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By: Stephanie Adams Mar 25, 2021

A new course developed for the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab offers an introduction to the important role that gender plays in all development activities, particularly international food security and agricultural development.

Using case studies from experiences in the field, the course is designed for anyone working in development, including practitioners, researchers, students and private sector business partners. The course, Increasing Your Gender Responsive Agricultural Development Capacity, is free of charge and accessible to all.

“The course demonstrates how a program, a policy, a law or a planned action may impact women and men, boys and girls, differently,” said Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale, the gender impacts lead with the Soybean Innovation Lab and director of the Gender Impacts Lab at the Social Science Research Center of Mississippi State University. “It’s recognizing both the similarities and differences of women’s and men’s lived experiences, and how their lived experiences both shape and are shaped by their cultures and societies.”

One of these differences is in control over resources. Across sub-Saharan Africa, women who are smallholder farmers are typically responsible for feeding their families but are less likely to share control or ownership of the land that they themselves till, sow and harvest. However, research has shown that when female farmers have some ownership and decision-making powers, food security and agricultural development programs see better outcomes for everyone: men, women and children.

 

By: Cheryl Doss | Joseph Feyertag | Ruth Meinzen-Dick | March 8, 2021

On the International Women’s Day – and every day – we must call out gender bias wherever we see it. The trouble is, when it comes to land and property rights, much is hidden behind closed doors. But now, a new survey is giving voice to women around the world, letting them share their perceptions of their property rights.

Unlike many surveys which interview the – typically male – heads of household, Prindex asked 90,000 women and 78,000 men across 140 countries about their perceptions of the security of their rights to their home. The subjective data gathered captures the concerns of both men and women, demonstrating that many women do not consider themselves owners of the home that they live in and associate safe housing with staying in stable marriages.

Perceptions provide a rapid health check on gender policies

Perceptions data used to be considered the reserve of those in marketing, political polling and academia. More recently, it has been taken up by development policymakers and practitioners as a tool to better understand people’s experience.

Perception data is useful because it allows policymakers to quickly recognise where legislation is effective and where it is not. One of the best examples of this is assessing whether laws to tackle gender inequality are working. For instance, 171 out of 190 countries have laws in place to guarantee equal home ownership rights between men and women. However, in practice women are often not in the position to practice those rights.

The Prindex 2020 dataset reveals that in many parts of the world, married women are far less likely than married men to consider themselves individual or joint owners of their homes. Such women instead say they are ‘staying in family-owned property’. This gender gap is most visible in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. Staying in a family home is not necessarily a bad thing. However, this gender imbalance does suggest that men are more likely to hold rights to family property and the benefits that this brings – from access to credit, to the sale of crops grown on farmland. And that women’s access to the property depends on her relations with the family.

By 9:00 a.m., the morning sun already feels hot in the Bidibidi settlement for refugees and displaced persons, located in the Yumbe District of Uganda. A steady file of women gathers around a borehole to collect water. They will repeat this chore again in the evening.

Forty-year -old Joyce Maka waits for more women to arrive at the water collection point. The mother of three is a refugee herself; she arrived from South Sudan in 2018, after the rebels had killed her husband. Today, she is among 12 women peace mediators in Zone 2 of the Bidibidi Settlement, and she is here to raise awareness about prevention and health safety measures to combat COVID-19 – the disease that has wreaked havoc on people’s lives and economies globally.

People living in refugee settlements are especially vulnerable to the ravages of the disease, as they live in cramped quarters with few basic services and health care systems can get overwhelmed very quickly.

The lockdown measures that have left many people confined to their homes as a way of reducing the spread of COVID- 19, make information dissemination a challenge in these areas. Maka says the water collection points still draw people – usually women and girls – in large numbers – and hence these are strategic points to pass on life-saving information.

“We encourage them to stay at least two metres away from each other; we also encourage them to wash their hands before and after pumping water,” she explains.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Uganda continues to rise, women peace mediators, who resolve community disputes and challenges, have joined the fight against the pandemic in refugee settlements in the districts of Yumbe and Adjumani, bordering South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As of 9 June, Uganda has recorded 646 infections.

UN Women’s project, in partnership with the Women International Peace Centre, and funded by the Government of Norway, has trained and supported 160 women peace mediators in Yumbe, Adjumani and Kotido districts. While their work usually involves mediating community disputes, including domestic violence, early marriages and land rights issues, the project pivoted to sensitize them on COVID-19 prevention measures. They have learned about the importance of hand washing, physical distancing, wearing masks and reporting new settlers so that they can be tested and quarantined. UN Women has also provided masks, soaps and sanitary pads for their own personal protection and hygiene.

UN Women’s Programme Management Specialist, Yusrah Nagujja says, “We wanted to make sure that women peace mediators are safe from COVID-19. We encourage them to take necessary precautions, not to put their lives, families and the general community at risk.”

In the Nyumazi settlement in Adjumani District, the mediators are targeting food distribution points to pass on information on COVID-19. They also meet people on the streets to have one-on-one conversations, making sure that every household has a hand washing point, clean racks to store utensils and access to toilets.

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Email: genderimpactslab@ssrc.msstate.edu

 
Gender Impacts Lab