ECABREN takes on new gender challenges

10 March, 2010 by (comments)

By Olive Thiong’o

At the close of the recent East and Central Africa Bean Research Network [ECABREN] steering committee meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, participants unanimously agreed to begin implementing the gender guidelines introduced in PABRA’s 2009 – 2013 framework.

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Following a thorough review of the work done in the first year of this phase, gender “mainstreaming” – one of the six targeted results of PABRA’s framework – was found to be the area needing more focus. To start this off, the various countries’ developed and integrated their work plans during the meeting, and highlighted gender training as the kick off point. The countries present during the meet were: Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

In the coming year (April 2010 – March 2011), gender-related issues will be included in all spheres of PABRA’s bean production. Ranging from proposal writing and breeding by researchers to the farmers’ roles in society, including caring for the children and household chores, gender will now be regarded highly.

Carried out by Dr. Patricia Biermayr-Jenzano, the PRGA program leader, the ECABREN committee members were given an insight into what gender issues entail. Defining gender as the socially constructed roles attributed to males and females was the first item presented, alongside a sourcebook from the World Bank, Gender in Agriculture.

 “Despite the common stereotype that gender issues are about women trying to achieve equality to their male counterparts,” said Biermayr-Jenzano, , “they are about societal rules that define what responsibilities males and females take on.”

The roles defined, were: “reproductive roles” that are usually carried out by women and are unpaid, for example child bearing; productive roles also carried out by women and go unpaid, like farming on the family land; community managing roles that are taken up by both men and women and often go unpaid; and the public/political roles which men often take up, which they are paid for.

Other key presentations given during the training were the Gender Frameworks to conduct a study on the management of assets and resources by both men and women farmers; and the incorporation of gender as a main framework for PABRA activities in a module known as  “gender budgeting”, which was introduced by Dr. Wanjiku Chiuri.

In addition to the gender training, the steering committee members also accounted for the activities taking place in their various countries, especially in regard to the expected climatic changes. Emerging stresses like the prolonged droughts experienced by most of the countries last year will now need new coping mechanisms, a key task in the new year. Approval of these activities will take place during the PABRA steering committee meeting scheduled to take place from 21st–24th March in South Africa.

A remarkable achievement that received hearty applause was the release of 15 improved climbing bean varieties in Rwanda in January, which received wide media attention – including this article in SciDevand this in Media Global.

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Filed Under: Africa @en, Gender, Regions