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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 2022

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.