In recent years, gender roles in agriculture have received an increasing level of attention from the research and development community. Nevertheless, several limitations continue to undermine the effectiveness of interventions developed to empower rural women, both socially and economically.
The CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems acknowledges that gender equality is critical for realizing the potential of agricultural communities, and focuses on addressing the limitations that hamper its achievement.
Research gaps regarding the role of women in agriculture exist and limit a deeper understanding of the issue. This has had negative implications on development interventions. In particular, the lack of quantitative data on the state of gender equality could be a serious shortcoming of scientific projects. A recent study on ‘Smallholder goat production and marketing: a gendered baseline study from Inhassoro District Mozambique' illustrates the importance of incorporating gender-disaggregated quantitative data into scientific research, and provides a practical example on how to collect and analyse data in a real-life, development project context.
The article underscores the importance of a more systematic use of mixed research methods to investigate the complex issue of gender in order to develop context-specific strategies that can facilitate effective transformative changes for social and economic women empowerment. Furthermore, the authors stress the need to adequately integrate gender within the sustainable livelihoods framework and throughout the research project cycle:
Gender integration in the livelihoods framework enables the constant consideration of gendered differences in the multiple components of the frame-work. Identifying these differences, their underlying causes and ways of addressing the causes in order to narrow the gender outcome gap thus leads to adapting the sustainable livelihoods framework so that each of its elements can be viewed through a gendered lens."
The study draws on baseline data from the imGoats project, “Small Ruminant Value Chains as Platforms for Reducing Poverty and Increasing Food Security in Dryland Areas of India and Mozambique”, which promotes the commercialization of goat production in order to diversify and improve the livelihoods of smallholder goat producers, especially women. The authors investigated gender roles within livestock production and marketing in the Inhassoro District. Sex-disaggregated baseline data were collected for:
- women in male-headed households
- men in male-headed households
- women in female-headed households.
Qualitative data about household characteristics, goat keeping practices, costs, returns, marketing, food security and knowledge and training of smallholders was collected through surveys from 84 households in 6 project communities in Inhassoro District. In order to understand the quantitative baseline findings, qualitative data was also gathered by 18 in-depth face-to-face interviews of selected respondents of household surveys.
The findings show that women's access to resources is generally less than their male counterparts. For instance, in male-headed households, women rarely owned goats and they had limited control over the household income, even in instances where the income had been generated through their own work. Additionally, women in the Inhassoro District face barriers that hinder their market participation. Hence, women were less involved in goat marketing processes than men. These findings invited the question as to whether the promotion of goat production commercialization could benefit women.
The article shows the critical importance of understanding gender roles that can impact decision making processes in resource management, before and while developing the strategy of an intervention project. The collection of both quantitative and qualitative data on gender dynamics should not only be done at the early stages of a project, but should also become an integral part of the intervention pathway. This will enable researchers to effectively address gender inequality and prevent a widened gender benefit gap as a potential outcome of a development project.
Read the full paper here.
The study reviewed in this blog was conducted under the frameworks of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets. The study was authored by Birgit K. Boogaard, Elizabeth Waithanji, Elizabeth J. Poole and Jean-Joseph Cadilhon.
About the author
Martina Antonucci is the Science Communications and Knowledge Management intern at the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.