- “I was conducting surveys, when I realized that I had missed a lot of important information because I hadn’t designed my survey to take into account gender issues—I felt ignorant.” (Male)
- “In another job, my assistant was a male older than me. When we went to meetings together, many times people thought that he was the manager and I was the assistant, and they directed all their questions to him.” (Female)
These anonymous stories emerged during a one-day workshop on gender, held during the Andes basin reflection workshop in Lima this week. The day included discussions of gender
in relation to people’s daily lives; in the context of science, development, and research; and in terms of operationalizing gender approaches for CPWF project work.
During facilitated discussions and exercises, basin project teams discussed gender roles for both women and men. Participants shared their lived experiences as well as their knowledge of gender dimensions in agriculture and water. They examined gender from a number of viewpoints: equity and equality, power, human rights, and economics.
What emerged from the group was a strong consensus that a gender-sensitive approach is a crucial for good scientific research. In particular, the group agreed that working with/for women represents an opportunity to alleviate poverty for a vulnerable population. Moreover, studies repeatedly demonstrate that investments in girls and women translate to better development impacts for larger community.
The Andes meeting constituted the first basin-based CPWF workshop to focus specifically on gender issues. The majority of those present had never attended any gender sensitivity trainings or courses. “I learned a lot,” remarked one person in the evaluations.
The successful day was only the beginning of a much longer road to implementing research with a gender lens. Many of the Andes participants expressed the need for more gender expertise to make their project designs more gender sensitive. The CPWF will seek to better fulfill this demand through commissioning “gender audits” later this year, with clear recommendations for the way forward.
By Charlotte Lau, 15 March 2012
Bonus — Some other anonymous stories included:
- “Working in the field and in charge of a team of all men, I found out that I had been selected for the position because a woman could not have handled the situation or gained the respect of the group. I felt that the hiring process was unfair for women who had applied for the position.” (Male)
- “In general stereotypes associated with being a woman (fragile, less powerful) have always been present, whether with positive connotations (i.e., men can be more condescending OR more amiable) or with negative ones (i.e., society expects less or is surprised when a woman performs outstandingly).” (Female)
- “In recent times, opportunities have opened up that are only for women, though it may not be expressed so explicitly. These practices are discriminatory.” (Male)
- “After my daughter was born, the majority of women asked me if I helped my wife with the child.” (Male)