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WGD Discussion Series Fall 2022 - Spring 2023

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Food, gender, and identity in a global context: an inter-disciplinary conversation with acclaimed culinary writer Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

  • Nina Mukerjee Furstenau, journalist and author.
  • This event is co-sponsored by the Food Studies Program; the Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation; the Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series; the Department of Geography; the School of Visual Arts; the Women’s and Gender Studies Program; and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Diversity Mini-Grant.

This WGD Discussion Series event will be hosted in a panel format featuring Nina Mukerjee Furstenau and four faculty members from different divisions of Virginia Tech as panelists. The guest speaker and panelists will facilitate a discussion on the relationship between food and food preparation on one hand, and gender and cultural identity on the other.

Bio: Nina Mukerjee Furstenau is a journalist, author, and editor of the FoodStory book series for the University of Iowa Press. She was a Fulbright Global research scholar (2018-19), is on the board of directors for Media for Change, and has won the MFK Fisher Book Award, the Grand Prize Award for Culture/Culinary Writing from Les Dames d'Escoffier International, a Kansas Notable Book award, and more. Green Chili & Other Impostors (Chilies, Chhana, and Rasa in India), her most recent work was published in October 2021 in the U.S. and December 2021 in India. Other published works include the award-winning book, Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America's Heartland, as well as Tasty! Mozambique, Savor Missouri: River Hills Country Food and Wine, and numerous stories and essays for newspapers and magazines. She engages as a speaker at conferences such as Nonfiction Now, Unbound Book, Iowa City Book Festival, Food, Fork and Pen, and more.

Abstract:  Food reveals a nuanced trail into the history of a region, what makes comfort there, how worship is celebrated; it reveals the labor involved in fields and kitchens, the trees that fruit, and the soils that sustain. Food story is also a personal journey connected with that community tale. Because of its universality, the sensory act of eating and the story behind that act can reach across boundaries of gender, education, access, conflict, geography, and politics in accessible ways. This approach creates opportunities for not only food research, but for a deep dive into gender roles and identity in a global context. This presentation takes a look at the uneven distribution of information between women and men due to gendered norms, literacy of women, divisions of labor, access to resources, and power relations in the context of food story. In journalism, writers learn to focus on the “five Ws,” and who, what, when, and where often make headlines across media platforms. Time and again, however, it is the last W, why, that is the heart of the story, and the pivot point in social science research. The talk closes with an overview of the field research behind Tasty! Mozambique as an example of using food story to reach across boundaries such as gender and education, followed by discussion on the need to understand cultural settings with a social science approach within research.


  • Maria Elisa Christie,
    Director, Women and Gender in International Development, Center for International Research, Education, and Development, Outreach and International Affairs.
  • Kim L. Niewolny,
    Associate Professor, Community Education and Development at the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences & Director, Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation.
  • Ozzie Obaye,
    Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
  • Anna Zeide,
    Associate Professor, Department of History & Founding Director, Food Studies Program, College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences.
Jessica R Spence

Speaking for themselves: The importance of enabling Ugandan women to share their story through photography and community dialogue 

Jessica R. Spence, Ph.D. student and Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science Fellow at Virginia Tech

 Jessica R. Spence is an experienced researcher in gender-based agriculture issues and international agricultural education. She was most recently a program coordinator at the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture for the USDA-FAS-funded International Agricultural Education Fellowship Program, where she worked and lived in Ghana overseeing and managing the program aimed at increasing school-based agriculture education in conjunction with 4H Ghana. She is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on gender-based agriculture issues and school-based agriculture education within international development. She gained both a B.S. in Agricultural Communications and Journalism, and M.S. in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication at Texas A&M University. Her master’s thesis studied the experience of female smallholder farmers in Northern Uganda through the photovoice methodology. She is focused on conducting research aimed at the empowerment of women farmers across the developing world.

Abstract: “Agriculture is the backbone of the country,” is a commonly heard phrase in Uganda. With agriculture making up nearly a quarter of Uganda’s GDP, and nearly 70 percent of the country’s population working in this sector, this is true. However, the muscle operating said backbone is exercised daily by Ugandan women. Not only do significantly more women work in the agriculture sector than men in Uganda, but women’s contribution is also typically under-estimated and under-appreciated. Usually charged with child-rearing, home-keeping, cooking, and a host of other responsibilities, women often take charge of the farm and garden in smallholder farming families. In addition to these unbalanced and gendered responsibilities, women do not often retain financial control over the money earned from their labor and suffer from physical and emotional abuse from their male counterparts. There is increasing awareness of, and efforts to end, the vast disparities women face within this sector, namely the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No. 5, Gender Equality. This lecture will focus on the independence and self-identity women agriculturalists have as farmers, and how that identity, coupled with their responsibilities to their families, make them a unique and strong powerhouse for agricultural development and social change. Through photovoice methodology, groups of women living in two different communities in Uganda allowed a researcher to conduct a study aimed at delving into their lives as women agriculture producers, and specifically the changes they face in agriculture due to their gender. A surprising phenomenon occurred within this study, wherein all participants decided to take self-portraits of themselves as part of their photovoice. The study resulted in themes that supported these harsh realities, including technical challenges, patriarchal society, physical fatigue, and varied agriculture practices, but also, through their self-portraits, gave evidence of self-identity and independence as “women farmers.” The personal identity and independence felt by these women provide evidence of the responsibility felt towards their family, children, and duties as a farmer.

Emily Van Houweling

Water projects and gender goals in Mozambique:
How the technocratic culture of international development conflicts with community perspectives

Emily Van Houweling, associate professor, Development Practice Program, Regis University.

The event was co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science; the Planning, Governance, and Globalization Ph.D. program; the School of Public and International Affairs; Africana Studies; and the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.

 Emily Van Houweling’s teaching and research interests include water and sanitation, gender and development, participatory planning, and decolonizing development. She has experience working and teaching in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa and has most recently conducted community-based research on water and sanitation access with the unhoused population in Denver. Her research has been published in leading gender, environment, and development journals, and her book, “Water and Aid in Mozambique: Gendered Perspectives of Change,” published by Cambridge University Press, just came out this year. Van Houweling received her Ph.D. in planning, governance, and globalization from Virginia Tech.

Abstract: Gender integration and women’s empowerment goals are shaped by a technocratic culture of international development that determines which frameworks, incentives, theories, and methods are valued. Based on 18 months of ethnographic research in northern Mozambique following a rural water project, Van Houweling shows how the perspectives of gender and change shared by the community conflicted with those of the project implementers and donors. The technocratic culture of development created blind spots, contradictions in the project plans, and unanticipated consequences for gender goals.  In this presentation, she will draw attention to the negotiated space between the community and various development actors and reflect on how her own identity and multiple roles (as a student, evaluator, Fulbright recipient, and consultant) affected the water project and her relationships with participants. This research is part of her recent book, “Water and Aid in Mozambique: Gendered Perspectives of Change” published by Cambridge University Press.

Siera Vercillo

The Gendering of Climate Change Scholarship in Africa

  • Siera Vercillo, Adjunct Professor and Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Waterloo

 Siera Vercillo is an adjunct professor and SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Environment, Enterprise, and Development at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Her research interests are broadly located in the fields of feminist geography, political ecology and critical development studies with a focus on agrarian and nutrition transitions, smallholder rural livelihoods, food systems and household food security in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly northern Ghana. She holds a Ph.D. in Geography from Western University and other degrees from the Institute of Development Studies (UK) and the University of Toronto. She has published scholarship in journals like Ambio, the Journal of Rural Studies, Gender, Place and Culture, Third World Quarterly, as well as in Aljazeera and The Conversation-Africa, and has been working mainly in agricultural extension with smallholders in West Africa for the past decade.

Abstract: There is increasing recognition of the importance of conducting gendered analysis within climate change research. Africa features prominently in the literature on climate change as people and governments across the continent are disproportionately vulnerable to its impacts, with limited capacity to mitigate and adapt to increasingly erratic rainfall, heat stress, drought, flooding, and sea-level rise. Women and men face uneven vulnerabilities to climate change because of differences in gendered norms, divisions of labor, resource access and power relations. This presentation will report the findings from a systematic review conducted of all 260 studies published in the Web of Science on gender and climate change in Africa and offer suggestions for future research in this area. While there is no strong methodological bias found in this literature, comparative case studies and sex-disaggregated analyses predominate from a limited set of countries. Many articles covered the agrarian sector by comparing women’s and men’s on-farm vulnerability to a changing climate based on their adaptation behaviors. Though this literature recognizes women’s important conservation, farming, and food responsibilities, it oftentimes generalized these contributions without providing evidence. A number of important themes were generally missing in this literature, including research on coastal areas, conflict, education, energy, migration, urban areas, and water. Overall, more justice-oriented research is needed into the socioeconomic structures that intersect with varied social identities to make certain people, places, and institutions more vulnerable. Investigations into the power dynamics between (social) scientists and African institutions are also needed as most articles reviewed stem from North America and Europe and are locked beyond paywalls. 

Hale Ann Tufan

Beyond ’Women’s Traits’: Analyzing Gender and Social Differences for Inclusive Crop Varietal Design

 Hale Ann Tufan is associate professor in Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science. In her work with plant breeders, social scientists, and research institutions, Tufan explores how agricultural research processes and outputs can positively contribute to gender equality and social inclusion. Through her research to develop methods and approaches she enables gender+ analysis in agricultural innovation, while advocating for inclusive agricultural research by challenging power and norms in the research ecosystem. Her work focuses on building gender responsive crop improvement systems, through curriculum development and training, leading research on priority setting, market research, gender research and on-farm testing. She has a multidisciplinary background spanning Ph.D.-level research in molecular plant pathogen interactions at the John Innes Centre, UK, plant breeding with CIMMYT, international agricultural research for development program management, and gender capacity and strategy development across SSA. She is the priority setting co-lead of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement, principal investigator of the Gender Responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) project, principle investigator of Muhogo Bora: Cassava for All, survey division lead for the NextGen Cassava project, and gender research lead of the Feed the Future Insect-Resistant Eggplant Partnership. Dr. Tufan was awarded the Borlaug Field Award in 2019 to recognize her work to ensure women farmers and researchers are fairly represented in agricultural research for development. 

Abstract: Gender is integral to agricultural innovation. Yet, gender relations, social inclusion, power, and agency often remain an afterthought in agricultural innovation processes. Using crop improvement examples, this talk will critically explore gender in agricultural innovation and design, including frameworks and approaches for inclusive design, innovative tools and methods that integrate gender research, and how intrahousehold dynamics shape crop trait preferences, varietal adoption and seed systems.

Nora Haenn

Gender in Field Research, Gender in Academia: Navigating Multiple Identity Positions

  • Nora Haenn, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, North Carolina State University

 Nora Haenn is a professor of anthropology and international studies at North Carolina State University. Her research examines the everyday ways rural people create “globalization from below.” While globalization is often depicted as something built by international businesses and governments, around the world people also create globalization just by going about their normal activities. Haenn is especially interested in how rural people enact and contest globalization in a few areas: when they manage their farms, forests, and other natural resources; when they undertake international migration; and when they encounter rural-urban distinctions.

Since the early 1990s, Haenn has focused on the municipality of Calakmul in southern Mexico. In addition to having published numerous articles, Haenn uses in-depth knowledge of globalization within a single field site to explain in her book, Marriage after Migration (2020), the origins of Mexican labor migration as a gendered, family strategy that counteracts “globalization from above.”

She is in the process of developing a new project that will consider rural livelihoods strategies under climate change. The project, a collaborative and interdisciplinary effort, compares rural livelihoods in the dry tropics on three continents.

Abstract: Drawing on research that examines masculinity in a male-dominated, small-scale Mexican fishery, this talk explores gender as both an object of study and an identity that researchers must navigate as we traverse institutional and cultural settings. Research on fisheries and other common pool resources often relies on ideas of social capital to explain the communitarianism underpinning their management. One prominent definition of social capital emphasizes trust. That is, researchers argue social capital in the form of mutual dependability and shared expectations is essential to the social bonds that facilitate common pool management. Paradoxically, fishermen in San Evaristo on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula explained, “lies build trust.” Unpacking this notion, I employ an understanding of social capital as process to show that connections between trust and social capital are far from straightforward. In San Evaristo, fishermen worked assiduously to craft harmony and fend off deceit. They did so by creating a linguistic world unto themselves, a world of ribald jokes and non-stop boundary pushing. This world excluded women and calls for consideration of the gendered worlds through which researchers move. What happens when gendered researchers meet gendered social capital? The talk closes by inviting discussion of practical strategies women and men can employ to navigate gendered social structures and cultural norms. 

WGD Discussion Series Spring 2022

Portrait of Afrina Choudhury

Experiences in Merging Gender Transformative Approaches With Development Efforts in Aquatic Food Systems in Bangladesh

  • Afrina Choudhury, Research Fellow and Senior Gender Specialist, WorldFish, Bangladesh, and Ph.D. candidate, Wageningen University

 Afrina Choudhury works as Research Fellow (Senior Gender Specialist) for WorldFish, Bangladesh, where she is responsible for the design and implementation of pro-poor gender responsive strategies. Working in the field of aquatic-agriculture, her research has revolved around the integration of gender into technical interventions in ways that are sustainable and transformative. In particular, she has been focusing on building the evidence for gender transformative approaches as a way to break systemic inequalities in enhancing equitable development efforts. She also co-created and chairs the Bangladesh National Gender Working Group, which brings together gender and equity work in Bangladesh. She is currently pursuing a sandwich Ph.D. between WorldFish and Wageningen University with a focus on inclusive business and women's entrepreneurship development in aquaculture.

Abstract: Afrina will share her experiences from working in Bangladesh for the past nine years and how her organization has come to embrace gender transformative approaches as a sustainable gender integration approach. She will talk about the developmental and research challenges of taking up such an approach within a technical aquaculture environment and why it’s worth it. Finally, she will share how they are expanding gender transformative approach research further into new fields like entrepreneurship.

Portrait of Farhana Sultana

Climate Justice, Gender, and Challenges in a Fractured World

  • Dr. Farhana Sultana, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University

Part of Women’s Month at Virginia Tech.

Co-Sponsored By: Department of Geography and Women's and Gender Studies (WGS), Virginia Tech

 Dr. Farhana Sultana is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, where she is also the Research Director for Environmental Collaboration and Conflicts at the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflicts and Collaboration (PARCC).

Dr. Sultana is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary scholar of political ecology, water governance, post‐colonial development, social and environmental justice, climate change, and feminism. Her research and scholar-activism draw from her experiences of having lived and worked on three continents as well as from her backgrounds in the natural sciences, social sciences, and policy experience.

Prior to joining Syracuse, she taught at King’s College London and worked at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Author of several dozen publications, her recent books are “The Right to Water: Politics, Governance and Social Struggles” (2012), “Eating, Drinking: Surviving” (2016) and “Water Politics: Governance, Justice, and the Right to Water” (2020). Dr. Sultana graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University (in Geosciences and Environmental Studies) and obtained her Masters and PhD (in Geography) from the University of Minnesota, where she was a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

She was awarded the Glenda Laws Award from the American Association of Geographers for “outstanding contributions to geographic research on social issues” in 2019.

Abstract: Climate change has had unequal and uneven burdens across places whereby the planetary crisis involves a common but differentiated responsibility. The injustices of intensifying climate breakdown, overlapping with injustices from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, have laid bare the fault lines of suffering across sites and scales. A climate justice framework might help us to think about and address these inequities. Climate justice fundamentally is about paying attention to how climate change multipliers impact people intersectionally, unevenly, and disproportionately, as well as redressing the resultant injustices in fair and equitable ways. In this talk, I discuss how and why a feminist climate justice perspective allows for more equitable interventions to be envisioned and co-created for meaningful impacts. 

Portraits of Daniel Sumner and Jessica Agnew

Women, Smartphones, and Leafy Greens: How ICTs support women producers in Western Kenya to secure their position in commercializing value chains for indigenous vegetables

Daniel Sumner has 10 years of experience implementing capacity-building, research, and evaluation interventions in the areas of gender equality, gender-responsive agricultural research, inclusive agricultural development, positive youth development, and inclusive education. As of 2022, Daniel is an Associate Director of Gender & Youth at ACDI/VOCA. Previously, for five years he worked as the Assistant Director of Women and Gender in International Development for Virginia Tech’s Center for International Research, Education, and Development. At CIRED, he provided research and analytical support to the center’s sponsored programs, including the USAID-funded Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management (IPM IL), by ensuring CIRED’s programs are based upon a contextual understanding of gender roles, relations and norms. With the IPM IL he supported the IPM IL’s network of researchers and practitioners to document the gendered impacts of their research and extension activities. His current research focuses on exploring how gender and social norms shape the design and dissemination of agricultural innovations.

Dr. Jessica Agnew has nearly 10 years of experience working in market-based approaches to nutrition and food security in an international context. Her research and on-the-ground experience have involved improving the competitiveness and commercial viability of small and medium-sized enterprises that sell nutritious foods to low-income populations, as well as identifying ways that the market can contribute to improvements in nutritional status more generally. In her new role as associate director for CALS Global, she helps to create meaningful international engagement opportunities for faculty and students to serve globally through research, outreach, and teaching. She also continues her own research on strengthening value chains for indigenous vegetables and creating agriculture sector transformation using blockchain technology and complementary strategies in Kenya.

Abstract: In Western Kenya, women are actively engaged throughout all stages of African indigenous vegetable (AIV) value chains. AIV production and marketing are important means for women to generate economically viable livelihoods and support their families’ nutrition and food security. Enhancing the efficiency and productivity of AIV value chains have the potential to enhance the accessibility of AIVs and enhance the income of women participating in the value chain. However, gender and other factors affect women’s ability to benefit from upgrading activities and improve or maintain their position in the value chain. In this discussion, we will examine how access to information communication technologies such as smartphones, the internet, and blockchain can help to secure the place of women in better functioning AIV value chains in Western Kenya.

WGD Discussion Series Fall 2021

Rodriguez portrait

“Women, water, and transformative gender research”

Dr. Mary Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Community Leadership and Development, The Ohio State University, Nov. 18, 2021

Bio: Mary Rodriguez is an associate professor of community leadership and development at The Ohio State University. As a leadership scholar and practitioner, she focuses on supporting communities in change processes at the individual, household, and community levels. She strives to develop research-based solutions to build more sustainable and resilient communities through the exploration of behavior change and leadership development. In the US, through community engaged scholarship, she has worked with New American populations investigating the social system’s impact on access to resources. She has also worked internationally in Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East investigating adoption of innovations, household food security and resilience, and governance of water systems.

Abstract: Woman around the world are primarily responsible to provide water for the household. They can walk up to several hours a day to fetch water. How does bringing water to a community through the use of boreholes and/or piped water schemes impact the lives of women? How do women engage with water provision schemes in their communities? What challenges do they face in paying for water for their many household needs? Through the use of gender transformative research, we can explore this questions and more. 

Colverson portrait

“Engaging men in supporting maternal and child consumption of milk and other animal source foods in Rwanda”

Dr. Kathy Colverson, Associate Research Scientist, University of Florida’s Animal Science Department and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Oct. 21, 2021

Bio: Dr. Kathy Colverson is an Associate Research Scientist with the University of Florida’s Animal Science Department and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). Dr. Colverson also serves as Senior Gender Specialist for the USAID-funded Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems and has over 30 years of experience with gender analysis, assessments, publications and evaluations in east Africa, Central America, Caribbean, Middle East, Southeast Asia and the United States. In addition, she has over 25 years of experience working with small and limited resource farmers and communities to create sustainable practices in production, marketing, food safety and gender equitable project planning with an emphasis on livestock production and value chain development. Currently, Colverson is also a CO-PI on an ongoing DFID-IDRC funded agricultural research for development program - “Advancing women's participation in livestock vaccine value chains in Nepal, Senegal and Uganda” and previously was a CO-PI on the USAID-funded Integrating Gender and Nutrition into Agricultural Extension Systems (INGENAES). Prior to her current role at the University of Florida, Dr. Colverson was a Senior Social Scientist for the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) where she led research on livelihoods, gender, impact and innovation systems. 

Abstract: Maternal and child nutrition practices, including consumption of milk and animal source foods, are considered the responsibility of women in many low- and middle-income countries. However, men can influence nutrition in their households through their decision-making, control of resources, and social support. Despite the role of gender and the importance of men in influencing nutrition in their households, most nutrition programs target women and men are not comfortable participating.

This ongoing project funded by the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab project is exploring methods of engaging men more actively in household nutrition through a combination of training and communication materials tailored to meet their needs. Training materials were developed after extensive field research with men and women using focus groups and key informant interviews. These materials were used to train local partners on providing nutrition education to men, and assess the effectiveness of changes in household nutrition before and after the training. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the final results are pending, but should be available by the conference. The implications of this research could improve overall household nutrition, particularly as it relates to consumption of animal source foods by women and children.

Cardenas portrait

“Gender and Decision-Making: Quinoa Production Among Indigenous Women in Rural Ecuador”

Elisa Cárdenas, Research Specialist, University of Missouri in the Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems, Sept. 16, 2021

Bio: Elisa Cárdenas graduated from Iowa State University with a Ph.D. in Sustainable Agriculture and Sociology and with a certificate in Geographic Information Systems. She works at the University of Missouri in the Center for Applied and Engagement Systems (CARES) as a Research Specialist. Her research focuses on international development mostly related to women’s empowerment, gender inequality, Indigenous marginalization, and intersectionality. 

Abstract: Women’s empowerment can be analyzed in agriculture through their ability to make choices that align with their life goals. Household farm decision-making is often examined as an individual or a jointly made choice, both frequently described as empowering in quantitative studies as women participate in agricultural decisions. However, empowerment is contextual and often difficult to measure and, thus, a qualitative methodology (focus groups and interviews) can better illuminate how joint decision-making processes occur to investigate women’s empowerment. This research asks: how is decision-making among Indigenous women influenced by their gender when producing quinoa in rural Ecuador? The findings include a feminization of agriculture among the participants, in which Indigenous women have become in charge of quinoa production, a traditionally male-dominated crop, due to Indigenous men’s absence in the farm. Furthermore, the participants described decision-making as jointly made, but men had greater authority, which was influenced by their religious beliefs, and men often made final decisions even when they had little or no participation in the farm work. Overall, women’s participation in quinoa production increased, but because the participants associated men as heads of household, women’s decision-making power was still limited even as they have become principal farmers. This study contributes to the literature of decision-making and demonstrates the importance of contextual characteristics, such as the feminization of agriculture, that influence decision-making processes. Overall, Indigenous women farmers are limited by patriarchal norms in their decision-making opportunities and overall empowerment.

WGD Discussion Series Spring 2021

Women and Gender in International Development Conference 2021

Recorded presentation
Live Q&A

Feminist food justice: Overcoming intersectional inequities in U.S. and international food systems


Dr. Carolyn Sachs, Professor Emerita of Rural Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Sach's presentation is sponsored in-part by the Women & Minority Artist and Scholars Lecture Series fund from Virginia Tech’s Office of the Provost

Bio: Carolyn E. Sachs is Professor Emerita of Rural Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Pennsylvania State University. She is cofounder of the Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network and a consultant for the FAO and UNESCO. Her research examines issues of gender and agriculture and gender and environmental issues. Dr. Sachs' first project involved exploring new women agricultural entrepreneurs and their opportunities and barriers to success. In her research on food sovereignty, she pays particular attention to environmental sustainability and gender equality in rural farming communities. She is also engaged in a comparative international project on gender and climate change in India in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization. In addition, she works with gender and the food system exploring gendered work in the food system from farm to table. Her outreach interests include working with the Pennsylvania Women’s Agricultural Network (PAWAgN) to provide hands-on agricultural, entrepreneurship, and leadership training. She serves on an expert panel to the UN on Gender, Water, and Sanitation.

Abstract: Feminist food justice provides a conceptual framework for linking gender and agriculture researchers and practitioners in the U.S. and internationally. Feminist food justice builds on the food sovereignty and food justice movements and aims to overcome intersectional inequities in the food system. This framework emphasizes three strategies including: supporting food production at multiple scales, revaluing food work that feeds families, and providing good food for all. I will then discuss how lessons learned about gender, food, and agriculture during the global coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and internationally provide new insights and strategies for overcoming intersectional inequalities in our food systems.

Some of our recent events have been recorded by Virginia Tech's Library Services. Follow this link for selected videos on Women and Gender.

For more information about any of these events or the WGD Discussion Series, contact Dr. Maria Elisa Christie, CIRED WGD Director, at or