Agriculture in developing countries provides some of the world’s most marginalised and vulnerable communities not only with their main source of food, but a means to create livelihoods and generate income. These communities, which are generally made up of small-scale subsistence farmers, now face added pressures brought about by climate change and a shifting global economy.
Much of the agricultural workforce in developing countries is made up of women. However, despite carrying out a significant amount of activities related to agriculture, including crop production and livestock rearing as well as being engaged as wage labourers and in small-scale income generating activities, rural women rarely have their voices heard and their productive potential remains low.
Funded with a grant of £310,000 from the CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre), GCU’s Professor Tahseen Jafry will conduct a comprehensive diagnosis of gender relations in key wheat target regions of South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal) and develop guidelines for gender responsive wheat-based systems.
The two-year project, launched in Kathmandu with a 30-strong team, is part of CIMMYT’s CGIAR Research Program on Wheat. It aims to achieve more inclusive and prosperous rural development through a global qualitative field study of gender norms and capacities for innovation in agriculture.
The objectives are to provide robust empirical evidence on the relationship between gender norms, agency and agricultural innovation, and to identify the gender-based constraints that need to be overcome to achieve lasting and equitable improvements in agricultural outcomes.
Professor Jafry said: “Gender equality matters. Despite their active and everyday involvement in the rural sector, rural women’s role, contribution and recognition remains undervalued and neglected by the sector’s policy making and implementation processes. This is not only due to lack of awareness of gender issues, but due to a limited understanding of the needs, desires and aspirations of women involved and working in this sector, how to identify these and how to take action.
“This oversight limits the development of relevant policy and technological development specifically targeted at reaching rural women. In addition, the impacts of climate change are felt and dealt with differently by women and men depending on their ability and capacity to respond and adapt to the climate changes. Deeply rooted social and cultural norms constrain and govern how women and men can and cannot.”
Professor Muhammad Yunus Chairman of Grameen Communications and Chancellor of GCU said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the GCU Centre for Climate Justice on this project addressing gender norms and equity in wheat based systems in South Asia. This project will provide valuable insight and evidence regarding gender-based constraints related to food security in the region.
“We hope through this collaboration to work together and share ideas and thinking on what can be done to address many of the bottlenecks. Of particular importance is getting to grips with the human rights and social justice aspects associated with climate change and looking at how this can be tackled.”