Developing participatory gender and climate research tools

In order to close the gender gap in agriculture, we need the right knowledge, and in order to generate the right knowledge, we need the right tools. Photo: World Bank
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Participatory tools help researchers capture gender specific details in the fight against climate change and food insecurity.

In many developing countries, female farmers comprise up to half or more of the agricultural workforce. However, their lack of access to key agricultural development technologies and information not only undermines their ability to make a living, it also hurts the entire agricultural sector and its ability to adapt to and mitigate climate change. A better understanding of the realities of gender inequality in the agricultural sector will provide greater opportunities to produce responses to climate change and food security challenges that benefit men and women farmers more equally.

Gender research to help support policy-making

In order to capture how men and women farmers are affected by climate change and dealing with the inherent challenges, a team of researchers from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) developed a set of tools that help support gender-sensitive research. These tools were published in the form of a manual entitled “Gender and Climate Change Research in Agriculture and Food Security for Rural Development” in 2012 and was the result from a collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

By embedding an element of gender awareness into agricultural research, the aim is that policy-makers will develop more gender-sensitive strategies and interventions, which in turn will lead to more efficient climate-resistant rural communities.

A gender manual for whom?

The manual was developed with researchers and agricultural development professionals who want guidance on how to conduct gender-sensitive research in

mind. It includes ten participatory action research tools and activities that support research design and collection of gender-sensitive information.

Many of the tools are participatory in nature, using the knowledge and perceptions of farmers in order to form a clearer picture on how they view access to resources, gender roles, and the impacts of climate change on agriculture. Through the collection of this kind of data, researchers will be more able to identify and understand the gaps and underlying causes in resource access and the possible areas where gender inequality might be addressed and improved.

The manual provides researchers with guidance on how to carry out a genderbased research project, including suggestions on how to best prepare for fieldwork and possible work plans for implementing the various participatory research tools outlined in the guide. After fieldwork is complete and data has been collected, the manual offers guidelines on structuring analysis and reporting, so results might be understood in the wider context of gender research.

The manual has become highly popular, with over 10,000 downloads, Training Guide for Gender and Climate Change Research in Agriculturedemonstrating the pressing need for guidance on embedding gender awareness in climate change and agriculture research. To further promote the tools and increase the spread of gender-based research, the guide has now been made available in three languages: English, Spanish, and French.

To make sure the manual reflects reality, the participatory research tools and approach outlined on the right were thoroughly tested in pilot sites in Bangladesh, Ghana, and Uganda. These countries represent three of CCAFS key regions South Asia, West Africa and East Africa. The team made sure to include initial findings to help further improve the tools and methods.

Summary of participatory action research tools and approaches in the manual:

-> Village resource map: A valuable tool for understanding a community and its resource base.
-> Seasonal calendar: Helps determine whether workloads shift from one season to another, and how the roles of men and women differ.
-> Daily activity clocks: Illustrates the different types of activities carried out by an individual, male or female in one day.
-> Farming systems diagram: Shows the flow of resources to and from the household by gender.
-> Capacity and vulnerability analysis matrix: Used to understand the available resources and needs of men and women.
-> Venn diagram on institutions: Used to document the key local institutions that are providing services to individuals or groups.
-> Institutional profiles: Learn about local organizations, clarify decision-making roles and identify potential areas of conflict.
-> Changing farming practices: Used to document how a cange in farming practices, such as planting trees or modifying soil management and changes in external inputs, impacts the activities of men and women.
-> Seasonal food security calendar: How has the food security situation changed over time? This tool documents connections between seasonal climate conditions and food security over the course of the year.
-> Climate-related risk management practices: The aim of this tool is to capture the farmers’ perceptions of causes and effects of major past climate related events, as well as the impacts and responses to these challenges, particularly with regard to food security.

Key Links and Resources

Download the manual: Gender and Climate Change Research in Agriculture and Food Security for Rural Development in English
Download the manual:
Gender and Climate Change Research in Agriculture and Food Security for Rural Development in French
Download the manual:
Gender and Climate Change Research in Agriculture and Food Security for Rural Development in Spanish
Creating participatory gender and climate change research tools together
BlogExpanding the scope of gender and climate research: Training guide now translated into French and Spanish

Read all the latest blogs on the participatory gender manual here

For discussions and further resources, join the LinkedIn group on Gender, Agriculture and Climate Change Research Network.

Photo 1: World Bank
Photo 2: Women working on identifying their strengths and skills. Schubert (CCAFS)