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19.09.2016 13:40 Age: 1 year
Category: General HORTINLEA, SP 7, SP 13

Gender Analysis alone is not enough

Dr. Ann Kingiri does research on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy analysis, environmental policy analysis and gender studies. ©

Dr. Ann Kingiri is a researcher at the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) in Kenya and the Open University, UK. Her broad expertise includes Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy analysis, environmental policy analysis and gender studies. On the occasion of the HORTINLEA gender conference in June 2016, she talked about the importance of an integrated approach to gender analysis and the Innovation System Approach (ISA). Kingiri claims that the potential of a combination of the two study fields is not yet recognized. According to her, these integrated studies are the key to maximised output of agriculture.

Why are gender studies important for Kenyan Agriculture?

Dr. Kingiri: The first thing we have to keep in mind is, gender is not just women. Gender refers to both men and women and in this case, how their roles are defined within the agricultural value chain. Kenya is an agricultural country; agriculture remains the mainstay of Kenyan economy. One determinant of Kenyan agriculture is smallholder farmers, which again, implies reference to both men and women alike. In fact, smallholder farmers are the biggest community in the composition of agriculture in Kenya.

Agriculture is mainly gendered because men and women have got different roles along the value chain, for instance in production or food processing. These roles add value to this sector in different ways. Thus, whichever contribution men and women make in respect of a particular subsector, in relation to economic growth as well as other factors, needs to be analysed. Gender studies contribute to research and practice in three ways: Firstly, you get to establish exactly what role each gender group plays. Secondly, the weaknesses or gaps that exist within processes are exposed. And lastly, it becomes obvious how people’s capacity can contribute to the specific sector in order to maximise production. All of these are interrelated, because unless you know exactly, who does what better, you will not know what kind of competences and capacities people need for them to be able to perform that role. To sum it up, I believe that gender studies are the key to maximise the output coming out of this sector along the value chain.

From which constraints do existing inequalities come from?

Dr. Kingiri: Gender inequalities mainly come from the lack of realisation of these gendered roles. People don’t really understand these different roles and that some social groups perform better in different areas. So the constraints come from not understanding what specific gender roles should be promoted for efficiency in the value chain. But of course there are other embedded constraints. Different social groups lack capacities to be able to perform properly. People don’t accept or realise that these gendered differences are mainly due to what each social group can do. I think being conscious of this lack of awareness and appreciation is very important. Furthermore cultural related factors and traditions influence inequalities. Over the years traditions have tended to re-enforce some of the existing myths. This is changing and may take time.

In addition to the awareness issues, other factors like the lack of capacities play a key role. Capacity has some other implications like inability to access resources. It doesn’t just have to be physical resources, but also other resources like information. Those are some of the constraints that should be looked into. The cases need to be analysed specifically, because the context plays an essential role. What is important in a particular area in Kenya and what is needed there is different depending on locality. Gender analysis can identify gender gaps and the specific issues around capacity and awareness creation. It is really complex. In the end it trickles down to what capacity is needed.

How can the ISA be beneficial for gender analysis?

Dr. Kingiri: Gender analysis defines various key tools and has been developed over the years. It helps to identify gender gaps, but I find that it tends to make some assumptions. Mainly gender analysis should be – and is – done before a programme (like HORTINLEA) has started. This is good, but it does not take account of the learning that comes as a result of the actual implementation of a particular programme. Many things, especially the environment under which a programme has been implemented, determine how a project happens and how gender aspects are taken into consideration. So, I argue that as much as gender analysis can give an idea of what should be done, it needs to be combined with what I call gender learning.

Gender learning means that you feedback the experiences you gather during a project to the gender analysis framework. Gender learning is derived from the ISA. This approach promotes learning, particularly learning by doing: The learning that comes from being involved in a programme. Combining gender analysis and gender learning can contribute to what we can learn as researchers and what can be learnt from a programme regarding gender. Moreover, the ISA looks at the whole picture or is holistic in nature. It identifies the influencing environment in terms of institutions, policies and the actors. This is why the ISA and gender analysis should be complementary. Neither of them should stand alone, but each framework can complement the other in terms of trends or benefits. Thus it is possible to come up with what I consider to be more value added quality research.

By combining those two you get somewhat a broader perspective…?

Dr. Kingiri: It is not only a broader perspective. The results are going to expose embedded or underlying factors that gender analysis would otherwise not bring out. I can give an example: If you want to empower women – this is one way to promote gender –there are certain factors that might hinder the efficiency of this empowerment. There are cultural and institutional factors involved, because women are always part of broader social groups such as women groups. One needs to establish opportunities to approach a women group. Especially concerning institutional aspects, the ISA can give support in finding key actors and which role they play. The benefit in case of women groups would probably be; firstly, access usually through local leaders and secondly, understanding knowledge production and use of the particular innovation system while interacting with the women group.

This would be a possible, you call them “entry points”? Do you have another example for such an additional entry point?

Dr. Kingiri: The other example I like to use has to do with social related innovations, like social groups. Once you know the groups and what they are doing, you can use them to enter or access complex systems. You can identify which group is doing something that is of your interest (in this case agriculture). Applying gender analysis you can now find out what is needed for the group to become engendered. The exposed dynamics of a functional farmer or women group would help in informing a strategy that really addresses the needs within the group. This applies not just to groups that consist only of women, but to mixed groups as well. Thus, such a practical strategy would be feasible as long as it focuses on the needs and the interests of a specific group.

Is that why you prefer to talk of systems empowerment rather than gender empowerment?

Dr. Kingiri: It is part of it. The entry point is the women group. Remember, you are trying to empower this particular group. But you are not only empowering these women, because they need to be empowered, but you are doing an empowerment that has been informed by the differences and opportunities within the group. This implies that you target women as belonging to a dynamic system and each of these women are part of other sub systems with different needs. This is another level of system analysis.

To sum it all up, you need focus on local subsystems and respective needs which eventually could contribute to the overall agricultural innovation system in general. In all this, the context is very important, because systems are highly localised and context specific.  

In 2014/15 a study from the Centre for Rural Development (SLE) adapted the ISA for a study on AIVs in Kenya. Find the full study here.

Interview: Marlen Bachmann