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By Matt Hayes
  • Department of Global Development
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section
  • Global Development
  • Development
  • Plants

The Beijing Declaration in 1995 set the global development agenda for gender equality across sectors, including agriculture. Since then, gender training has been a central approach for gender integration in agricultural development. Yet in the decades since that time, scant research has gone into how training has improved gender equality and women’s empowerment, and to what extent trainings may have or have not challenged the behaviors, attitudes and beliefs of trainees. Now, new research reveals insights into ways capacity development can catalyze gender transformational change and produce more equitable food systems for women.

In a special issue of the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security, four new studies explore lessons learned from the first five years of the Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) project. Launched in 2016, GREAT — led jointly by researchers at Cornell University in the United States and Makerere University in Uganda — developed a training model meant to disrupt the norms of crop improvement research. The studies take a comprehensive look at GREAT’s model and the impact feminist-informed gender training has on research and researchers in the crop improvement sector.

“Agricultural research systems have over the decades calcified into structures and processes that do not systematically prioritize gender equality,” said Hale Ann Tufan, GREAT co-PI and research professor of global development in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). “Gender trainings that challenge research teams to break this status quo are a critical part of making agricultural research processes and outputs contribute to gender equality and social inclusion. This special issue explores the foundations of the GREAT model that aims to do this.”

The four papers demonstrate the importance of a feminist gender training program for effective social change, according to Margaret Mangheni, GREAT co-PI and an associate professor of Agricultural Extension Education at Makerere.

“These studies reveal the importance of exposure to feminist theories and testing models for transforming agricultural systems,” Mangheni said. “More work needs to be done to deepen paired learning with collaborative research engagements, but now for the first time there is a replicable model that can inform how agricultural research can impact gender equality.”

Along with Tufan and Mangheni, co-authors include Elizabeth Asiimwe (GREAT), Brenda Boonabaana (Makerere’s Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism), Elisabeth Garner (Cornell Global Development), Devon Jenkins (Cornell Global Development), Godfrey Kayobyo (Nkoola Institutional Development Associates), Peace Musiimenta (Makerere’s School of Women and Gender Studies), Yvonne Pinto (Aline Impact Limited) and Cassidy Travis (Aline Impact Limited).

About GREAT:

GREAT is an international collaboration between Makerere University in Uganda and Cornell University, USA. At Makerere University, the project is implemented by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Science (CAES) and the School of Women and Gender Studies, while at Cornell University, it is implemented through the Department of Global development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.. GREAT is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Generating Evidence and New Directions for Equitable Results (GENDER Platform) coordinated by The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Research Team

Hale Ann Tufan is a research professor in the Department of Global Development with a joint appointment in the School of Integrative Plant Science. In her work with plant breeders, social scientists, and research institutions, Tufan explores how agricultural research processes and outputs can positively contribute to gender equality and social inclusion. Through her research to develop methods and approaches she enables gender+ analysis in agricultural innovation, while advocating for inclusive agricultural research by challenging power and norms in the research ecosystem. 

Research Team

Margaret Najjingo Mangheni is an Associate Professor of Agricultural Extension and Innovation Studies at Makerere University Uganda. She has served in various administrative/leadership positions at Makerere University, including Department head, Coordinator of the Continuing Agricultural Education Centre, Deputy Dean for Research and Post Graduate Training, and Vice Chairperson, Makerere University Academic Staff Association.

Research Team

Elizabeth Asiimwe is a rural development practitioner with close to 10 years experience in the agro input, ag extension/educ and ag research work, project management. She works as the project manager for Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT), a capacity building project targeting agricultural researchers with skills in gender integration in their research. 

Research Team

Brenda Boonabaana is an associate coordinator and trainer for the Gender Responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) project. She is a Fellow of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) under the GAAP2 project that has rolled out tools for measuring women’s empowerment in agriculture (WEAI/A-WEAI/Pro-WEAI). She holds a Ph.D. in gender and tourism from the University of Otago and a M.A. in land use and regional development from Makerere University.

Research Team

Elisabeth Garner has expertise in gender and rural development with a focus on the differentiated needs, roles, and responsibilities in food and agriculture systems. Before joining Global Development, she worked with organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme, and the World Bank. She also worked as a planner in the Houston region and with Habitat for Humanity in the Boston area.

Research Team

Devon Jenkins is an agricultural development specialist with a diverse skillset covering multiple aspects of project planning, implementation, and management. He is currently the program manager for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement (ILCI).

In his previous role as a project manager for two gender-focused projects, Devon helped coordinate efforts with partner organizations, worked on strategic visioning, and streamlined processes to enhance project implementation. 

Research Team

Godfrey Kayobyo is a socio-economist based in Uganda working as a consultant with Nkoola Institutional Development Associates (NIDA). His work has included research briefs and impact assessments for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Opportunity International, Uganda's national agricultural advisory services (NAADS), CTA and others.

Research Team

Peace Musiimenta holds a Ph.D. in Gender Studies with a focus on educated women’s redefined subordination. She is a a Lecturer/researcher at Makerere University and has over 10 years’ experience as senior researcher in areas of Gender based violence, socio-economic issues, women’s health, women’s empowerment and education. 

Research Team

Yvonne Pinto directs the Agricultural Learning and Impacts Network (ALINe) at Firetail which provides high quality technical services, research, advice, and facilitation for robust monitoring, evaluation and learning in the agricultural development sector. A key focus is building the capacities of multiple organizations and governments to measure their effectiveness properly. She was formerly Deputy Investigator at Agriculture for Impact at Imperial College. She has worked previously with UN FAO-GFAR to organize the first GCARD. 

Research Team

Cassidy Travis is a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Consultant with ALINe. Prior to joining ALINe, Cassidy spent four years working with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) where she specialised in promoting environmental governance in post-conflict and disaster-affected countries. Most recently she served as the team leader in Sudan managing a programme aimed at reducing local level incidents of conflict over natural resources. She holds a BA in Political Science from San Diego State University, an MA in Environmental Economics and Policy from Duke University and certificate in International Development Policy from the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Hale Ann Tufan
Margaret Mangheni
Elizabeth Asiimwe
Brenda Boonabaana
Elisabeth Garner
Devon Jenkins headshot
Godfrey Kayobyo
Peace Musimenta
yvonne pinto
Cassidy Travis

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