IFAD featuring in the Annual Scientific Gender Conference

IFAD participated in the conference’s session on What development partners really want (and need) from gender research, where representatives of international development organizations and development partners highlighted the challenges and opportunities of gender research.

From left to right: Lydia Atomsa, Gender and Migration, Dutch Embassy; Ulaç Demirag, Country Director and Representative for Ethiopia and South Sudan, IFAD; Fatouma Seid, FAO Representative in Ethiopia; Amsale Mengistu, BMGF Ethiopia; Faith Bartz, USAID Ethiopia; Tanja Nader, Delegation of the EU to Ethiopia. 

Organized by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Collaborative Platform for Gender Research, the second Annual Scientific Gender Conference and Capacity Development Workshop is being held at the ILRI Campus in Addis Ababa from 24 to 28 September 2018. The conference brings together national and international researchers and representatives of development organizations to identify the gender’s agriculture research priorities, strengths and gaps. Presentations will also examine how to build capacity to undertake and implement the findings of gender research, as well as promote knowledge sharing among key stakeholders.

During his intervention, Mr Demirag stressed IFAD’s commitment to overcoming gender inequalities and empowering women to reduce rural poverty and food insecurity; a commitment which is embedded in all its operations and guided through IFAD’s Policy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

He highlighted some of the key development issues from a gender perspective such as: women’s limited access and control over productive assets and thus, limited opportunities; women's double burden of productive activities and domestic work which continues to limit their ability to participate in new income-generating opportunities; limited inclusion of women leaders and models within development interventions; gender perspectives often poorly represented in public services such as agricultural extension; and the need to consider the role of women in value chain interventions to progress beyond subsistence level or being care givers but rather in productive and profitable activities.

In addition, he emphasized that research can also make a vital contribution to enhance the set of practical tools to enhance the quality and effectiveness of development interventions, which can be applied during project designs and implementation. Some of these tools include: effective methods to ensure women’s participation in defining their training and skills development needs; tools to identify and address gender inequality issues in institutional analysis; development of training packages and approaches that take into account gender-specific constraints; and tools to enable business enterprises to tailor their products and services to the specific need of women.

However, given the very location and context-specific, multidimensional and complex nature of gender issues in development, Mr Demirag highlighted the need for more action-oriented and applied studies, as opposed to basic research. While women representation and advocacy are important to ensure participation, ownership and nurturing women's leadership, we need focus our attention on the economic empowerment of women. Based on good examples in IFAD supported projects in Africa, he highlighted that successful business women often turned into strong leaders in the community, making a vital contribution to create employment, as role models and opinion leaders representing women's  perspectives in local institutions and organizations. Gender analysis and the work of gender experts in general can be enhanced by strengthening their focus on gender-sensitive value chain analyses, and support to small enterprises, including rural financial institutions, to design products and services targeted at women, with a clear business model.

Finally, Mr Demirag shared with the audience examples of how IFAD-supported operations are supporting women; including empowerment through land certification and access to finance as well as their enhanced decision making role through gender-sensitive community demand-driven social services delivery.

The audience engaged in an enthusiastic discussion, agreeing on the need to strengthen the partnerships between development partners and research institutions to better position themselves for advocating for gender priorities to governments, who are ultimately leading the gender agenda. There was also consensus on the need for longer term investments that prioritize gender empowerment.