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  • Addressing equity in community forestry: lessons from 20 years of implementation in Cameroon

Addressing equity in community forestry: lessons from 20 years of implementation in Cameroon

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A community forestry approach was adopted by Cameroon as a strategy to promote the sustainable management of forests, participation by local communities in forest management, and poverty alleviation. However, results have been moderate and community forestry has largely failed in achieving its initial goals. Our work, based on existing literature, uses the three inter-related dimensions of equity: distributive, procedural, and contextual to highlight the main equity challenges encountered in implementing the community forestry approach over the past 20 years in Cameroon. The main constraints to distributive equity identified include: the absence of clear benefit-sharing mechanisms and rents capture by elites, insecure tenure, and limited use rights of forest resources. Regarding the procedural dimension, we observed an exclusion of vulnerable groups, especially women, and a lack of information flow and transparency in decision-making processes. Finally, for contextual equity, the main constraints are unfair laws and regulations that give more advantages to the state and logging companies than to the local population. Moreover, poor community capacities and high transaction costs in the process of obtaining and exploiting community forests are additional constraints to contextual equity. The authors recommend a few measures to improve community forestry contribution to socioeconomic development, equity in benefit sharing, and sustainable management of forest resources. These include the need: (1) to promote transparency in community forests management with fair and gender-based policies that consider socioeconomic differences existing within and between forest communities; (2) to strengthen local community members financial and technical capacities and increase their representation and participation in decision-making structures; and (3) to set up mechanisms that guarantee existing policies are fully implemented.

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  • Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Restoration of landscapes in Ghana requires men and women to work together. Photo by Joan Baxter/ICRAF

Raising awareness of gender equity and equality is critical for Africa’s future, with workshops like one held recently in Ghana an important contribution.

Almost two dozen representatives from Ghanaian development agencies working in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in northern Ghana gathered in the city of Bolgatanga on Nov. 13, 2018 for a training workshop titled Social and Gender Dynamics and their Importance for Improving Resilience and Livelihoods.

The participants expressed a strong interest in learning more about gender equity and equality so that they could integrate the concepts into agricultural and natural resource management. Given the often-sensitive nature of the issues and that male participants outnumbered females at 15 to 11, discussions were at times lively.

A few of the men said they were uneasy with the notions of gender equity and equality, if that meant women would have the ‘same status as men’ or expect their husbands to take on household tasks such as bathing children or cooking, or abruptly challenge traditional and cultural values.

ICRAF gender specialist Ana Maria Paez, who facilitated the workshop, explained that ‘gender equity’ was a ‘process of being fair to women and men’ through strategies and measures that ‘compensate for women’s historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from otherwise operating on a level playing field’.

“Gender equity leads to equality,” she told participants, distinguishing it from gender equality, which is a ‘state, an ideal outcome’. “Gender equality refers to equal enjoyment by women, girls, boys and men of opportunities, resources and rewards. A critical aspect of promoting gender equality is the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances.”

The workshop was hosted by Emilie Smith Dumont, coordinator of the West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI) project in Burkina Faso and Ghana. She is also the Ghana focal point for the ambitious, five-year Regreening Africa project funded by the European Union.

The WAFFI project is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Workshop participant work on a drawing of an ‘ideal man’. Photo by Emilie Smith Dumont/ICRAF

Regreening Africa seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services.

“Our purpose was to bring people together to find ways to fully integrate and promote gender issues and transformation into projects,” said Smith Dumont. “The context is land restoration at the forest–farm interface because there is a very strong gendered role around trees in landscapes.

“This kind of collaboration is extremely important for improving livelihoods: we know that trees contribute greatly to livelihoods. We have found from our work that family cohesion increases resilience of households and that all goes back to more balanced gender relations.”

Among other themes, participants engaged in extensive, and often intensive, discussions about the difference between gender, which is a social construct, and sex, which pertains to physical characteristics, as well as on processes of gender transformation and, thus, societal change.

One of the more colorful sessions involved male participants drawing and describing what they would consider the ‘ideal woman’ and female participants doing the same for an ‘ideal man’. This led to animated discussions, closely analyzing some of the stereotypes of men and women revealed by the drawings.

But the over-arching theme of the workshop and the key messages that emerged had most to do with analyses of gender in agriculture, including divisions of labour, access to, and control of, resources and their benefits, based on findings from WAFFI.

The discussion revealed how gender influences many aspects of the management of farms, households, trees and forests in communities.

Participants also looked at specific issues that were particularly relevant for their project work in northern Ghana, including tree management and landscape restoration, soil and water conservation, and ways to ensure equitable representation of men and women in project planning, implementation and monitoring.

They also examined how gender awareness is, or is not, already integrated into their activities in community forestry, value chains and market access, local governance, and agricultural productivity.

A woman views a gulley on her farm in Mwingi, Kenya. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF

From the discussions, they distilled some tangible ways to be more responsive to gender issues in their activities.

For community forestry, participants proposed several actions. First, bush fires are an annual and serious problem in northern Ghana. More sensitization and training should be undertaken with women to empower them to prevent, control and manage burning. Second, policies are needed to grant access to land and natural resources to women, starting at the community level.

For local governance, instead of inviting chiefs, heads of departments or their representatives to public meetings and paying no attention to how many of these were male or female, women’s groups should be expressly invited.

For agricultural productivity, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture needs to train more female agricultural extension officers to ensure that there are enough appropriate staff to provide female farmers with the advice they need, noting that when new technologies are passed on to farmers, women tend to follow protocols more diligently than their male counterparts. Second, the ministry should ensure that when demonstration plots are set up in a district at least one should be managed by a woman; and ensure women had access to farm inputs, such as high-quality germplasm and, indeed, also become leaders in the field.

For access to market and value chains, the workshop proposed that women’s production and processing groups need help to build their sustainability through village savings and loans groups, which would allow them to mobilize funds to invest in labour-saving technologies, such as threshers. Second, women should be encouraged to take up leadership roles in community-based organizations.

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World


Partners supporting the gender workshop included CIFOR, Catholic Relief Services, Economics of Land Degradation, the European Union, Tree Aid and World Vision.

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Produced by World Agroforestry Centre as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

Workshop on social and gender dynamics aims to improve resilience and livelihoods in Ghana

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Restoration of landscapes in Ghana requires men and women to work together. Photo by Joan Baxter/ICRAF

Raising awareness of gender equity and equality is critical for Africa’s future, with workshops like one held recently in Ghana an important contribution.

Almost two dozen representatives from Ghanaian development agencies working in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in northern Ghana gathered in the city of Bolgatanga on Nov. 13, 2018 for a training workshop titled Social and Gender Dynamics and their Importance for Improving Resilience and Livelihoods.

The participants expressed a strong interest in learning more about gender equity and equality so that they could integrate the concepts into agricultural and natural resource management. Given the often-sensitive nature of the issues and that male participants outnumbered females at 15 to 11, discussions were at times lively.

A few of the men said they were uneasy with the notions of gender equity and equality, if that meant women would have the ‘same status as men’ or expect their husbands to take on household tasks such as bathing children or cooking, or abruptly challenge traditional and cultural values.

ICRAF gender specialist Ana Maria Paez, who facilitated the workshop, explained that ‘gender equity’ was a ‘process of being fair to women and men’ through strategies and measures that ‘compensate for women’s historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from otherwise operating on a level playing field’.

“Gender equity leads to equality,” she told participants, distinguishing it from gender equality, which is a ‘state, an ideal outcome’. “Gender equality refers to equal enjoyment by women, girls, boys and men of opportunities, resources and rewards. A critical aspect of promoting gender equality is the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances.”

The workshop was hosted by Emilie Smith Dumont, coordinator of the West Africa Forest–Farm Interface (WAFFI) project in Burkina Faso and Ghana. She is also the Ghana focal point for the ambitious, five-year Regreening Africa project funded by the European Union.

The WAFFI project is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with ICRAF and Tree Aid with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. WAFFI aims to identify practices and policy actions that improve the income and food security of smallholders in Burkina Faso and Ghana through integrated forest and tree management systems that are environmentally sound and socially equitable.

Workshop participant work on a drawing of an ‘ideal man’. Photo by Emilie Smith Dumont/ICRAF

Regreening Africa seeks to reverse land degradation among 500,000 households across 1 million hectares in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating trees into crop land, communal land and pastoral areas can reclaim Africa’s degraded landscapes. In Ghana, the work is led by World Vision in collaboration with ICRAF and Catholic Relief Services.

“Our purpose was to bring people together to find ways to fully integrate and promote gender issues and transformation into projects,” said Smith Dumont. “The context is land restoration at the forest–farm interface because there is a very strong gendered role around trees in landscapes.

“This kind of collaboration is extremely important for improving livelihoods: we know that trees contribute greatly to livelihoods. We have found from our work that family cohesion increases resilience of households and that all goes back to more balanced gender relations.”

Among other themes, participants engaged in extensive, and often intensive, discussions about the difference between gender, which is a social construct, and sex, which pertains to physical characteristics, as well as on processes of gender transformation and, thus, societal change.

One of the more colorful sessions involved male participants drawing and describing what they would consider the ‘ideal woman’ and female participants doing the same for an ‘ideal man’. This led to animated discussions, closely analyzing some of the stereotypes of men and women revealed by the drawings.

But the over-arching theme of the workshop and the key messages that emerged had most to do with analyses of gender in agriculture, including divisions of labour, access to, and control of, resources and their benefits, based on findings from WAFFI.

The discussion revealed how gender influences many aspects of the management of farms, households, trees and forests in communities.

Participants also looked at specific issues that were particularly relevant for their project work in northern Ghana, including tree management and landscape restoration, soil and water conservation, and ways to ensure equitable representation of men and women in project planning, implementation and monitoring.

They also examined how gender awareness is, or is not, already integrated into their activities in community forestry, value chains and market access, local governance, and agricultural productivity.

A woman views a gulley on her farm in Mwingi, Kenya. Photo by Ake Mamo/ICRAF

From the discussions, they distilled some tangible ways to be more responsive to gender issues in their activities.

For community forestry, participants proposed several actions. First, bush fires are an annual and serious problem in northern Ghana. More sensitization and training should be undertaken with women to empower them to prevent, control and manage burning. Second, policies are needed to grant access to land and natural resources to women, starting at the community level.

For local governance, instead of inviting chiefs, heads of departments or their representatives to public meetings and paying no attention to how many of these were male or female, women’s groups should be expressly invited.

For agricultural productivity, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture needs to train more female agricultural extension officers to ensure that there are enough appropriate staff to provide female farmers with the advice they need, noting that when new technologies are passed on to farmers, women tend to follow protocols more diligently than their male counterparts. Second, the ministry should ensure that when demonstration plots are set up in a district at least one should be managed by a woman; and ensure women had access to farm inputs, such as high-quality germplasm and, indeed, also become leaders in the field.

For access to market and value chains, the workshop proposed that women’s production and processing groups need help to build their sustainability through village savings and loans groups, which would allow them to mobilize funds to invest in labour-saving technologies, such as threshers. Second, women should be encouraged to take up leadership roles in community-based organizations.

By Joan Baxter, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World


Partners supporting the gender workshop included CIFOR, Catholic Relief Services, Economics of Land Degradation, the European Union, Tree Aid and World Vision.

This story was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Regreening Africa project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Produced by World Agroforestry Centre as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • What’s in it for gender researchers when it comes to UN Women’s gender and SDGs report?

What’s in it for gender researchers when it comes to UN Women’s gender and SDGs report?

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A woman and her father-in-law pick up a permit to collect fuelwood in the Chisapani Community Forest, Nepal. Photo by Chandra Shekhar Karki/CIFOR

UN Women’s 2018 flagship report on gender and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offers a framework to monitor each of the 17 SDGs from a gender perspective, and takes stock of their performance to date. 

In a two-part series, Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, gender coordinator for the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) gender scientist, analyzes the report and its implications for the CGIAR gender research community. Sijapati Basnett recently published a brief evaluating this role.

With this article, she reviews the strengths and limitations of the UN Women report – Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – for gender researchers wishing to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The highest echelons of the United Nations have hailed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as “a victory for gender equality” [1]. Concerns are mounting, however, over how the SDGs will be interpreted and implemented, and whether they will make a difference to the lives of women and girls the world over.

The UN Women 2018 flagship report offers a framework to monitor each of the 17 SDGs from a gender and social inclusion perspective, and it takes stock of that performance to date.

The report calls for greater collaboration among governments, researchers and women’s rights organizations to realize the 2030 Agenda. How? By tracking progress against the goals, identifying achievements and gaps, and highlighting implementation challenges and opportunities.

Read more: UN Women’s evaluation of gender in the SDGs – What’s the role for the CGIAR?

KEY MESSAGES 

Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development

The report makes a strong case for leveraging data, evidence and analysis, to inform the duties and performance standards of those in positions of power, and to help assess compliance and enforcement of sanctions and remedies where required.

“The ultimate test for the 2030 Agenda will be whether the SDGs are achieved by 2030” (43).

The report’s excellent assessment of the current ‘Global Indicator Framework for the Sustainable Development Goals’ offers strategic entry points for CGIAR (and/or gender researchers outside of CGIAR) to address current limitations in data, methods and analyses. The Global Indicator Framework comprises 232 indicators to track and monitor progress against the SDGs. The Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development is the inter-governmental body responsible for developing and providing technical support for implementation of the framework. The UN Women report also offers conceptual, methodological and policy directions for future CGIAR research.

Some key messages and highlights from the report are listed below.

Strategic entry points

Although gender equality matters to all 17 goals, the current Global Indicator Framework is inadequate for gender responsive monitoring of the SDGs because:

  • Only six of the 17 SDG goals are gender sensitive (SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 16); five goals are gender sparse (SDG 2, 19, 11, 13 and 17) and the remaining six are gender blind (SDGs 6, 7, 9, 12, 14 and 15).
  • The available gender data presents gaps.
  • There is inadequate investment and funding for additional or quality data collection.
  • Data collection methodologies present deep biases (e.g. censuses, labor surveys).

Upon assessing all 54 gender-specific indicators and analyzing one indicator per goal in detail to illustrate progress, gaps and challenges to date, the report calls for: “serious analytical work that sharpens our understanding of how to capture, measure and monitor meaningful change for women and girls” (73).

The report suggests this gap is particularly clear in new and emerging areas, such as understanding the gender implications of climate change.

Commitment to intersectionality

The report highlights that focusing on women as a group is insufficient to measure progress. Gender inequalities only acquire meaning and significance when they interact and intersect with other social relations. Many women and girls face multiple forms of discrimination – e.g. accessing resources, services and opportunities – based on aspects of their identity that differentiate them from more advantaged groups. It is critical to move beyond averages and to identify and compare how the most marginalized fare on key well-being markers in relation to other groups.

Through four country study summaries (see Chapter 3), the report shows how average aggregate figures on women’s wellbeing often mask significant variations across regions, ethnic, racial and income groups. This is a considerable departure from previous reports that had given lip service to ‘differences among women’ and treated women as a group (UN Women 2014; Asher and Sijapati Basnett 2016).

This is also the first time that a high-profile global report has engaged seriously with feminist concerns with ‘intersectionality’ in a substantial way. While intersectionality has long been considered a ‘gold standard’ for analyzing experiences of identity and oppression in feminist and gender theories, scholars have been concerned that ‘gender’ and ‘gender inequalities’ are simplified, both in policy and practice (Nash 2008; Arora-Jonsson 2014; Ihalainen et al. 2016; Colfer et al. 2018).

Read also: Making sense of ‘intersectionality’: A manual for lovers of people and forests

Spotlight on structural barriers to gender equality 

The report devotes two chapters to structural barriers to gender equality: eliminating all forms of violence against women (Chapter 5); and addressing unpaid care and domestic work (Chapter 6). The Millennium Development Goals, predecessors to the SDGs, were heavily criticized for omitting these dimensions of inequality (see Razavi 2016, Chant and Sweetman 2012, Kabeer 2003).

Chapter 6 of the report highlights that women perform the vast majority of unpaid and care work across the world. The distribution of such work remains the same, despite women increasingly joining the labor force through formal employment.

Policies and interventions aimed at empowering women economically (e.g. through greater involvement in value chains, financial literacy and new livelihood opportunities) must go hand in hand with initiatives to reduce women’s paid and unpaid work burdens, recognize their work and redistribute it within the family, as well as among families and wider institutions.

Policies and accountability

The report clearly highlights what actions are needed, as well as who should be responsible for implementation and accountable for action/inaction. It suggests that governments should prioritize universal systems that are financed and used by everyone, and simultaneously target efforts towards ensuring access for historically excluded groups. This approach offers a stance on a long-standing debate within social policy on ‘universal’ or ‘targeted policies’ for addressing poverty reduction and social inequalities (see Mkandawire 2005).

The report also highlights that governments are primarily responsible for implementation, because other actors cannot be held accountable in the way that governments can (see Chandhoke 2003). The report seeks to temper current enthusiasm around the private sector’s role in realizing the SDGs, drawing attention to the fact that private businesses are not yet bound by any global set of rules on business and human rights, and their actions do not always align with objectives of sustainable development and gender equality (Kabeer 2017).

PITFALLS AND LIMITATIONS 

A couple in a peatland area in Indonesia. Photo by Mokhamad Edliadi/CIFOR

The report also presents pitfalls and limitations from a methodological, conceptual and policy application perspective.

Methodologically, the report mainly privileges quantitative methods over qualitative and mixed methods. The risk here is to imply that any research seeking to monitor the 2030 Global Agenda must comply with pre-existing national datasets (such as national census data and demographic health, labor and living standard measurement surveys) rather than additionally taking advantage of the wide variety of other research available.

Conceptually, Chapter 3 on ‘Moving beyond the averages’ provides only lip service to the risks of using pre-existing categories to identify who the marginalized are and what sustains their marginalization. The chapter does not adequately consider the reality that ‘targeting the poor and the marginalized’ is an inherently political and contested process. Likewise, it presents just one methodological approach (the ‘inter-categorical approach’, see McCall 2015 or Colfer et al. 2018) for examining the intersection between gender and other axes of social difference.

Chapter 6 on ‘Unpaid and care work’ demonstrates this report was written by a committee of writers who do not always write with one voice; this makes the report lack coherence in many places. As such, while most of the chapters point to knowledge and data gaps, Chapter 6 reads more like a definitive guide on how to address women’s unpaid work and care burdens. Likewise, the report’s overall stance against the private sector or corporations is rather dogmatic, and does not offer a realistic way of engaging with them and/or holding their actions to account.

On the question of the potential impact of such reports, the report was published by UN Women rather than by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development or the UN Statistical Commission for the Global Monitoring of 169 SDG Targets. It is therefore unclear whether (and if so, how) the analyses and recommendations offered by the report will inform broader SDG monitoring efforts. Given the global scope of the report, the findings only provide broad brushstrokes of key challenges and opportunities. They must be validated through national and locally relevant monitoring, too.

Despite these limitations and the subsequent need to interpret it with caution, the report is an impressive first attempt at taking stock of performance against each SDG from a gender and social inclusion perspective. It also calls for more concerted SDG monitoring efforts by different actors, including research organizations.

In an upcoming article, I will outline how CGIAR can play a meaningful role in contributing to future efforts to monitor SDGs from a gender and social inclusion perspective.

By Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, originally published by the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research

Notes: [1] Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in UN Women 2018, 18

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  • Gender equality and social inclusion in forestry and agroforestry

Gender equality and social inclusion in forestry and agroforestry

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Both women and men can depend on forests, agroforestry and trees for their livelihoods, and play a critical role in managing them. However, there are significant inequalities in roles, rights and responsibilities among women and men in rural areas. These inequalities are reflected in the ways in which women and men participate in decision-making, benefit from forest and tree resources, and experience changes in forest and tree-based landscapes. The forestry and agroforestry sector has much to contribute to addressing inequalities between women and men, and empowering disadvantaged women and men in ways that contribute to sustainable rural landscapes. This video explains how FTA is tackling this challenge head on.

Originally published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Produced by CIFOR as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors

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  • Gender-responsive methodology for value chain development

Gender-responsive methodology for value chain development

Testing the 5Capitals-G methodology in India. Photo by Shrinivas Hegde
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Testing the 5Capitals-G methodology in India. Photo by Shrinivas Hegde

Over the past decade, value chain development has been widely promoted as a catalyst for rural economic growth.

As smallholder farmers become increasingly integrated into value chains, how can scholars and development practitioners ensure that the benefits of participation accrue equitably to both women and men? This was the topic of a workshop hosted by Bioversity International and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) at the recent Tropentag 2017 conference.

The workshop centered around insights resulting from the testing of 5Capitals-G, a gender-responsive methodology building on the 5Capitals toolkit for assessing the poverty impacts of value chain development. It addresses the principal gaps identified in existing guides for gender-equitable value chain development. These gaps include limited coverage of the way norms influence gender relations, gender-equitable opportunities in collective enterprises, and how value chain development can effectively transform inequitable gender relations.

For this reason, 5Capitals-G examines gender-differentiated asset endowments at the level of both smallholder households and the collective enterprises they are often linked with, and by identifying gender-based constraints shaped by cultural norms and values.

Read more: Piloting gender-responsive research tool 5Capitals-G in three countries

“We started with an overview of strengths and weaknesses of common guides for gender-equitable value chain development designed by international organizations” said Dietmar Stoian, Senior Scientist for Value Chains and Private Sector Engagement at Bioversity, and a coorganizer of the workshop.

“With these in mind, we presented findings from our recent validation of 5Capitals-G as to how women and men have access to, control, and build assets at household and collective enterprise level. Based on this, we can determine the extent to which asset endowments and asset building are gender equitable and adjust value chain interventions accordingly.”

Assessing the poverty impacts of value chain development

Addressing the principal gaps identified in existing guides for gender-equitable value chain development, Bioversity International and ICRAF have joined forces to strengthen the gender dimension of 5Capitals. This new version of the methodology allows for the establishment of gender-responsive baselines and the assessment of gender-differentiated impacts of value chain development among smallholders and other resource-poor groups involved in value chains.

“Two interrelated ideas underpin the design of 5Capitals-G: the poor’s access to assets is a critical entry point for their effective participation in value chains, and the poor’s capacity to build assets through value chain engagement can provide a viable pathway out of poverty,” explained Jason Donovan, Leader for Value Chains and Transformational Change at ICRAF.

5Capitals-G provides insight into what assets are available in households and collective enterprises, which of these are more controlled by men or women, and which are managed jointly. We are particularly interested in understanding positive feedback loops between asset building at household and asset building at enterprise level.”

Insights from Asia and Latin America

5Capitals-G has been tested across diverse settings in Guatemala, India and Peru, providing valuable insights for improving the design of the tool and guidance for the interpretation of results. These adjustments ensure that practioners will be able to count on a validated methodology for enhancing the design, implementation and assessment of gender-equitable value chain development initiatives.

Panelists at the workshop on gender equitable value chains held at Tropentag 2017 included Ana Maria Paez-Valencia (left to right), Trent Blare, Jason Donovan, Dietmar Stoian, Gennifer Meldrum and Hugo Lamers. Photo by Susan Onyango/ICRAF

Hugo Lamers, Associate Scientist in Socioeconomics and Marketing at Bioversity International, used the methodology in the value chains of non-timber forest products such as mango, murugulu (Garcinia indica) and uppage (Garcinia gummigatta) in Karnataka, India.

“Besides taking care of domestic activities, women contributed substantially to income generation through wage labour, farming and collection of forest products,” said Lamers. “We learned that the major bottleneck for women’s participation in local cooperatives is the rule of ‘one member per household’, resulting in a largely male-dominated member base of most cooperatives.”

Gennifer Meldrum, Research Fellow in Nutrition, Marketing and Diversity at Bioversity International, tested the methodology with local partners in millet value chains in Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, India.

“The collective enterprise we studied has contributed to asset building across all the five capitals. Women’s participation in cooperative leadership and millet value chain activities are strongly encouraged by the Federation,” she said. “However, a male bias remains due to women’s limitations in terms of time and mobility. Physical assets households have acquired through value chain participation are very rarely controlled by women alone, but often benefit the household as a whole.”

Read more: Gender and forestry gain increasing attention worldwide

Further testing of 5Capitals-G was done in the cocoa value chain in Peru. “In addition to the important role women play in the production of cocoa, we were surprised to discover the strong influence they had in production and marketing decisions,” said Trent Blair, Markets and Value Chain Specialist at ICRAF.

“We realized that a stronger role of women in cocoa and other value chains in Peru is hampered by their limited access to information, technical assistance and training. This requires specific efforts for targeted value chain development interventions to ensure equitable capacity development.”

Interviewing smallholder households in Peru. Photo by Trent Blare/ICRAF

Stoian, together with local partners in Petén, Guatemala, tested 5Capitals-G in value chains of valuable woods including mahogany and tropical walnut, and non-timber forest products such as Chamaedorea palm and Maya nut (Brosimum alicastrum).

“We found evidence that under given conditions income derived from forest products can help people move out of poverty. In terms of reinvestment of forest-based income we learned that decision making at household level was rather equitable with regard to building human and social capitals, while investment decisions on natural, physical and financial capitals were more skewed toward men,” he shared.

“At the level of community forest enterprises, women have recently assumed stronger roles in production and decision making, particularly as regards non-timber forest products, but timber activities and related decisions continue to be largely a male domain.”

Implications for gender-equitable value chain development

“Gender dimensions of access to and control over assets and other resources have an important impact on the opportunities and constraints that women and men face when participating in value chain development initiatives,” said Ana María Paez Valencia, Gender Social Scientist at ICRAF, who moderated the workshop.

In synthesizing the discussion, she pointed out that differential access and control over assets has implications on women’s bargaining position within households to make strategic household and life decisions, as well as their ability to assume new roles or opportunities resulting from value chain initiatives.

“Looking forward, it would be interesting to use 5Capitals-G for insights into the impact of the gender asset gap on household livelihood outcomes in the context of value chain development; and to better understand the trade-offs between increased value chain engagement of women and the time they invest in other activities including those related to household care,” she added.

Outlook 

Participants at the workshop expressed interest in 5Capitals-G, which will be available in early 2018, along with the documented findings of the case studies. As Stoian and Donovan summarized at the end of the workshop: “5Capitals-G will be a key methodology for all practitioners interested in asset-based approaches to value chain development with a gender lens.”

By Susan Onyango, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World


This work was supported by the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and CGIAR Research Programs Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which are supported by CGIAR Fund Donors

Bioversity International and ICRAF thank Lutheran World Relief, Rainforest Alliance and USAID for funding this work. 


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