‘Learning how to learn’ is crucial for researchers in the field

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When a team of scientists set out to study women’s participation in community forest management in communities in Nicaragua, they faced a quandary.

Men tended to dominate the workshops and meetings. How could they encourage more equitable participation if the women didn’t attend or speak up?

They found the answer in a cassava field. Women were in their element in their fields and in the forest, measuring tree growth, comparing crop yields, asking questions and drawing conclusions.

Monitoring exercises, the researchers learned, can be a potent path to empowerment for women. Along the way to that discovery, the members of the research team also learned some important lessons about themselves.

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