Глобальная платформа фермерских полевых школ

Unlocking the potential of farmer field schools to achieve gender equality


“Look, education simply changes you”, stated Thierno after participating in a Farmer Field School (FFS) in Senegal. “In FFS, I realized how much potential women have to learn, what kind of really good decisions they are able to make. In the past, I was convinced that women were not very competent at work and in life in general.”


It is well recognized that FFS hold a great potential to improve women’s and men’s livelihoods, and to reduce vulnerabilities and inequalities through empowerment. At the same time, a deeper understanding of gender aspects is crucial to develop tools for FFS programmes and fulfil the FFS approach’s potential regarding gender equality in future activities, programmes and adaptations.

This is why from 21 to 24 November 2023, a group of FFS practitioners from different regions, the Global FFS Platform team and gender experts gathered in Rome to participate in a four-day workshop co-organized with CARE to deepen their understanding on how to best unlock FFS’ potential to contribute to gender equality.

The workshop was an occasion to learn and share about concrete strategies to integrate gender in interventions at FAO, IFAD, CARE and Oxfam. During the different sessions, key gender-transformative approaches (GTAs) and tools relevant to FFS interventions were identified and discussed through demonstrations, exercises and reflections.


How can we generate real impact for gender equality through FFS?

Traditional ways of addressing gender inequality often fall short by merely treating its symptoms, such as women's unequal access to resources. These approaches overlook the root causes of gender inequality, leading to a lack of lasting change.

By bringing farmers together in groups for entire production seasons, FFS not only can empower women by providing them with knowledge and skills,  but they can also play a role in challenging – in the FFS group, at home and in the communities – the root causes of gender inequality, including the persistent discriminatory gender norms, unequal power dynamics, and social structures that limit opportunities for both women and men.

This can be achieved through the adoption of gender transformative approaches, methodologies and tools. GTAs encourage self-reflection, as well as the generation of fresh insights. By fostering continuous cycles of action and reflection on gender norms, these methodologies aim to create a real and sustained change.


Change starts within us!

The workshop provided participants with an opportunity for thoughtful reflection on personal and organizational gender biases. The initial and critical step toward establishing impactful FFS with regard to gender equality is to ensure that facilitators, master trainers, managers, and coordinators are aware of gender issues. It's not just about getting better at implementing FFS, but changing how the FFS community thinks, by shifting perspectives, and reevaluating values and beliefs.


What’s coming up?

The workshop set the stage for planning a toolkit that integrates gender equality into FFS programs. The scope was also to develop a strategy for gender inclusion in FFS, part of the Global FFS Platform’s efforts. Next steps involve uniting experts and practitioners from the workshop to boost their skills in gender-inclusive FFS, making GTAs a central focus in the future.

Together, let’s grow equality!