Gender-balanced benefits in income, nutrition and food security through improvements in the production and marketing of dryland cereals
Women tend to be disadvantaged economically, less empowered in decision-making, lacking in clearly-defined property rights, less valued than men in many cultures, and more prone to malnutrition than men. These disadvantages affect the health and well-being of the next generation as well, since women are the primary caretakers of children.
The relative roles of men and women in dryland cereal production vary across locations, ethnic groups and home use vs. marketing objectives. Often women manage their own fields, although in most cases their access to land and tenure rights are under their husband's control. Even when the fields are their husbands', womens' contributions are critical in strenuous weeding, harvest and postharvest operations (threshing, cleaning, milling, cooking).
Womens' role often extends into the local marketplace. Women market traditional malted products and foods such as “fura” in Nigeria. They also market goats, sheep and poultry fed on dryland cereal straw and grain.
Despite the important roles they play in dryland cereal production, processing, food preparation and other links the value chain, they tend not to receive their fair share of the benefits. They are too often sidelined when value chains become profitable. They are often bypassed by or under-represented in training, extension and agro-enterprise opportunities.
Dryland Cereals attaches great importance to the gender implications of its research and training activities. Gender-related objectives under each Product Line include:
- Obtain gender-disaggregated data and gender sensitive analyses on dryland cereal value chains;
- Develop improved cultivars with traits that create market opportunities that especially benefit women;
- Increase “whole plant value” for primary producers, mainly women, of these crops;
- Develop crop management interventions that are appropriate for women;
- Increase women farmers' access to seed of new dryland cereal varieties;
- Enhance womens' benefit from agro-enterprise opportunities, not just from the reduction of drudgery; and
- Proactively involve more women in participatory research-for-development, training and knowledge-sharing activities.
The effectiveness of Dryland Cereal's work towards these objectives is being carefully monitored and assessed. Dryland Cereals also attempts to influence its partners to steer their agendas in the direction of gender equity.