Researcher Alejandro Ramirez records the life experience of a farmer in Chiapas, Mexico. Photo: Sam Storr/CIMMYT
With its twisted cables and flickering computer screens, the room commandeered by the GENNOVATE study team at the headquarters of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) near Mexico City looks more like a Silicon Valley hackathon than what most would understand as gender research. Yet up on the main screen, questions are being asked of around 8,000 participants as part of a global gender study.
It is often a mystery why a new agricultural technology or practice can be successful in one community yet fail to have the desired effect in another. Social expectations of how men and women should behave may affect their ability to adopt or benefit from such innovations.
An international team of CGIAR researchers will delve deeply into the causes of gender disparity in the agricultural sector with a $1.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This grant adds to the investments of 11 CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), the Government of Mexico; the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); the World Bank and the CGIAR consortium office, to support an international collaborative research initiative known as “GENNOVATE: Enabling gender equality in agricultural and environmental innovation.” The project is engaging gender and social development specialists with 11 CRPs to identify practical actions which can strengthen the ability of agricultural research for development organizations to support poor rural women, men and youth to expand their power and capacity to access, take up and benefit from improved agricultural and natural resource management technologies and practices.
In over 125 agricultural communities in 26 countries, a field study of gender norms, agency and agricultural innovation, known as GENNOVATE, is now underway. MAIZE and WHEAT are funding over half of the studies. The huge evidence base generated will help spur the necessary transformation in how gender is included in agricultural research for development.
A team of researchers from CIMMYT carried out the first GENNOVATE fieldwork in Mexico in 2014, identifying six communities in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca to represent the greatest degree of economic and social diversity possible, a practice followed in studies around the world.
Diana López, Principal Research Assistant & Data Manager (first from left), Patti Petesch, Expert Advisor (second from left), Nadezda Amaya, Regional Gender Research Specialist (CIP-RTB); (fourth from left), and Lone Badstue, Strategic Leader, Gender Research (fifth from left) stand with prospective coders at the closure of the workshop. Photo: Jorge Mendez, CIMMYT.
Patti Petesch, Lone Badstue and Diana López of CIMMYT’s gender unit gave a training workshop at El Batán, Mexico, during 7-17 April on systematic content analysis and coding for the Global Study on Gender Norms, Agency and Innovation in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management, or “Gennovate.” A collaborative initiative of 13 CGIAR research programs, this global qualitative field study will reach approximately 125 villages in 25 countries worldwide, according to Badstue.