Gender experts from across the CGIAR met in Montpellier in the week of 17 June, 2013 to explore how to bring a stronger gender focus across international research work in the CGIAR and its new Research-for-development Programmes (CRPs).The gender agenda features prominently in new thinking around the outcome-focused programmes of the CGIAR. Women often make up at least half of all farmers in many locations, perform many of the most laborious tasks alongside many other roles and yet the research, advisory and education systems that serve them are too often blind to, or in many cases consciously exclude, their particular needs. The meeting provided an excellent venue for discussion of taking forward CGIAR engagement in the Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP). Mark Holderness and Jennie Dey de Pryck of the GFAR Secretariat discussed the GAP initiative with the CGIAR Gender and Agriculture Research Network, a number of whose members are already active in GAP actions.
As a rapidly-growing collective movement for change, the GAP is now providing the open and inclusive multi-institutional platform required to trigger large scale collective actions on gender-equality across a wide range of agricultural systems. No one institution can achieve these alone and for many reasons gender issues are often unduly sidelined in agricultural communities and institutions. The partners in GAP are working to place gender equity and women’s empowerment at the heart of agricultural policy, research and development, capacity-development and institutional-building agendas.
The new focus shown by a number of CRPs is now creating transformative agendas to directly address the institutional, social and cultural constraints faced by women farmers. These aim to foster systems of innovation specifically targeting women’s needs and opportunities, to increase their access to, and control of, agricultural assets, inputs and benefits. However, the CGIAR Gender and Agriculture Research Network members recognized that they face significant constraints of capacities and investment that need to be remedied urgently, to bring the impacts required to meet the vital needs of women farmers in food and nutrition security, enhanced incomes and rural development.
There was a great deal of enthusiasm among all the CGIAR gender specialists present for joining efforts with the many other institutions already taking part in the GAP, to come together to address and fulfil the large scale changes required in agricultural systems. Linkage with the CRPs, alongside commitments from others such as UN women, FAO, IFAD, WFP, the World Bank, Regional Fora and a wide range of national actors from public private and civil organizations is creating a major impetus for change in the way we think and act in rural development.
The meeting discussed ways in which the GAP umbrella could cross-link international research efforts with coordinated actions to address gender equity in specific countries. These include coherent actions in the seven countries addressed under the Programme for the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women (EERW) and conversely, engaging with other agencies to help achieve desired impacts in the country and thematic areas of the CRPs. GAP support is being provided to developing the gender strategies for specific CRPs, in particular the newly-launched Dryland Systems Programme.
GAP received strong endorsement from all CGIAR gender specialists present and other initiatives and connections are now being explored to help the CRPs give due attention to gender equity as a core part of their functions and re-imagine the agenda for agricultural research and innovation.