Gender: Moving beyond the box-ticking exercise

7 November, 2013 by (comments)

By Katherine A. Snyder and Beth Cullen

This blog originally appeared on the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) blog and is part of the Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog’s month-long series on Restoring Landscapes. Read the full post on the WLE blog

Gender…’s a word that usually provokes a response, often either of eye-rolling or ardent interest.  All too often, addressing gender, through gathering gender-disaggregating data or making sure to include women in all project activities, becomes an exercise in box ticking.

Community members from Limbichoch village discuss enclosure of grazing land with ILRI researcher. Photo: ILRI
Community members from Limbichoch village discuss enclosure of grazing land with ILRI researcher. Photo: ILRI

The inclusion of gender has a long history in development and in development research, first as ‘women in development’ and then shifting to ‘gender and development’ in an effort to incorporate the relational aspects of gender. Analyzing gender identity and relations is still a long way from actually improving gender equity.

Context is essential for understanding gender but also for understanding the social and biophysical landscapes at the center of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE). Landscapes are mosaics of highly varied natural resources as well as diverse populations of men, women, domesticated and wild animals. The multifaceted nature of ‘social landscapes’, consisting of men and women of different backgrounds, ages and interests, presents challenges to planners and implementers of programs designed to address land degradation and to improve gender equity.

Many land degradation programs have been unsuccessful because they have failed to adequately address these complexities and differences. Blanket approaches and quick wins have fallen short of goals and in some cases have had negative biophysical and social impacts.

Just as an understanding of resource flows and biophysical diversity is critical for targeting interventions, so is an understanding of how different people use landscapes in different ways and at different times….


Read the full post on the WLE blog.

About the Authors:

Katherine A. Snyder and Beth Cullen are both anthropologists who have worked on the Challenge Program for Water and Food Nile Basin Development Challenge project.  Katherine is currently senior social scientist  –  policy, institutions and gender at CIAT and Beth is a scientist working on livelihoods and multi-stakeholder processes at ILRI.

For updates on “Restoring soils and landscapes” month, follow #landscapes on @WLE_CGIAR and Facebook.

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Filed Under: Africa @en, Gender, Soils, Soils website