Engage, enhance and empower: research that makes a difference for African women

By Pascal Sanginga, Wendy Manchur and Kevin Tiessen

Source: www.idrc.ca/.../Engage-enhance-and-empower-research-that-makes-a-difference-for-African-women-rgb-small.pdf(English)

The Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF) specifically targets women smallholder farmers as agents of change. Over the last three years, research has directly benefited and engaged over 28,000 farmers: 15,000 female and 13,000 male farmers. They have tested over 130 innovations that have increased productivity and incomes and improved and diversified women and children’s diets. Recognizing the role that women scientists can play in agriculture research, the CIFSRF has supported graduate training for 82 young scientists, including 45 women.

However, agricultural research has often struggled to effectively secure the participation of women in research activities - as researchers, as agents of change, and as users and clients of the research. Moreover, programs continue to struggle to harness women’s potential as key players in getting research results into use and scaling-up innovations. New and creative ways to engage, empower, and benefit both women and men at every stage need to be built into development research initiatives.

CIFSRF) is addressing this gender challenge by supporting applied research that develops and promotes practical solutions that increase food security for smallholder farmers in developing countries. CIFSRF places special attention on women farmers and their specific needs in the design of research, the participation of women and the potential impact on them.

In Africa, CIFSRF is supporting ten research projects in nine countries -Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania - covering a range of thematic areas including: under-utilized and under-researched food crops and livestock; soil fertility and water management technologies for dryland areas; nutrition and diets; and new generation livestock vaccines. Research teams are addressing gender issues in a number of ways, but in every project, they are involving women in the development of new innovations.

The goal is to ensure that women are direct recipients of development impacts, including access to markets, income generation, and balanced diets.