GENDER ANALYSIS IN FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION PROJECTS
Susan Virginia Poats2
"We all wear strong blinders when it comes to gender. It is difficult
for what we actually experience to penetrate these ideological barriers...we
repeat what we hear, despite what we see or do. We talk to the woman, and she
declares that she does not engage in field work, just a little bit of
planting, weeding, harvesting..." (Garrett and Espinoso 1986).
My presentation this morning will first examine briefly the background
and current status of the interaction between FSR/E and gender issues. As
part of this examination, I will share with you the preliminary results of a
questionnaire sent to all of the lead authors of the abstracts submitted to
this year's Symposium. While the complete set of responses is not yet
available, the initial results indicate what might turn out to be some
interesting trends in the institutionalization of gender issues in FSR/E.
Plus, since most of us are usually on the delivery end of a survey, I think
you will find it interesting to learn how you fared as a respondent and to
compare your answers to those of your colleagues sitting here in this room.
Drawing upon the questionnaire results and other secondary information, I will
then lay out some of the lessons learned thus far in the integration of gender
issues and FSR/E. Based on these lessons, I would then like to propose an
agenda for the future focusing on traiinng in methodological skills, training
of trainers, and the staffing of field teams.
Before going any further, I have a note on terminology. The term "sex"
refers to the biological differences between males and females. The term
"gender" is a social construct and refers to the learned behavioral
differences between men and women. As a social construct, gender roles are
flexible and variable across cultures. This presentation focuses on gender
issues and analysis in the process of FSR/E.
As the farming systems research and extension (FSR/E) approach has
matured, in both its application and methodology, increasing attention has
been focused on an area that is often defined as "gender issues." Like
FSR/E, "gender issues" is shorthand or a "code" for an extensive field of
interdisciplinary research and practice (Poats et al, 1988). The application
or integration of gender issues across the broad range of FSR/E activities is
not complete nor has it being accomplished without difficulty. In some
1 Delivered as the keynote address for the gender issues sub-theme of the
Annual Farming Systems Research and Extension Symposium, University of
Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, October 7-9, 1988.
2 Anthropologist, co-manager of the Gender and Agriculture Project,
Population Council, and consultant to Tropical Research and Development,Inc.
This presentation is based upon the preliminary findings of a survey conducted
as part of a project with Tropical Research and Development, Inc. and funded
by the Office of Women in Development, USAID.
projects, consideration of gender issues is a pragmatic decision, simply a way
to do better on-farm work. For others, it has been, and often still is, an
emotional battle. The process of integration is not complete, but much
progress has been made and there is a great deal to learn from the experiences
of those projects and institutions where gender-awareness and analysis have
WHY CONSIDER GENDER ISSUES IN FSR/E?
It is useful to consider briefly the history of gender issues in FSR/E
before reviewing the current status of gender analysis in projects. The
farming systems approach to agricultural research and extension emerged in the
1970s as a response to the challenge of developing technologies that would be
appropriate to the needs of low-resource farmers. This task required an
understanding of farmers' particular constraints, goals and farming practices
that went beyond strictly technical and economic criteria. Definition of the
farming environment of low-resource producers also required FSR/E to focus on
the management and decision-making abilities of farmers. This in turn led to
an emphasis on the household as the central unit of the farming system. While
the focus on the household as the controlling unit of the farming system was
part of a long-needed recognition of the rationality of low-resource farmers,
it unfortunately served to obscure the differences among individuals within
the household. Practitioners, borrowing from the household models proposed by
economists at the time, assumed that the household functioned as a single unit
of production and consumption. It was further assumed that consensus among
household members existed on how to allocate resources and benefits, and that
all household members' interests and problems were identical (Cloud 1988).
In recent years, these beliefs and assumptions about farming households
have radically shifted. It is now widely recognized that intra-household
relationships are as diverse and dynamic as the relationships between
households. Individuals within a household may share some interests, have
separate interests, and at times have opposing interests (Feldstein et al
1987, Cloud 1988). Technology that will help one farmer in a household may
actually hurt other farmers within the same household. The recognition that
these diverse and complex relationships among members of households must be
considered in the design, testing and evaluation of new technology has
provoked some of the most exciting and innovative methodological developments
in FSR/E to date.
The shift from a unitary household assumption to an intra-household
dynamics perspective in FSR/E has not occurred by accident. Rather, it is the
result of convergence between two separate but related fields of research:
the social science of agricultural development and women in development or
First of all, exploration of the low-resource farming environment opened
the door in agricultural research and extension for the growth and development
of a social science of agriculture. While there are excellent examples of
social science research in agriculture prior to FSR/E, the approach changed
the function of social science research applied to agriculture in several
1) FSR/E encouraged expansion of social science involvement from a narrow
band of agricultural economists to a broad range of social science
2) Rather than working in rural isolation on disciplinary studies or on a
discontinuous basis conducting post-mortems on projects gone astray,
FSR/E provided the medium for social scientists to become part of
interdisciplinary teams and to ply their trades in the actual development
3) The development of institutional structures to contain FSR/E in
research or extension institutions at last provided a "home" for the
social sciences in agriculture (Bingen and Poats, 1988).
These three changes "conditioned" the environment of agricultural
development to allow for a focus on intra-household and gender issues, but it
was the growing WID field that provided the tools to do the work.
The WID field, like FSR/E, began with a concern for the distribution of
development benefits (Foats et al, 1988). Esther Boserup (1970) broke the
ground for WID with her work that challenged the prevailing notion that
economic development would automatically improve women's status by replacing
traditional values and economic backwardness with new opportunities and an
egalitarian ethos. She argued instead that economic innovations often
replaced women's traditional economic activities with more efficient forms of
production controlled by men. The recognition that development might worsen
women's position relative to men's crystallized the new field of women and
development around a concern with equity.
However, by the end of the 1970s, the growing WID research base showed
that, in addition to equity, women's roles were intimately related to more
technical problems of efficiency and productivity, Numerous studies showed
that women were active producers whose potential contributions were often
overlooked or undermined. A clearer understanding of women's role in
production was essential for the success of agricultural development
projects. Key to this understanding was the development of appropriate
methodologies for studying the complex dynamics of rural households. These
tools were not endless checklists of questions to be asked d d data to be
gathered in each project setting. Rather, the new tools were actually
frameworks for analysis or "conceptual maps" that proposed categories for
inquiry and analysis which would help researchers and development workers
identify relevant information on who does what (activities analysis), the
factors underlying decision-making in the access and control of resources,
benefits and incentives, and the process by which women and men are included
(or not included) in development activities (Feldstein et al 1987, Anderson et
al 1985). A significant difference in these new frameworks was the movement
away from attention only to women in development and toward a focus on "gender
The notion of a conceptual framework for outlining key issues of inquiry
and handling differing outcomes depending on the particular setting, fits
nicely with the client-oriented field-level activity of the FSR/E approach.
However, the convergence of these two methodological spheres occurred
primarily because there were social scientists within the agricultural
research and extension system doing FSR/E who were capable of taking the
methods and tools of WID and applying them to the practical problems of
The shift in WID methodology from women's issues to gender issues is
both significant and opportune for the integration with FSR/E. The need to
disaggregate farm households in order to identify the constraints and
problems of individual farmers and to reconsolidate farmers in groups of
those sharing particular research problems (recommendation domains) is
recognized, but the fact that households can be disaggregated in a number of
ways---by age, status, seniority, or gender---can potentially complicate the
methodological strategy. However, gender has proved to be the most useful
tool to leverage the disaggregation of the farm household and analyze farm
household behavior (Cloud 1988). Thus, today in FSR/E we continue to see the
household at the center of the farming system, but increasingly, gender issues
and gender analysis are tools of choice for opening up the household for more
equitable and efficient analysis in technology development.
CURRENT STATUS OF GENDER ISSUES IN FSR/E
The extent to which gender analysis is currently used in FSR/E can be
gauged by the number of conferences, workshops, and networking efforts at
international and regional levels, and the attention the topic is receiving
from donors.3 Since 1983, at least six major international conferences and
workshops have been held on gender and farming systems research.
One of the earliest international conferences on households and farming
systems was organized in Bellagio by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1984 (Moock
1986). Though some participants commented privately that the separate camps
of FSR and household folks talked past each other, the papers published from
the conference represented some of the earliest work in the field. The
conference called for increased attention in FSR to the roles and
responsibilities of women. Though some participants expressed concern about
the difficulty of incorporating gender concerns into farming systems research,
others such as Guyer contended that it "is not a question of grafting on a
new factor, but of having recourse to a whole other framework of analysis, one
which holds fewer factors constant and, as a result, can address long-term
change" (Moock 1986).
3 According to a paper prepared by Eva Rathgeber (1987), Women in
Development Coordinator for IDRC, Canada, the following donor organizations
and foreign aid divisions of countries have WID policies or programs which
affect the consideration of WID and gender issues in the projects or other
activities they support: UNDP, UNIFEM, CIDA-Canada, USAID, Ford Foundation,
World Bank, SIDA-Sweden, SAREC, Netherlands assistance programs, DANIDA-
Denmark, FINNIDA-Finland, Belgium Government, and the ADAB-Australia. In
addition, a set of guidelines for the integration of women into development
was issued by the DAC/OECD and several countries have adopted these. She
states that IDRC- Canada does not have a specific policy nor strategy on the
integration of women, but IDRC has given a considerable degree of informal
support to research looking at the special problems of women and to the
participation of women as researchers, consultants and grant recipients.
Though some of these conferences, like the one at Bellagio, have been
small, others have been quite large and diversified. At the University of
Florida's conference on Gender Issues in Farming Systems Research and
Extension in February 1986, over 100 papers were submitted for inclusion, 91
presenters were on the program and nearly 300 people registered from more
than twenty countries and four international agricultural research centers. A
special ad hoc session following the conference on methodologies was attended
by over 50 people indicating strong interest in this issue.
A number of international agricultural research centers have undertaken
initiatives to study and/or incorporate gender issues within their various
programs of on-farm research. For example, a major network on Women in Rice
Farming Systems (WIRFS) has been created in Asia with support from IRRI and
IDRC. Through the actions of the WIRFS, collaboration has been enhanced
between the national programs in the network and IRRI. IRRI's efforts in the
arena began in 1983 with their first women in rice farming systems meeting.
As a result of this, a network was created and funding secured from both
external and internal sources. The network's most recent international
conference, "A Training and Planning Workshop for Women in Rice Farming
Systems" was held at IRRI in May. In the workshop, efforts to consider the
needs of rural women when designing rice farming systems projects were
reviewed, strategies and methodologies for integrating women's concerns were
discussed, and technologies relevant to women were examined. A training
module using case studies was conducted during the workshop in order to assist
participants in conducting their own training activities in their home
institutions. Rather than being limited to an exchange of information and
experiences, the network meetings play a crucial role in research planning.
In the recent meeting, participants developed plans for on-farm research
projects as part of the network and four more activities for the network were
planned for 1988-89.
While each of the other IARCs have pursued different routes to
incorporate WID issues and gender within their programs, most have done so via
their various on-farm research thrusts. For example, when CIMMYT commissioned
a study on work that is directed to assisting women in the developing world
and its assessment at the request of several of its donors (Carney 1988), it
showed that a majority of CIMMYTs efforts that have included women have
occurred in their on-farm research programs. Efforts are concentrated in the
outreach program, especially in Africa, though CIMMYT's first study
exclusively on women maize producers will take place in Mexico beginning this
An example of CIMMYT's outreach efforts to include gender and household
issues is the regional networkshop on household issues and farming systems
research, held in Lusaka, Zambia, April 27-30, 1987 (Sutherland 1987). The
overriding concern of the workshop participants was how to move beyond a
sensitization to the issues to inclusion of gender analysis in research
activities. Participants discussed alternative methods of gender analysis
and the situations where they work best. New terms to describe field tools
were created, such as the "nested general activities mapping" and participants
pushed for "overcoming the tyranny of randomization" as they looked at
purposive sampling procedures. While the networkshop was a very useful
activity and participants expressed a desire for further interaction on the
topic, there was no mechanism to sustain the momentum.
The Secretariat of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural
Research organized a seminar on "Differential Users of Technology" which was
held during one morning of the last Center's Week, October 1987. The term
"differential users" can be viewed perhaps as an euphemism for discussing
gender and other "disaggregators" of human populations. Most of the
presentations focused on women as users of technology, gender differences in
technology constraints and adoption, and the inclusion of women in the
research and extension process, both as technology users and as technology
developers. The session was held at the request of a donor to the CGIAR
(CIDA-Canada) with support of several other donors, and was organized by
Michael Collinson. Discussion pointed to the leadership that the IARCs can
play in integrating gender and women's issues into agricultural research and
The CGIAR seminar during Center's Week is significant because the meeting
brings together all of the major donors of international agricultural research
and development to discuss and determine the kind and level of support to be
given to the international agricultural research centers (IARCs) and other
regional research institutes. Most of these donors either have adopted WID
policies to encourage their recipients to include women in the development
process or are in the process of developing policies for WID. To the extent
these same donors also support FSR/E, there is considerable push today to
adopt gender-sensitive development approaches and to incorporate gender
analysis in agricultural research and extension.
One event not yet discussed in the preceding review is the annual FSR/E
Symposium. Although this is the first symposium with an explicit focus on
gender issues, the symposium has been a key forum for the exchange and
development of gender analysis in FSR/E. Each year there has been an effort
during the meetings to organize sessions (often under the category of "special
topics") dealing with the results and methods of gender analysis and to create
opportunities within the symposium to exchange experiences from the field.
This has resulted in generating a large constituency for gender issues within
the network supporting the symposium and ultimately in the selection of gender
as a sub-theme for this year.
When asked to give this keynote address, I felt it was important to
provide an overview of the status of gender analysis and was reminded of Bob
Herdt's (Rockefeller Foundation) address last year at the symposium. As part
of his presentation, he conducted a content analysis of the abstracts
submitted to the symposium as a way of determining the current status of FSR/E
methodology. It was initially suggested that something similar to Herdt's
analysis could be done in order to gauge the status of gender issues among the
projects and practitioners at the symposium. However, abstracts alone do not
provide an adequate representation of a project and, therefore, content
analysis will only pick up those projects which are discussed in papers on the
particular theme in question. Often projects have multiple activities and
agendas, not all of which can nor should be presented in a professional
So, after briefly considering this suggestion, I decided instead to
conduct a rapid survey among the lead authors of abstracts submitted to the
symposium on the extent to which gender issues are included in FSR/E projects.
With support from the Women in Development Office of USAID and Tropical
Research and Development, Inc. in Gainesville, Florida, and in collaboration
with Sandra Russo and Jean Gearing, from the University of Florida, a short
questionnaire was designed and then sent to the lead author of every abstract
submitted for consideration by the organizers of the Symposium. Though some
of the abstracts were later rejected for presentation by the various symposium
committees, we used the larger group of names in order to have the widest
possible set of responses.
The four-page questionnaire included mostly short answer questions
covering the following areas:
1. Gender analysis conducted in the project (was it done, when, by whom, at
what stage in project if not done initially, methods used, evaluation of
impact on FSR/E stages/functions).
2. Source of the initiative to include gender issues (team member, donor,
national government, target group member).
3. Training in gender issues received by project team (if so, who provided,
who participated, when, what did training cover, how useful was it).
4. Disaggregation by gender of the socioeconomic data collected by the
project (yes or no).
5. The extent of women's inclusion in the project (surveys, on-farm trials,
6. Identification (name, discipline, gender) of the persons) responsible for
incorporation of gender into the project?
In addition to the short answer questions, we included open-ended
questions at the end of the survey on two topics: 1) obstacles to the
inclusion of gender issues in projects and the strategies used to overcome
them, and 2) the benefits (anticipated or not) that have resulted for the
project from an awareness of gender issues and the active participation of
A total of 214 questionnaires were mailed out in the third week in August
with a cover letter explaining that those responses received by the middle of
September would be incorporated into this presentation. Any questionnaires
arriving after that date will be incorporated in the final report which will
be published and distributed by the Women in Development Office, USAID.
As of October 1, 46 people (21%) had mailed back a response to the
questionnaire. Of these, 35 actually filled out the questionnaire. Many of
the eleven who did responded but did not fill out the questionnaire explained
why. For some, the work they are doing is not tied to a project and the
questionnaire was inappropriate. Four stated that gender was not a relevant
issue in their work. One of these who is conducting research on cereal crops
in the West African Semi-Arid Tropics said that he "does not consider gender
issues in the least bit". This raises a bit of concern for the results of the
research given women's roles in production for many cereal crops in that
region. Most of the eleven felt, however, that the issue is important.
A communications expert commented that the "methodological problems in
dealing with such issues on a short-term contract basis in a male-dominated
social system are probably worth a whole symposium, not to mention related
obstacles presented by the typical short-term project approach to
An irrigation specialist noted that while FSR/E and on-farm water
management share much of the same methodology and philosophy, the latter is
still firmly grounded in the physical sciences and particularly engineering
and is "still very much male gender bound."
"It is a man's world. Farm families, women, children are rarely if ever
referents in this program, let alone intra-household matters...there is
yet a long way to go before the subject of on-farm water management will
trickle down to any real concerns for gender or intra-household issues."
As a final example from those unable to complete the questionnaire, a
letter came from an extension specialist working with a survey of 140 programs
in the Cooperative Extension System of the United States that are using an
integrated systems approach to improve profitability and competitiveness of US
agriculture. She found only limited integration of the household as a
component of the farm/ranch system and very few social scientists other than
"None has purposefully included gender issues either in diagnosis or
implementation. Household issues and family economics is generally left
to the home economics staff while the agricultural staff do the
farm/business production and financial management work. Change is coming
though. The next 4-year program cycle is ex-ected to bring integration
across program areas and attention to gender issues in program
Though the 35 questionnaires received to date represents only a small
sample of the total population, the results appear to indicate some
interesting trends. In particular, responses to the open-ended questions
provide some very revealing insights concerning the status of gender issues
and analysis. It should be noted that the survey is keyed to formal on-
going projects and that a number of the presentations at the symposium are
based on work that is related to FSR/E but not from actual FSR/E projects.
The majority of the responses were received from Asia (15) and Africa
(8). There were 2 with a worldwide project mandate, 5 from Latin America and
4 from the United States, and 1 from Europe. Table 1 shows the regional
responses broken down according to those projects that did or did not include
Table 1. Number of projects by region that included gender issues.
Gender Issues and/or Analysis
Latin America 4 1
Asia 13 2
TOTAL 28 7
All of the African respondents had included gender analysis at some point
in their projects as well as most of the Latin American and Asian respondents.
None of the U.S. projects included gender analysis, though one did include
some women as cooperators in on-farm trials. While the numbers are very
small, the lack of inclusion of gender in U.S.-based on-farm research seems to
point to an area of possible resistance to the inclusion of gender as a
variable in FSR/E.
Of the 35 responses, only 10 gave explicit project objectives dealing
with gender, household, or women, Thus, 18 of the projects that did include
gender issues, did so even though it was not explicit in their project
objectives. On the other hand, though 28 of the projects reported that they
included gender issues and analysis, only 16 of these reported that their
socioeconomic data is disaggregated by gender. If the data are not
disaggregated, it is difficult to see how the projects are able to measure
differential use or impact of the technology nor analyze gender differences in
research results. Often the inclusion of gender issues, or WID issues, is
interpreted only as the inclusion of women as cooperators in on-farm trials or
in dissemination of results, but not as an analytical variable in the actual
Some respondents stated that even when people knew that women were
important in agricultural production, little is done about it. One researcher
from Nigeria noted that
"the role of women workers is really a paradox. While it is recognized
that over 7(0% of the farm work is done by women, they are yet to be
effectively incorporated in research activities. My own concern has,
however, been about farm tools which are grossly inappropriate for women
on energy level and on [the basis of] anthropometric considerations."
A wide range of methods are used by these projects to either conduct
gender analysis or to include women in the process of on-farm research. By
far, the most popular method is surveys, both informal and formal. Some
projects use case studies (4) while others reported growing use of group
discussions. While these findings are only tentative, it does seem that those
projects deeply committed to gender analysis are moving away from the "tyranny
of randomization" and focusing on more purposive diagnostic and on-farm
10 4 -
The projects reported very wide ranges in terms of the inclusion of women
in socioeconomic surveys, on-farm trials, and evaluation activities (0-100%).
However, it was clear that more women are included in the surveys than in on-
farm trials, and fewer women, if any, are involved in evaluation of on-farm
Did it make a difference to include gender? All of the respondents who
did so said yes. The actual difference varied considerably, but the most
common response was that a gender focus --- or use of a "gender lens" ---
helped the project team identify who to work with, who was the target
population for the research, and who controls technology in order to allocate
research resources appropriately. The gender focus also:
created sensitivity to women's contribution to production,
caused methodological adjustments to include women in the process,
changed the participation in group meetings from all men to men, women
changed some of the on-farm research sites to fields owned by female-
added new research areas, such as a focus on home gardens,
raised subtle issues of access and control of resources as a key
variable in technology adoption or rejection.
While again I must emphasize the small size of the sample, I would like
to pursue some of the possible reasons why gender analysis is included in
some projects and not in others. Conventional wisdom has often held that
gender sensitive research is directly related to the presence of social
scientists or women on research teams. The following table shows the numbers
of social scientists on teams reported thus far in the survey.
Table 2. Number of social scientists on project teams disaggregated by
inclusion of gender analysis.
Social Scientists Gender Issues and/or Analysis
on the team YES NO
Yes 22 3**
No 3* 2
(5 respondents were not applicable)
*Two of 3 teams had female members
** All were male-only project teams
The majority of the projects with social scientists on the teams did
conduct gender analysis. In those that did not, the social scientists were
men. Of those without social scientists, two of the three teams that did
conduct gender analysis, had women on the teams.
If we now look at whether having women on the teams made a difference, we
find that three of the project teams were all women, 12 were all male teams
and the rest (16) had mixed teams. Four of the respondents did not identify
the gender of the team members.
Of the total number of women on all teams combined, they broke down
evenly with 20 social scientists and 19 agricultural scientists. However, the
total number of men involved in the projects was over 150. Table 3. below
compares the inclusion of gender analysis in the project with women on the
Table 3. Presence or absence of women on teams disaggregated by inclusion of
Gender Issues and/or Analysis
Women on Team YES NO
Yes 18 1
No 8 4
TOTAL 26 5
(4 responses not included)
It does appear that having a woman on the team enhances the likelihood of
gender analysis. However, when the only women on a team were biological
scientists, often women farmers were included, but data collection was not
disaggregated and, therefore, analysis of differential results by gender was
Who was responsible for introducing or promoting gender analysis? While
we often think that the gender focus is mandated by external forces, in these
projects, the person who most frequently was the source of the initiative on
gender was a team member (17). Funding agencies were the next most frequent
sources (7). We can speculate that developing a gender focus comes only
through long term efforts of a team member in constant contact with his or
her colleagues. We can also see the effectiveness of donor insistence.
One of the ~ost intriguing results thus far from the survey comes from
looking at training in WID, gender issues and/or analysis (Table 4).
Table 4. Training conducted on gender issues/analysis and the inclusion of
gender issues and gender analysis in project activities.
Training in Gender Issues and/or Analysis
Gender Analysis YES NO
Yes 14 0
No 10 6
TOTAL 24 6
(5 responses not included)
All of those who received training included gender issues and/or analysis
in their work. Reviewing the characteristics of the six projects where no
gender analysis was conducted, they are found to be all male teams with no
social scientists and no training in gender issues. What can be discerned
from this preliminary analysis is that while having social scientists and
women on field teams may increase the possibility that gender issues and
analysis will be included, neither automatically provide a guarantee.
Training, on the other hand, does appear to positively affect the inclusion of
gender issues and/or analysis. Further probing on this subject may reveal
that training serves to illuminate and legitimize the issue, which is then
pursued most frequently by social scientists and/or women on the teams.
BENEFITS OF GENDER ANALYSIS
It is too early with the present survey to be conclusive about the
benefits of including gender issues and/or analysis in FSR/E activities.
However, it is illuminating to consider some of the various responses from
respondents concerning the benefits they had experiences. These are listed
according to the countries of origin.
"Scientists now better understand the intra-household dynamics of farming
systems and the role of women in farming systems. They are able to
decide who should be the participants, men or women, in the technology
testing and evaluation. More experiments are now being planned for
homestead areas where women are the target beneficiaries."
"Appreciation of gender issue is important when developing farm tools for
"The involvement of women is anticipated to result in better transfer of
technology and better acceptance of the technical team."
"There was a clear orientation toward animal production improvement
through the direct participation of real producers--women. The research
provided an opportunity for women to organize around a concrete and felt
"In the future, we will train women also in agricultural development
work. The study revealed that women do and govern a lot of farm work
which is not recognized. Everything goes in the name of men .... Women
were better trial cooperators .... incorporation of gender resulted in
smooth functioning of project with very quick positive results with
little extra effort. "
And finally, from an Integrated Pest Management Project in the Philippines:
"The possibility of making the farmer use the correct amount and timing
of appropriate pesticide through the wife is one of our objectives.
Since by local tradition women (wife) act as the family treasurer,
giving her a good technical basis for her pesticide purchases will change
the crop protection approaches of her farmer husband."
From the preliminary analysis of the initial set of responses to the
survey and from the general review of the status of gender issues and analysis
in FSR/E, we can begin to distill a series of lessons learned. These are not
intended to be conclusive, but rather serve as a mechanism for drawing
together the experiences gained thus far in order to determine the directions
needed for the future. Six lessons are presented here.
1. There has been a general misunderstanding of the term "gender analysis".
Many have thought it refers only to equity issues. However, gender analysis
in on-farm research refers to the determination of who does what, why, and
with what resources in order to improve, as Michael Collinson said in his
opening keynote address, "the choice, design, and evaluation of experiments."
2. Gender analysis helps the research process by defining the right clients)
for the intervention. It has the potential and power to make the process more
3. Gender is the most effective tool to open up the farm household and to
t*tegl to 'lereid iti behavior, DiEsa9ggZregation of irifor~ntion by data must
be done in order to define the systems that proscribe choices. Disaggrega-
tion does not stop with gender---it must go further to include age, class,
caste, race, ethnicity---but the most effective tool to start with is gender.
4. The gender analysis or conceptual framework is a useful and learnable tool
for FSR/E. The key questions of gender analysis are:
a. Who does what? When? Where? Why? (the activities analysis question).
b. Who has access and control of the resources for production?
c. Who has access and control of the benefits of production?
d. Who is included in the process of on-farm research and who might be
These questions are not restricted to the diagnosis phase in FSR/E but are
essential to the design of on-farm research, the implementation of on-farm
experiments, and they are crucial to the evaluation and dissemination of the
results of on-farm research.
5. Training works. When practitioners are trained in methods of gender
analysis they apply these to their work. Immediate problems facing us with
regard to training are the identification of qualified trainers and the
development of relevant training materials. A focus on and investment in
training will be necessary to insure that gender analysis becomes a normal,
pragmatic part of good agricultural research.
6. There is a need for a greater focus on gender issues and analysis among
U.S. based practitioners of FSR/E. Gender is as valid an issue for U.S.
agriculture as it is for other regions of the world.
As a final thought in the consideration of lessons learned, we often ask
ourselves, why is the gender issue so difficult to deal with? Several
researchers studying gender relations in the Caribbean region hypothesize that
when researchers examine gender analytically as an object of study, they are
forced to simultaneously look inward at themselves and their own gender
relations (Gearing 1988). This can and often does create a discordance, an
instability. As human beings, we tend to regard gender as a natural and fixed
construct, immutable, something we grew up with. But as scientists, we are
forced to question gender as a social construct, something which is not fixed,
but is as subject to change as any other social category. How can gender be
fixed or static in one instance and fluid in the other? The simple answer is
that it can't. Gender is a changeable and changing social structure and
gender issues cut across our professional and home environments. When the
client orientation of the FSR/E approach opens the scientific eye to the
gender.implications of technological change, and particularly to the need to
include women in the process of research and extension, that same eye turns to
the workplace and wonders why women are not equally included as the
researchers and extension agents of that process.
While most attention to date has been placed upon the participants or
clients of development and FSR/E has focused on gaining the participation of
women farmers, more recently, attention is being re-focused on the gender of
the research and development workers. It is becoming recognized that if women
are to become part of the target of agricultural development, women will also
have to become part of the technical community. Though simplistic in its
argument, if half of the potential human resource is ignored in the staffing
of agricultural research organizations, the outcome cannot be very efficient.
AN AGENDA FOR THE FUTURE
To conclude this presentation, I would like to present an agenda for
action in the future highlighting three areas.
It is essential that we improve the methodological tools necessary to
collect appropriate data and conduct gender analysis. This may imply using
existing methodologies just as they are, retooling methods, or developing new
methods. Work in this area is well underway, largely as a result of the
leadership of Hilary Feldstein and Janice Jiggins. But we must constantly
push our colleagues working in FSR/E to share their methodological processes
and the problems and achievements experienced in the field. We must also
encourage the use of new methods without allowing them to become additional
burdens---but rather tools of efficiency.
The staff of national programs must be training in gender issues and
analysis. The focus has often been only on participant training in degree
programs or on short courses delivered by external experts. This focus must
shift to training trainers within the local systems if the methods are to
become truly part of the normal process and functional at field level.
Women do need to be involved in FSR/E as professionals. We have begun to
recognize that if we want to successfully integrate women and men into the
process of on-farm research, we must mirror this integration on the teams that
conduct on-farm research. If we use the participation in the annual FSR/E
symposium as a measure of the change in staffing of FSR/E efforts, then we
have reason to be encouraged. At the first symposium, there was only one
woman on the program and women participants represented less than 13% of the
total. Today, eight years later, looking over the program and the gender
composition of the participants we can see that this has greatly changed and
progress is being made. Let us hope it continues.
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