Gender / ILRI / Livestock / LIVESTOCK-FISH / Women

ILRI postdoctoral scientist shares experiences in gender and livestock research

On 22–26 April 2013, the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF) held an international workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa with the theme, “Strengthening the Delivery of Gender Equity Outcomes”. Elizabeth Waithanji, a postdoctoral scientist in gender and livestock at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), prepared a case study for the workshop based on her experiences with integrating gender into research in the livestock field. Below is her report.

Many times, gender does not get a consideration at the inception of the project. It is often overlooked and then included ad hoc, and often in a hurry, during various stages of the research-for-development (R4D) project cycle. A rapid gender baseline or unnamed study may be conducted, or gender may be integrated in the mid-term assessment a few months or years into the project, or at the end of the project. To illustrate this, here are some quotes that reflect situations I have encountered in the past in the course of my research on gender and livestock.


  • Graduate student (at a gender sensitization training): “My study is gendered: I have sampled bulls and cows!” … [applause]
  • Livestock scientist (on phone at 4.00 pm): “Could you insert a gender paragraph here and there? These donors are on our back. I don’t understand them! Would you be so kind to send this proposal back first thing tomorrow? I’ll be eternally grateful. Tomorrow is the deadline for proposal submission.”
  • Livestock scientist (at a workshop tea break): “These gender people like to interfere with other people’s work in order to make themselves relevant!”
  • Livestock scientist (at a concept note development session): “I have two daughters, a wife and a mother. Of course I understand gender; these are people close to my heart.”

(Difficult) Dialogue

  • Livestock scientist (just before a data collection field mission): “I have this focus group discussion checklist; could you please genderize it? I will be leaving for the airport in 30 minutes.”
  • Gender scientist (to livestock scientist in a great hurry requiring ‘genderization’ of checklist pronto): “Just ask these same questions to women-only and men-only focus group discussions.”
  • Livestock scientist (to gender scientist, in desperate exasperation and visibly exercising restraint): “That is impossible! We do not have the budget or time for so many focus group discussions. Please do something ‘reasonable’ that won’t cost us so much more time and money. We are really hard pressed. I’m sure there is a way. Please fix it.”

Strengthening the delivery of gender equity outcomes requires that research teams invest adequate time and effort into identifying appropriate gender analysis methods and tools. The methods and tools discussed here represent some that have been used with reasonable degrees of success, at different stages of the project cycle, in different studies.

Most tools used in data collection can be adopted for gender studies, but R4D projects tend to invest more in studies that will measure or establish changes and the direction of change in gender power relations that can be attributed to the R4D intervention. For example, asset accumulation is a desired outcome for most (if not all) R4D projects. Several gender integrated studies on the impact of gender-blind R4D projects have demonstrated that costs and benefits of such interventions are disproportionately experienced by women and men by virtue of their gender. For example, in agriculture or livestock interventions that increase production and participation (in terms of selling) in the formal markets, women often end up doing most of the work to ensure and sustain enhanced production, whereas men end up being the main actors in markets, receiving money from sales and controlling most of it. This applies to products that are considered to be traditionally women’s, like milk, chickens and eggs. This is unequal development.

Until recently, differences in benefits from interventions between women and men were supported by anecdotal evidence, which is not really convincing to policymakers, who prefer using measurable attributes that demonstrate significance in differences. Currently, quantitative measures of differences have been put in place by quantitative feminist researchers. These methods are strengthening the case for gendered differences in benefits from interventions and are now being used in R4D studies in tandem with qualitative methods more familiar among the gender researchers.

Among the popular qualitative methodologies used are focus group discussions, key informant interviews and in-depth individual case study interviews. The tools commonly used in qualitative studies include mapping tools (for example, resource maps, calendars and Venn diagrams) and pebble tools (for example, ranking, scoring, rating and proportion piling) (see Behrman et al. 2012 and Saghir et al. 2012 for a review on tools).

The main mode of quantitative data collection is the survey questionnaire at the household level. Questionnaires can also be administered to individuals from the same household as well as to an interest group. For the quantitative surveys, a random sample of individuals with attributes that represent those of the population must be obtained. Examples of quantitative study methods that have been used in gender impact evaluation studies include the gender and assets in agriculture (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2010; Meinzen-Dick et al. 2011; Quisumbing et al. 2013 [forthcoming]) and the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) (Alkire et al. 2012).

Alkire S, Meinzen-Dick RS, Peterman A, Quisumbing AR, Seymour G and Vaz A. 2012. The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index. IFPRI Discussion Paper 01240.

Behrman J, Karelina Z, Peterman A, Roy S and Goh A. (eds). 2012. A toolkit on collecting gender and assets data in qualitative and quantitative program evaluations. Gender, Agriculture & Assets Project (GAAP) Technical Report. IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) and ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute). [Contributions from Agnes Quisumbing, Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Jemimah Njuki, Nancy Johnson, Elizabeth Waithanji and Dee Rubin].

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 2010. Agricultural development outcome indicators: Initiative and sub‐initiative progress indicators and pyramid of outcome indicators. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Meinzen-Dick R, Johnson N, Quisumbing A, Njuki J, Behrman J, Rubin D, Peterman A and Waithanji E. 2011. Gender, assets, and agricultural development programs: A conceptual framework. CAPRi Working Paper 99. IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute), Washington, DC.

Quisumbing A, Rubin D, Manfre C, Waithanji E, van den Bold M, Olney D and Meinzen-Dick R. Closing the gender asset gap: Learning from value chain development in Africa and Asia. The UN Foundation Trust (forthcoming 2013)

Saghir P, Njuki J, Waithanji E, Kariuki J and Sikira A. 2012. Potential of integrating improved goat breeds with sweet potatoes and cassava into agro-pastoral systems in selected districts of Tanzania: A gendered analysis. ILRI Discussion Paper No. 21. ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), Nairobi, Kenya.

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