Make hay while the sun shines
This working paper (PDF) from KIT discusses the interface between gender and agricultural innovation systems. More specifically, it investigates how gender norms and roles influence social relations between actors in forage innovation systems in rural Afghanistan. Findings presented draw on a study analysing gendered barriers and opportunities for innovation in the forage system in the three Afghan provinces of Baghlan, Bamyan and Nangarhar. In particular, the working paper is embedded in solicited diaries written by five women that are all active players in their respective forage innovation systems. From the study, four key lessons can be learned: 1) It is critical to understand how gender relations shape how and why actors in a given innovation space value and promote certain kinds of innovative activity and “innovators”, while devaluing and even actively discouraging others; 2) Understanding gender roles involves looking beyond male-female dichotomy, since that can wrongly portray women as a homogenous group in which all women face the same challenges and opportunities. Over-generalization of the positions and conditions of women in agricultural innovation systems could grossly undermine policy relevance and planning; 3) Researchers and practitioners take into consideration both women and men’s lived experiences when designing their research and/or programmes and projects aiming at supporting agricultural development and innovation; 4) The paper calls for exploration of the ways gender roles, norms and relations influence socio-technical structures “beyond” innovation spaces in agricultural innovation systems, namely regimes and landscapes. Thus, this paper highlights that gender relations, norms and roles are dynamic and change over time due to factors external to a given innovation space, such as armed conflict. Therefore, it is important to consider how and why the wider social, political and economic environments are influencing, positively and negatively, actors in innovation spaces.