Making women central to increased innovation


Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Brian Sokol/Panos

Making women central to increased innovation in Africa

Women and girls are central to the connection between STI and development in Africa“. : Sam Otieno


Sam Otieno
in Nairobi, Kenya


As I interact with scientists and development experts, I am convinced that embracing science, technology and innovation (STI) is an integral component of Africa’s social and economic growth.

My conviction of STI’s importance to Africa’s development was given impetus when I attended the Grand Challenges Africa meeting in Kenya last month (24-26 February).

The meeting hosted 475 members of the scientific community from 43 countries around the world.

Grand Challenges Africa is a family of grant initiatives designed to foster innovation in solving key global health and development problems. The initiative has invested in 380 projects across Africa to develop, launch and manage Africa-specific innovations for addressing development challenges that could prevent African countries from reaching theSustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Read the full article: SciDevNet

Women and agroecology

Photo credit: Farming Matters

Perspectives: Shifting African policy towards women and agroecology

The role of rural women and smallholder farmers in African society has been highly undervalued. This is so despite the fact that around 80% of Africa’s population is dependent on smallholder agriculture, it is the backbone of the rural economy, and women provide over two-thirds of the farm labour. There is clear evidence that agroecology is crucial for women farmers. Now we face the challenge of discovering how its principles can best be promoted and how practice can inform policy at local and national level.

Farming Matters | 31.4 | December 2015

Recently, we have seen unequivocal changes in policies that are transforming African agriculture to facilitate a ‘Green Revolution’. These policies articulate and promote a form of agriculture that focuses on monocropping, expensive external inputs such as agrochemicals and synthetic fertilizers, hybrid/GM seeds and large-scale land acquisition. These changes in policies are a result of government alliance with institutions such as the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), multilateral institutions, donors and multinational corporations that aim to produce a layer of commercial surplus producers.  This was reaffirmed in a report published by African Centre for Biodiversity in 2014. For example, soil and seed programmes under AGRA tend to favour the introduction of synthetic fertilizers while supporting and preparing institutional and technical grounds for Public-Private Partnerships in the seed sector.

The G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN) in Africa was launched in 2012, where 10 African countries made numerous policy commitments in order to ensure agricultural transformation within their countries and ultimately to ‘lift 50 million people out of poverty in 10 years’. The initiative is largely dominated by multinationals.  It requires states to revise their seed, land and tax policies and legislation in order to secure investment.
Such policy changes are evidenced through the adoption of Intellectual Property see laws by African countries at the national and regional level. These seed laws give strong rights to commercial breeders while restricting farmers’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell protected varieties/seeds and propagating materials. They favour the use and adoption of improved varieties that are uniformly bred and that must be used with agrochemicals in order to attain high yields.
Read the full article: Farming Matters

Call for active participation of women in adaptation projects

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Jeremy Hartley/Panos

Gender sensitivity could aid climate change projects

Sam Otieno

“Gender-sensitive approaches can ensure that everybody has an equal opportunity.” -Jechoniah Kitala, Practical Action Consulting East Africa

Speed read

  • A study is identifying gender differences in climate change adaptation
  • Initial results show that gender is key to participatory development
  • An expert calls for active participation of women in adaptation projects

Men and women living in slums face different climate change impacts which, if overlooked, could further widen gender gaps in participatory development, says the preliminary findings of a continuing study.

The study is identifying factors that influence men and women in participating in climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives.

The preliminary results of the study were released last month (19 January) at a workshop organised by Practical Action Consulting East Africa in partnership with Institute of Development Studies, and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network, both based in the United Kingdom.

According to Jechoniah Kitala, the principal project manager, Practical Action Consulting East Africa, which is conducting the study, the preliminary findings indicate that ignoring gender differences in climate change adaptation projects could widen gender gaps and hinder participatory development.

The study being conducted in Kisumu, Kenya began on August 2015 and is to end next month (March). It involves 128 participants, including key informants and opinion leaders at the county and community levels.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Food security and gender

Photo credit: CGIAR

Gender differences can create barriers to climate change adaptation. In many places, women are less likely than men to adopt new technologies, use credit or other financial services or receive education or extension advice. Photo: C. Peterson (CIAT/CCAFS)
(view original)


Tackle gender gaps to improve food security, say researchers

Data shows differences in how men and women experience – and deal with- climate change.

by Vanessa Meadu (CCAFS)

Women and men perceive climate change differently, and gender differences influence their ability to adapt, according to an analysis published on the IFPRI blog. Researchers Elizabeth Bryan, Patti Kristjanson and Claudia Ringler looked at gender dissagregated data collected at CCAFS research sites in Senegal, Uganda, Kenya and Bangladesh. What they found can help researchers and policy makers develop better interventions.

For example, there are differences in how women and men in the different countries perceived climatic changes, weather and events like flooding.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR

Ending Hunger by 2030 ?

Photo credit: Action against Hunger

Children in South Sudan. Photo: ACF South Sudan


The Commitment to End Hunger by 2030

The post-2015 development agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals offer a historic opportunity for the world to finally end child hunger and malnutrition

How to eradicate poverty and hunger

Photo credit: FAO

A farmer waters his crops using water from the canal which feeds the highlands and lowlands of Kiroka (Tanzania)


FAO Director-General: Climate change, poverty, hunger and inequality are interrelated

Graziano da Silva addresses high-level dialogue at UN Sustainable Development Summit

Agriculture and rural development need a major boost if we want to achieve the 2030 globally-agreed goals of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty, a challenge made more complex by climate change, FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva, said today.

“This will require drastic changes in how we produce and consume food,” the FAO Director-General said

He was speaking in New York at the “Interactive Dialogue on Poverty and Hunger,” an event which is part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit.

The decision by the international community to adopt the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is a “historic moment” the FAO Director-General said, noting that it is indeed possible to eradicate poverty and hunger in this generation. “We can be the Zero Hunger Generation,” he said.

Drastic changes

Yet for this to happen, “drastic changes in how we produce and consume food” are required, including making agriculture and food systems more productive, more inclusive and more resilient, with lower greenhouse emissions.

Read the full article: FAO

Gender equality and women’s empowerment


Photo credit: UN News Centre

Working alongside her male team member, a female employee checks the quality of work at a dam under construction in Sri Lanka. Photo: World Bank/Lakshman Nadaraja

Global Goals cannot be achieved without ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment – UN chief

As world leaders continued their Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals, UN Women and China co-hosted a landmark event today on gender equality and women’s empowerment at which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared that the new Global Goals could not be achieved “without full and equal rights for half of the world’s population, in law and in practice.”

At the high-level ‘Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action’ world leaders are expected to make concrete commitments and firm pledges to overcome gender equality gaps. The event was convened in New York at UN Headquarters on the closing day of the three-day UN Sustainable Development Summit.

“Today, world leaders are signalling their personal responsibility for gender equality and women’s empowerment,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the event. “This is as it should be.”

But, said Mr. Ban, while progress has been made in many areas, there was still a long way to go.

“Far too many women and girls continue to be discriminated against, subjected to violence, denied equal opportunities in education and employment, and excluded from positions of leadership and decision-making,” he continued.

“We cannot achieve our 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development without full and equal rights for half of the world’s population, in law and in practice. We cannot effectively respond to humanitarian emergencies without ensuring women and girls are protected and their needs prioritized,” he declared.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “The highest leaders in the land are taking personal responsibility for their commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women.” She added that now, the world looks up to them to lead the game-changing actions that secure and sustain implementation. Today we take the first firm steps towards 25 September, 2030.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

The advancement of rural women

Photo credit: Foodtank

The 17 Day Campaign calls for activists from around the world to play a part in the advancement of women.
Pius Mahimbi / flickr



Empowering Rural Women

The Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) is a humanitarian, secular, non-governmental, and international non-profit organization that is working to advance the status of women and children. WWSF’s new 17 Day Campaign aims to “advance the status of rural women, respect their rights and honor their contribution to development, household food security and peace.”

The campaign, an expansion of the International Day for Rural Women, October 15, 2015, is a call to action for activists around the world. It will expand the platform for individuals and organizations to actively participate and contribute to the advancement of rural women. It will last from October 1 – 17, 2015, with a different theme highlighted each day to guide participants as they advocate for women. Themes include claiming the rights to development, education, health and wellbeing, safe water, adequate housing, land and inheritance, and peace. There are resources available to individuals and organizations wishing to take part in the campaign, including a campaign toolkit, visual materials, strategies, and recommendations.

Read the full article: FoodTank

Women farmers’ participation in agricultural research

Photo credit: Africa Rising

Focus group discussion with male participants in Lemo (Photo credit: ILRI\Annet Mulema)

Africa RISING Ethiopia studies factors enhancing or hindering women farmers’ participation in agricultural research


In Ethiopia, the number of women engaged in agriculture is increasing as more men withdraw from farming.

A female researcher interviewing a female farmer (Photo credit: ILRI\Annet Mulema) -
A female researcher interviewing a female farmer (Photo credit: ILRI\Annet Mulema) –

Although women play a central role in agriculture and family well-being, their roles remains invisible. Women farmers’ participation in agricultural research and extension is still very low.

Further, researchers in Africa RISING have observed low participation by women in the innovation platforms and research groups that are at the heart of the project in Ethiopia. Low participation by women has implications on the type of decisions made and how they impact on the less represented groups. Low participation of women in research groups also has implications on the adoption of the technologies experimented with and benefit sharing amongst men and women.

To address these issues, Africa RISING recently carried out a study to identify the underlying factors that enhance or hinder women farmers’ participation in agricultural research and extension activities in Ethiopia to ensure that they benefit equitably.

Read the full article: Africa Rising

How to give government an understanding of the land management issues

Photo credit: ABC North and West SA

Janet Brook believes it is time for greater recognition of women in agriculture. (ABC)

Outback women leading way for arid land management

By Michael Dulaney

Janet Brook has watched the slow progress on issues facing women in the outback – from feral animals to gender politics and the tyranny of distance.

She lives with her husband, Anthony, and their four children on Cordillo Downs, an 8000 square kilometre cattle station in the far north east of South Australia.

For the past six years, Janet has been the presiding board member of SA Arid Lands Natural Resources Management (NRM), a group that works to balance the needs of the environment and those of people living in remote areas.

She joined other women working in land management throughout rural SA at the Arid Lands Women’s Retreat in Marree last month to chew over the issues facing pastoral businesses.

Janet told ABC North and West’s Sarah Tomlinson networking events like the retreat are helping to shift the traditional view of agriculture from being male-dominated.

“I think we need to change that stereotyped image of men in agriculture, it’s definitely not the case,” she said.

“Maybe men in the past have been more visible and maybe the ladies have taken the behind the scenes type roles but I think that’s changing more and more as time goes on.

“Women are getting more opportunities to take part and maybe technology has helped that too.”

While the view of gender roles in agriculture is slowly shifting, Janet said the challenges facing natural resource managers have remained largely the same for many years.

Read the full article: ABC North and West SA


SSA was the only region not to make any progress in reducing the population share in poverty

Photo credit: IPS

Artisanal diamond miners at work in the alluvial diamond mines around the eastern town of Koidu, Sierra Leone. Credit: Tommy Trenchard/IPS

Opinion: Sub-Saharan Africa, Addis and Paris

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Rudi von Arnim

Jomo Kwame Sundaram is Coordinator for Economic and Social Development at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome. Rudi von Arnim is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

After the turn of the century, growth in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) picked up again after a quarter century of near stagnation for most, mainly due to increased world demand for minerals and other natural resources.

The region became second only to East Asia in recovering from the global slowdown following the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Thanks to the failure of development over the preceding quarter century, SSA was the only region not to make any progress in reducing the population share in poverty, with the number of poor people actually rising significantly.

During the decade 2003-2013, growth was faster, averaging 2.6 percent per capita annually. The SSA growth acceleration of the past decade fueled hopes that growth on the continent had finally begun to accelerate and catch up.

Annual SSA per capita real GDP growth had averaged a respectable two percent in the 1960s, but had slowed down from the late 1970s. Over the next two decades, real per capita income for sub-Saharan countries shrank by about three quarters of a percentage point annually on average.

While SSA growth resumed in the last decade, reliance on natural resource extraction has compromised its developmental impact. Such economic activity, especially in mining, has few linkages to the rest of the national economy, thus limiting its growth and employment creation impacts as well.

As its economic performance has closely followed the vagaries of the global commodity price cycle, SSA growth in the last decade was largely driven by the minerals boom on the continent.

But the high commodity prices of the past decade have been reversed by the spreading global economic slowdown and the Saudi decision to drastically reduce oil prices.

However, natural resource extraction does not have the same potential to accelerate development as manufacturing. No country has successfully developed without substantially increasing manufacturing or high-end services. Sub-Saharan Africa has not done well on this score in recent decades.

While the manufacturing share of GDP for all developing countries has risen over 23 percent, it has fallen in SSA to 8 percent from 12 percent in the 1980s. Meanwhile, the primary commodities’ share of total SSA exports reached almost 90 percent in the past decade.

Premature and inappropriate trade liberalisation has damaged SSA’s limited export capacities

Read the full article: IPS

Women play a vital role in Uganda’s rural agricultural sector

Photo credit: Google

A Ugandan farm woman wields a hoe, which often is the only tool the women have available.

Leveling the field for women farmers in Uganda


A vital role

Women play a vital role in Uganda’s rural agricultural sector and contribute a higher than average share of crop labor in the region. They also make up more than half of Uganda’s agricultural workforce, and a higher proportion of women than men work in farming—76 percent versus 62 percent. Yet compared to men, their productivity is low.

Comparing household farm productivity is problematic, as prior research has concluded. Most female-managed plots in Sub-Saharan Africa are located within male-headed households, which differ significantly from female-headed households where, in most cases, husbands have died, left to work as migrant laborers, or taken on another wife.

Read the full article: The World Bank

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