Communicating About Gender by Abby and Cecilia

What does gender really mean?
  • Gender equity: both men and women
Fact Check
  • Women produce over half of all food grown in the world—Oxfam
    • o Hard to validate
    • o Implies men aren’t producing
    • Over 60% of women in sub-Saharan Africa are employed in agriculture—FAO
    • 70% of the 1.3 billion people living below the poverty line are women
      • o Debunked at GLF
      • Women are 14 times more likely to die in a natural disaster than men
        • o Stated at a conference years ago and has been repeated so much it has become fact
        • Closing the gender gap between men and women could reduce the number of under-nourished peopled by 100 to 150 million people—FAO
        • These facts portray women as disempowered and men as villains.
Recurring discourses
  • ‘Women have a special connection to the environment because they are natural born nurturers. Women tend to be more environmentally conscious than their male counterparts.’
    • o Potential implications? Men can opt out and aren’t accountable for taking care of the environment. One potential benefit: could lead to women caring for community forests, etc. and having more land rights.
    • ‘Women are more vulnerable to climate change than men’
      • o Potential implications: Women are not seen as active agents of change.
      • o CCAFS says ‘Men and women face different challenges related to climate change.’ This doesn’t imply weakness of strength, but opens up a conversation. What is needed is more research on what these differences are.
      • ‘Women have a much bigger network and can spread agriculture information to more people.’
        • o Potential implications: A bit of gender stereotyping and simplifies differences between certain men and women. People should be included in projects because they are people.
Visuals
  • Images can be just as powerful when it comes to communicating gender issues:
    • o Recurrent images: photos of women farmers when talking about gender/or photos where women are working (and perhaps men relaxing)/or photos with vulnerable women/children
    • o Better idea: using photos with both men and women working in the field. But…there aren’t that many.

Discussion
  • Not saying this data cannot be used but it is important to sit down and think about how you move the discourse forward.
  • Important to communicate how gender matter to our CRPs and to the goals we are trying to achieve.
  • At GLF we struggled to find people for panels to keep gender balance. In some cases it veered a bit towards tokenism when you put a woman up who might not necessarily be the best fit. Bruce Campbell is really passionate about gender issues and speaks well on it but not sure if it looks strange.
  • Like Michael’s idea of rather than emphasizing men and women’s roles, you can talk about unlocking potential of gender in order to deal with the challenges we are working on.
  • Interesting that we are talking about gender in terms of tools or visuals but this meeting we have really been talking about KMC engagement. Farha had some interesting suggestions of work in Bangladesh where you provide childcare and activities for children during meetings.
  • We are really beginning to obsess of gender. It is a donor-driven topic. What we are really talking about is social interactions, cultural context, etc. There are many factors.
    • o We talk about empowering women in ag but we also need to talk about whether or not women want those roles we are ‘empowering’ them to take on.
    • o Talking about gender is good when you are trying to make a point, but it often feels very forced in communications activities.
    • What came up with CPWF was the issue of uncertainty. How do we communicate uncertainty in a more sophisticated way? Researchers often feel we just communicate puff-pieces. Same with gender—how do we communicate it in a sophisticated and accessible way. We do need to work on gender equity because it does contribute to reaching our goals.
      • o Hoping we move ahead with our research so that
      • CCAFS research is not trying to prove anymore that targeting different social groups, women, etc. will have the greatest impact. Our impact pathway assumes this. Now we are doing research on how we actually do it.
      • At GLF had the Gender Café. It was a great experience because it created a space for debates and meetings related to gender issues.
      • Should we still call it gender? It’s often really more about vulnerable groups.
        • o A bit is our cultural perception about gender. Gender is about social, cultural roles/rules that regulate how parts of society interact with each other.
          • § It is confusing, however, because you can still check ‘Male’ or ‘Female’ on a form to answer the question about gender. How to move beyond this?
          • What is the role we in this room can play talking about and working on gender equity?
            • o Did gender come up in your conversations about impact pathways?
              • § For most, no.
              • § For AAS, it came up in a big way when talking about access to information
              • § It was positive that we weren’t thinking about it because we were looking at our target as a community.