INSTITUTIONAL TRANSFORMATION

AWARD seeks to catalyse transformative change in African agricultural research by supporting African research institutions and scientists to conduct gender responsive agricultural research.

Defining Gender Responsive Agricultural Research and Development (GRARD) as research that addresses the distinct needs and priorities of a diversity of both men and women across agricultural value chains, we believe that gender responsiveness has potential to enhance agricultural research for Africa’s sustained and inclusive economic growth.

Gender responsiveness offers a powerful tool through which agricultural researchers can be intentional in addressing the constraints of African farmers at the margins, especially women. GRARD offers the potential to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of African agricultural R&D by increasing the scale, scope and sustainability of impacts.

1) Building a constituency of agricultural research leaders and practitioners who understand and prioritise the importance of GRARD and who are willing to serve as champions of AWARD’s efforts. As the cornerstone of our work, we will conduct a mapping study examining the current state of affairs (knowledge and practice) related to internal and external gender responsiveness in African agricultural R&D, as well as a “who’s who” of practitioners. This will be carried out in 2 steps:

Step 1: Mapping Study

With regard to African institutions’ internal gender responsiveness, the mapping study will document what lessons can be learned from gender integration in African agricultural R&D – in particular, what approaches, success factors, or constraints foster or impede organisational change towards the empowerment of women in order to maximise their contribution to GRARD.

Step 2: Consultation

We will then generate, validate and discuss the implications and findings of the study to identify examples of feasible and pragmatic practices and strategies for addressing gender mainstreaming across agricultural R&D institutions, both in internal and external strategies. The consultation process will also seek to generate initial enthusiasm and momentum within AWARD partner organisations, from which we will select three for detailed participatory gender audits.

2) Developing an institutional guide to GRARD

Participatory gender benchmarking exercises comprise one of the primary strategies AWARD will use to generate ownership and buy-in from key African agricultural R&D institutions.

Key issues or questions that the benchmarking exercises will address could include:

  • Internal: Review of the organisational policies, structures and practices and how they enable or constrain gender integration into the design and implementation of research. This would look at issues of staff (human resources management, as well as career and capacity development), the work environment (family friendly policies and practices), and the organisational culture.
  • External: Review of how gender issues are approached in the agricultural research being done:
    • How is gender addressed in an organisation’s projects and programmes, and how can these efforts be strengthened?
    • What is the NARI’s capacity for gender-responsive research, and how can this capacity be strengthened?
  • Interlinkages: How do the key programme functions affect the integration of gender in the organisation’s research programmes, and which functions need to be addressed to improve development results?

Designing institutional gender action plans: The gender benchmarking exercises will lead into the development of an institutional gender action plan whose purpose is to provide strategic and practical direction to the institution for gender integration. These plans will guide selected institutions in integrating gender in a meaningful, effective and feasible manner within their own unique contexts. Each plan will be based on careful priority setting of activities and level of efforts, balancing ambition with realism and with a view to achieving “deeper” impact in priority areas, as opposed to more “shallow” results across the board.

Implementing institutional gender action plans: Interventions to achieve these outcomes must be tailored to the particular circumstances and priorities of individual institutions that choose to partner with AWARD. The nature of these activities is yet to be determined, as it will depend on what is identified through the audit process and gender action plan. Seed grants may be offered to organisational leaders and scientists to pilot certain elements of GRARD that are within their sphere of control. Implementing the gender action plans will also include tailor-made training and coaching for specific institutional leaders as they navigate the challenging path of driving institutional transformation.

3) Identifying and convening Africa’s GRARD experts in service of institutional transformation

A dearth of technical experts available to offer support to institutions has hampered previous GRARD efforts. We recognise that, if successful, demand for GRARD experts will be stimulated and it is important that highly competent GRARD experts meet this demand.

We will prepare to meet this demand, both by AWARD itself and by African ARD institutions, by identifying, convening, and investing in upgrading the skills of African GRARD experts who will bring a diversity of expertise, experience and talents to the effort. These experts will range in experience from organisational development to quantitative and qualitative gender research methods, amongst others.

4) Evidence into learning and action

Harvesting the learning gathered from implementation of organisational gender action plans will be critical in informing subsequent interventions (Years 3-5 of the AWARD Phase III strategy). The challenges encountered and the successes achieved in the implementation of institutional gender action plans will be useful for identifying which strategies (or combination thereof) are more successful than others. A learning agenda will be built around harvesting the lessons from implementing these plans under the AWARD programme, as well as the lessons learned from other activities.


Learn more about our GRARD activities:

Baseline Study on the state of gender responsiveness in African research institutions

AWARD Country chapters