Friday, January 30, 2015

Gender research aims to mainstream women in agriculture

LOS BANOS, Philippines - The gender research team of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is extensively working to mainstream women as the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) implements its gender components.

Projects under GRiSP are aiming to reduce gender inequality and gaps through the use of gender-responsive technology and tools, outreach, training, and gender-disaggregated (separately collected from men and women) data. While doing this, the gender research team gathered a few success stories to tell from farm mechanization efforts in India.

Women introduced mechanized farming in Bihar in Eastern India with the help of gender specialists at IRRI. Encouraged and assisted by the IRRI gender team, the women members of a self-help group put their savings and a generous government subsidy together and became proud owners of a mechanical rice transplanter.

The initiative was carried out through a pilot project under the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) in Bihar, one of the least-developed states in India, with the lowest agricultural productivity and the highest incidence of poverty.

Also in Eastern India, women have come to the heart of technology delivery in the remote tribal villages of Odisha. In 2013, as part of its commitment to mainstreaming gender, IRRI started engaging local partners, such as Pradan and the Dhan Foundation and other such organizations, to help women in Mayurbhanj District, also under CSISA. Their cumulative efforts have changed the technology delivery model for the district.

IRRI’s gender team was also responsible for women empowerment through access to seeds and seed management training in Eastern India and Bangladesh.

These efforts have been successful in, for instance, identifying a standard and comprehensive set of domains to measure women empowerment in agriculture. However, gender mainstreaming also faces challenges, which mainly have to do with household structure and gender norms; difficulty in collecting sex-disaggregated information about assets, income, and expenditure; prolonged survey and difficulties in involving or even interviewing women due to time constraints, information gaps, and religious and cultural constraints.

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