What are the pathways for linking outcomes of social relations analysis with the productivity and production outcomes of interest to policy?
- Margaret Mkroma – AGRA – ‘This question spotlights the dilemma of social relations analysis; the need for “deeply qualitative data” from specific contexts if it is to point to policies that will address the structural constraints that determine how both women and men, now and in the future, participate in agriculture….’. Pathways could include linking programmes that address practical needs of women to programmes that build strategic capacities among male and female household members to leverage what they own (labour asset, income, etc.) to negotiate in ways that meet individual and household interests.’
- P Kantor – ’The emphasis on contextually specific data leads to a number of now familiar questions: How does one then deal with scale? Can we influence change processes through more than highly localized programmes? What might innovative approaches that address the complexities of social relations in practice, and also operate at scale, actually look like?’
- Christine Okali – ‘These important scale questions raise the issue of the value of “deeply contextual” evidence. Is this not about learning more about the trade-offs made by individuals and households between different income-earning activities, and other valued outcomes? These data are not intended to be integrated ‘as is’ into policy just as we should not move directly from role data to arriving at conclusions about relations between women and men.’‘What might the policy implications be? Do they not draw attention to the need to accept a range of possible outcomes from say, a programme designed to increase incomes via improved crop production/ productivity for example?’
- ‘If we accept that policy outcomes will be valued differently by different individuals and groups, where might the current interest in identifying ‘success stories’ (and winners and losers) fit into such a policy outcome? In our search for successes, have we ourselves defined what success looks like?’ ‘What about flexible policies or policies that leave more room for manoeuvre/ adaptation to specific (local?) circumstances?’
- Christine Okali – ‘The questions for this debate point to problems of complexity, and even to the nuances in social relations, but possibly these are not the main challenges. Much of the gender literature points to the need to adopt a different starting point for our analysis, and always emphasizes an understanding of the interests of possible policy clients’.
Certainly there is an issue of commitment – on the part of researchers, their research organisations, and their professional networks – to collect different sets of data, or data that are more disaggregated, and to create a winning alternative narrative for policy makers.
- Coordinator of Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) – ‘With regard to the latest LEGS handbook (Introduction), we include gender and social equity as one of the four cross-cutting issues, and as such we highlight some of the key basics (such as the need to understand gender roles with regard to livestock keeping and management, and the differential impact that emergencies can have on men and women). Each technical chapter also considers briefly each of the cross-cutting issues and particular aspects relating to that intervention.
However, I feel that there is much more we should include on gender in future editions of LEGS. In particular, it would be interesting to have more data and analysis of gender relations in emergencies. The data we have at present does not go beyond gender differences in access and control over resources, and in the impact of proposed interventions. I would hope that when we produce the next edition of LEGS (planned for the forthcoming phase over the next 2-3 years) we can get some deeper analysis of gender relations, and their implications for planning both for emergencies, and for long term development. It would be interesting for example to have more information on gender dynamics in emergency situations, and especially in relation to coping strategies. In pastoral households during emergencies there is often a split along gender and age lines between obtaining emergency relief support (by women and young children), and moving extra long distances in search of grazing (by men). If women are to retain any access to livestock and livestock products in these situations, they may have to take on more responsibility for livestock. We might also expect to see a different dynamic occurring in different pastoral groups.’
How do different kinds of households and wider kin groups incorporate terms of land access into their short and long term livelihood strategies, and what are the implications of this for land policy?
- Mohamadou Sall – Population Studies, The Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar (Senegal) – In relation to land access and control, it is very important to pay attention to different (and possibly antagonist?) forces about land within the household. Especially In a context of land scarcity, and with the emergence of a land market, men (often the household heads) who traditionally controlled land, are less likely to favour sharing their power over land. Meanwhile, women who are supported by NGOs, do their utmost to access and to control land as they progressively move out of the private into more public spaces.’
- Christine Okali – I agree that in the context of land scarcity and the growth of land markets, negotiations around land will change. However, I would question the understanding that men will not give up their customary expectations of land control (such as this exists) in this changed context. Of course there remains the question of inheritance. Even customary rights (at least in some social contexts) include compensation or claims to those who have assisted on farms/ fields/ animals by providing labour and/or other inputs. As to the role of NGOs and the response of women to their (the NGO) objectives of ensuring rights for women, in the case of livestock programmes, these NGO initiatives have been contested in various ways by men with interests in the outcomes of the production. In addition, some livestock programmes have shifted from attempting to enforce the creation of individual rights for women, to acknowledging the need of women (and men) to work together in their enterprise. Should we be contesting the notion of joint rights in these important assets?
- Mamadou Sall – From the technocratic and political view, the pathway for improving the contribution of agriculture to development is to move agriculture from traditional rules to modern rules (including land). However, this political and technocratic shift will come up against local reality: Land, for example, is controlled by local and traditional power holders who are also the political middlemen and stakeholders. In this context, what is the sense of land reform and other policies like “Parity in elective mandates/positions?”
- Mohamadou Sall – In Senegal, studies conducted on the relations between gender and access to land have shown that one the main hindrances of access to land for women is their absence from some important institutions such as rural councils and other local agencies and structures.
- A.N. Chibudu – Former National Dairy Development Project (NDDP), Kenya – My practical experience is more on the Zero Grazing Systems of livestock production and my comments relate to issues that are important in this system. These issues have implications for both men and women as livestock producers, Livestock Policy that takes gender issues into consideration should make sure that these concerns are taken into account. In the 90s the gender approach was Women in Livestock Development (WiLD) which I don’t think has changed much to date. The relevant issues for Zero-Grazing Systems are:-
- Investment – the financial outlay required for this system is very high taking into account the socio-economic situation of smallholder farmers, and especially women farmers. This investment must be undertaken on land which the farmer is confident of his or her ownership rights! The policy environment surrounding this issue is very complicated as several factors come into play once you start talking about land; issues of security of tenure, and inheritance issues which are intertwined with household (family) stability.
- Labour – zero grazing is a high input high output system, and labour especially is a key input. Many small scale producers in Africa are women who have multiple roles in life and this system of production denies them the time to attend to these other very important facets of their life. It is therefore important that the output is actually high, and translates into cash incomes that can be utilised to take care of the other roles of the women.
- Technology – any life system instituted must be progressive and dynamic. For any meaningful success, farmers must be given continuous knowledge for them to deal with the ever-increasing challenges. There are several ways of giving this knowledge but the most popular ones are through residential training, tours and workshops which in many instances are biased against women as women can not be away from home for long periods.
What are the likely policy implications of the understanding that men and women take their joint concerns about household survival into consideration when assessing the trade-offs between e.g. investing in land improvements and engaging in off farm opportunities and other interventions?
- Margaret Mkroma – AGRA – If indeed joint concerns get considered in assessing such trade-offs, then policies influenced by such understandings should promote and/or support household economic and social wellbeing. It connotes that both men and women enjoy a degree of agency expressed through their individual capacities to influence intra-household decisions. Where such an understanding is wrong or misplaced, then policies influenced by this may risk exacerbating the problems and situations of those with less power to negotiate and or bargain in intra-household decision making.
- Christine Okali – I wonder if the concern about making matters worse for those with less power if policies are designed with these joint interests in mind is a reflection of poor policy formulation rather than anything else. Is the policy solution always to make separate provisions that somehow (it is not altogether clear how, or the processes involved) will ensure some form of equity?
- Dr Joyce Otsyina – Programmes focused on women could be said to be underpinned by some understanding that both men and women are interested in the same resources. What is lacking is the fact that the interest of women in these resources is ‘killed’ since they (women) are not offered opportunities that will help them act on these interests. This takes us to the issue of important resources such as land, credit/financial facilities and information in which I think both men and women are interested, and which also programmes know are of interest to both. The problem comes where there is a lack of commitment to implement programmes which seek to improve the supply of these resources among women.
How has the social construction of different groups e.g. women as vulnerable, responsible for household food security, and without agency or power, affected their opportunities to contribute to and/or benefit from mainstream agricultural policy?
- Margaret Mkroma – AGRA – I think any response to the essentialist framing of women as the vulnerable “other” needs to go beyond a simple response that it has or hasn’t affected their opportunities to benefit from agricultural policy. It seems to me the particular contexts within which women are embedded (social, cultural, political) to a large degree work to either limit or expand the space for women to benefit or contribute to agricultural policy. We need to understand the two “problematiques” (construction of women as a vulnerable category, and the contexts in which they are located) as dynamically intersecting; and in ways that uniquely shape their experiences. We must understand those intersections for us to gain critical insights into women’s experiences and/or their ability to benefit or contribute to policy.
- P Kantor This construction of women as vulnerable is central to the struggle to identify women as producers within mainstream agricultural policy, such as the USAID Feed the Future initiative. Women are most visibly connected to its nutrition and food security objectives, and not its production/productivity enhancement objectives. They are often labelled as vulnerable without demonstrating how, in relation to what activities or outcomes, and relative to, as well as in relation to men. More context-specific evidence is needed documenting what women and men do in agriculture and how social and institutional institutions, including the household, impinge on these activities, in order to better define areas of intervention that do more than deliver technical inputs without addressing the wider structural factors influencing whether and how women engage in agriculture. Such evidence also needs to be used to define innovative gender-responsive interventions, and to systematically test different approaches that might improve our understanding of how to scale up successes.’
- Christine Okali Perhaps the question attributes too much influence to the framings themselves, and not enough to the social, cultural and political contexts within which individual women and men are embedded. Is it reasonable to suggest that more analytic research on the contexts within which women (and men?) have benefited or are likely to benefit from mainstream agricultural policy, would provide insight into the way these two “problematiques intersect”? If we take the example of commercial farming activities, there is limited information on women’s independent commercial activities.
Over the last four decades there has been much emphasis on women and gender in African agriculture and agricultural policy.
There has also been plenty of talk about the importance of integrating social relations analysis into policy to achieve equitable, broad-based development in Africa. However, in large part this has not yet happened. Why?
In a recent FAC paper, Christine Okali, the moderator of this e-debate, argued that a social relations approach leads to more ambiguous interpretations of and expectations around social and technical change. This presents a challenge to research, development and policy actors given that policy narratives need to reign in complexity in order to provide clear guides for decision-making. Nevertheless, unless insights from the analysis of social relations begin to inform policy processes, and are integrated into policy recommendations, the dual goal of agricultural growth and equity will remain unachievable.
There is urgent need for an exchange of ideas and information to address how to make social relations analysis more accessible to and accepted by policy makers. For this reason FAC is inviting you to debate some key issues around the ways forward for achieving this.
Objective: The purpose of this debate is to explore the implications of different insights from and approaches to social analysis for agricultural policy formulation. This is a necessary step in future research planning, especially for the identification of information needs, but also for the translation of research results for policy making at different levels.
Dates: 30 May – 24 June 2011
Questions to be debated:
- How has the social construction of different groups e.g. women as vulnerable, responsible for household food security, and without agency or power, affected their opportunities to contribute to and/or benefit from mainstream agricultural policy?
- What are the likely policy implications of the understanding that men and women take their joint concerns about household survival into consideration when assessing the trade-offs between e.g. investing in land improvements and engaging in off farm opportunities and other interventions?
- How do different kinds of households and wider kin groups incorporate terms of land access into their short and long term livelihood strategies, and what are the implications of this for land policy?
- What are the pathways for linking outcomes of social relations analysis with the productivity and production outcomes of interest to policy?
Comments should be short, provocative and challenging. Comments should be submitted on our online forum which will be available from 30 May.
- C. Okali, 2011. Discussion paper on ‘Gender and Other Social Differences: Implications for FAC‘
- FAC Policy Brief, 2011 ‘Integrating Social Difference, Gender and Social Analysis into Agricultural Development’
- S. Razavi and C. Millar. 1995. ‘From WID to GAD: Conceptual Shifts in the Women and Development Discourse’, UNRISD Occasional Paper 1, Geneva. UNRISD.
- Jackson, C., 2007. Resolving risk? Marriage and creative conjugality. Development and Change, 38(1), pp.107-129.
- Berry, S., 2009. Building for the future? Investment, land reform and the contingencies of ownership in contemporary Ghana. World Development, 37(8), pp.1370-1378.
- Yngstrom, I., 2002. Women, wives and land rights in Africa: Situating gender beyond the household in the debate over land policy and changing tenure systems. Oxford Development Studies, 30(1), pp.21-40.