Gender is a hot button issue at GCARD and the session on gender for inclusive development was no exception – a lively mix of videos, panel discussions and interactive nodes to map out practical ways to promote gender equality in agricultural research for development.
“Wherever there are women, there is more enthusiasm and excitement,” said Esther Penunia, Secretary General of the Asian Farmer’s Association. Moderated by Global Author Jules Pretty, discussion focused on the big challenges facing women farmers and researchers, and optimism about women’s empowerment was palpable. “We cannot address poverty in Africa and South Asia without addressing gender in agriculture,” said Ruth Meinzen-Dick of IFPRI.
Solutions such as nutrition education, affirmative action in training programmes, and income investment education were all identified as ways to widen gender equality in AR4D. Successes in participatory research were highlighted, as well as the need to strengthen and innovate processes that bring women to AR4D, and encourage them to stay in the field.
A highlight of the session was a compelling video which told success stories of three women scientists selected for the AWARD Mentor Programme. The video illustrated the critical need for gender-awareness to move to the next level of gender-transformative empowerment, which quickly became a main theme and goal of the session. Mary Njenga, a PhD student at the University of Nairobi gave a presentation on a concrete example of a small enterprise giving women decision-making roles as producers of an alternative to fuelwood that is stimulating the local economy in a sustainable way.
Pamela Anderson, Director General of CIP, was one of the participants who insisted that mega-programmes without gender platforms should be denied funding. “We’re at a point where gender is non-negotiable,” she said, adding that the CG centers and institutions in general must fast-track gender equality policy so that it becomes a driving force guiding all mega-programmes.