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Document Abstract
Published: 1 Feb 2012

Creating gender-responsive agricultural development programs: an orientation document

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This document provides an overview of gender issues in agricultural development, and describes the kind of gender-responsive programmes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is looking to fund. Some of the topics it highlights are:

• Women often do not have access to financial or productive agricultural resources even though they play a major role in food production. Yields would increase as much as 30 percent per household if female farmers in the developing world had the same access to productive inputs (such as labour, fertilizer and seeds) as male farmers.
• Without sufficient access to education or information, women cannot influence research agendas to get what they want, and are therefore less likely to adopt new practices and technologies.
• Increases in women's income and influence over household expenditures translate into more household investment in childhood nutrition. For example, evidence from Brazil shows that maternal income has a larger effect on children’s nutritional outcome indicators than paternal income.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation requires its grantees to ensure that grants are gender responsive. This includes anticipating how the grant will impact on women’s practices and resources; designing the project to benefit women as well as men; evaluating progress in relation to women’s as well as household successes, etc.

Three examples from the foundation’s work are provided to demonstrate the range of gender-responsive approaches their grantees take: gender transformative, gender aware and gender neutral. The majority of the foundation’s grants fall within the gender-aware category, with projects designed to ensure that both men and women benefit, and neither are harmed. The foundation also has several grants that are gender transformative - accounting for gender differences and inequalities with a strategy for transforming the relationships between women and men with an emphasis on equity. Since they are typically less effective, the foundation does not support grants that are gender-neutral, meaning they do not take gender-based differences into account, and do not consider how women and men may be marginalised or may not benefit from projects.

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