Coming in from the communication and research uptake perspective, I would like to share my personal experience both as a writer-documenter-photographer of rural women in India, and from trying to understand the research-policy landscape where pertinent to rural women while strategising uptake approaches.
I found women from rural communities far more inspiring than most educated ones. The clarity with which they see their problems and come up with brilliant solutions has stayed with me. So, to answer your question: How do some rural women manage to move forward and become successful entrepreneurs, whereas others are trapped in a life of food insecurity and poverty?- a fitting example to share is: the monograph called ‘Trail Blazers: Stories of Women Champions from IFAD Projects’. Downloadable PDF is here: https://www.ifad.org/documents/10180/6566a2a2-0b9f-41cd-9fe4-6f43c22ffde9
This coffee table books presents 23 snapshots of the lives and achievements of simple rural women from IFAD project areas whose immense courage and dynamic leadership helped improve their own lives as well as the lives of their families and communities. These are real life stories of extraordinary achievements of ordinary women - of women who dared to take a stand against all odds to break the mould and of women who were not afraid of being ambitious while continuing to play their traditional roles in the family and society. The book captures the narrative along simple lines of Women Champions who have emerged in the process of institutional building, livelihood development, enterprise development and governance in 5 Indian states – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Uttrakhand and Odisha.
These are just 23 women – I won’t event dare to declare a percentage of could be out there for us to discover, document and communicate within our country and across the world. My impression is that there so much we are doing to communicate on behalf of rural women, and so much more we can do to get the word out to the right people – that brings me to the Research Uptake part of my contribution to this useful discussion topic.
In a bid to begin to tackle Question 3 - Are we using the right approaches and policies to close the gender gap? – I feel that the dilemma with ‘right approaches’ and ‘policies to close gender gap’ are many and it has always been a complicated and sensitive area for research communication and uptake strategies because we are dealing with customs and people, patriarchy and rights, etc. Policies are intertwined with too much cultural sensitivity, and this makes articulating research findings for policy uptake a much-needed skill. There is great need for gender specialists, social scientists, communication specialists and research uptake / knowledge brokers to work more closely together - understand from the other’s perspectives and together develop a strategic approach to communicate to policymakers. This would hopefully be more sustainable and promise transformative action to close the gender gap.