E-Agriculture

Question 3 (opens 2 Dec.) What is necessary to ensure ensuring that rural youth, women, the poorest...

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

Copied from post of dwakhata under Question 2.

The following  is based on my experience in the field(Mbale District-Uganda)
Challenges of integrating gender
1.      Cultural prejudice that continue to be used by men to control women.
2.      Insecurity of some men when their wives’ voices are frequently aired on the radio (either as star  or radio farmers) and when given phones to use.
3.      Lack of capacity by  the actors to identify and integrate gender in all stages of work.
4.      African women seem to fear their husbands rather than respecting them so it was not easy conduct interviews to  get their perspectives,or train them on the use of technology in presences of their husbands.
5.      Sometimes, male representatives and or service providers on the radio or other technology in dessemination of information get excited (sometimes use ‘inappropriate’ words) when females call in and this seems to annoy and discourage their husbands from allowing their wives to call in.
Recommendations for better integration of gender

  1. Tease out gender issues at planning stages
  2. Identify strategies to address gender issues e.g. the gender proposals for under beans 
  3. Affirmative action in favor of women for example in selecting beneficiaries, interviewees, enterprises  and technologies
  4. Provide instant incentives tagged to women’s participation. For example the presenter can promise to give a few kilograms of seed/T-shirt/cap for every woman who will call during the radio program. This incentive mechanism can be facilitated by partnering with seed/input companies/schools/banks/microfinance other institutions.
  5. Listener clubs for different categories of people (Youth, men, women, PWDs and mixed ones)
  6. Sensitize radio producers and presenters on gender
  7. Capturing testimonies from women and airing them. Better if these testimonies from women who have succeeded in collaborating with her husband e.g. her husband  allows her more access to funds
Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

Copied from post of mmmayzelle under Question 2.

dwakhata,  Thanks for highlighting some of the many challenges women face as they attempt to benefit and participate in the services made available to them through ICT.  
The vocabulary you employ (cultural prejudice, insecurity, fear, excited, inappropriate...) suggest that the discrimination women face is not isolated to ICT initiatives, but rather is very much ingrained in the surrounding culture.  Of course, that is not to say that our projects cannot help chip away at such cultural divides.
Interventions such as incentives for female participants and gender-based listener's clubs may make things easier for women in the short term, but in the long run they are still separating genders and suggesting that women are somehow different or merit different attention than men (this applies in some situations--such as health issues--but not, I believe, in professional arenas such as agriculture).  
The best solutions are those that promote equal treatment of both genders.  Examples include the consideration of gender issues in the planning stages and, most importantly, sensitization of people in power (in your example, the radio producers and presenter) that you rightly mention.  Another avenue is the engagement of "crusader" women in the spotlight of the project (in your example, as producers or presenters) who are willing to perhaps face some discrimination and hardship in the name of demonstrating that their gender is no different when it comes to business/agriculture/etc.  As we all know, putting a face and a personality on a "faceless" issue (such as gender discrimiantion) is the most effective way to change individuals' perceptions.  
Thanks for bringing up this hugely important point.

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

Copied from post of rachel sibande under Question 2.

Dear all,
Dwakatha, I want to share the Malawian experience in this space of Gender and ICTs in the agricultaral arena and the lessons that we have learned.
1. When we started off deployment of Esoko,  a web to sms platform through which smallholders were receiveing market prices and extension messages; we had not thouroyghly conducted an assessment on gender and its dynamics as relates to the targeted audience i.e. rural smallholders. As we closed the initial phase it was clear this was an oversight and had to be done. Hence I recommend that such assessments on access to eqipment such as cellphones,radios and other gadgets to be used for information service delivery , mapping of gender roles e.t.c should be done prior to deployment to design initiatives that will start addressing these gaps.
2. When we did the assessment through focus group discussions, one on one interviews, database checks and observations; it was clear that:
 - Over 65% of the agricultural workforce doing the work in the fields for food crops from land preparation through postharvest handling were women. Men were more involved in marketing.
 - Most women did not have access to cellphones yet information was sent through phone. 86% of male smallholders were registered to receive market and extension information via SMS on their cellphones while women smallholders only made 14% of those registered. The gender disparity is pretty wide in terms of access to te cellphones. From focus group discussions, it was interesting to note that men did not share some of the infromation on extension with their female counterparts regardless of the fact that it was the womn that did most of the farm work hence needed the information more. Men were not willig to let their wives have ceelphones for reasons ranging from that of  women being vulnerable to communicate with other man friends to others saying they just didnt think it was necessary for a woman to have a phone anyway.
We resolved to do the following inorder to start addressing these gaps:_
1. Encourage families i.e. husband and wife to attend trainings as an item, not as individual farmers.
2. During trainings emphasise the importance of sharing information
3. Bring in smallholder family role models to share their success stories with fellow farmers. Smllholders that share information and can link this to increased production and quality or even the ability to bargain for better prices and to make informed decisions with income.
Just thought I woupd share some of the experiences we have had and how we are dealing with issues and to gauge how others have dealt with similar instances elsewhere.

Lee Babcock
Lee BabcockLHB AssociatesUnited States of America

Thanks Michael for this repost of Rachel Sibande's post under Question 2.  It is interesting to note her mention of involving families in training which has much resonance with how the development community is increasinly embracing the smallholder farming family as the more relevant unit of measurement as opposed to just the farmer.  This is because if we program for and measure the smallholder farming family this will more explicity engage gender and youth.  If then, our new unit is the family then the "information democracy" characteristic of ICTs will further mainstream women and youth into agricultural value chain activity....as well as other household activities germane to health, education, off-farm labor, remittances, etc.  

Megan Mayzelle
Megan MayzelleUniversity of California Davis International Programs OfficeUnited States of America

Rachel,

Thank you for this wonderful post outlining the steps Esoko took to engage women and help break down paradigms of excluding women from information exchange!  As Lee suggestions, the idea of encouraging families to attend trainings together is particularly interesting.  Could you share a bit more about your approach to this?  I.e.:

1--What specific steps were taken to encourage families to attend together? I can imagine in some communities I've visited it would be challenging to overcome the tendency to separate genders in public, as well as overcome the preference to leave someone at home at all times to protect the family's valuables (esp where homes are more rudimentary without secure locks).

2--Did you attempt to incorporate youth/children as well?

3--Would youth in the home facilitating information exchange for women (esp. in the case of illiteracy) be a easier first step for husbands with hesitations re: wives using cell phones?

4--Did you find that these interventions were effective?  Was there a change in ownership of cell phones by women?  

Megan and Michael,
I wrote about the importance of involving men in women's groups.Most of these groups are women specific,ignoring the relation of men.
Since the introduction of 'family farmers' in my community there has been tremedous change in closing the gender gaps in agriculture.Its not been easy convincing the men ,proper communication channels had to be used.We first approched the chief and the community elders explained to them the importance of women's groups,issues women farmers are going through(especially land ownership and domestic violence in the homes),the importance of bringing together men farmers(land owners) and women farmers(mostly the labourers).Thereafter we met with the extension officers who arranged for us a meeting with the land owners.The first meeting was intense ,the women were afraid to voice their concern for fear of domestic violence back at home.We resorted to do house visits together with extension officers and these lead to a second meeting which was successful.
Family farming has lead to increase in production and sharing of knowledge especially new technologies in farming that were owned and controlled by men farmers.The men farmers are also turning to new crop production instead of the normal maize and beans that they demanded their women to plant in their lands,they have welcomed the production of fruit farming like melons which do well in ukambani.
Intergrating new ict tools such as mobile-phone sms has been a challenge due to the illetracy levels in the community.the women prefer listening to radio because it is transmitted in their own vernacular languge(kamba language).Their husbands are not always at home to teach them how to use cell phones to gain information about the market prices.
We have started ' youths in farming' initiative to  facilitate the use of ict in the homesteads.we still in the  mobilization stage will let you know how these turns out.
My one question about ict will it embrace the indigenous knowledge of women in food security for example in my community
           A)during drought the women bury pumpkin in the ground as a means of food preservation method.

          B)After harvesting maize the women select specific seeds to be used in the next planting season.
Will ict bring along technology that my community cannot afford?
2.Lee Babcock has mentioned BOP impact assessment has anyone used it in kenya or around east africa?

BETTY MUTUA

Kiringai Kamau
Kiringai KamauVACID AfricaKenya

Will ICT embrace the indigenous knowledge of women in food security for example in my community?
 
I have stated in another post the work that Digital Green is doing in bringing people together to listen not from radio but from their peers. We have developed a model which is backed by a value chain cooperative at national level that we call RAVAAKs. It would be nice to include your groups that work along appropriate value chains to create a value chain cooperative that can benefit from our Value Chain Agribusiness Investment Cooperative.
 
Will ICT bring along technology that my community cannot afford?
 
When communities come together as a value chain rather than households, we have demonstrated in dairy and horticulture that they can afford investment in any identified technology. The model of RAVAAKs, which I have made reference to in the post on gender, can be supported through the government Huduma Centers in Kenya. It can become a vehicle for investment by other development institutions. We are keen to explain this one in your vernacular to your people.
 
Lee Babcock has mentioned BOP impact assessment has anyone used it in Kenya or around east Africa?
 
BoP Impact Assessment is just impact assessment in pro-poor programmes that target grassroots programmes. All development programmes by leading development programmes of USAID, DANIDA, IFAD, World Bank, SIDA, JICA, Technoserve, SNV, World Vision etc have impact assessments at the BoP.
 
Kiringai

Megan Mayzelle
Megan MayzelleUniversity of California Davis International Programs OfficeUnited States of America

Betty, Thanks for this excellent example of how family farming was promoted in your community!

Could you tell us more about any involvement of youth or children in the women's group's meetings in your community?  Was it attempted?  How did the women react?  The men?

To respond to your question, I believe if content development grows out of communication between end users experts (as Steph described in previous discussions) and if these experts or other involved intermediaries (such as radio hosts) are appropriately sensitized to appreciate the knowledge and experience that the end users bring to the table, then indigenious wisdom and tradition will absolutely be captured and transmitted the other users via the ICT initiative.  
 

Lee Babcock
Lee BabcockLHB AssociatesUnited States of America

Thanks Michael for this repost of dwakhata's post under Question 2.  Perhaps another recommendation might be to measure the impact of ICTs on women.  Something that immediately comes to mind is to use the BoP Impact Assessment Framework http://wdi.umich.edu/research/bop/impact-assessment-page .   It is a more holistic impact assessment tool that considers changed behaviors and changed relationships....as well as changed economics.  An underlying premise is impact can be good....as well as bad ....for example, if a woman is financially empowered this might result is domestic abuse and/or cultural alienation.  If so, this impact must be revealed so that future programming can mitigate against such negative impacts.  

 

 

Megan Mayzelle
Megan MayzelleUniversity of California Davis International Programs OfficeUnited States of America

LeeHBabock, thanks for pointing out this often overlooked aspect of gender empowerment--negative impact. A few additional points of eloboration on that topic:

*Normal is Easier Our own culture often leads us to assume that disempowered women see themselves as such, are looking for an opportunity to change, and would make significant sacrifices to change their situation.  In reality, however, gender discrimination is often a cultural tradition that is embraced as wholly by women as men in the culture.  Therefore, when women are encouraged to break with the cultural norm, even when the benefits are obvious to them, they will at least feel uncomfortable and at worst will be treated badly by others in the community--perhaps particularly other women--as a result.  We must be aware that women's lifelong culture may be telling them that what we are encouraging them to do is "wrong", "strange", "manly", or "out of line" and understand why some women may choose to stick with the norm and not to adopt the "empowered" behavior that we are encouraging.

*Empowerment can be an Obligation One approach to women's engagement is to offer benefits (supplies, microloans, gifts, etc) only to women.  Yes, this does empower the women.  However, it may also put her in a position of obligation--ex: husband pressures wife to take out a microloan because he wants the money. In this example, she is then left with the responsibility of repaying the loan without necessarily having the means to do so.  We must keep in mind that empowering a woman in one particular aspect (ex: access to microloan) does not ensure that she is universally empowered (ex: ability to choose whether she takes out a loan, or ability to earn money to repay the loan).  

*Overburden Women are the workhorses in many developing cultures, and are already facing a very full day of exhausting work--farm, home, children.  What project we are asking them to participate in either lengthens their day or compromises their work, the latter of which can result in domestic conflict.  We must be sensitive to the other demands on their time.

*Youth as a Connection to Women Unlike many housewives, children and youth have relative freedom of movement about the community and relatively more free time.  Children and youth are often employed as messengers between housewives tied to their homes, and are frequently the most literate in the household.  If this is the case in the host culture, the possibility to engage youth in the project should be kept in mind as an option for indirectly engaging women who are not yet able to participate themselves--either in community meetings or via devices such as cell phones--and keep them in the loop.