Originally published at: http://humidtropics.cgiar.org/new-strategy-to-improve-gender-mainstreaming-in-central-america-and-the-caribbean/
Humidtropics continues its successful implementation in the Territorial Learning Alliances of the Nicanorte Action Site, aiming to expand this initiative into the Haiti-Dominican Republic Action Site as part of its Central America and the Caribbean Flagship Project. Based on these learning experiences, together with the results of a validation and feedback workshop, and seeking to further enhance the Humidtropics' Strategic Objective on Gender Empowerment, a strategy has been developed for the consultation, analysis and implementation of a mainstreamed gender perspective throughout the various activities being carried out in the region.
Humidtropics has teamed up with key local partners through the Territorial Learning Alliances to enhance gender equity and impact of the projects implemented in the region. Photo credit: Shadi Azadegan/CIAT.
Current Efforts in the Territorial Learning Alliances
Partner organizations within the Territorial Learning Alliances are prioritizing and sharing experiences on topics such as institutional gender mapping; dynamic gender roles and their impact on improving nutrition, food security, and food sovereignty; social gender transformations in families and communities; and strategies to improve equitable value chain participation. They also promote education and capacity development initiatives through scholarship and training programs.
Among these existing practices, there is a general consensus that the full integration of women in all social spheres allows for the optimal use of a society’s available human resources, considering each member’s intelligence, abilities, and skills as a valuable asset in working towards collective development.
However, serious gender gaps are still present in the territories, particularly regarding women’s limited access to productive resources, heavier workloads, and reduced income generated through their productive activities. There is also a concerning lack of opportunities for young people to stay on the farm.
Humidtropics leads research efforts alongside local partner organizations to understand the current context of rural women and identify the main gaps that will be addressed through the Program’s Gender Strategy. Photo by Shadi Azadegan/CIAT.
How Will the Gender Strategy Help?
The analysis tool developed by Humidtropics provides a flexible blueprint that can be adapted to each Flagship Area’s characteristics and needs, facilitating the identification of good gender practices and methodologies while aiding in the creation of a Gender Improvement Plan and Impact Pathways. Throughout the continuous process of gender mainstreaming, the strategy also aids in the monitoring of complex project stages, according to varying territorial priorities and strategies.
The initiatives proposed by the Territorial Learning Alliances focus on food security approached through gender equality and agro-ecology. Initiatives include understanding the current status of food security and sovereignty for women; researching production chains and potential income sources for women; promoting information systems with a gender perspective; diagnosing interest, potential, and strategies for young people to stay on the farm; promoting awareness processes and methodologies on gender and masculinity; and studying public policies related to women and youth.
Other good practices promoted include considering the explicit historical inequality and discrimination against women, understanding that men and women’s lives are conditioned by traditional gender roles and power relations; having sex-disaggregated data to analyze women and men’s situations and positions, providing evidence of the factors that feed inequality; making the value of women’s contributions and realities visible; systematizing learning methodologies related to gender, as well as specific gender-focused interventions that may develop from the framework of public policies; expanding and institutionalizing the gender strategy and mainstreaming in planning processes, equipment, national plans, and partner organizations; and promoting the use of non-sexist, inclusive language.
Gender Mainstreaming for Transformative Interventions
Various factors are to be considered during the study of the relationships between women and men in every territory, including productive and reproductive activities, degree of participation and value of female and male roles in these activities, access to resources and decision-making processes, benefits and constraints women face when accessing resources, and the territory’s needs and expectations to achieve improved productivity.
Helping local organizations identify good gender practices by providing new tools and gender-sensitive indicators. Photo by Joanna Wetherborn, Humidtropics Gender Consultant for Central America and the Caribbean Flagship.
Gender mainstreaming aims to have a transformative impact well beyond female participation numbers in Program activities, avoiding specific activities and processes that unintentionally reinforce traditional gender roles and limitations. Taking as a starting point the consideration that there is no such thing as a gender-neutral project, gender mainstreaming requires the analysis of the implications these processes and activities have in regards to the quality of life of both women and men, to identify the best way to ensure integrated, equitable development.
Based on these factors, one of the main priorities consists in accompanying local partner organizations in their existing processes, leveling knowledge and strengthening the use of gender-sensitive tools and indicators. One of the main challenges lies in bringing partners together to consolidate a comprehensive vision of the broader context and territorial dynamics, reaching beyond each organization’s individual perspectives.
This analysis will characterize existing gender relations in the territories; identify organizations, actors, and sectors that work on the gender theme; and identify and prioritize practical and strategic gender needs in the Territorial Alliances in order to design effective future gender interventions in the region.
Blog by Shadi Azadegan, Communication Specialist, Central America and the Caribbean, CIAT, and Amare Tegbaru, Gender Research Coordinator, Humidtropics/IITA.