Ten years ago, the global food price crisis dramatically highlighted how food systems are dynamically interconnected. The crisis also revealed how serious gender disparities can exacerbate the precariousness of women farmers who face economic, social, and weather or climate shocks. It spurred large investments in country and project-level data collection on gender issues in agriculture. In the past five years, exciting new data collection tools and analysis methods, such as the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index and the Integrated Surveys on Agriculture associated with the Living Standards Measurement Studies, have enormously strengthened our understanding of the relationships of men's and women's roles in agricultural production.
Gaps remain, however. The subject of gender and agricultural extension and advisory services has only in the past few years gotten serious attention, and the links between extension and marketing remain less developed than those connecting extension and agricultural production. The Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity (DLEC) project, in collaboration with the Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services (INGENEAS) project, hosted a Community of Practice gathering in December 2017 at which addressing these gaps was a major topic of discussion. As a follow up to the conversations initiated at the event, DLEC facilitated a webinar which reported on a few gender-inclusive market-oriented extension approaches. These included:
These examples, together with other research, point to how gender-inclusive agricultural extension approaches can first, identify existing gender disparities (e.g., in access to technologies or market information); second, put into practice actions that help to reduce those disparities (e.g., providing access to services such as transportation); and third, monitor results (e.g., of increased marketed volume and income received by women).
Since agriculture extension and advisory services are fundamentally about knowledge, and knowledge itself is an asset, research on women's access to, control over, and ownership of productive assets offers some useful suggestions for next steps. Extension services can support gender-inclusive, market-oriented programming by providing the knowledge that women need to:
When agricultural extension systems achieve these objectives, they will become better enablers of women's economic empowerment through market-oriented agriculture.
Buvinic, M. and M. O'Donnell. 2016. Revisiting What Works: Women, Economic Empowerment and Smart Design. Washington, D.C.: Center for Global Development. www.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/CGD-Roadmap-Update-2016.pdf
Caselli-Mecheal, E. 2012. Women in Cross-Border Agricultural Trade. Enabling Agricultural Trade Policy Brief No. 4. Washington, D.C.: USAID. http://www.culturalpractice.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/EAT_PolicyBrief_WomenCrossBorderAgTrade_Oct2012_FINAL.pdf
Manfre, C., D. Rubin, C. Nordehn. 2017. Assessing how Agricultural Technologies can change Gender Dynamics and Food Security Outcomes: A Toolkit. Washington, DC: USAID. https://ingenaes.illinois.edu/technology-assessment-toolkit/
Quisumbing, A., Deborah Rubin, et al. 2015. Gender, assets, and market-oriented agriculture: learning from high-value crop and livestock projects in Africa and Asia. Agriculture and Human Values 32:705–725.
Quisumbing, A. et al. 2014. Reducing the Asset Gender Gap in Agricultural Development: A Technical Resource Guide. Washington, D.C.: IFPRI. http://www.ifpri.org/publication/reducing-gender-asset-gap-through-agricultural-development-technical-resource-guide