It’s time to put on the “gender glasses”
CIAT now has a clearer vision of how to develop its gender strategy thanks to a recent workshop to mark International Women’s Day.
The Women and sustainable agriculture, CIAT’s impact workshop – attended by men and women from all disciplines in CIAT – was held to reflect on the Center’s work regarding its own gender research, its impact on women farmers, and how its work contributes to gender equity. Organizers hope that as a result CIAT’s work and its contribution to the CGIAR’s research programs (CRPs) will be more effective.
“CIAT has to make a determined effort to put on the so-called ‘gender glasses’. This will help bring gender issues into even sharper focus, and will mean we have a greater chance of having a greater impact with our research”, said Jennifer Twyman, CIAT’s gender expert.
A major conclusion of the workshop was that a multidisciplinary definition of gender is needed – meaning that ‘gender’ needs to be regarded as more than just ‘women’. To address this, participants suggested that besides focusing on just women, additional aspects need to be considered when conducting research – for example the inclusion of entire families and different cultural backgrounds.
They also identified several changes they would like to see for women farmers, particularly increasing their opportunities to interact directly with researchers. Noting that some female farmers have low self-esteem, they suggested it is therefore important to provide a space in which they feel safe and comfortable expressing their views. By doing this it is important to ask the women themselves what they want: women are a target, and not only a “project component”. Improved education access for female farmers is a necessary aspect to be able to reach this change of conduct.
In discussions about what it means to be a woman at CIAT, and more broadly in the CGIAR, participants felt there exists a need to clearly define the concept of gender. To address this, one of the starting points might be to organize workshops to show how the concept of gender influences their daily work.
Workshop was held in celebration of International Women’s Day, on the 8th of March at CIAT headquarters, in Colombia.