Keynote Abstracts

The two keynote sessions will last one hour and ten minutes each and will include approximately thirty minutes for discussion and Q&A.

Dr. Carmen Diana Deere - The SDG Gender Equality Agenda and the Distribution of Land:  Research Challenges

Among the advances in the 2030 Sustainable Development agenda is that the goal to achieve gender equality and empower women now has nine specific targets. These cover many of the root causes of gender inequality, including women’s unequal access to economic resources. This presentation focuses on women’s ownership and control over land in Africa, Asia and Latin America and why its distribution remains a pressing development concern.  Moreover, the lack of data on women’s land ownership until recently has stymied research on a number of critical questions, for example, the relationship between land ownership and agricultural decision-making and whether it makes a difference if women own land individually or jointly with their spouse.  Similarly, whether land ownership or off-farm employment contribute more to enhance women’s intra-household bargaining power and better outcomes for women and children.  The SDG gender equality indicators on land provide a timely opportunity to advance feminist research, but require a strong lobbying effort to assure compliance.


Dr. Agnes Quisumbing - Gender, equity, and empowerment:  Harnessing agricultural research for better nutrition outcomes

Large disparities in nutrition and health outcomes exist between different social groups, and resources and processes related to these outcomes are often distributed inequitably. These differences between groups intersect with gender, the socially determined roles of men and women, in some cases compounding gender differences, and in others, offsetting them. How can paying attention to gender, equity, and empowerment issues enable agricultural research to be more effective in achieving better nutritional outcomes? How can nutrition-sensitive agricultural projects be designed to be gender-sensitive? What metrics do we need to make sure that nutrition-sensitive agricultural projects not only reach and benefit women, but also empower them?

The presentation will begin with an overview of agriculture-nutrition linkages, identifying linkages where gender dynamics play a key role, and where disparities in wealth, caste, ethnicity (among others) may interact with these differences. Drawing on a widely-used classification of nutrition-sensitive agricultural interventions (Ruel and Alderman 2013), the presentation will pose the challenge of evaluating these interventions for their impacts on empowerment and gender equity. It will use the “reach, benefit, empower” framework to illustrate the types of indicators to use in evaluating nutrition-sensitive agricultural projects and discuss the family of indicators based on the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI). It will then illustrate how nutrition-sensitive agricultural projects can use these indicators to assess projects’ impacts on empowerment. It will also discuss how these indicators can be decomposed to examine other factors that underly inequities such as age, caste, or ethnicity. The intent is to challenge the audience to think more broadly about: (1) agricultural research, not only as a means for improving nutrition, but also as a way to empower women and men; and (2) how the “reach, benefit, empower” framework can be extended to other social categories beyond gender, to diagnose and understand other processes that underlie persistent inequities in nutrition and health, so that appropriate solutions may be proposed.

Closing abstract

The conference will conclude with remarks from the donor perspective from Dr. Krista Jacobs.

Dr. Krista Jacobs - Gender in food security programs: Take-away for moving towards more inclusive systems

Development researchers and practitioners have an opportunity and responsibility to create processes where the experiences of the different populations where we work inform the design and implementation of programs and research. The conference has highlighted gender-responsive and community-centered approaches in agriculture, health, and natural resources.

 Integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment into Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, is an ongoing effort of clarifying aims and expectations amongst ourselves and with our partners and of building gender capacity across technical staff and leadership. The Global Food Security Strategy and the  accompanying Research Strategy mark (1) a shift to using an agricultural and food systems approach – which necessarily involves a greater variety of populations and actors, including the private sector; (2) an emphasis on building communities’ resilience to threats to food security; and (3) human impacts of Feed the Future’s research and programs. We expect to be thinking more about fostering gender equality and women’s empowerment in agricultural systems beyond smallholder production; balancing the needs for intersectional analysis and approaches with efficient data collection and use; and understanding gendered use of and benefit from agricultural technologies.

 Lessons learned and questions arising from Feed the Future and the wider field have implications for how gender equity and women’s empowerment are measured and for the capacities needed to conduct research and programming in agricultural and food systems.