Africa / Agriculture / Asia / Bangladesh / Capacity Strengthening / Ethiopia / ILRI / IPMS / Markets / Women

Women in agriculture–hungry countries are ‘gender unequal’ countries

Women selling agricultural products

Women taking goods to market (photo credit: ILRI/Kebede).

The New Agriculturist this month provides a snapshot of views about where we are in gender research for agricultural development. Journalist Olivia Schwier collected these viewpoints at a ‘Gender and Market-Oriented Agriculture’ workshop held 31 January—2 February 2011 in Addis Ababa. Lessons from case studies in gender work were presented at the workshop, many of them from a major project of the Ethiopian Government implemented for the last five years by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to help get more research into local use, ‘Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers’ (IPMS).

Wondirad Mandefro, State Minister of Agriculture, Ethiopia

Wondirad Mandefro, Ethiopia’s State Minister of Agriculture (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘Ethiopia’s national targets for gender equality in agriculture . . . are not yet met, due largely to women’s low education levels, low involvement in household and community decision-making, and low rewards accruing from the country’s agricultural and economic development. Women’s access to markets is particularly constrained in Ethiopia, indicating that redressing the gender imbalance in the country’s market-oriented agriculture will yield high returns. . . . estimated . . . [at] almost 2 percentage points [added] to growth of its gross domestic product every year between 2005 and 2030.’ — Wondirad Mandefro, Ethiopia’s State Minister of Agriculture, in his opening address to the gender workshop

Among the gender views Schwier collected were the following.

Jemimah Njuki at the AgriGender 2011 workshop

Jemimah Njuki, ILRI Poverty, Gender and Impact Team Leader (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘Countries that are hungry are also the countries that have high levels of gender inequality. . . . If you put assets, capacity, resources, inputs, and technologies in the hands of women it has big implications for poverty reduction. If you address gender inequalities, you promote economic growth, food security, and child nutrition.’ — Jemimah Njuki, Poverty, ILRI Gender and Impact Team Leader

Hallie Goertz at the AgriGender 2011 workshop

Hallie Goertz, Technoserve (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘Our next focus is getting women more engaged at the cooperative level, as cooperative members and managers, to get them engaged all along the value chain for the purpose of really maximising the income that they are seeing from volume increases.’ — Hallie Goertz, Technoserve

‘We have to identify markets or commodities that fit the conditions and situation of women, considering their previous experience, their living conditions, their knowledge, and their skills. It’s very difficult to introduce something which they don’t know.’ — Gizachew Sissay, Oxfam Senior Value Chain Advisor

John McDermott  at the AgriGender 2011 workshop, day 2

John McDermott, ILRI Deputy Director General for Research (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘There are a lot of potential benefits of agricultural growth for women but there are also real risks. Once we concentrate money, power and supply chains, lots of times women can be left out. . . . It’s important we try and help women work through the risks and be real partners all the way in what happens.’ — John McDermott, ILRI Deputy Director General for Research

Elfinesh Dermeji a beekeeper in Denkaka

Elfinesh Dermeji, a beekeeper in Denkaka, Debre Zeit, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘In some families when the men are positive and they want their wives to participate, the woman is not business oriented or she’s not motivated. On the other side there are some men, when women are motivated and they want to participate, they don’t want her to leave the house. They would rather not have that income than have their wife involved in an association.’ — Elfinesh Dermeji, Ethiopian beekeeper

Yisehak Baredo at the AgriGender 2011 workshop, day 2

Yisehak Baredo, IPMS (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘You have to try to change the attitude of men so that they consider women as equal partners who can contribute.’ — Yisehak Baredo, IPMS Research and Development Officer

Gerald Mutinda at the AgriGender 2011 workshop

Gerald Mutinda, East African Dairy Development Project (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘There is no way you are going to empower one sex without considering the other—it becomes counterproductive.’ — Gerald Mutinda, East African Dairy Development Program Regional Advisor

Mohammed Siddiquee, of CARE Bangladesh, at the AgriGender 2011 workshop

Mohammed Siddiquee, CARE Bangladesh (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘What we are seeing in Bangladesh is that whenever there are more than five men engaged in a group of 25–30, there has been a tendency by those men to take over control of certain resources and ultimately the women lose control. But whenever the number is less than five, and the role of the men is very well articulated, the groups do remarkably well compared to the women-only groups, who face certain challenges.’ — Muhammad Siddiquee, CARE Bangladesh Project Coordinator

‘If women have low self esteem and they are being abused within their household, you can provide all these wonderful things but if you don’t deal with the social cultural issues that make it difficult for that equality to really happen, it’s not going to happen.’ — Kate Waller, Gender consultant

‘There are projects which are doing great things with the resources they have but will they be able to make it effective in national programmes? . . . How do we harness the lessons and upscale it.’ — Seblewongel Deneke, Canadian International Development Agency-Addis Ababa Gender Equality Advisor

Rekha Mehra

Rekha Mehra, International Center for Research on Women (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘There are some instances where it’s critical to have women extension agents because women are in closed communities where they are not permitted to interact with men. But there is no reason why both men and women can’t be good extension agents for both men and women and that’s what we should be working towards. — Rekha Mehra, Director of Economic Development, International Center for Research on Women

Dirk Hoekstra - IPMS agricultural economist at the AgriGender 2011 workshop

Dirk Hoekstra, IPMS Project Manager (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘If we could do something about family planning then I believe we ultimately would get a better environment for developing the world in a more sustainable way and with more participation by women because they have to look after their children less.’ — Dirk Hoekstra, IPMS Project Manager

Ann Waters Bayer at the AgriGender 2011 workshop

Ann Waters-Bayer, ETC Foundation (photo credit: ILRI/Habtamu).

‘We need to put a spotlight on women who innovate, who take collective action to solve their problems, who openly express their views about the changes they seek, who take active part in project planning, research and development. High profile documentation would give strong messages to women and men at all levels about women’s actual and potential contributions to developing value chains and help change perceptions.’ — Ann Waters-Bayer, ETC Foundation

AgriGender 2011 logo

Read the whole article at New Agriculturist: Gender and market-oriented agriculture, March 2011.

ILRI Gender and Agriculture blog.

Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers (IPMS) blog.

From the ILRI News Blog:

Empowering female small-scale stock keepers to make decisions is a smart development path for all, 4 February 2011

Rural transformation: How a dairywoman and beekeeper in the Ethiopian highlands turned their farms into profitable businesses linked to markets, 3 February 2011

Les femmes ne grimpent pas aux arbres, 2 February 2011

Improving women’s participation in dairying: Lessons from the East Africa Dairy Development Project, 1 February 2011

Improved fattening doubles incomes from sheep raising in western Ethiopia–Top two innovators are women, 1 February 2011

‘It takes an orchestra to play a symphony’: Jemimah Njuki on making market-oriented agriculture work for women, 31 January 2011

‘Fixing the gender imbalance in agriculture will yield high returns’–Ethiopian State Minister of Agriculture, 31 January 2011

Top ten recommendations for helping Ethiopian women farmers break into the marketplace, 31 January 2011

What will it take for women farmers to break away from the hearth–and into the marketplace?, 30 January 2011

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