Reducing the gender asset gap through agricultural development

The Gender, Agriculture, and Assets Project (GAAP), jointly led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PIM, and United Nations Foundation, has just released a new Technical Resource Guide, Reducing the Gender Asset Gap through Agricultural Development.

Assets are fundamental to small farmers’ livelihoods. Learning how assets help small farmers expand production and successfully engage with agricultural value chains in the developing world is of increasing interest to researchers, development practitioners, and private sector firms alike. We now know that households and individuals hold and invest in different types of assets and that the ability to accumulate and maintain assets helps to manage risk and overcome shocks.

As important as assets are to all farmers, many research studies have documented that assets are usually distributed unequally between men and women, even within the same household. This difference has come to be known as the “gender asset gap.” Men and women typically own different types of assets, and women usually have fewer assets than men or own assets of less value (Doss, Grown and Deere 2008; Meinzen-Dick, Johnson, et al. 2011). However, more sophisticated understanding of the dynamics of asset accumulation and the gender dimensions of their use, control, and ownership (UCO) remains lacking. What are the differences in how men and women acquire, use, and dispose of important productive assets (tangible and intangible) such as land, labor, animals, buildings, natural resources, education, financial capital, and social networks? How do these patterns differ for different categories of assets and in different parts of the world? What do these differences mean for the design, implementation, and evaluation of agricultural development programs?

What are the differences in how men and women acquire, use, and dispose of important productive assets such as land, labor, animals, buildings, natural resources, education, financial capital, and social networks?

This guide explores the intersection of gender and assets in the context of agricultural interventions. It grows out of a collaborative effort among international agricultural research organizations, implementing partners, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) partners who came together to evaluate the impact of agricultural interventions on the ability of men and women to use, control, and own key productive assets.

Objectives of this Technical Resource Guide

This guide presents the lessons learned from the GAAP activities. The guide seeks to achieve three main goals:

  1. Increase the reader’s knowledge about the importance of both gender and assets in the development process
  2. Strengthen the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of agricultural projects that reduce gender gaps in assets
  3. Identify tools drawn from both quantitative and qualitative approaches to support sex-disaggregated data collection and gender analysis efforts on assets

GAAP TechGuide2014

Who should use the Technical Resource Guide

The guide will be of interest to many different kinds of readers working in agricultural research and development. Practitioners who have some experience working on issues related to gender or to assets can expect to understand why a combined focus on gender and assets is helpful for supporting agricultural development. The guide highlights key findings on gender and assets and interprets how they are relevant to the planning, design, implementation, and evaluation of agricultural development projects. Researchers can expect to learn not only about the key research findings that emerged from GAAP but also about the methods used. Others reading the guide may be seeking to integrate greater attention to gender and assets in their own studies or project responsibilities.

Download the Technical Resource Guide


About GAAP

The Gender, Agriculture, and Assets Project (GAAP), launched in 2010 and jointly led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM), and United Nations Foundation, 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 Africa south of the Sahara and South Asia to better understand gender and asset dynamics in agricultural development programs.

The eight interventions under GAAP assessed to date (2010-2014) show reciprocal relationships between gendered control of assets and adoption of technologies, and offer practical suggestions for design of programs to achieve desired objectives. GAAP is ready to enter its second phase of implementation, in which greater emphasis will be placed on the role of gendered control of assets in achieving nutritional outcomes. The program will accordingly migrate to the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) in 2015.

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