to knowledge and information or inputs and markets evolve in a male world: “If you can’t put money in the pockets of men, don’t try to give money to women” says Jemimah Njuki, Poverty and Gender project leader at ILRI.
According to workshop presenter Ann Waters-Bayer, giving women control of income alongside their husbands will empower women, thus making improving family livelihoods. “Prior to any activity, she added, there should be a ‘good’ gender analysis to gain understanding about the household, the income, the differences between men and women, the constraints, and women’s needs.”
Overall, research has typically focused on ‘gender roles’, ‘women’s participation’ or ‘women’s access to agricultural information and services’ as approaches to address gender equality and women’s empowerment. Very little has been done to ‘engage men with women’ to address gender inequalities in agriculture.
It is never too late. And if it is the role of researchers, development agents and practitioners to give women a voice, the whole community will benefit from common household decisions. Both pockets too.
Blogpost by Genevieve Renard