Gender in Agriculture Partnership

Transforming agriculture to empower women and deliver food, nutrition and income security

GAP Update - Giving Women Voice

Welcome to the GAP Update! 


Giving Women Voice

Ever since the Beijing Declaration of 1995, there have been strenuous cries from the international community and from women's movements across the world to make women’s empowerment visible—to make their voices heard within the household and in community, national and international decision-making bodies.
Great strides have been made worldwide towards gender equality and women’s inclusion, affording more equal opportunities, pay and fair treatment; today many actors are forging ahead to give Women Voice. The GAP now involves over 600 organizations, working together to share knowledge and accelerate these processes, to give women voice through advocacy, tools, evidence and capacities.
Here are some exciting examples of what is going on around the world:

Individuals with Influence

Highly respected leaders and policy-makers play an influential role in shaping public opinion and catalyzing action on gender issues. Our Newsletter features a recent article entitled “Invisible Women” by Prof. Catherine Bertini, our Distinguished GAP Patron. In it, Ms Bertini presents convincing arguments based on recent data as to why “women are the key human ingredient to adequate diets for families.” Yet, they are often invisible to policy-makers, public officials, community leaders, and researchers.
Another influencial figure, Professor Bina Agarwal, will be launching next month her new three-volume compendium of selected papers, at an event hosted by the Global Development InstituteGender Challenges treat the themes of: Agriculture, Technology and Food Security; Property, Family and the State; and Environmental Change and Collective Action.


Movements picking up speed

Economic empowerment of women is shaping up as a driving issue in 2016; various women’s movements, formal and informal, are demonstrating that women are effective and responsible citizens, but achieving their full potential also requires decision-making authority. A powerful recognition of this is the Declaration of Women signed by participants in the 5th World Conference of the World Rural Forum (Derio, 21-23 September 2015). The first-ever High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment has been announced for March to mobilize concrete actions aimed at closing economic gender gaps that persist around the world.
Informal movements are taking new approaches to combating gender inequalities. Men for Gender Equality Now, is demanding a hard look at violence against and oppression of women; the movement is turning the tables in Kenya by making gender justice a men’s issue.


Good Measure

Researchers and statisticians play a vital role in providing reliable quantitative and qualitative evidence on women’s roles in agriculture, to inform sound policy and programme decisions. Country-specific research is confirming existing gender disparity, enabling gaps to be clearly seen for what they are, through clear measures of women’s household empowerment (see Empowerment matters: “Invisible Women” in Niger produce less food).
Easily accessible and up-to-date data resources, like the World Bank Group’s new Little Data Book on Gender 2016, make it easier than ever to see how women and men are faring across a range of global indicators. The Gender Data Portal provides the latest sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics covering demography, education, health, access to economic opportunities, public life and decision-making, and agency.
Asking the right questions can also be critical to breaking apart narrow notions of women’s contributions to agriculture, as this recent study by CIAT on informal gender norms in Latin America has demonstrated through thorough sex-disaggregated data collection on the ground. In certain communities, gender dynamics can elude straightforward analysis. In this article from Forest News about work with indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon, researcher Anne Larson of CIFOR warns that “it’s too simplistic to say women don’t participate, are never heard and don’t get what they want.”



Innovating for Success

Researchers and practitioners play a critical role in helping women innovate in and benefit from agriculture. Such work may be upstream (such as developing improved seed varieties) or downstream (for example, helping women themselves test and adapt off-the-shelf technologies or to develop their own technologies and practices). An impressive example is the gender brief from Bioversity International, Seeds of Adaptation. The brief describes how women farmers in Bhutan play important roles in local seed systems—systems which are being adversely affected by climate change. Through collaboration with researchers, these women are not only voicing their need for adaptive seed, but are becoming key to implementing crop and varietal conservation and diversification.
Innovation may also consist of new ways of carrying out gender mainstreaming exercises with farmers, changing not the tools they use, but their mindset about the work they perform. In Ethiopia, groups of men and women farmers gave very different sets of answers to the same questions posed to them about challenges and opportunities they faced in the region; their different perspectives successfully opened minds and truly broke the gender mould in their community.
Aquaculture is a sector where women can especially be overlooked, as men are consistently identified as the fishers. But again here, powerful examples of empowerment can be found, such as in Bangladesh where smallholder women are breaking gender norms by becoming farm fishers.


Tooling Up for Action

Socioeconomic contexts and gender dynamics vary from region to region, community to community, even household to household. The following toolkits can prove useful to systematically and coherently mainstream gender considerations into our interventions:
Nutrition toolkit on Integrated homestead food production (IFAD) - provides valuable guidance to help incorporate Integrated Homestead Food Production in the design and implementation of programmes
Nutrition and Gender Sensitive Agriculture (NGSA) Toolkit  (Royal Tropical Institute and SNV) - supports the development of programme interventions to address under-nutrition
Boîtes à outils sectorielles sur Genre (French Agency for Development) - proposes approaches and tools to strengthen capacities on gender and systematize gender mainstreaming into the project cycle (French language)


If you have relevant materials (articles, blogs, videos etc) that we can also share through GAP, please don’t hesitate to send them to, or register as a Partner or Catalyst on the GAP website to directly post your materials.

We look forward to hearing from you about HOW you'd like to be involved with GAP!  Please let us know what you and your organizations are doing to give women voice, and contribute to the latest discussions on LinkedIn!

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Photo credits: first: Buholzer; second: Juan Carlos Huayllapuma Cruz/CIFOR; third: ICARDA

GAP Update is a briefing service from the Gender in Agriculture Partnership, a partnership open to all those who work for the economic empowerment of women in agriculture. Our aim is to keep you regularly informed and aware of new initiatives and actions around the world.