Participant group work during the GREAT / Feed the Future Peanut Innovation Lab
sensitization in March, in Kampala .

In these challenging times, our personal and professional connections are more important than ever. Over the past four years we've been humbled to see how the GREAT community has grown, strengthened and deepened connections across Africa, and the world. On the WhatsApp group, messages of joy, loss, heartache and celebration share space with the resources, tools, and professional guidance we all need as we collectively work to build a more just, equitable and effective research system. This reminds us of how intimately we're all connected, and that cultural change takes a group effort. We're grateful to have you with us on this journey.

Acceptance letters for GREAT's Theme 5 course start going out at the end of this week. We received a terrific pool of applicants, and as always, choosing who to invite is no easy task. This year's course reflects a change from previous courses - instead of splitting the course into two modules, we'll run one longer session, and social scientists will stay longer, allowing them to dive deeper into methods and tools. We're excited about these changes, and looking forward to sharing with you how it goes. As always, our MLE partners will be there to help us as we keep aiming to deliver the best course possible.

Much has happened lately. In January we wrapped up our Theme 4 course (see  photos), and a month ago we held a sensitization for the Feed the Future Peanut Innovation Lab in Kampala (see photos), kicking off a relationship that we're looking forward to continuing. Just this week GREAT launched a new presence on Medium, with a piece (below) on what a feminist response to the coronavirus crisis could look like, and more stories are in the works, giving us a platform to take deeper dives on issues that inform the work we do. And as we all continue to grapple with the changes brought about by the Covid-19 crisis, we've collected resources, below, to help you navigate the gender implications, and adjust your fieldwork to these new realities. As always, we have a robust collection of publications for you, including many from the CoP - all of these are freely available in the GREAT Zotero group. For those who are on Facebook, we've just started up a new GREAT Facebook group, and invite all of you to join in the discussion.

Lastly, congratulations to GREAT's Tabitha Nafula, whom many of you know for her indispensable help in making our courses run so smoothly. In January she graduated with first class honors from Makerere University, with a B.A. in Development Economics!

We hope this message finds you all safe, healthy and well.

With gratitude,
Margaret Mangheni and Hale Tufan
GREAT Co-Principal Investigators
GREAT is on YouTube!
By Chris Knight, Cornell University

Filmed with GREAT Fellows, trainers and the project management team during  visits in Kenya and Uganda, this seven-minute video gives a glimpse into the heart of what GREAT is and does, and why it matters to agricultural research institutes and researchers. Share this with colleagues to help them get a sense of how gender training can help them be more impactful researchers!  Watch the video on YouTube...

In the news
By Allison Floyd for CAES News, University of Georgia

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut at the University of Georgia recently held three days of gender training executed by the GREAT (Gender-Responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation) team and Makerere University, the first in a series of intensive workshops to help researchers understand how best to consider gender in their work.

Headquartered at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Peanut Innovation Lab started a five-year program in 2018 with gender at the forefront of research into peanut productivity and nutrition.

"From the first project proposals, scientists were asked to explain how they would make gender a consideration in their projects," said Peanut Innovation Lab Director Dave Hoisington. "While gender is gaining attention as an important aspect of research, it also is a relatively new area for many of our scientists. We don't expect everyone to come into the program with fully developed ideas about how gender influences their research questions and outcomes.

"We are learning lessons together and becoming better scientists along the way. That's what makes this type of training invaluable."  Continue reading...


Women make up half of the Agricultural workforce of Africa and historically, women issues have not been well incorporated into agricultural sciences and development. Considering details of women's' life and the youth might have a huge impact on the outcome of agricultural research projects and whether the technologies and varieties developed are accepted or fail on the farm.

Gender is being recognized as critical component of global agricultural development. Makerere University Gender-Responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) project in collaboration with USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut has conducted a gender awareness training for students and scientist working on Ground nut projects in Sub-Saharan Africa to explore how gender can impact the objective data that comes from their research.

The three-day gender sensitization workshop was hosted by Makerere University at Royal Suites hotel Bugolobi a Kampala suburb from 10th -12th March 2020.

It was attended by 19 participants including Co-PIs and students working on the Feed The Future Innovation Lab projects in four countries-Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique.  Continue reading...

The Beauty of the Bottom Up: Making Crop Improvement Work for National Programs

By Hale Tufan, GREAT PI, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement Associate Director

As you read this, 800 million of 
your  fellow  humans are struggling to obtain enough  food to get through the day. Food security is one of the grand challenges facing our world, and donors know this: each year they spend billions of dollars on agricultural research initiative s in developing countries in the fight to end hunger. Yet do these well-meaning efforts have the unintended consequence of imposing solutions from the top down?

It is no secret that agricultural research for development has historically operated in this way. International experts develop and implement ideas, technologies and products for people and places they often don't have deep knowledge or understanding of, without enough contribution from local actors at the inception stages. Donors may make decisions based on their goals and missions, that may not always reflect local needs. National partners often implement the crop improvement visions developed thousands of miles away. The result? National agricultural research systems are overwhelmed with an influx of experts, ideas, projects and directives, with little breathing room to assess possibilities and offer meaningful input about what they really need to drive change in their countries.

Are we limiting our effectiveness by not taking enough time to stop, listen and give these programs more space to set their own priorities?  Continue reading...

GREAT is now on Medium!
At its heart, the GREAT project challenges us to see the world differently, and to think beyond our disciplinary boundaries. In that spirit, we've launched a new presence on, an online communications platform that will allow us to explore a more diverse set of issues, and how these inform our work as researchers. We'll share our stories in each newsletter, and encourage you to join the conversation as well, by following us:
What a feminist response to the coronavirus crisis could look like

By Devon Jenkins, GREAT project manager, with contributions from Chris Knight, Elisabeth Garner, Brenda Boonabaana, Margaret Mangheni, Elizabeth Asiimwe and Hale Tufan

In just a few months, the novel coronavirus has upended daily life for billions of people, triggered massive job losses, and threatened lives in nearly every country on Earth. And yet, it is not just the virus itself that is novel. We know little about how the effects of the virus - and the many attempts to mitigate it - will affect groups differently, including men and women. Already there are suggestions that the virus could both hurt women in the short run, while helping them in the long run through  challenging social norms that tend to advantage men.

So, in this confusing and rapidly changing environment, how can policy makers, development agencies, non-profits, and civil society respond to such a swiftly moving crisis effectively, and in ways that don't make situations worse for the most marginalized?

A feminist approach may help. While the term 'feminism' has long been misunderstood - we'll write about this, soon! - at its heart it simply means that when society limits one sex, it limits both. In other words, society will be better for women and men when both sexes have equal opportunities. A feminist approach, then, is one that starts with that goal, and works to identify ways to create opportunities for all people to thrive, regardless of identity.

Based on our own experiences working to improve gender research and policy in rural development, understanding how this crisis may affect women and men differently and making sense of appropriate responses requires three things: responsiveness to sociocultural context, the right kinds of data, and a framework for making sense of it. With these elements, we can start to build a feminist approach to this crisis, and create a more equitable world going forward.  Continue reading...

Covid-19 Resources
While countries around the world rapidly adapt to the spreading novel coronavirus, norms of work, research and even basic social interactions are thrown into disarray. How can researchers and research programs adapt? What does this mean for field research in general, and for gender-responsive approaches specifically? We've collected a short list of resources to help you navigate this new time.
New publications from the GREAT CoP and Beyond
GREAT hosts a curated collection of key resources from the CoP and beyond on our free Zotero group. While all the metadata and links for each resource are viewable without an account, signing up for a free account gives access to all available full-text PDFs as well:
'Gender and Farmer Preferences for Varietal Traits: Evidence and Issues for Crop Improvement'

Weltzien, E., Rattunde, F., Christinck, A., Isaacs, K., & Ashby, J. (2019). Gender and Farmer Preferences for Varietal Traits: Evidence and Issues for Crop Improvement. Plant Breeding Reviews 43 , 243-278. Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

Although molecular biology advances now enable more targeted use of genetic diversity, our capacity to assess farmer preferences for varietal traits to guide breeding efforts in responding to specific users, women and men remains an open question. This review of the "state of the art" of gender differentiation for varietal trait preferences examines what research was done where, the methods used, the patterns and underlying causes of gender differences for trait preferences, how this knowledge can be used and the support needed for gender-responsive breeding.

'Understanding how Gender relations affect accessibility of improved soybean seed among smallholder farmers in Malawi'

Gondwe, T. & Cole, S. (2020). Understanding how Gender relations affect accessibility of improved soybean seed among smallholder farmers in Malawi. Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

This study aimed at understanding how gender relations influence or affect accessibility of soybean seed among smallholder famers in Malawi. Specifically, a gender relations approach was used to examine the differences between women and men. A key finding was that cultural restrictions, intra-household decision making processes work to the disadvantage of women, limiting many women to benefit from the improved soybean promotion. Men controlled strategic activities directly related to income and expenditure while women dominated social welfare related activities. Gender relations in terms of power over production resources have implications on farm investment decisions, including the area of total cultivated land devoted to the soybean, labor allocations to the soybean cultivation, investments in seeds and other inputs required in the production of the crop. Innovations to improve access and use of improved soybean seed must consider cultural restrictions, intra-household decision making processes and gender roles to expand the benefits of the same to women.

'What does empowerment mean to women in northern Ghana? Insights from research around a small-scale irrigation intervention'

Bryan, E., & Garner, E. (2020). What does empowerment mean to women in northern Ghana? Insights from research around a small-scale irrigation intervention  (Vol. 1909). Intl Food Policy Res InstAccess the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

Women's empowerment is important to improve the status of women and achieve greater gender equity. It is also an important vehicle for achieving other development goals related to food security, nutrition, health, and economic growth. Increasingly, researchers seek ways to measure women's empowerment, trace the pathways through which women's empowerment is achieved, and provide guidance for policymakers and practitioners aiming to facilitate women's empowerment through their interventions. This paper explores local perceptions of empowerment in the Upper East Region of Ghana in the context of a small-scale irrigation intervention targeted to men and women farmers. Using data collected through qualitative interviews and focus groups, the paper traces the linkages between smallscale irrigation and aspects of women's empowerment, identified as important to men and women farmers themselves. The relationship between the components of empowerment and small-scale irrigation are placed within a larger context of social change underlying these relationships. Finally, this paper explores the ways that the introduction of modern technologies for small-scale irrigation may contribute to women's empowerment.

'Understanding rural household behavior: Beyond Boserup and Becker'

Doss, C. R., & Quisumbing, A. R. (2020). Understanding rural household behavior: Beyond Boserup and Becker. Agricultural Economics 51 (1), 47-58. Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

New data and new methods have provided many new insights into rural households in the past 50 years. We analyze what we have learned from household models since Boserup and Becker, using this to frame more recent findings about household behavior from three types of studies: observational studies, experimental games, and impact evaluations. More sex-disaggregated data, as well as data that are collected at smaller units, such as agricultural plots, have allowed us to better understand agricultural productivity, risk sharing, and spousal cooperation. However, the focus on bargaining within households has often led us to ignore the cooperation that occurs within households. Many resources are owned and managed jointly by household members and many decisions are made jointly, although not all parties necessarily have equal voice in these decisions. Research demonstrating that households often do not reach efficient outcomes suggests that we still have much to learn about rural household behavior. Understanding both individual roles within households and the levels of cooperation, including joint decision making and ownership of resources, is essential to analysis of households, especially in rural areas where households engage in both production and consumption.

'Integrating gender considerations into livestock genetic improvement programs in low to middle income countries'

Marshall, K., de Haan, N., & Gali√®, A. (2019). Integrating gender considerations into livestock genetic improvement programs in low to middle income countries. In Proc. Assoc. Advmt. Anim. Breed. Genet  (Vol. 23, pp. 171-174). Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

Adoption of new or improved animal breeds by resource-poor farms is likely to increase when these breeds provide tangible benefits for the women and men involved in their production, consumption, and marketing. Yet, little consideration is often given by genetic programs to how gender dynamics and norms affect women's and men's preferences for species breeds, and traits, as well as women's and men's ability to participate in, and benefit from, livestock genetic improvement programs. Gender dynamics and norms refer to the ways in which women, men, boys and girls interact based on sociocultural perceptions of what is considered appropriate behaviour for each group (e.g. roles, jobs, control over resources, decision-making etc.). Here we begin to fill the gap on where and how gender matters in the implementation of livestock genetic improvement programs in low to middle income countries by providing a conceptual framework. This framework stresses that gender considerations are relevant at all stages of implementation of a genetic improvement strategy, from targeting to ensuring equitable benefits.

'Bridging youth and gender studies to analyse rural young women and men's livelihood pathways in Central Uganda'

Rietveld, A. M., van der Burg, M., & Groot, J. C. (2020). Bridging youth and gender studies to analyse rural young women and men's livelihood pathways in Central Uganda. Journal of Rural Studies .  Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

Many development countries are currently undergoing major demographic shifts as the percentage of young people of the total population rapidly increases. This shift is associated with high rates of migration, unemployment and instability. In policy discourses, engaging youth in commercial agricultural is often presented as a measure to control or even counter these trends. In Uganda, a country with one of the youngest populations in the world, we investigated whether young people themselves see a career in farming as an option. We studied the livelihood pathways of rural-born young men and women from Central Uganda and in particular; 1) their aspirations, 2) the extent to which these aspirations are associated with agriculture, and 3) the importance of gender in shaping their opportunity spaces. Our findings suggest a large proportion of youth out-migrating from the rural communities, with young women migrating more often than young men. Farming was seldom an aspiration but irrespective of sex or residence most young men and women did remain engaged in agriculture in some way. The nature of the engagement was different for men and women though, with young women specifically refraining from commercial agriculture. By analyzing the opportunity space of young men and women, we uncovered how their livelihood pathways were linked to a set of normative and structural constraints maintaining gender inequality.

'Managing risk, changing aspirations and household dynamics: Implications for wellbeing and adaptation in semi-arid Africa and India'

Rao, N., Singh, C., Solomon, D., Camfield, L., Sidiki, R., Angula, M., Poonacha, P., Sidib√©, A., & Lawson, E. T. (2020). Managing risk, changing aspirations and household dynamics: Implications for wellbeing and adaptation in semi-arid Africa and India. World Development125, 104667.  Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

Semi-arid regions across Africa and Asia are characterized by rapidly changing biophysical regimes, structural vulnerabilities, and increasing livelihood precarity. Gender, class, and caste/ethnic identities and relationships, and the specific social, economic and political power, roles and responsibilities they entail, shape the choices and decisions open to individuals and households in managing the risks they face. Unpacking the multiple, intersecting inequalities confronting rural populations in these climate hotspots is therefore vital to understand how risk can be managed in a way that supports effective, inclusive, and sustainable local adaptation. Drawing on empirical evidence from six countries, generated through a mixed methods approach, we examine how changes in household dynamics, structure, and aspirations, shape risk management with implications for household well-being, adaptive capacity, and ultimately sustainable development. The ability of individuals within households, differentiated by age, marital status, or education, to manipulate the very structure of the household and the material and social resources it offers, differentiates risk management strategies such as livelihood diversification, migration, changing agricultural practices and leveraging social support. Our evidence suggests that while greater risks can drive conflictive behavior within households, with women often reporting lower subjective wellbeing, new forms of cooperative behavior are also emerging, especially in peri-urban spaces. Through this study, we identify entry points into enabling sustainable and inclusive adaptation behavior, emphasizing that interventions should work for both women and men by challenging inequitable social and gender norms and renegotiating the domains of work and cooperation to maintain overall household wellbeing.

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