The Gender Strategy
Gender Structuring of GLDC is a valuable opportunity for re-thinking its Gender Strategy to strengthen focus on ‘Gender integration and social inclusion in the drylands’. GLDC is committed to creating a platform of continued learning and improvement in gender research, analysis, intervention and reporting. In GLDC, the investment in gender research has primacy over the more service roles of gender training and reporting, hence the inclusion of a specific Cluster of Activity (CoA1.3) in FP1.
The GLDC priority commodities are cereals and legume crops that are generally identified as ‘women crops’, however, men and women of different ages are involved in farming of these crops, adopting innovations, and marketing their surpluses. Dryland farming is a livelihood practice that is in a social context, whose variables change depending on the complex relations of farming communities. Gender analysis offers an opportunity to understand how GLDC will operate in these social systems to contribute to inclusive growth and empowerment.
Recently, women in the drylands are increasingly taking responsibility to head households when men migrate to urban areas in search of employment. Differential access to resources leads to gender gaps in production, crop yields and incomes. The main source of labor in dryland farming has been women labor, with the requirement for long hours of field work each day (drudgery) as women have triple roles of production, reproduction and community service. Women provide a significant amount of unpaid labor in the seed management, field production, processing and distribution of dryland cereals and grain legumes. With responsibility for these labor-intensive tasks, women experience chronic ‘time-poverty’.
The nutrition of women and children under five is currently a global challenge with high cases of anemia, malnutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies being reported. The Phase I CRP breeding programs have released dryland cereal and grain legume varieties that are nutrient-dense, with the natural contribution to protein diets combined with the high accumulation of iron, zinc and calcium. This is a paradox since most women who are growing these crops exhibit problems of anemia while their children under the age of five are stunted or malnourished. Complex interaction between use of nutritious foods for income generation, as market-oriented value chains are developed for the women empowerment, potentially causes shifts in household power relations and un-intended negative impacts on household nutrition security.
There are unique cultures in GLDC target regions whose norms and practices still limit the participation of women in public domains because of religious or social norms, thus hampering if/how women can interact with agents of change. Yet there are major benefits in involving women in variety-development processes, as this opens possibilities of targeting specific crop traits e.g. the snapping trait in millet stems that has the potential to save women labor during harvesting; specific morphological traits of pearl millet that indicate drought tolerance that have led to the development of modern varieties that are high yielding in good years with very stable yields under drought conditions. Advances in technology currently support plant breeding methodologies to respond to the needs of women through precision and efficiency of transferring specific genes, as well as the precision and scale with which adoption of specific varieties and traits can be observed. This offers a great opportunity for gender analysis to contribute to plant breeding that responds to the needs of women.
Gender research is designed to support GLDC in ensuring inclusion and equity among female and male beneficiaries and stakeholders, and adapting capacities and strengthening institutions to ensure (i) a convincing evidence-base on strategic gender topics, (ii) mainstreaming gender analysis across GLDC research areas, (iii) enhancing gainful participation of women and youth in GLDC value chains, and (iv) developing interventions that are responsive to gender and social inclusion interests.
The gender research agenda will be unique for each GLDC FP and aligned to the key issues on the impact pathway. The issues are assumed to be distinct enough to allow for implementation of different activities in each FP. GLDC will focus on five strategic areas: i) traits, preferences and breeding product profiling (FP5 and 4); ii) inclusive seed delivery systems (FP4), iii) gender gaps in cereals and legume production systems (labor, decision-making, knowledge access, yield, participation) and nutrition (FP3), iv) gendered value chain development, learning and impacts (market linkages, livelihood options (FP2), and v) social norms and behavior change for men and women to support women empowerment and impacts on delivery of GLDC research outputs (FP1). Capacity building on gender analysis will be integrated at graduate/postgraduate level as well as implementing partners.
The program implementers in GLDC, at management or activity level, will use the strategy as a guide for integration of gender responsive approaches, from planning, to staffing, to budgeting, to operationalization of field activities, as well as integrating with the Monitoring, Evaluation, Impact Assessment and Learning (MEIAL). The needs, preferences, constraints and opportunities of various social classes (men, women, youth) will be the focus of the strategy at each stage. Other stakeholders in the GLDC agri-food system include policy makers, service and agro-input providers, private sector, seed merchants/companies, traders, NGOs and financiers who will benefit from the strategy as a reference document for developing intervention programs.
Establishment of long-term databases with sex-disaggregated variables will be linked with the baseline datasets, to establish a learning platform for continued improvement of processes and practices. Standardized sex-disaggregation, in all levels of demographic data collection and analysis, will be coupled with emphasis on the need for recruitment of female enumerators for survey data-collection with female respondents. Sex-disaggregation, as a standard survey practice and subsequent analysis, will be included in the key Performance Indicators.
The gender research team in GLDC will benefit from gender expertise carried over from Phase 1 CRP-Dryland Cereals, CRP-Grain Legumes and CRP-Dryland Systems, including a gender working group, as well as three postdocs in the programs facilitated through the CGIAR Gender Network. Learning from the CRP-MAIZE program’s ‘Gender competencies training’, CRP-Dryland Systems’ ‘Gender Guidelines for Biophysical Researchers’ and online gender capacity building tools, GLDC will develop a gender competency framework that will require each project team to undergo basic training to facilitate acquisition of minimum competencies, appropriate knowledge, attitudes and skills as they develop proposals and identify/implement key gender research questions. This is expected to harmonize, strengthen and improve the overall understanding of concepts and processes of gender analysis and integration of gender questions in FPs. The GLDC gender research team will continue to engage with the Gender Platform in addition to identifying opportunities for cross-CRP collaboration in research and capacity strengthening. Learning from the CRP-Roots, Tubers and Bananas program, GLDC will initiate a GLDC-University Partnership (Penn State University among others) for Gender Research Development and postdoc fellowship program in which graduate students will be hosted in GLDC through the USAID Linkage Grants program to complement gender capacities, answer specific gender research questions and develop capacities for the future.