This project was completed in December 2018

Dear friends,

This ACIAR project on integrating gender in agricultural value-chain research was completed in 2018 but we continue to share information and update our publication in 2019 through this website.

Best Regards,

Nozomi Kawarazuka

International Potato Centre

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The regional gender workshop in Hanoi: Thank you for your contribution to the successful workshop

The regional gender workshop was held on 15-16 Nov with 123 participants from Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Philippines. We had 15 group sessions with various topics such as talking with farmers, learning from ethnic minority university students, sharing insights from recent gender integration activities, discussing masculinities, influencing policies and challenges of interdisciplinary research. We thank all participants for their contributions. Let’s continue to think about gender in agricultural research. Presentations (PDF) are available from here. (Please scroll down to the workshop event). Participants’ evaluation results as of 25 Nov is available from here. The workshop report from here.

Participatory videos – listening to the voices of Thai ethnic minority young women and men

This week, research on gender, youth and agriculture were conducted in a Thai ethnic minority village in Dien Bien, Vietnam. As part of this study, male and female young farmers made a short film on young women and men respectively.

IMG_3085The films contain real voices of young women and men farmers from their gender perspectives, providing very rich insights of rural lives and livelihoods. The videos are available from the links: Men https://youtu.be/KNIKgqudXeQ and women https://youtu.be/HRGjNTSNGBw

We made a small movie theatre in the village and organised a video showing event. 38 people villagers including children and one commune officer participated in this event.

This gender project has been working on gender-responsive participatory videos and photos, some of which will be presented by the farmers during the forthcoming regional gender workshop on 15-16 November in Hanoi (see details: https://genderinagr.wordpress.com/event/)

Written by Nozomi Kawarazuka, International Potato Center (CIP)

*This study was conducted in collaboration with Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS) and National Institute for Animal Sciences (NIAS).

Photo credit: Nozomi Kawarazuka

What we can do towards gender-responsive approaches to beef cattle interventions?

IMG_0498Nowadays we try to take gender-responsive approaches everywhere in agricultural research and interventions. Unlike chickens, pigs and sweet potatoes, where women play significant roles in production, beef cattle hold a strong masculine image. To explore gender dimensions in beef cattle production at the village level, the gender SRA team (ISDS and CIP) in collaboration with National Institute for Animal Sciences (NIAS) conducted fieldwork in a Thai ethnic minority village in Dien Bien.

Three key findings are briefly presented here. First, many parts of the everyday practices of beef cattle production are done by women. Such everyday work includes feeding, grazing, cleaning cattle sheds and covering sheds in the winter. In the study site, many of the young men (both unmarried and married) are working in Hanoi, and so the women are more and more responsible for cattle. Beef cattle production is thus no longer a masculine activity. On the other hand, unlike chickens and pigs, which women can handle alone from production to selling, men’s hands are required for grazing on the hill areas, disease control, calving, and decisions on selling and purchasing. In this respect, men’s roles are more easily noticeable. We therefore need to challenge our own bias that cattle are a male domain. In reality, they are associated with both men and women but women have more roles in the everyday practices.

Second, although women play the main everyday role, their perceived knowledge of cattle production is relatively low. Many women utilize knowledge and practices learnt from their parents based on their own experiences. In contrast, men’s perceived knowledge is high and they also perceive that they play important technical roles in cattle production. Without carefully considering women’s actual roles, their ways of learning and levels of confidence, women can be easily ignored during any training.

Third, in the study site, gender relations are relatively relaxed. Men support domestic work including cooking, and women are involved in household decision-making. However, in public, women are very shy and unused to speaking with outsiders in Vietnamese. When it comes to the training for beef cattle, women may have double barriers: their own perceptions that they have limited knowledge of cattle, and their lack of confidence and experience of being exposed to the trainings and languages used therein.

During the fieldwork, we saw middle-aged women grazing a group of cattle and buffalo. As gender roles are changing, beef cattle research needs to change to a more feminine way of thinking appropriate to women farmers. This should include having female trainers for trainees, reviewing training languages and collecting information from women in addition to men.

Written by Nozomi Kawarazuka, International Potato Center

Understanding men’s and women’s roles in and perceptions on high-value vegetable production

The ACIAT vegetable project in MạcChâu supports farmers’ vegetable groups, providing technology and information to help improve production and incomes. In the group activities, the project team has observed clear gender dimensions. A vegetable group in a Hmong ethnic group community is dominated by male farmers and their wives do not participate in group activities, while a Mung ethnic group community has some active female members in the group. Furthermore, the quality of vegetable collected by men farmers are sometime better than those of women farmers. The project team was interested in: what are Hmong and Mung women’s and men’s roles in vegetable value-chain; who have decision-making power in input, selling and household expenditure from incomes of vegetable; and how men and women perceive vegetable production.

 

A fieldwork was conducted in late August in a Hmong and Mung community respectively by the gender team (CARE International) with a collaboration with the project team members. The findings show that both Hmong and Mung women are very positive about vegetable production because: it keeps their husbands busy with farming, effectively using male labours which were previously under-utilized; it provides a small income everyday which could be controlled by women for daily expenses. This is a big difference from annual crops such as maize that brings a large amount of money at once. Both Hmong and Mung women are involved in vegetable production processes including spraying pesticide. Mung women have relatively equal decision-making power to their husbands about what types of vegetables they should grow, how much and what kinds of input they invest in and when they sell. On the other hand, Hmong women are not involved in decision-making, and they have limited knowledge because they do not attend the trainings and group activities. More importantly, both Hmong women and men perceive that women do not have capacity and knowledge to make decisions.

 

There are two recommendations for the project team. First, given that Hmong women are fully involved in vegetable production, they need to participate in group activities. If they attend group activities (e.g. planning for production, trainings and exchanging market information), vegetable production can be much more efficient, and both quantity and quality of production can be improved. To facilitate women’s participation, gender-based constraints should be considered (e.g. language, time and venue). Second, while women are involved in agricultural production more or less equally to men, domestic work is managed mostly by women for both the Mung and the Hmong. The busiest time for vegetable production and harvest are two hours in early morning and another two hours in early evening, which overlaps with women’s peak busy time for domestic work. Without their husbands’ understandings and support for domestic work, women cannot focus on vegetable production and harvest. CARE International proposes organizing a community event with fun activities through which gender is visualized and the importance of domestic work is recognized by both men and women. The action plan will be developed soon.

Written by Nozomi Kawarazuka, International Potato Center

Photo credit: Bui Van Tung

 

Gender and boom commodities: implications for more inclusive interventions

The 6th seminar 4The 6thGender Seminar was held on 31 August by inviting Dr Anna-Klara Lindeborg, a human geographer from Uppsala University in Sweden. She presented her Ph.D research in a Hmong ethnic minority village in Northern Laos, near the borders of China and Myanmar. In Laos, rubber was a boom commodity at that time and its production increased from 900 ha in 2003 to 300,000ha in 2012. Rubber requires a long-term investment, waiting for 8 years to get incomes. It also requires specific skills and knowledge which initially perceived that only men can do. Men in the study site learned how to grow and maintain it from their male relatives in China, which was very successful. Once the rubber became a main income source, gender divisions of labour changed along with the seasonality of rubber: women were more involved in some domains which were previously considered as male tasks. The presence of women in male domains, however, does not necessarily mean that women join in decision-making. While rubber contributed to increasing incomes, it also increased dependency on Chinese economy and vulnerability to international rubber market.

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Her presentation has implications for the ACIAR agricultural projects that care about gender and social inclusion. First, informal social networks were so powerful, enabling male farmers to quickly adopt a new commodity and acquire new knowledge and skills. We often say that Hmong farmers are conservative and reluctant to adopt new technologies, but it may be because information comes from formal institutions which often lack trust. Informal social networks were, however, highly gendered and women were often excluded from the male networks that exchange very important information, knowledge and skills. We need to find hybrid approaches that utilize the advantages of informal and formal networks for scaling up new technologies and information to ethnic minorities, especially for women. Second, while boom commodities often change gender roles, women’s increased involvement in agricultural production does not necessarily increase their involvement in decision-making over livelihood strategies and household expenditure. In this case, women are simply overburdened, not empowered. In order to support women’s involvement in decision-making, gender-responsive agricultural interventions are needed, and this is what our gender project has been trying, although it is not easy and context-specific.

The 6th seminar 2

25 people participated in the seminar and we thank Anna-Klara and all participants for coming to the seminar and contributing to the discussion. Her presentation slides are available from the link: here

Written by Nozomi Kawarazuka (CIP)

The importance of understanding the literacy levels of men and women farmers in the community you work with

The 5thGender Seminar was held on 18thJuly, 2018. Dr. Colman Patrick Ross presented his research on adult basic education for ethnic minorities in remote communities in the Northern uplands. The capacity to use Vietnamese is important for ethnic minorities to increase their access to external markets and the resources provided by the government. However, it remains as a challenge, in particular, for women in remote areas.

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In his presentation, Colman highlighted the importance in agricultural research and interventions of understanding the literacy levels of men and women, as it influences farmers’understandings of development concepts, their communications with donors and researchers,and their access to external resources. Without identifying appropriate communication means for men and women, agricultural research and interventions run the risk of engaging only educated farmers who are often men, while excludingmany women farmers with limited education.

Colman also suggested having project staff who are from the ethnic minority group in the targeted community. Nowadays, there are young ethnic minority university graduates, and they can bridge relationships between local farmers and outsiders (e.g. Vietnamese and foreigners). Their presence in the project can bring very positive impacts on both sides: farmers can have more clear understandings of what development/research projects want to do; and researchers can understand the underlying social and cultural factors of the agricultural challenges faced by women and men farmers.

Lastly, Colman emphasised the importance of acknowledging social diversity within the community. Ethnographic approaches have a strength of illuminating diversity and differences instead of generalizing information and reinforcing the existing stereotypes. This may be a first step for agricultural research in understanding the specific needs of targeted social groups within the community, and to evaluate who are benefitting from agricultural interventions.

In the discussion session, we talked about the many different issues around qualitative studies such as: how to build good researcher-researched relationships, which affect the quality of data; how to challenge stereotypical images of ethnic minority men and women; and how to translate rich qualitative data into agricultural research for development.

15 people participated in this seminar, many of whom are from ACIAR partner organizations, and we were very happy to catch up with some people who participated in the gender trainings last year. We thank the GREAT project for hosting the seminar.

Written by Nozomi Kawarazuka, International Potato Center.