“An opportunity to dream big”


Photo credit: M. DeFreese/CIMMYT

On May 8, 2014, the Gender, Agriculture, and Assets Project (GAAP) hosted an Outreach Workshop on Addressing Gender, Agriculture, and Assets in Agricultural Development Projects at IFPRI to present lessons learned during the four years of its work (2010-2014). GAAP, jointly led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and PIM aims to reduce the gap between men’s and women’s use, control, and ownership of assets by evaluating how and how well agricultural development programs build women’s assets. Assets are broadly defined to include natural, physical, financial, human, social, and political capital. The project works with its eight partner organizations from Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to better understand gender and asset dynamics in agricultural development programs.

Agnes Quisumbing and Ruth Meinzen-Dick, two of GAAP’s Principal Investigators, opened the workshop with a presentation on the conceptual framework and an overview of the project.

“GAAP created an opportunity to dream big,” Dr. Quisumbing explained. “This project represents a paradigm shift away from a focus on just income towards research on how agricultural development interventions are likely to impact the gendered distributions of assets.” Dr. Meinzen-Dick quoted Oliver and Shapiro[1]: “Income feeds your stomach, but assets change your head.”

Access to, control over, and ownership of assets are critical components of well-being, and can provide more permanent pathways out of poverty compared to increased incomes or consumption alone. However, households do not necessarily pool resources, and household members do not necessarily share the same preferences; it is therefore important to consider who within the household receives resources or controls assets. Moreover, evidence from many countries reveals that increasing resources controlled by women can improve child health and nutrition, agricultural productivity, and income growth. It is also important to better understand men’s and women’s joint use, access, and control of assets.

Two main findings that cut across all eight interventions are that (1) the gendered use, control, and ownership of assets affect the take-up of agricultural interventions, and (2) agricultural interventions affect the gendered use, control, and ownership of assets. The project’s preliminary conclusions have a myriad of implications for the design, implementation, and scaling up of agricultural development interventions. For example, projects that unambiguously benefit households may have mixed effects on individuals within the household. Livelihood strategies associated with particular assets (such as a dairy cow) can also increase demands on time, especially for women. While many projects successfully increased women’s assets, narrowing the gender gap in asset use, control, and ownership remains a challenge.  Although women may face challenges in maintaining control of income from assets, there are cases in which strengthening control of assets enhanced participation in decisions about how assets are used. Finally, intangible benefits from the strengthened control over assets, especially related to norms, are important for women and may signal longer term changes.


The workshop, attended by over 80 people, included presentations from Dan Gilligan and Neha Kumar on the Harvest Plus Reaching End Users (REU) project, from David Spielman on the CSISA laser land leveling project, from Deanna Olney on the Helen Keller International project, from Shalini Roy on BRAC's Targeting the Ultra Poor project, and from Agnes Quisumbing on CARE's Strengthening the Dairy Value Chain (SDVC) project. The presenters were joined by session chairs Keith Weibe and Marie Ruel from IFPRI.

“I think it was a very successful event, attended by many influential people from various multilateral organizations and major NGOs,” Agnes Quisumbing said. “A number of participants from bilateral and multilateral agencies wrote me to tell that IFPRI is doing the most exciting work on gender and agriculture today.”

IFPRI hopes to launch a second phase of GAAP in order to expand upon the analysis already developed, revise the conceptual framework, test several of the preliminary findings, and conduct additional research on complex questions related to gender and assets. Targeted capacity building on gender-responsive project design and evaluation will be a central component of the project. The aim of this work is to improve the design and implementation of agricultural development projects to better enable both women and men to benefit from these interventions.


PIM’s Gender Research

Gender work is a core part of PIM’s portfolio. PIM conducts strategic gender research on selected topics, and also develops and applies new tools and methods to enhance work on gender in all flagship projects. PIM’s work addresses questions related to gender imbalances in access to assets, technology, markets, and support services, as well as gender differentials in agricultural productivity and incomes and the distributional impacts of technological and institutional innovations.

For more information, see:

PIM’s gender strategy

PIM’s gender results framework


Photo source: Flickr, CIMMYT

[1] Black Wealth, White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality, by Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro. New York and Great Britain: Routledge, 1995.