CGIAR / Fish / Gender / Livestock / LIVESTOCK-FISH / Research / Women

Livestock and fish gender writeshop – first reflections

Writeshop participants

Last month, a Livestock and Fish gender integration writeshop pulled together the learning and experiences from 14 gender integrated technical, systems and value chain research projects from across the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish.

A team from the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) facilitated the process and will finalize the book, which is expected mid-September 2016. Here are three points of reflection from the KIT team.

1. “Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler” (Einstein)

Every field of science has its particular language and jargon – not only gender, but also genetics, health, feeds and forage, value chains and systems research. Finding the right language and making complexity understandable to an intelligent but not necessarily expert reader entails navigating across the various disciplines and asking a lot of questions. This book on gender integration in the CRP Livestock and Fish aims for an accessible style but the challenge is how to simplify language while maintaining nuances that matter. The process of writing in a simplified style stimulated scientists to think differently about their work, articulating findings more sharply, being concrete about their relevance, cutting out some of the ‘scientific fluff’ (jargon) from initial write-ups and deepening their processing of data. The writeshop allowed a round of iteration, reflection, analysis and insight building for 14 projects, most of which have been coached on gender integration since mid-2015.

2. Spectrum of depth of gender analysis, gender integration and gendered findings

The gender-integrated research projects presented exhibit a spectrum of depth vis a vis gender analysis and integration: from basic sex-disaggregated data collection and analysis of what is similar or different in what men and women say, do and know; to gendered research questions and embedded gender concepts. The depth of gender integration depends in part on the kind of problem that the research seeks to unravel. Michel Dione and his team found that the gender division of labor in pig management in Uganda was quite static during normal routines, but when an African Swine Fever outbreak struck, gendered task divisions broke down and both men and women did everything in their power to manage the outbreak. This lead the team to conclude that training and protocols on African Swine Fever needed to include both women and men in order to be effective. Another project written up by Nicholas Ndiwa developed a framework for developing good indicators, data aggregation and smart analysis to support scientists in implementing and designing and analyzing gender data. A third project looked at the ‘silent breeders’ – women – in dual purpose cattle systems in Nicaragua. Alejandra Mora and Julie Ojango explored the reasons behind women’s silence in the breeding sphere and the cost of that silence both socially and in terms of improved genetic outcomes. They conclude with insights as to how research can influence the ‘sound of silence’ by engaging better with these women breeders who play critical roles in genetic decision-making.

3. Gender integration is an ongoing process

Unsurprisingly, 8 months of gender integration coaching will not transform a non-gender scientist into a gender expert. However, learning does happen and a deepening of understanding and shared language begin to emerge on interdisciplinary teams. What a non-gender scientist can do on their own and where gender expertise is required depends very much on the individuals involved. A clear next step in the process for many of these projects is more in-depth data analysis. Some non-gender scientists need more support than others on this, depending on their capacity and whether there are gender scientists/specialists already on the team. Integrating gender into technical, value chains and systems research is an ongoing process that builds up the collective capacity of the research program to do interdisciplinary, gender-integrated research better.

What’s next?

The book will be published in mid-September and will be available both online and in hard copy. KIT will continue to support the coached projects in preparing peer-reviewed publications, possibly including a special issue in a related journal. In the meantime, the findings from the research projects and the gender integration process are being woven into the phase 2 plan and proposal for the new CGIAR research programs on Fish and on Livestock. This foundation of consolidated thinking and research will serve both new CRPs from 2017 as they continue to embed gender into their programs and theories of change.

Rhiannon Pyburn and Anouka van Eerdewijk, Royal Tropical Institute

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