To coincide with the International Day of Rural Women, the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security is pleased to announce it’s current issue which is focused on making women more visible in agriculture policies, institutions and markets.
Rural women the world over play a major role in ensuring food security and in the development and stability of the rural areas. Yet, with little or no status, they frequently lack the power to secure land rights or to access vital services such as credit, inputs, extension services, training and education. Their vital contribution to society goes largely unnoticed. The International Day of Rural Women aims to change this by dedicating a day to recognise the important role that women play in ensuring food security.
In the current issue of the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security, we focus on gender in policies, institutions and markets. The issue is published in collaboration with and funded by the CGIAR Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets led by IFPRI.
Twyman, Muriel and García in their paper- Identifying women farmers: Informal gender norms as institutional barriers to recognizing women’s contributions to agriculture – discuss the invisibility of women in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador especially in agriculture data and statistics. Due to the non-recognition of women as primary decision makers in households, very rarely is information collected from them and about them. Women often do not consider themselves the primary rice producer or farmer in the household and they see their role as being in the home and helping with rice production when needed. Researchers, field staff, and community leaders often assume that women are not farmers, thus, women are not interviewed. For these reasons, most researchers determine that there are few women rice producers, further reinforcing the notion that women are not farmers. Data shows that women are indeed involved in rice production and data collection should take this into account and not only collect data about women, but also from women. For gender and agricultural researchers, it is thus important to recognize how gender-norms impact what data is collected from whom and how this can limit our knowledge of women’s contributions to agricultural production and gender differences in agriculture. How data is collected also has implications for policy as women may be missing from policies and policy interventions if the policies are based on such data.
Mudege and her colleagues from the International Potato Centre and partners from the University of Zimbabwe in their paper- Gender norms and the marketing of seeds and ware potatoes in Malawi-discuss how gender dynamics shape and influence the nature of participation in, as well as the ability of women to benefit from, seed and ware potato markets in Malawi. Through discussions with men and women from the patrilineal and matrilineal systems in Malawi, the authors find that men and women participate in different markets for different reasons. Women are more likely to participate in ware potato markets than seed markets, are more likely to sell from home to their neighbors, and are more likely to sell smaller volumes compared to men. Results demonstrate that agricultural market interventions that do not address underlying social structures—such as those related to gender relations and access to key resources—will benefit one group of people over another; in this case men over women. In addition to gender-related issues, structural issues such as the weakness of farmer trading associations also need to be addressed. The authors recommend strengthening of such organizations to give women voice and bargaining power, and for private sector companies engaging smallholder farmers to pay attention to gender issues.
Gumucio and Rueda in their paper – Influencing Gender-Inclusive Climate Change Policies in Latin America – analyze the extent to which climate change policies, noting that most climate change policies in the region do not adequately address gender. The authors discuss a rubric for analyzing gender inclusion in climate policies that can be applied across sectors and countries. From their analysis, they conclude that participatory processes can help promote the inclusion of gender in policymaking. Additionally, national policies on gender and social inclusion, as well as international legal instruments that effectively highlight gender equality as a crosscutting objective, can all provide important guidance and motivation for including gender. Alliances that include the state and civil society can introduce valuable gender expertise into the policymaking process, as well as promote a greater commitment to gender inclusion at the institutional level. The authors recommend that gender considerations must be taken into account from the beginning of a policy’s formulation and policies must rely data and evidence.
Marenya, Kassie and Tostao in their paper – Fertilizer use on individually and jointly managed crop plots in Mozambique – analyze fertilizer use on plots managed individually by men, individually by women and jointly by men and women and find that joint management of agricultural plots is associated with higher fertilizer application rates on maize plots but with lower fertilizer application on non-food cash plots. The authors conclude that in land-scarce environments where women are less likely to have parcels to cultivate autonomously, improving women’s bargaining power under joint management of agricultural activities may be one way to improve gender equality in agriculture.