International Expert Consultation on Gender in Agriculture

International Expert Consultation on Gender in Agriculture

International Expert Consultation on Gender in Agriculture:

The Washington Meeting: 16-17thMarch 2009

Emma Kambewa


The meeting was jointly organized by World Bank, IFAD and FAO as a follow up to the recently published Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook (which can be accessed at The meeting was sought to discuss and debate practical and strategic plan of actions capitalizing on the principles and the momentum that the Sourcebook has generated.The meeting discussed a range of issues around six themes that form the basis for the book including:(1) climate change; food, (2) fuel and financial crises; (3) pressures on water and land use; (4) opportunities for economic services provision; (5) disaster and post conflict and (6) private sector engagement. These themes were discussed in parallel sessions thereby allowing direct participation in only two sessions.I participated in: Pressures on water and land use and Climate Change sessions.

Summary of the outcomes

As the main output of the meeting was to develop strategic plan of action, each session was further subdivided into three groups to discuss priority issues regarding: a) Policy, b) Research, c) Actions. All the issues discussed were then prioritized to enable WB, IFAD and FAO to focus their attention on them for the near future. Table below summarizes the priority policy, research and actions that were identified for immediate consideration.

The table should be understood in the context that whatever has been indicated are the priority areas the WB, IFAD and FAO will focus on in terms of sourcing resources and implementing the activities be it directly or through working with collaborators. Further note that all the discussion were conducted with a gender lens.

Theme / Priority issues
Policy / Research / Action
Climate change /
  1. Ensure gender integration in related sector al agencies (agriculture, forestry, livestock, etc) at national level and in WB/FAO/IFAD i.e. Using 2 pronged approach for mainstreaming to focus on organizational change to build gender responsive organizations and provide resources and decision making spaces for women
  1. Support women’s organizations at all levels i.e. Build demand-led process, led by women farmers, by building skills of leadership, negotiation
  1. Ensure gender /women’s issues are integrated into existing actions of WB/FAO/IFAD related to Climate Change processes, funds i.e. WB/IFAD/FAO must assure gender is addressed in what they do
  1. Innovative and gender-sensitive research on innovations: processes and outcomes i.e. innovative research on Alternative energy, and technologies; New markets and market instruments (C trading), NRM (water, soils, forests, biodiversity), Insurance and collection of baseline data
  1. Governance, policies, and institutions that enable/constrain men and women to adapt and mitigate climate change i.e. Studying behavior of bureaucracies, Linkage of institutions across scales (e.g. local, national, regional and global), Carbon trading and sinks (e.g. REDD, CDM)
  1. Enhancing/integrating knowledge systems for climate risk management i.e. How to effectively communicate risk; Early warning systems and responses, Linking local / traditional and scientific knowledge, NRM and climate change, How to do effective science-policy-practitioner dialogues
  1. Increase policy space and voice for women’s leadership and participation in CC strategies and programs i.e. Mainstream gender perspective in climate initiatives (incl. across sector ministries/ national planning)
2. Institute funding channels for women’s programs in CC adaptation and mitigation i.e. Establish funding mechanisms and Support gender budgeting approach in climate funds
3. Support gender-sensitive sustainable climate-resilient agriculture, water, energy systems that advantage women as household, food producers, processors, business owners level etc i.e. Support community approaches to water/ land management and Link to related sectors (disaster prep./ health, social protection in drought programs)
Policy / Research / Action
Fuel and financial crises; /
  1. Agriculture Development Policy (10% of Gov’t spending and % to women) based on Based on Maputo Agreement, Extend to other agriculture centric countries, and Genderize the ongoing process of reporting
  2. Audit the new crisis response funds i.e. Review all crisis response funding mechanisms for attention to gender in their design / application, Apply a gender lens to the country assessments being done and establish mandatory gender indicators
  3. Social Protection / early warning / data availability i.e. Recognized need for gender sensitive response to crisis and Need for gender sensitive data that supports early action and prevention
  1. Impacts of food price crisis (short-term) i.e. Remittances, production and incomes, price volatility, household and individual-levels impacts, food/fuel trade-offs, new varieties (impacts on nutrition, income)
  2. Information- sharing/coordination i.e. Share data and methods, coordinate across researchers (indicators, research questions) to improve comparability
  3. Responsive and relevant agricultural research i.e. Make agricultural research responsive to needs of small farmers/women; Traditional varieties, local innovation, indigenous knowledge, coping mechanisms
  4. Incentives for responsive research i.e.Support/recognize research that responds to small farmers’/women’s needs: competition or prize, small grants
  1. Engendering analysis and response to the food crisis i.e. Gender disaggregated impact in national food crisis assessment and Strengthen gender sensitive design of responses (agri-operations and safety nets)
  2. Recognize the role of Agriculture in food security and the Women’s crucial contribution i.e. Include agric/nutrition training at all levels, Empower women producer groups for advocacy, learning and production, Food and nutrition security
  3. Invest more in value addition by and for women i.e. Agri-business training to target women and Business services for women farmers

Policy / Research / Action
Pressures on water and land use
To strengthen women’s access, ownership, and control over land and natural resources within diverse landscapes, cultures and households /
  1. Women’s equal rights to ownership, access and control of land i.e. Participation by women in policy, legal; Governance and administrative reform processes at all levels especially the grass roots and Building capacity to participate in policy, processes & to claim rights
  1. Comprehensive, integrated land use policy based on recognition of women’s roles i.e. focusing on agricultural production, energy, Fuel, Water, Biodiversity and Marginal lands, etc
  1. Complementary policies to facilitate women’s land rights focusing on Marriage, Inheritance, Migration, Refugees and Decentralization
  1. Research on effects of legal rights to land (for women) i.e. What has been the implications /impact on the ground of past/current efforts to strengthen land rights/access to land for women and men
  1. Impact of changes in land ownership and land use on small-scale agriculture and women i.e. As land uses change, how do they impact land ownership and smallholders’ control and use of land and water
  1. Land grabbing / carbon trading / commercialization of agriculture i.e. i.e. What are the affects on women (Women’s access /rights to land) + food security
  1. Strengthen women’s skill to negotiate land use rights (eg. legal services, HIV/AIDS & land rights) i.e. need to strengthen local knowledge of land titling processes, legal rights and options, and their power to leverage control.
  1. Promote dialogue between government & Women land users i.e. Dialogue for productive use of land and access to markets. (e.g. land grabbing, large scale acquisition, bio-fuels)
  2. Change attitudes to women’s right to land i.e. Influence youth (boys & girls) understanding of women’s land issues ( e.g. that women need access to lad equal to men whether through inheritance or law.

Policy / Research / Action
Opportunities for economic services provision; /
  1. Good governance policy i.e. Gender sensitive and increased participation of women in producer organizations (Farmer organizations; cooperatives; chamber s of commerce; women’s groups); Local governance and administration, Representation at legislative level and Gender budgeting and allocation
  1. Incentives for gender sensitive innovation and extension i.e. need to do poverty and gender analysis first to understand the context, Identify needs and potentials, Promote research on innovation (gender sensitive and to respond to needs of women) and then create budget lines
  2. Adapted efficient rural finance policy i.e. Focuses strategy for gender based rural finance, Up-scale rural finance, attract private funds, venture capital, Risk mitigation strategies (insurance, new products)
  1. Socio-economics of agricultural production focusing on Agricultural production and women entrepreneurs
  1. Service provision focusing on Extension/information and processing / storage
  1. Political economy i.e. Identify knowledge gaps, attitudes, constraints, limitations
  1. Strengthencapacity of women in mixed organizations and women’s groups at all levels i.e. focusing on skills development; Negotiation and leadership; Financial and risk management; Marketing and Quality standards, branding etc.
  1. Align supply services to economic production goals relevant to women i.e. Minimize waste of resources, Increase women extension workers and Consult women on their needs
  2. Finance women in agriculture (women producer groups) i.e. Funds to contract services, Provide loans at competitive interest rates, Issues small grants to start-ups, Targeted cash transfer and Finance labor saving technology

Policy / Research / Action
Disaster /
  1. Shift the focus from pre to post disaster, ensuring a focus on building resilience to disaster into/as part of development i.e. Incorporate climate, Change /disaster/gender into all staff training; Improve institutional processes for knowledge sharing and ensure involvement of grass roots peoples to share knowledge
  1. Shift the approach of disaster related work from a technical to a people centered and women centered perspective i.e. Ask who, what how affected etc
  2. Post disaster learn the gendered lessons and transfer ’good practice’ to governments and partners i.e. Build back better; take into account gender roles and relations and how these may change, recognize differences between male / female farming practices etc
  1. Initiate research at all levels on disasters from a development perspective highlighting and understanding differences between men and women
  1. Explore and document existing policies and frameworks, case studies, processes that work and communicate/share knowledge within and between agencies
  1. Understandings of actions and adaptations disaggregated by women/men, age, ethnicity at all levels - households, community, etc.
  1. Support existing actions and knowledge of women in their communities as experts on adaptation and mitigation
  1. Partnerships with governments to prioritize effective distribution, that takes account of gender differences, of disaster information around preparedness and early warning
  1. Promote spaces for local platforms for action

Policy / Research / Action
Post Conflict /
  1. Establish gender focused goals in agricultural programs i.e. Proactive focus on women's roles as producers and distributors of food and allocation of resources to women’s needs and functions
  1. Ensure women are “at the table” i.e. At least one third female representation on agricultural related boards with accountability on gender goals
  1. Build capacity of key stakeholders on gender dimensions of agriculture and conflict i.e. Develop and communicate a gender informed understanding of the conflict as it relates to agriculture and build the capacity of key stakeholders to act on this understanding
  1. Land, gender and conflict i.e. Research the nexus between land and conflict issues (scarcity, use, control) and their gender dimensions
  1. Understanding changing gender roles in conflict situations i.e. analyze how gender roles change in conflict environments; the implications for gender relations (power issues) and emerging economic opportunities
  1. Transition from relief to development i.e. research and identify good practices in strengthening linkages between relief (food aid), agricultural food security and gender implications
  1. Coordination of conflict prevention and recovery programs i.e. - Ensure convergence and efficiency of all actors in tackling gender dimensions of conflicts response
  2. Capacity building of women’s leaders in conflict situations i.e. Enable women and other gender focused activists and practitioners to understand and act on the gender dimensions of conflict and the corollary policy and program response
  3. Establish dedicated (and qualified) gender field staff in donor agencies and IFIs while at the same time enforcing current policies and accountabilities on gender at the management levels i.e. Allocate resources to recruit and put in place dedicated staff on gender that work with agriculture and rural development staff on gender mainstreaming

Policy / Research / Action
Private sector engagement /
  1. Gender conditionality in policy dialogue and programs i.e. Move existing commitment from 50% to full conditionality in all World Bank Programs
  2. Awareness raising, capacity building and dialogue with partner governments and multiple stakeholders on the importance of gender in agriculture i.e.Design relevant campaigns & training on key concepts e.g. “Gender equality as smart economics”; Social license to operate, “Race to the top”: brand equity, Women as leaders in management roles
  3. Adhere at least to ILO standards in agricultural companies and supply chains, with special attention to gender sensitivity i.e. Adhere to core labor standards and social protection and provide a minimum floor of rights for all workers to have decent work opportunities
  1. Private Sector Dynamics i.e. How are core business activities relating to women and men as consumers, producers, wage workers?
  1. Impact of initiatives related to private sector i.e. how do existing projects relating to the private sector as well as private sector initiatives impact on gender in agriculture?
  1. How to increase capacity of local research centers on gender in agriculture i.e. What is the process to identify issue at local levels? How to increase resources from public and private sources? How to use research to drive policy agenda of public organizations + private sector?
  1. Strengthen gender sensitive value chain analysis to align private sector with small producers i.e. A value chain analysis that : Uses plain language, Identifies the roles of men and women and the existing business models and Identify gaps and opportunities for women and men
  1. Capacitate women producers to engage with the private sector i.e. Train women farmers to deliver products of acceptable quality to private sector firms; Tailor training to market needs; Develop financial business skills; Strengthen management of FBO; Strengthen risk management skills
  2. Enabling rural infrastructure i.e. Roads, Telecommunications, Water/Irrigation, Storage, Market infra-structure


Beyond the formal meeting, I had wonderful time meeting, learning fromand sharing with individual scientists. There are immediate follow-ups that I will make from now. For example,Dr Yianna Lambrou (FAO- ) the principal facilitator for the climate change session, is currently working on climate change projects in India that are coincidently identical to the climate change project for Lake Chilwa which hopefully will be funded. We agreed with Yianna that we need to have informationexchange about our projects, methodologies and whenever possible further exchange visits to personally see how they are proceeding in the projects and also for them to see how we are implementing our project. In her project which may be slightly different from our, is that they collect data from local communities in the way they perceive climate change and indicators for climate change whenever they occur. Then they compare it with data from meteorological centers and other scientific data. I consider this contact more valuable for the lake Chilwa project. Yianna wants to replicate the methodologies in other areas and she saw the lake Chilwa project as an important link that we should maintain with her. I hope however that I did not misrepresent the Lake Chilwa project as I did not have the final version of how it is at the moment.

Another contact was with a representative of Irish Aid that has opened their office in Malawi about two years ago. She consulted me on the development needs that Irish Aid can focus on in the country. We agreed that I need to come up with more issues where Irish Aid can support.

Concluding remarks

The meeting was nice and the discussions were even better. I brought a few cds for the source book for those interested to have a copy. I also brought the hard copy for the library. Note however that discussion were more generic and not on specific topics such as fisheries, aquaculture, crops, animals etc and that is why such specific issues do not appear in the summary. They are however implicit in the way they focal areas will be operationalized. Currently, IFAD, FAO and WB are already operationalizing some of the modules in the source boo. For example, WB is funding research on fisheries in West Africa where they are trying the fisheries modules in the source book.

More information of the meeting can be found at the following blog where people are welcome to add comments after reading through the sessions and what transpired. Contact person for the blog is John Mackedon