From 1995 to 2015: What has changed for rural women?


Susan Kaaria and Regina Laub, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


Looking back at the last 20 years, what has changed globally?

In many ways, we are looking at a world that is a much better place now, than it was two decades ago. Millions of people have moved out of poverty. Worldwide there are 216 million people less undernourished than in 1990-92. We have evidence that food production has tripled since 1945, and average food availability per person has increased by 40%. Global governance of food systems has changed dramatically, and is now seen as a multi-actor process. Development now actively includes civil society and private sector, amongst other actors. Each of these different partners are recognized as a fundamental part of the development process. Technology has also advanced at an astonishing rate since 1995 when the internet was only used by around 2 million people worldwide. Today, 3.2 billion people are connected to the internet, of which two billion live in developing countries. Through mobile phones, almost half of the world’s population, has essential access to markets, health systems, weather forecasts, agricultural information, money transfer and much better communication, even in the most remote rural areas. Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS has advanced too over the last 20 years, claiming the lives of around 39 million people and infecting 78 million people.

Why focus on the year 2015?

Governments, Civil Society, UN Agencies and Development Partners worldwide marked the year 2015 in their calendars. It is an important year that signaled the end of the Millennium Development Goals, and it is time to take stock of lessons learned, achievements and failures. It is also the year that 193 Member States adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, a bold new agenda that commits every country to take an array of actions that would not only address the root causes of poverty and inequality, but would also increase economic growth and prosperity and meet people’s health, education and social needs, while protecting the environment.

New Issue of AgriGender: Making Women Visible in Agriculture


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.

PIM and Agri-Gender host write-shop to strengthen gender research

by Caitlin Kieran and Sue Dorfman

Women-farmer_WorldFishPhoto-dupeFor scholars researching the intersection of gender, agriculture, and food security, few outlets exist to publish their findings. Yet such research is considered critical for developing program and policy recommendations that can achieve gender-equitable development outcomes. Without sufficient empirical evidence, interventions may fail to increase gender equality or worse yet, exacerbate existing inequalities.

The Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security (Agri-Gender), an international, peer-reviewed journal, provides a forum for research on these issues. In order to build the capacity of agricultural researchers to conduct rigorous gender analyses and translate their research findings into recommendations, Agri-Gender and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) co-hosted a write-shop on July 14, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. 

For scholars researching the intersection of gender, agriculture, and food security, few outlets exist to publish their findings.

Bringing Researchers Together

The write-shop, a one day academic paper review intensive, provided in-depth discussions on research methodologies and best practices for preparing papers for journal publication. Participants received constructive feedback from other write-shop participants and from Dr. Cheryl Doss, Senior Lecturer at Yale University and Gender Coordinator of PIM and Dr. Jemimah Njuki, Editor-in-Chief of Agri-Gender and Senior Program Officer at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

The ten participants, eight women and two men, came from several CGIAR Centers as well as research institutions, foundations, and intergovernmental organizations – some with years of research experience and numerous publications and others at the beginning of their careers. Their research topics ranged from analyses of the role of gender and changing social norms in specific value chains to a broader conceptual framework integrating value chain, livelihoods, and gender perspectives; from wage equity in the agricultural sector in Morocco to the influence of women’s involvement in groups on group performance across five countries in Africa and Asia; and from analysis of how social programs empower women in El Salvador to the role of social institutions in agricultural research in Latin America.

Each write-shop participant presented a paper to the group. After these presentations, participants reviewed the contribution of new knowledge to the body of research on gender and agriculture, provided feedback on the methodologies for data collection, examined the validity of the conclusions, and identified common themes across the papers. In the afternoon, the participants broke into two groups for detailed discussions of each paper, led by Cheryl Doss and Jemimah Njuki.

Dr. Doss highlighted the need to draw out the overarching story from the research to identify the key takeaway messages and what the paper contributes to the body of knowledge on the role of gender in agriculture. She provided suggestions on how to frame and organize a paper around answering a specific research question. She noted the literature review should present the findings from previous research and identify gaps in the literature, and the text accompanying tables and figures should emphasize the patterns that help answer the research question. Finally, she provided concrete recommendations on what should and should not be included in descriptions of the sampling methods, study sites, and techniques for analysis.

The write-shop proved instrumental in strengthening capacity for analysis and scientific writing, and sharing results and lessons from different researchers working in this area.”

The Write-shop Model Works

“My paper greatly benefitted from the write-shop in Berlin,” remarked Dina Najjar, Associate Social and Gender Scientist at ICARDA. “In particular, I appreciated the thorough comments from four readers, which were constructive and insightful. This was largely due to the format of the workshop, which required us to read each other’s papers before meeting. My questions were addressed in the write-shop, such as how to analyze some of my findings that were sex-disaggregated and how to present findings with low number of respondents. Altogether, I think the write-shop was indispensable for improving my paper.”

Dr. Cheryl Doss concurred. “The write-shop provided an excellent opportunity for researchers on a variety of topics related to gender in the areas of policies, institutions, and markets, to come together to share ideas and research.  We expect the revised papers will be substantially stronger as a result of this opportunity.  In addition, the researchers had the opportunity to see how their individual work fits into a broader set of literature.”

Entering data in Bangladesh

In Fall 2015, Agri-Gender will publish a special issue on the ways in which gender interacts with policies, institutions, and markets to influence agriculture and food security. The participants were invited to incorporate the feedback they received and submit the revised papers for consideration for publication in this issue.

Dr. Njuki noted “The upcoming special issue is important as it brings together evidence on how gender intersects with policies, markets and institutions. The write-shop proved instrumental in strengthening capacity for analysis and scientific writing, and sharing results and lessons from different researchers working in this area.”

PIM and Agri-Gender envision this initial effort as one more way to enhance the rigor of research on gender in agriculture and to create a forum for debates and knowledge sharing will result in improved programs and policies to reduce gender disparities in agriculture and rural development.

Featured and bottom image photo credits: M. Yousuf Tushar, WorldFish

Youth in agriculture: Inspiring stories of young people changing agriculture



According to the World Bank, agriculture is essential for sub-Saharan Africa’s growth. The sector employs 65 percent of Africa’s labor force and accounts for 32 percent of the region’s gross domestic product. Increased agricultural production is expected to continue to support growth in Africa’s economy.

The demographic in agriculture is however aging rapidly: the average African farmer is between 50 and 60 years old. At the same time, the need for greater agricultural production is acute. In order to feed the projected population of 2050, global food production will need to increase by 60%. That’s about 2.5 million more tons of just grain alone – per day – than we produce right now.

Africa is uniquely positioned to meet this challenge. It contains over half of the world’s undeveloped arable land, great potential for increased crop productivity, and a burgeoning population of young people, with all their energy and creativity.

With 10 to 12 million youth entering the labor market every year, the number of youth ready for employment far outstrips the jobs being created. While a growing number of rural youth are migrating to cities, 70 percent remain in rural areas. Those who stay often lack the skills and knowledge necessary to capitalize on available opportunities. In the long term, youth unemployment can hinder economic growth and lead to political and social unrest.

Africa’s agriculture sector presents unique opportunities for young African leaders who want to serve as change agents on the continent. The sector can also benefit from the resourcefulness, technology savviness and organizational capacity of young people.

More and more young Africans are discovering that they can make farming a profitable career. The Young African Leadership Initiative profiles some of these young agriculture entrepreneurs.

Below are a few that have inspired me:

2015 List of Scholarships for African women and Developing Countries


A number of organisations encourage women empowerment through education at different levels by offering specific scholarships for African women from Africa and developing countries. Although women looking for scholarships can as well apply for other scholarship programmes that are non-gender specific, there are sponsorship programmes that reduce the competition by offering their scholarship programmes solely for women. From the archives of AfterschoolAfrica, below is an updated list of scholarships (undergraduate, Masters, MBA and PhD) that are open for women from African and developing countries. Some of these scholarships are for international students but are also open for the said demography.

Please note that application deadlines and other information provided on this site can change at any time. You are therefore advised to visit the recommended scholarship organisation website.Scholarships for African Women

MasterCard Foundation Scholarships Program at Wellesley College, USA

As part of the Scholars Program, Wellesley will provide nine (9) African women with comprehensive support that includes scholarships, mentoring, counseling, and internship opportunities. Scholars at Wellesley will build experiences, values, and competencies that are critical to success in the global economy, and that enable them to give back to their communities and home countries.

Previous Deadline March 1

Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarships for Women in Africa, Europe and the Middle East

Google offers The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarshipfor women in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to study in the field of computing and technology for Bachelors, Masters or PhD degrees.

Previous Deadline 1 February

10 influential African women in agriculture


The African agricultural landscape is changing rapidly. While the proportion of women in agriculture research is quite low, with only 1 out of 4 agricultural researchers and 1 out of 7 agriculture research leaders being women, there are women playing an influential role in shaping the growth of African agriculture. Below is my list of 10.

H.E Rhoda Peace Tumusiime

Rhoda TumusiimeHE Rhoda Peace Tumusiime is the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union. She has championed causes such as women empowerment, poverty eradication, agricultural development, strategic planning and partnership building, among others. Her portfolio as AU Commissioner covers multiple sectors ranging from crop agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forestry, land, water, environment, climate change, climate services, and disaster risk reduction to rural development. She has mobilized and closely worked with other pan-African institutions and development partner agencies in all those areas to secure and provide support to AU Member States. Her efforts have yielded increased responses in the framework of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Programme. HE Tumusiime holds a Bachelor’s in Agricultural Economics; Master’s in Economics, Planning and Managing Rural Dev.; and Diploma in Women and Dev. Previously she held senior positions in the Government Uganda, including as Commissioner for Agriculture Planning and Commissioner for Women and Development. Her expertise and experience as well as commitment have won her a number of key positions on regional and international organisations, such as membership of the High-level Advisory Panel of UNISDR, Advisory Board of Expo 2015 dedicated to the Theme: Feeding the Planet, Energy For Life, Governing Board of the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC), Chair of the Governing Council of the African Fertiliser Financing Mechanism (AFFM), Chair of the ALive Platform for livestock development in Africa, member of the Global Panel on Nutrition, among others.


Dr Agnes M. Kalibata
agnes kalibataDr Agnes Kailibata is the President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). AGRA is a dynamic partnership working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. As president of AGRA, Dr Kalibata oversees programs in  in 17 African countries including Kenya, Ghana, Mali, Mozambiq ue,  Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso. Before joining AGRA, Dr Kalibata was Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), where she was widely considered to be one of the most successful agriculture ministers in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to this, she was the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources. She also served as a scientist with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). She holds a Ph.D. in plant, soils, and insect science from University of Massachusetts Amherst, an M.S. in agriculture and forestry from Makerere University, and a B.S. in applied entomology and biochemistry from Makerere University.

Mme Elisabeth Atangana

elisabeth atanganaElisabeth Atangana is a farmer by profession. In 1980 she established the Association of Women for Sustainable Development “Entre Nous” in the town of Esse; established the Chain of Solidarity and Support of Actions for Sustainable Development (CHASAADD-M) in 1991, the organization of integrated local development and vocational training center for farmers; and the creation of the Common Fund to Support Grassroots Organizations (FOCAOB), a specialized tool in rural finance created and managed by farmers themselves. Since 1998, she has been involved in the establishment of the National Peasant Movement through the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations of Cameroon (CNOP-CAM) and in the process of creating the PROPAC (Sub-regional Platform of Peasant Organizations of Central Africa) in 2005, of which she has been the president until today. Between October 2010 and September 2012, she acted as the first President of the Platform of the Pan-African Farmers Organization (PAFO) and on 29 May 2012, she was appointed as Special Ambassador for Cooperatives by FAO. She has made it a priority to take into account the specificity of women and rural youth in policies and strategies for sustainable development, as well as to work to develop vocational training and employment for young farmers and rural people.

Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg

wanjiru kamauDr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg is the Director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). AWARD is career-development program for women in agricultural research and development in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to joining AWARD, she founded and served as Executive Director of Akili Dada, an award-winning leadership incubator that invests in high-achieving young women from under-resourced families, who are passionate about driving change in their communities. Kamau-Rutenberg also served as an Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco and a lecturer in International Relations at the Jesuit Hekima College, a constituent college of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Her academic research and teaching interests centered on African politics, as well as the politics of philanthropy, gender, international relations, ethnicity, and democratization, and the role of technology in social activism. She has received widespread recognition for her work investing in women, including being honored as a 2012 White House Champion of Change, named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans by New African magazine, recognized as a 2012 Ford Foundation Champion of Democracy, awarded the 2011 Yamashita Prize, and the 2010 United Nations Intercultural Innovation Award, among others. An energetic activist, Kamau-Rutenberg serves as on the Boards of the African Democratic Institute and of Opportunity Collaboration, in addition to being a juror for the prestigious Intercultural Innovation Award, offered by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group. She is also a strong advocate and passionate public speaker about the need to transform some philanthropic practices in Africa and what it means to build a life in service of driving social change. Born in Kenya, Kamau-Rutenberg holds a PhD and a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Whitman College in Washington, U.S.A.


Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda

lindiwe sibandaDr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda has been the chief executive officer and head of mission of the Africa-wide Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) since 2004. Dr Sibanda led the development of the strategy and business plans that FANRPAN is currently implementing (2007-2015). She is currently coordinating policy research and advocacy programs within the African continent, all aimed at making Africa a food-secure region. Her portfolio includes policy research and advocacy programmes on food policies, agricultural productivity and markets, rural livelihoods and climate change.  Dr Sibanda is an animal scientist by training and a practicing commercial beef cattle farmer and has been on the forefront of the agriculture, food security and climate change global policy agenda.  In 2012, Dr Sibanda was appointed Board Chair of the world’s leading livestock organisation, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). In 2011, Dr Sibanda was nominated to serve on the independent science panel of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research of the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security Programme (CCAFS), aimed at driving new research on the interactions between climate change, agriculture, natural resource management and food security, and to create unique possibilities in the search for cutting-edge solutions to climate change and food-security problems. In August 2010 she was co-opted into the Guardian Global Development advisory panel as one of the world’s most influential thinkers and provocative new voices. In 2009 she led the No Agriculture, No Deal global campaign and mobilised African civil society organisations to push for the inclusion of agriculture in the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) Copenhagen negotiations. Since 2008 Dr Sibanda has been a leading advocate for the Farming First global campaign – advocating for a holistic approach to sustainable agricultural development. Dr Sibanda holds a BSc degree from the University of Alexandria in Egypt, and an MSc and PhD from the University of Reading in the UK.


Dr Segenet Kelemu

segenet kelemuDr Segenet Kelemu is the Director General of the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Nairobi, Kenya, and the first woman to lead icipe. Dr Kelemu is a molecular plant pathologist with emphasis on elucidation of molecular determinants of host-pathogen interactions, development of novel plant disease control strategies including genetic engineering, biopesticides, pathogen population genetics and dynamics and endophytic microbes and their role in plant development. Prior to joining icipe, she was Vice President for Programs at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). In 2007, she became the Director of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. Under her leadership, the BecA initiative grew from a contentious idea into a driving force that is changing the face of African biosciences. BecA’s research capacity, staff, facilities, funding, partners and training programs have expanded at an ever-accelerating pace. She assembled and inspired a scientific and technical team bound by a common passion for using science to enhance Africa’s biosciences development. She has also worked at Cornell University in the USA, and at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) as a Senior Scientist and Leader of Crop and Agroecosystem Health Management. Dr Kelemu was featured in the top 100 most influential African women of 2014 in Forbes Africa and has been celebrated with numerous awards. In 2014 she was named the L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Laureate for Africa, one of five Laureates chosen from around the world for their leadership and scientific excellence. The People’s Republic of China awarded her their prestigious Friendship Award, granted to foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to China’s economic and social development. She has been elected a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, and was awarded The World Academy of Sciences 2011 TWAS Prize for Agricultural Sciences jointly with Prof Zia Khan – the first African to win this prize since its inception.


Prof Ruth Oniang’o

ruth oniangoProfessor Ruth Oniang’o currently serves as Professor of Nutrition at the Great Lakes University of Kisumu. She is founder and editor-in-chief of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development and founder and leader of the Rural Outreach Program, a Kenya based NGO working with farmer associations. She has taught at the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. She is also Adjunct Professor at Tufts University in the USA. As a member of Kenya’s Parliament (2003-2007), she worked to alleviate poverty and hunger, with special focus on science and technology, agricultural research and productivity, food security, nutrition, bio-safety legislation, use of fertilizer and other inputs, HIV/AIDS and gender issues. She also served as Shadow Minister for Education for 5 years, while in parliament and advocated for reforms in the education sector. Currently working as a strong advocate of resource mobilization towards food and nutrition policies and attendant programs, and emphasizes the need to practice good governance and political will to address hunger and child malnutrition in Africa.  Prof Oniang’o has served on several boards including the board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Agriculture Strategy Advisory Committee, International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Sasakawa Africa Association, and the Australian Centre for International Agriculture research.  Prof Oniang’o holds a PhD in Food Science and Nutrition.


Ms Lucy Muchoki

lucy muchoki

Ms Lucy Muchoki is Chief Executive Officer of the Pan African Agribusiness and Agroindustry Consortium (PanAAC), a Regional Agribusiness platform that is mobilising and supporting the domestic private sector in Africa. She is also the coordinator of the Kenyan Agribusiness and Agroindustry Alliance (KAAA). Ms Muchoki, an accomplished Kenyan entrepreneur, has a major interest in the tea and horticultural industry. She is the Vice Chair of the CAADP Non-State Actors Regional Taskforce and has been instrumental in developing the Agribusiness strategy for Africa through collaboration with the African Union Commission and the Nepad Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA). She is a member of several advisory councils, such as those in Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI), an international food industry network that supports sustainable agriculture, in the ‘Scale up programme’ funded by the Dutch Government, a programme that supports small holder farmers and in the UNDP report on inclusive business models guiding council. She is also the private sector representative and steering committee member of Paepard, African Europe partnership programme on research for development and Global Form for Agricultural Research (GFAR). She is member of the steering committees of the AUC for an initiative on Aflatoxin control programme for Africa (PACA), rural infrastructure/market access programme and Ecological Organic Initiative. Ms Muchoki holds a BA in sociology from the University of Nairobi and a Master’s degree in Marketing and Business administration. She is the private sector representative at the board of FARA (Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa), ASARECA (Association for Strengthening Agriculture and Research in Eastern and Central Africa) And Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR).

Dr Eleni Z Gabre-Madhin

eleni gabre medhinDr. Eleni Z. Gabre-Madhin, is the Chief Executive Officer of Eleni LLC. She was the Founder and first Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange from 2008. Dr Gabre-Madhin is an internationally recognized thought leader on agricultural marketing in Africa and global development, with a career spanning both research and development practice, and now business. Prior to returning to her native Ethiopia, she served as Senior Economist at the World Bank and Senior Research Fellow with the Washington-based think tank, the International Food Policy Research Institute. She has also worked at the United Nations as a Commodity Trading Expert, based in Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Gabre-Madhin holds a PhD in Applied Economics from Stanford University, an MSc in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University and BA in Economics from Cornell University. She was awarded Outstanding Dissertation by the American Agricultural Economics Association in 1999 for her thesis titled, “Social Capital, Transaction Costs, and Market Institutions in the Ethiopian Grain Market.” As a voice for African markets, she represented the African business community at the G-20 Business Summit in London in 2009, and is presently on the Nike Foundation-sponsored Advisory Panel on Girls in Rural Economies, as well as the Expert Group on Development Issues for the Government of Sweden, the African Union Task Force on Commodities, and the Stiglitz Task Force on Africa. Dr. Gabre-Madhin is a Founding Fellow and Board Member of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and was nominated in 2010 for Outstanding Businesswoman of the Year by African Business Awards. Eleni was selected as “Ethiopian Person of the Year” for the 2002 Ethiopian calendar year (2009/2010 Gregorian) by the Ethiopian newspaper Jimma Times. Dr. Gabre-Madhin was among The Africa Report’s “50 Women Shaping Africa” 2011, was named Ethiopian Person of the Year 2010 and was nominated for Outstanding Businesswoman of the Year 2010 by African Business. She received the African Banker Icon Award for 2012 and the Yara Prize 2012.

Dr. Susan Kawira Kaaria

susan kaariaDr. Susan Kaaria is a Senior Gender Officer, in the Division of Social Protection, at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. She currently leads the Gender Work under FAO’s Strategic Objective on Reducing Rural Poverty with the overall goal of promoting rural women’s social and economic empowerment by helping to reduce rural gender inequalities and increasing access to rural organizations, productive resources and services, decent employment and social protection.  Prior to joining FAO, Dr. Kaaria was a Program Officer Financial Assets in the Ford Foundation Office for Eastern Africa programming in the area of Expanding Livelihood Opportunities for Poor Households in East Africa. At Ford Foundation, she supported a program to increase incomes and assets of poor rural women and men by supporting a range of interventions, including: strengthening producers’ organizations and farmers groups; analysis to develop policy recommendations on integrating women and poor smallholders into value chains; designing and piloting new agricultural loan products; and approaches for improving access of poor smallholder producers to markets. Dr. Kaaria has worked as a Senior Scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) working in both Latin America and Eastern and Southern Africa. At CIAT, she played an important role in the development of a participatory program for catalyzing rural development, entitled “Enabling Rural Innovation (ERI)”, an inter-disciplinary collaborative program that was implemented Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and DR Congo. ERI catalyzed rural innovation processes by increasing access and benefits from technology innovation and market opportunities, by poor communities. Dr. Kaaria holds a BSc in Agriculture from University of Eastern Africa – Kenya, an MSc in Agricultural Economics from Iowa State University, USA and a PhD in Natural Resource Economics from University of Minnesota, USA. She has a strong commitment to promoting gender equality and is a keen advocate for innovation and development processes that are led by local resource users. She has also published widely on these subjects and is co-editor of Innovation Africa: Enriching Farmers’ Livelihoods.

Who would you add to this list of African women, working to advance African agriculture?

Jemimah Njuki, Editor in Chief, Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security

Beyond the numbers


091514_2059_Goodpractic2.jpgSitting at a meeting a few weeks ago listening to a presentation on the gender results of a program, I was fascinated by the “fascination” with reporting gender outcomes from a numbers perspective. Despite there being so many opportunities and entry points for addressing gender issues in the program including working on gender and technology issues through addressing men and women’s priorities, addressing intra-household food allocation, increasing women’s autonomy and decision making, the main highlights of this particular presentation were all about the numbers—the numbers of women!

In an effort to keep the gender simple and straight forward, there is a tendency by donor organizations, research and development programs to focus on the numbers of men and women, accessing technologies, getting training, participating in project activities, male and female students who have been trained, the number of men and women in project teams, among others. Focusing on reaching women, given the historical disadvantage that women have faced in research and extension systems is important in its own right. But several issues are critical here: one is a focus on numbers can mask the underlying causes of gender inequalities which can often remain unchallenged; and second, it can reinforce the notion of women as victims and not important agents of change and active players in the research and development process. It can be a lost opportunity for organisations to more meaningfully address gender issues in agriculture and food security programs.

Call for papers on gender and policies, institutions and markets


Jemimah Njuki and Cheryl Doss

The Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security invites submissions for a special issue on Policies, Institutions, and Markets.  Papers should focus on the broad issues of how gender interacts with policies, institutions and/or markets in the areas of agriculture and food security. We will consider papers that are theoretical or conceptual, but are particularly interested in empirical papers using qualitative or quantitative data.

Extended abstracts are due by April 4, 2015. 1-2 page abstracts should include information on a statement of the problem, the research question, the methodology, the data used, and preliminary findings. 

Keeping a balance between mainstreaming and strategic gender research

Agriculture, Gender, Women

Jemimah Njuki

051914_1854_WomensAgenc1.jpgFor social scientists working on gender research in international and national agriculture research centres, creating a balance between strategic gender research and mainstreaming gender into existing programs is walking a tight rope.

In research programmes gender mainstreaming  refers to the the way in which research programmes incorporate gender perspectives so that the overall research framework, approach and methodologies employed to conduct the research are clearly gender sensitive. Gender mainstreaming is important because it incorporates the fundamental principle that women and men experience different conditions and opportunities in life, have different interests and needs, and are affected in different ways by social, political and economic processes, as a direct result of their gender.

The business case for gender has dominated much of the recent discourse on gender in agriculture. The idea that addressing gender inequalities in agriculture will lead to increased productivity, improved food and nutrition security, economic growth and a reduction in poverty is appealing to managers of organizations who have these as their core mandate.



By Regina Laub and Susan Kaaria, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

blog picture

It’s another typical day for Josephine Keremi. She’s up at sunrise, spends her morning scurrying around the house preparing meals, washing clothes, and gathering water and firewood. All this before her three children and husband wake up to begin another long day in the fields to harvest sweet potatoes and beans for the local market.

The Keremi family lives in a village called Kaithango. It’s located in the Eastern province of Kenya. This region receives very low rainfall throughout the year. This causes many headaches for Josephine and other rural farmers like herself. It not only sparks arguments between them over the use of scarce resources, it also translates in being unable to produce enough food to feed themselves and their families on a daily basis. In fact, many households in her village frequently go hungry or go long stretches without food. Many of whom she knows personally.

Luckily for Josephine, she’s in a position to make a difference in the fate of her people. She leads a group called Maendeleo Farmers’ Group, which is composed of men and women farmers from her remote region near the highlands of Kenya. Most of them are farmers with small plots on which they produce barely enough to feed their families.