Event Report: Bioversity’s gender-responsive research and praxis

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By Bioversity International

Science Session at Bioversity’s Science Week, 9 June 2015, Rome, Italy

Photo: Neil Palmer/IWMI
Photo: Neil Palmer/IWMI

Gender occupied center stage at Bioversity’s Science Week this year, with a prominent two and a half hour slot in plenary in which participants discussed how Bioversity is conducting gender-responsive research and how the organization can improve its practice. The objectives of the session were to

  • Make visible who is doing what on gender at Bioversity and start our collective gender story at Bioversity;
  • Establish gender as a field of scientific endeavor at Bioversity; and
  • Develop our practice as gender-responsive researchers.
Photo: Y. Wachira/Bioversity International
Photo: Y. Wachira/Bioversity International

Dietmar Stoian, the leader of Bioversity’s Commodity Systems and Genetic Resources research area, set the context by highlighting the importance gender holds in the new Strategic Results Framework and the opportunities this offers for promoting gender equality through our work.

Marlène Elias, Gender Specialist at Bioversity, then presented GENNOVATE, the CGIAR-wide global comparative study on gender norms, agency and innovation in agriculture and natural resource management. Her talk demonstrated the relevance of gender analyses to inform the research for development on Bioversity’s work. Gender research served as an example of how the organization, and the CGIAR system as a whole, is conducting strategic gender research. Scientists were interested in the richness of information such a qualitative study could yield.

Six presenters from different countries and disciplinary backgrounds then gave insightful presentations on how they are working with gender (conducting gender-responsive research) in their respective areas of expertise. In World Café style, each parallel presentation addressed a gender question through a case study:

  • How do you analyze livelihood systems from a gender perspective?  By Aman Omondi
  • What are entry points for ‘transformative’ gender research? By Jeske van de Gevel
  • What skills help conducting gender-responsive research and analysis using different social research tools? By Riina Jalonen
  • How can gender analysis strengthen research on resilience? By Gloria Otieno
  • What kind of gender research could strengthen our policy research to foster more equitable biodiversity-related outcomes? By Ronnie Vernooy
  • How can we engage men in gender-responsive research for development? By Céline Termote

Discussions in small groups followed, after which presenters fed back three key messages from their group to the plenary. The ensuing discussion was animated and covered topics such as why our research needs to be gender-responsive and how we can best engage women and men in such research across cultural contexts and the ethics associated with gender-transformative work.

The session closed with a presentation by Arwen Bailey showcasing results from a survey carried out to define the needs and interests of Bioversity staff in participating in a gender Community of Practice (CoP) at Bioversity. The survey had a high response rate and showed the enthusiasm of Bioversity staff to create a gender CoP. A follow-up CoP meeting took place on Friday 12 June to set the ball rolling for exciting opportunities to share knowledge and collaborate on gender and biodiversity in the organization and beyond.


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