Virginia Tech®home

Selected Stories

Women and Gender in Development (WGD) Virtual Conference Out of the Theory and into the Field: A Dialogue on Gendered Approaches to Inclusive Rural Development. — In February 2021, Virginia Tech welcomed over 300 students, faculty, and development practitioners to the second Women and Gender in Development Conference. The conference was sponsored primarily with a Conference Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture's National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Due to the on-going impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic the conference was a completely virtual event. The conference featured an interactive program including Keynote Speakers and panels from world-renowned development experts and leading scholars in the field and opportunities  for students, scholars, and practitioners to present their research and/or programmatic activities through the conference’s poster session, 4 Minute Student Flashtalks, and the World Café. Recordings from the confernce and posters from the poster session are publically available. To find out more about the conference, read more here.

Gender Research in Vietnam: Applications for Both Farmers and Scientists —This research write-up detailing how the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management worked with the Southern Horticultural Research Institute (SOFRI) in Vietnam. Virginia Tech's WGD program worked with researchers from SOFRI to create an understanding around why and in what specific ways gender was relevant to biophysical scientists’ core research. Such understanding is essential for productive research on gender in agricultural projects. Luong Thi Duyen, a researcher from SOFRI, played a critical role in the project's gender assessment. recently completed her Master's program and, thanks to her experience with the IPM IL, understands how she can use new tools in her research to ensure more inclusive results. 

Integrating Gender in Agriculture Research Investments — Feed the Future's Advancing Women's Empowerment (AWE) Program released a report, “Gender Integration in USAID’s Agricultural Research Investments: A Synthesis of Key Findings and Best Practices", summarizing the extent and nature of gender integration across 20 agricultural and food security research activities funded by the USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, including 16 Feed the Future Innovation Labs. The report includes a case study documenting how the IPM Innovation lab has been refining its model of gender-responsive research over the past 10 years. Find a copy of the report here

Abating the Invasive Parthenium Weed to Improve Livestock Health —This research write-up detailing how the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management is addressing the invasive weed Parthenium hysterophorus and the weed’s adverse impacts on livestock in East Africa features results from a study conducted by the Women and Gender in International Development (WGD) team.

Gender Research in IPM: Women’s Empowerment as a Key to Unlocking Food Security — Agricultural production is only one of many factors that impacts global food security. A Virginia Tech team has found that some factors, like gender, take a little extra digging to uncover but cannot be overlooked when the goal is to feed the world’s rapidly growing population. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management, housed at Virginia Tech and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, addresses crop pests and diseases in Asia and Africa, in addition to considering how gender impacts integrated pest management (IPM) activities and how IPM activities impact gender at the household and community level.

Women and gender in development conference draws researchers from around the world — In February 2019, Virginia Tech welcomed nearly 200 students, faculty, and development practitioners to campus to engage in an interactive, intensive learning and networking opportunity and discuss critical issues linked to gender equality, women’s empowerment, and international development. The Women and gender in development conference: Out of the theory and into the field’s interactive program included keynote presentations from renowned experts and leading scholars in the field, hands-on workshops, a dynamic Shift-and-Share session, and a poster session highlighting student research. To find out more about the conference, read more here. To see some highlights from the conference check out this short video.

Gender, Geography, and IPM - Kaitlyn Spangler, a recent Virginia Tech graduate with a Master’s degree in Geography, investigated the gendered implications of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) amongst farmers in the Surkhet District of Nepal. Her research is part of the broader gender research focus of the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab (IPM IL), management by Virginia Tech.

Agriculture vs. gender culture—As seemingly simple and easy as conservation agriculture (CA) appears, economic and cultural obstacles (among other) can impede implementation of the three components of CA. In many ways the cultural traditions of a place are the toughest barriers to overcome, especially for women. For this reason, the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Innovation Lab (SANREM IL), based at Virginia Tech, is working to uncover gender issues in adopting CA. 

The Gender Challenge—Integrating gender considerations into international development projects is a challenging, yet necessary and important, task. Despite the fact that almost all international development aid programs require gender to be considered and integrated into the project plans work with gender issues is riddled with obstacles. In a post on OIRED’s official blog site, Dr. Maria Elisa Christie shares some strategies for mitigating this difficulty.

International insights help recent master’s graduate—As part of her research for her master’s degree, Mary Harman Parks worked with the Innovation Lab for Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (SANREM IL) on gathering information on gender in agriculture in the Philippines.

Summer Gender Workshop in Ghana to Reach 9,000 Farmers – The West African regional IPM Innovation Lab project held a workshop in Tuobodom, Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana on gender roles and pesticide use in tomato farming, July 19-22, 2011. Facilitated by Maria Elisa Christie, Program Director of Women and Gender in International Development at Virginia Tech and lead researcher in the IPM Innovation Lab Gender Global Theme, the workshop trained senior scientists from the Ghanian Crop Research Institute, agricultural extension agents, a member of Ghana’s National Service, and a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Women in Agricultural Development program, 24 participants in all. The workshop’s content is expected to reach 9,000 farmers in the extension agents’ regions.

Farmers’ Stories From Kamuli – Women and men farmers from the Namwendwa Sub-County in the Kamuli District of Uganda have long depended on the groundnut (peanut) as a vital source of food and livelihood. It is central to their culture. Together with these farmers, Christie worked with Dr. Archileo Kaaya at Makerere University and Peace Kyamureku of the National Association of Women’s Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU) to produce a little book reflecting farmers’ lives. This book raises awareness of the problems caused by aflatoxins in groundnut and other crops and suggests appropriate post-harvest practices to reduce their impact on health and nutrition. Farmers were asked to trace the path of the groundnut from field to plate. Here they describe their groundnut practices both before and after harvest. In addition to the personal farmer accounts, maps, and drawings, the book includes recipes, providing a rich appreciation of the importance of groundnut in everyday life in this region of the country. To download a printer-friendly copy of the book, use this link: Farmers’ Stories From Kamuli (PDF, 3.04 MB).

Kitchens of Latin America—A radio interview with Dr. Maria Elisa Christie from Virginia Tech on With Good Reason. Dr. Christie talks about her work in central Mexico, which evolved into her book Kitchenspace: Women, Fiestas, and Everyday Life in Central Mexico. Listen here.

Parks: An up close look at climate change—Mary Harman Parks shares her insights on climate change formed from talking with small town farmers in Claveria, Philippines during her fieldwork for her master’s degree at Virginia Tech. There is no doubt for these people whose livelihoods rely on the climate that it is changing.

Mary Harman: Putting gender studies on the map—Mary Harman Parks discusses preparations for conducting her fieldwork in the Philippines and the types of methods she employed to gather data on gender and conservation agriculture. She was able to conduct this research as a result of collaboration between multiple partners participating in SANREM IL.

Peanut Innovation Lab Success Story: Women, Health, and Peanuts in Uganda – Learn how Christie’s research in a Ugandan community in 2011 on peanuts and how the harvesting and processing of the crop might be tweaked for better results led to a publication entitled “Farmers, peanuts, and aflatoxins in Uganda: a Gendered Approach” in Development in Practice.

WGD Program Director Dr. Christie visits the University of Texas at Austin – Dr. Maria Elisa Christie recently traveled to Austin, Texas to address a departmental colloquium and explain how peanuts, an important part of the East African diet, can become contaminated with toxins and create a major public health challenge. She also spoke to a packed classroom of freshmen in the Latin American Environmental History and Sustainability course, discussing her trailblazing doctoral research on the spaces of food preparation in central Mexican culture. 

University program empowers women through gender workshop in Mali – The West Africa IPM Innovation Lab regional program held a 4-day gender workshop in Mali from June 15-18. The workshop, “Gender, Participatory Research, and Technology Transfer,” drew 30 researchers, extension agents, and representatives from institutions in West Africa that partner with the IPM Innovation Lab.