Gender norms and agency in the Ethiopian agriculture sector: Policy brief
This policy brief (PDF) by CIMMYT examines gender norms relating to behaviour, innovation, technology, and agency in four Ethiopian wheat growing villages. Addressing gender in agriculture is of importance since female household heads face greater barriers than their male counterparts. When people are held back by unequal behavior norms, their incentives to work harder are reduced because – regardless of the effort they put in – they will not succeed on par with those who are fully included by society. Over time, their opportunities and motivation reduce, and fatalism ensues. A key message of this brief is that investment in robust studies are needed to strengthen the body of evidence and facilitate gender mainstreaming in agricultural development. Further, restrictive gender norms remain one of the most significant obstacles for women’s agricultural innovation. Moreover, inequitable intra-household resource allocation affects food security at the households and national level. When women try to innovate they are watched more keenly and judged more harshly than men, and are less likely to be reached by extension workers due to social norms. Another key message is that transformative methodologies create more egalitarian gender relations and social harmony and should be used in the agricultural extension system. Lastly, strengthening women’s ability to make effective choices and transform those choices into desired outcomes will bring positive changes to household food security and agricultural productivity. So gender inequality negatively impacts the national economy, food and nutrition security, women’s wellbeing, and child welfare, but can be reduced by building on existing good practices and creating equitable learning and sharing platforms. As part of this, extension workers, policymakers, and researchers need to more comprehensively address gender inequities in their work.