UC Davis and Uganda students consider gender in irrigation design

Julia Jordan, university of California at davis (UC Davis) graduate student and RIFA fellow
Julia Jordan, UC Davis graduate student and RIFA fellow

Editor’s note: Julia Jordan is one of two UC Davis graduate students (along with Mariah Coley) who have been working on a Horticulture Innovation Lab project in Uganda with support from Research and Innovation Fellowship for Agriculture (RIFA). As a RIFA fellow, she worked in Uganda for 5 months alongside the Teso Women’s Development Initiative and Busitema University students in relation to a project focused on developing farmer-led irrigation solutions, with leadership from Kate Scow of UC Davis. Julia previously worked as a graduate assistant with the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s management team at UC Davis.

Below is an excerpt of a blog post that Julia wrote about her work on this project, a version of which has also been shared on the Agrilinks website.

Under the shade of a mango tree on a cool Monday morning in Soroti, Uganda, ten Busitema University student interns gathered and looked around apprehensively. They were seated on bright blue plastic chairs outside of the Teso Women’s Development Initiative (TEWDI) office, where they had been meeting for weeks as part of their internships with a research project focused on  developing farmer-led irrigation solutions.

The group of crop science, agricultural mechanization, and irrigation engineering majors had just been asked to brainstorm and write down the qualities, roles and expectations they associate with women and those they associate with men. Though initially confused by the exercise, the students were soon furiously scribbling their ideas on a colorful array of sticky notes and, shortly after, engaged in a lively discussion about the gender norms and relationships they have witnessed, experienced, or heard about in their own communities.

These soon-to-be professionals, many of whom hail from rural farm families and villages in various regions of Uganda, debated pervasive assumptions about men’s superior physical strength, contemplated what it means for a woman to be expected to “submit” to her husband, and described the perceived threat of a woman attaining a higher education level than a man. They reflected on women’s responsibility to collect firewood and water, men’s tendency to manage cattle, and why it may be more common to see women riding bicycles in some regions rather than others. I encouraged the students to also consider how age, ethnicity, disability status, religion, and other social differences may influence these issues.

“So,” I asked them, “what does all of this have to do with designing irrigation technology?” Continue reading UC Davis and Uganda students consider gender in irrigation design

7 ways that gender matters in western Honduras

Editor’s note: This blog post by Janelle Larson was originally a presentation given at the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s 2017 annual meeting in Guatemala.

Larson is an associate professor in agricultural economics at the Pennsylvania State University and leads the Horticulture Innovation Lab project focused on empowering women through horticulture in Honduras.

portrait
Janelle Larson, Penn State associate professor, who leads a Horticulture Innovation Lab project

Gender norms define the roles and responsibilities of women and men at the individual, household, community and societal level. We have found this to be a factor in western Honduras where patriarchy permeates many aspects of life.

Our findings indicate how gender norms influence and pervade seven different key aspects related to our project:

  1. Gender matters in agriculture
    In agriculture production, women’s work is often unrecognized and under compensated. Women’s participation in production — mostly in harvesting and the processing phases of high-value crop chains — is relatively large. According to our household survey conducted in 2016, nearly 20 percent of women in our study area work as day laborers, often for coffee harvest, and approximately 6 percent of women work in their family fields. Women are also heavily involved in home garden production. They are responsible for approximately 54 percent of the activities of home garden production, which is mostly for home consumption.

    Young woman and old woman talking in plastic chairs
    Gender matters in household decision making: A Zamorano graduate interviews a woman as part of a survey of more than 500 households in Western Honduras.

Continue reading 7 ways that gender matters in western Honduras

9 tips for incorporating gender into a research project

From the leaders of our new gender-focused project, of Penn State and Zamorano universities, here are some tips to get you thinking about gender-responsive projects:

group photo: Arie, Janelle and Leif
From left, Arie Sanders of Zamorano, Janelle Larson and Leif Jensen (both of Penn State) kicked off a Horticulture Innovation Lab project focused on gender equity and the horticultural value chain in Honduras.
  1. Incorporate and mainstream gender considerations from the inception of the project. Avoid “add and stir” approaches to gender, that is, simply adding gender as a factor without thinking through the range of ways it might infuse your work. A full incorporation might have impacts on decisions about staffing, scheduling time “in the field,” timing of outreach efforts, connecting with “gatekeepers,” and designing gender-specific activities.
  2. Be aware of the cultural context. Constraints that women (and others) face vary between and within societies, regions, localities and households.
  3. Be attentive to interactions between gender and other categories such as race and ethnicity, social class, and life-stage.
  4. When evaluating a specific intervention or issue, give careful thought to sampling design to ensure meaningful participation of women. Continue reading 9 tips for incorporating gender into a research project