Question 1. Social Construction

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 MkromaAGRA – 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.