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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


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.

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“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.