How best to address gender issues for increasing livestock and fish productivity for global food security?
During Week 1 of this e-consultation, Ann Waters-Bayer stressed the importance of ensuring that women are at the forefront of our research-for-development efforts. The CGIAR system has certainly recognized this principle and has declared a renewed commitment to mainstreaming gender within the mega programs under development. To meet this challenge, we are working to articulate a clear gender strategy that incorporates gender analysis and gender-equitable outcomes from targeted project interventions within our mega program on livestock and fish. During this week of our e-consultation, we would like to share our evolving gender strategy and get your thoughts on its appropriateness and how it could be strengthened.
We start from the assumption that everyone is familiar with the evidence and agrees with arguments about the critical roles of women among the poor in livestock and fish production, processing and marketing, and as a strategic target for consumption of animal products. From this, we know that the mega program will not be able to achieve its objectives of increasing production and access to sufficient milk, meat and fish if we do not give particular attention to addressing the particular constraints faced by women and other vulnerable groups.
Research questions would include: How can productivity of the livestock and aquaculture sectors be increased to enable poor women and men to consume adequate supplies of meat and fish at affordable prices, while ensuring inclusive participation by men and women in value chains that will result in equitable poverty reduction? What are the gender-differentiated tradeoffs in participating in such value chains, in terms of income, time and social costs and benefits? What kind of gender analysis, targeting, interventions and pathways are needed for effective outcomes and impacts from this MP?
Our understanding of gendered motivations and livelihood strategies among producers, as well as gendered preferences of consumers in livestock and fish value chains in developing countries, is still limited.
In the previous weeks of this e-consultation, we have described our intention to focus our work on transforming selected value chains. Mayoux and Mackie have very nicely captured gender issues relevant to this type of value chain context:
“Gender inequalities are often critical to understanding and addressing the ‘weakest links’ within value chains, and the most critical areas for upgrading quality and growth as well as poverty reduction. Gender analysis is however generally also the weakest point in most value chain analyses, and largely ignored in most value chain manuals. Gender differences and inequalities affect the ways in which value chains operate at every level… Many of the tricky and complex issues highlighted by gender analysis are often not confined to gender itself, but reflections of other inherent shortcomings in the types of economic analysis which commonly dominate value chain analyses and development. Gender analysis provides a starting point for more accurate poverty analysis and integration of key dimensions of extra-market factors, power relations and motivations into the currently incomplete understanding of economic growth. Understanding and incorporating these dimensions are essential not only for gender, but to designing effective sustainable pro-poor growth and development strategies themselves.”
We are therefore proposing that our gender strategy focus on three interrelated areas of interventions with potential for high impact: productivity, value chains and consumption.
- Productivity: Women are often excluded from most parts of the research-development cycle of fish and livestock technologies. Their preferences in species and traits are often overlooked – this has, for example, resulted in neglecting the potential of micronutrient-rich small indigenous fish species and low investment in small livestock such as pigs, poultry and small ruminants. Thus, we propose analysis to focus on gendered preferences for species, traits, production models and markets. Increasing access to productivity enhancing technologies and services to both men and women will be a priority.
- Value chains: These are gendered and although women engage substantially within them as producers, gleaners, processors and traders, their contribution is undercounted and their returns disproportionately lower. Gendered value chain analysis can determine points of the chain where women are located, constraints to improve their economic benefits from livestock and fish and opportunities upon which to build.
- Consumption: Gendered intra-household consumption patterns of livestock and fish products, considered high-value “prestige food” in many developing countries, favor men, thus depriving women and children of adequate proteins and micro-nutrients when they need them most. We propose increased awareness on nutrition and equity issues that relate to productivity choices to be a priority focus. Research on the variable dynamics of intra-household food allocation, as well as interventions implemented to increase the consumption of meat and fish, especially by women, children and other vulnerable groups(such as people living with HIV/AIDS), can be conducted through linkages with MP4 on agriculture, nutrition and health.
We are considering innovative, inclusive gender-responsive technology development (such as participatory breeding), social marketing and extension approaches (such as forum theatre which helps to visualize gender disparities and consider alternative options) to be piloted and expanded to engage women and men discursively in the equitable access to technologies, benefit-sharing from value chains and consumption of animal products. We would also strongly advocate gender-disaggregated data collection and a set of strategic gender indicators to monitor the effective implementation of the gender strategy.
We invite your comments on the overall gender strategy and responses to the four questions outlined below:
2. What are critical gender issues and trade-offs in participation in specific livestock and fish value chains? What are the key gender research questions that this program should focus on both within specific value chains and across all the livestock and fish value chains?
3. What are the key gender objectives for livestock and fish value chains? What would be the approaches to achieve these gender objectives? How can overall project approaches be gendered to achieve food security, productivity and equity objectives?