Fellows equipped to conduct gender research in plant breeding, seed systems and resilience to climate change and other shocks

The vision of Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) is to create more inclusive and effective agricultural systems by addressing the priorities of both women and men in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.  After a successful Phase 1, the GREAT team at Makerere University (Uganda) and Cornell University (USA) is implementing Phase 2, with key activities focused on a course for South Asia participants; conducting research, and development of a six-year strategy for gender capacity building for the One CGIAR; and the Advanced ‘Level 2’ course for Sub-Saharan Africa participants.

The Advanced GREAT Course for Sub-Saharan Africa:

Held virtually over 13 days from Oct. 18 2021 to Nov. 4 2021, the course provided advanced training for fellows who took GREAT courses during Phase 1. These 30 biophysical and social scientists (14 men, 16 women) were selected from 11 agricultural research institutions in sub-Saharan Africa, with 19 trainers drawn from Makerere University, Cornell University, CGIAR, National Agricultural Research Organization and independent consultants.

Participants and trainers take during the virtual GREAT Advanced Course.

The course included two phases. Part 1 targeted both biophysical and social scientists, while part 2 targeted social scientists to enable participants to conceptualise, design and implement rigorous/high quality gender research and transformative development projects.

According to Margaret Mangheni, GREAT Co-Principal Investigator and professor at Makerere, the Advanced Course deepened skills and theory in gender-responsive agricultural research to contribute to resilient food and agricultural systems.

Prof. Margaret Najjingo Mangheni, GREAT Co-PI, Makerere University

“We continue to aspire to link gender and practice along the agricultural research cycle. Crop breeding remains the niche, but in this phase, we expanded it to include seed systems and resilient agricultural systems. We also continue to engage in the Community of Practice, and we’ll take it beyond sub-Saharan Africa to other geographies including South Asia,” Mangheni said.

In set: Prof. Margaret Najjingo Mangheni giving remarks at the opening of the GREAT Advanced course

Hale Ann Tufan,  GREAT Co-PI and research professor at Cornell University, explained the roadmap of the course. 

Dr Hale Ann Tufan, GREAT Co-PI, Cornell University


“We laid the groundwork foundation in Level 1, and we are now moving away from gender awareness to transformation. With the intention to change gender practice, we are looking at transforming teams and disciplines, we enhance advocacy, communications, Monitoring, learning and evaluation, and the research process. We hope functioning of interdisciplinary teams is improved, you will be able to operationalize gender data in breeding; seed systems & resilience, apply feminist and gender-transformative approaches to research,” remarked Dr Tufan.



Course content:

Content delivered in Part 1 included key aspects of disciplinary interface: transcending misconceptions, biases and assumptions; communication and advocacy; gender data in breeding; market segmentation; product profiling; seed systems & resilience; and tracking and measuring gender integration and transformation. In Part 2, participants learned about conceptualization and design of gender research for agriculture, and concepts, design and measurement frameworks for Gender Transformative Approaches (GTA) in agricultural research and development.

Participant perceptions about the course:

Throughout the course, participants shared key learnings and take-aways for the course. They said they were energized to carry on the learnings to practice to build resilient agricultural systems.

For Stephen Angudubo, a Research Analysis, Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning specialist, at Uganda’s National Crop Resources Research Institute(NaCRRI), feminist approaches and theories were new to him, but with the training, he will be able to integrate them in his research.

I used to wonder whether there were frameworks to measure different gender transformative approaches. I learnt about the GALS approach which even measures community empowerment including individuals to take control of their lives,” remarked Stephen Angudubo.

I have strengthened my learning on interdisciplinary research. The biophysical scientists try to solve some problems, but the social scientists give in-depth understanding of the problems…The do no harm model from G+ makes the breeders work easy because there are questions and you can see if your product design is doing harm, or has a positive effect,”-Negussie Zenna,  a breeder at the Africa Rice research Institute.

Excellent experience in the last 9 days! Absolutely renewing….. Feeling out of my traditional comfort zone” Williams Esuma, a breeder at National Agricultural Research Organization wrote in the chat.

I now have an idea on… who do you want to train, when, and how to  package the message. Before, after conducting Participatory Varietal Selection, we just note there were so many men and so many women, but from this training, I know we need to go deeper and get more information about the different farmers so that you know which problem may cause the poor performance from each of the categories,” Shylet Tsekenedza, a breeder at the Crop Breeding Institute in Zimbabwe

“I will share all the learnings and this new experience with my colleagues  because I believe gender is a topic that everyone on the team should know,” said Dorah Mwenye from Zambia.

Some of the participants and trainers that participated in the Advanced GREAT Course

Some of the participants and trainers that participated in the Advanced GREAT Course

About GREAT:

GREAT is an international course and collaboration between Makerere University in Uganda and Cornell University, USA. At Makerere University, the project is implemented by two colleges namel: the College of Agricultural and Environmental Science (CAES) and the School of Women and Gender Studies which falls under the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), while at Cornell University, GREAT is implemented through the Department of Global development.

Key activities in Phase 2 include: design and delivery of the Advanced ‘Level 2’ course for Sub-Saharan Africa participants; a course for South Asia participants; conducting research, and development of a 6-year strategy for gender capacity building for the ONECGIAR. GREAT is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the Generating Evidence and New Directions for Equitable Results (GENDER Platform) coordinated by The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya.

By Elizabeth Asiimwe

GREAT Project, Makerere University

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