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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

Facilitating the Repositioning PRGA Workshop

Working Group

Gender experts at work in CIAT

In mid June of 2010, a group of 42 gender and participatory research experts were brought to our campus by CIAT’s Participatory Research and Gender Analysis Program (PRGA) to discuss their experiences with Gender Responsive Participatory Research (GRPR), and how they see the future and possibilities of integration of GRPR in the new CGIAR scheme. The participants came from diverse professional backgrounds- researchers from CG centers joined others from NGOs, NARS and Academia. The pre-workshop survey process, workshop facilitation and documentation were provided by the Facilitating Impact Team (us!).

Before the workshop, the FITs along with the PRGA team designed a ‘demand analysis’, which sought to find out how much these experts really have used GRPR, where they learned and use GRPR, and how useful they find it in terms of enhancing research results and outcomes. The analysis also asked the group how familiar they are with PRGA and PRGA outputs. The ‘demand analysis’ had a very good response rate and proved to be a useful input to the workshop- it served to put participants on ‘the same page’ and gave them better knowledge of where others are regarding the use of GRPR. Throughout the workshop, there were presentations, panels, discussions, group work and sharing of experiences- all very documented and written up: please follow the links to read the results in the Demand Analysis and the Repositioning PRGA Workshop Report.

Here I focus on what we learned (more, really, the knowledge we confirmed) as facilitators, and our main impressions about GRPR as the only gender research neophytes in the room.


  1. The tools: we confirmed our never-ending trust in Open Space. Especially as used here, towards the end of a very tightly scheduled 4- day event with lots of expertise in the room, Open Space allows participants to set their own discussion topic priorities, ‘get out there’ the ideas that build up, and exercise their need for interaction with other experts. We also used a Samoan Circle for conclusions and final discussion, and participants loved it (this exercise led by Simone was the #1 ‘evaluation points’ earner)! This workshop was also the perfect setting for it- when participants thought they couldn’t possibly get anymore energy to discuss, they did: Samoan Circle is a participatory, active and novel (for most) way of closing.
  2. Corroborated: in- depth interviews are key to better survey results. Sometimes answers to survey questions, even with the extra space for clarification, turn out quite cryptic. And especially if you are not a subject- matter specialist- what can you do to make sure you really get the full picture? You ask again! For the ‘Demand analysis’, we did survey follow-up interviews with 8 of the respondents, and they gave us further insight into what they meant with some of their answers, making for a much better overall idea and subsequent report. The interviews also came as a timely way to get ideas for the event itself.
  3. More ratifying: the importance of having clear roles for everyone during a workshop. The more and better team you have the clearer roles need to be. Who is documenting what? is a key issue to be discussed in depth before the workshop, especially if you have proficient reporters, photographers, co-facilitators and table ‘secretaries’: at the end of this workshop, we had flip chart notes, cards, pictures, table ‘sheets’, notes on documents, daily newsletters, recordings- all in varying levels of detail. It worked out in the end, but writing reports would have been easier with a better defined documentation process. Last but not least: having 2 facilitators that work well as a team in crucial- especially in long events. 4 days of facilitating alone (plus the pre- time in design and post- time reporting) is too much even for the best.



As admitted before, we were the only non- gender experts in the room- a great opportunity to learn new things. What were, in the end, our take-home messages from gender experts?

  1. There are many success stories, but very few have been documented. Around 40 workshop participants mentioned almost 30 success stories of the use of GRPR, of which only 3-4 are documented. There was a call for an effort in compiling and sharing these stories.
  2. GRPR research, outputs and outcomes are still very academic. This came up in the pre-workshop survey and during the workshop several times. There is a need in this field for practical, field-use oriented materials and resources about how to do GRPR.
  3. GRPR should be a cornerstone of the Consortium Programs. But how to accomplish this is still to be seen. During the workshop, one of the most interesting exercises was to look at the Mega- Programs as they stood (MPs have already morphed since then, and we suspect they will continue to do so) and identify needs for GRPR, and possible tools. Hopefully this will serve as a first step, but this key issue, making sure gender and participatory research get truly embedded in the future of the CGIAR, remains to be further discussed and championed.
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