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African Crop Science Conference Proceedings, Vol. 6.

699-703
Printed in Uganda. All rights reserved
ISSN 1023-070X $ 4.00
2003, African Crop Science Society

Gender mainstreaming in agriculture with special reference to Uganda:


Challenges and prospects
F. OPIO
Namulonge Agricultural Animal Production Research Institute (NAARI) P. O. Box 7084, Kampala Uganda
Abstract Gender refers to the social roles and relations between women and men. This includes the different responsibilities
of women and men in a given culture or location unlike the sex of men or women which is biologically determined; gender
roles of women and men are socially constructed and such roles can change overtime and vary according to geographical
location. Over seventy-five percent of the population in developing countries live in rural areas where their main employment
is agriculture. Agriculture tasks have been found to be partly or wholly gender specific. In a given culture they are
defined as appropriate to one or the other sex. In most parts of Africa (for example) women have traditionally been
responsible for producing food crops for the family on land to which they gain access upon marriage but do not
necessarily control. Their fundamental role is securing food for the family. Whereas men are generally responsible for
bush clearing and land preparation. Access of resources such as land, credit, technical services and market outlets tend
to differ for men and women. Moreover because societies are constantly evolving and adapting to new pressures the
allocation of tasks between sexes within the community also undergoes changes. For example as some tasks are mechanized
men are taking over the roles of women. Whereas women heads of households are taking on management responsibilities
at home (as well) as men move to urban areas to seek for jobs. It is therefore imperative that when we are considering
agriculture (especially research and extension) that gender concerns be taken into considerations. This ensures that the
technologies and information going out to the person involved in agriculture is relevant and targets the right person at
the right time and place. This paper therefore discusses the challenges and prospects of mainstreaming gender in
agriculture (emphasizing research and extension in Uganda). Gender mainstreaming here refers to the process of
assessing the implication of women and men of any planned action, including legislation, making womens as well as
mens concerns and experiences integral dimensions in the design, implementation monitoring evaluation of all agricultural
policies and programmes so that women and men benefit equally. Women and men must be included at all stages of any
project cycle related to agriculture. This should be done according to their local traditions, socio-economic conditions
and expressed needs.
Key words: Gender, Mainstreaming, Agriculture, Sex, Challenges and Prospects.

Introduction
We take agriculture to mean the production, processing
and marketing of crops, livestock and fish from producer
to consumer. Agriculture as defined is a major part of
overall natural resource based activity. Other areas include
forestry and wild life. Agricultural enterprises range from
large capital intensive production and processing units to
small scale activities forming only part of the peoples
livelihood strategies in the developed or industrialised
countries. In contrast the majority of agricultural products
in developing countries are grown, processed and marketed
by small family - operated enterprises.
The Uganda economy is currently dominated by the
agricultural sector. It accounts for 43 percent of the Gross
Domestic Product (GDP), 85 percent of the export earnings,
80% of employment and provides most of the raw materials
to the mainly agro-based industries. 85% of the Ugandas
population of about 22 million live in rural areas and depend
mainly on agriculture for their livelihood. Whereas out of

54% of the world population that live in rural areas 80% are
dependent on agriculture (FAO, 1999).
The division of labour between women and men in
agricultural production varies considerably from region to
region community to community. However it is usually men
who are responsible for large-scale cash cropping, especially
when it is highly mechanized, while women take care of
household food production and small-scale cultivation of
food and cash crops, requiring low level technology. In
most parts of Africa women have traditionally been
responsible for producing food for the family on land to
which they gain access upon marriage but do not necessarily
control. Their fundamental role is in securing for the family
and therefore their role in national food security must be
stressed. While men have generally been responsible for
bush clearing and land preparation.
In Uganda 72% of all employed women and 90% all rural
women are engaged in agriculture compared to 53% for rural
men (Women in Agriculture, 1985). The ratio of the male to
female workers in agriculture is estimated at 1:1.5 with women
contributing 70-75% of agricultural labour. The roles that

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F. OPIO

men and women play are however, location specific. Within


main farming system men tend to concentrate on production
of cash crops, while women concentrate on production of
food crops (70-80%) mainly for family consumption. Women
also provide 50% of the labour in cash crop production.
Men are mainly involved in livestock keeping (mainly cattle)
and fishing, while women concentrate on poultry, fish
processing and small ruminant management. In addition
women are involved in reproductive activities particularly
care of the family whereas men are involved in community
activities. Regarding specific farm operations, women on
average contribute 55% of land preparation, 65% of planting,
85-90% weeding, over 95% of food processing, and a high
proportion of rural water and wood - fuel acquisition. It is
worth noting that currently, these operations are
predominantly (up to 93%) accomplished using rudimentary
hand tools (the had hoe, axe, panga and machete). Where
production operations are mechanized, mainly based on
animal traction, men are the main beneficiaries. Marketing
of the farm produce and access to market information
continue to be a domain of men, and this situation
perpetuates womens disadvantages in the agricultural
sector.
Importance of gender mainstreaming in agriculture
In this paper Gender Mainstreaming means examining the
implications of gender differences for the success of all
planned actions in agriculture and ensuring that they are
taken into account in all aspects in any project, programme
design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation so that
resources are targeted to women for activities performed by
women and to men for activities undertaken by men.
As mentioned above the gender roles of men and women
in different communities vary. Therefore to be able to alleviate
rural poverty, promote household food security and increase
productivity in the agricultural sector, a concerted effort in
needed to gain accurate understanding of the situations
and roles of women and men in agriculture in a given
community. This will enable accurate targeting of
technology, resources and information. This will increase
the relevancy, efficiency and profitability of agriculture. If
this is not done we will continue to address the wrong
audience and at wrong time which undermines agricultural
development.
Prospects of Gender Mainstreaming in Agriculture
Prospects for gender mainstreaming in agriculture have been
good and encouraging in the recent past both internationally
and nationally. These may generally be grouped into three
areas namely: policies, political will and international agenda.
In order to effectively mainstream gender in agriculture there
must be policies that support gender. Planners and policy
makers are increasingly becoming mindful of the major
aspects of socially ascribed gender function and specific
needs of men and women in agriculture and other areas. In

Uganda, the government has long been committed to


improving the Ugandan women and narrowing gender
gaps in their lives. The Uganda National Gender Policy
was formulated in 1997 under the auspices of Ministry of
Gender, Labour and Social Development (MOLGSD). This
policy places emphasis on the need for different sectors
and institutions to address gender issues relevant to their
own specific situations. As a result of the overall gender
policy framework, a gender policy on agriculture was
developed with the help of MOLGSD to support the gender
mainstreaming efforts within the sector (MAAIF 1993). The
Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) as well as the Plan
of Modernization of Agricultrue (PMA) (MAAIF/MFPED,
2000) in compliance with the overall policy framework of
gender mainstreaming, recognize that persistent gender
disparities hamper agricultural productivity, economic
efficiency and growth. Hence the National Agricultural
Advisory Services (NAADS) and NARO (NARO, 2000) in
their plans have recognized the need for addressing gender
concerns in all their activities. The paramount driving force
is the desire to increase relevance, efficiency and
effectiveness in addressing the needs and objectives of all
stakeholders.
Integration of gender and social concerns into microlevel policy has now come on the agenda of most bilateral
and multilateral donor agencies and international leaders.
The World Bank (1992, 2001, Caroline et al 1989), Food and
Agriculture Orgnization; (FAO, 1984, 1992, 1999), IFAD,
United Nations (UNDP, 1997) to mention but a few. The
international research centres (now referred to as Future
harvest1) have adopted a policy of incorporating of gender
concerns in their activities (Joan and Merrcll Sands, 1998).
This means that technologies developed by the centres will
be gender sensitive hence more relevant and effective.
For several years now governments and development
agencies have given top priority to gender issues in
development planning and policies. Gender equity,
concerning resource access and allocation as well as
opportunities for social and economic advancement, has
been a prominent item on the agenda of recent international
meetings, which have also investigated the basic link
between gender equity and sustainable development
defining specific mechanisms and objectives of international
cooperation. Agriculture has not been neutral to these
policies.
International conferences have done a lot to increase
world awareness of the problems and potential and to point
towards possible solutions of policy action. Examples which
were focusing on agriculture include the world conference
on the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD)
in 1979, the first African Crop Science Conference, Uganda
(1993), the recently concluded World Food Summit (Rome
2002). Of course there have been conference focusing mainly
on women e.g. the 1992 UN conference on environment and
development (UNCED in Rio de Janeiro known as the earth
summit) included gender issues in agenda 21. The world
conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993; the

Gender mainstreaming in agriculture


international conference on population and development in
Cairo in 1994, the world summit for social development
(Copenhagen 1995) and the 1995 world conference on women
in Beijing.
There have been enabling political environment from most
parts of the world. Gender awareness has been created,
building capacity for gender mainstreaming policies, plans
and programs both national lower levels. The 2002 World
Food Summit Declaration and Plan of Action include
important commitments for the advancement of rural women
and for gender equality and equity in the agricultural and
rural development.
Challenge for Gender Mainstreaming in Agriculture
The challenges of gender mainstreaming in agriculture
have their roots in everyday family life. If pertains to the
misconception that gender work relates to women and that
this poses intrusion in private lives. There is therefore need
to change mindset or attitude. The change of peoples minds
on gender not only taking women to champion gender.
There is therefore need to breakdown of male chauvinism
so that they too take active participation in gender. For
example in many cases the leaders champion gender
mainstreaming but the grass root still take it as women
issues.
Socio-cultural prejudices and stereotyping are still main
constraints to womens participation in the spheres of
political and economic empowerment. For example gender
roles related to drought animal power (DAP) are specialized
without taking into consideration other households roles
that take up time and overburden women. There are also
taboos e.g. that food should not be transported by donkeys.
Most husbands do not allow their wives to meet/work with
male extension agents. Therefore they may be need to fight
cultural practices that directly or indirectly encourage
gender inequality.
Despite the increased awareness and the availability of
information on existing gender disparities in agriculture, the
current extension services have not successfully addressed
gender in the design and implementation of the services.
Women in particular have limited access to extension
services due to a number of factors. These include lack of
awareness of different gender roles and needs in the
curricular and training of extension workers. There has also
been inadequate gender attention in the development of
technologies for crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry. The
provision of agricultural services is male dominated and yet
no efforts have been made to train men to work with women
and be aware of the strategic and practical needs of women
within agriculture.
Studies have shown that female continue to have limited
access to training opportunities because gender insensitive
training programs.
Similarly the planning and
implementation of such programs have largely ignored the
multiple roles of women. The assumption that training and

701
information provided to men will be transferred to women
farmers in their households does not hold true in most cases.
There is need for the new advisory and delivery approaches
to take into account the important aspects related to
accessing the poor and vulnerable segments within the
farming communities.
Building adequate confidence among female folk to
embrace initiatives towards gender equality so that they
can participate in activities of gender integration. The
problems with most of the communities in the rural areas
who practice agriculture are predominately uneducated and
poor whose attitude sometimes is hard to change. There
would need to take a proactive action on adult literacy. In
most cases you find the women are the least educated in the
communities and tend to suffer more from lack of information.
Despite the pivoted role-played by women in agriculture,
very few of them own/control productive resources. Such
resources are land, credit, technical services, market outlets,
information etc. This coupled with their long-term low socioeconomic status, renders them generally unable to take key
decisions over use of such resources and benefits accruing
from farm production. They have therefore not received
equitable decision making privileges. Hence for women and
men, to have a positive effect on their productivity income
and food security, agricultural research and extension will
have to take into account gender needs and constraints.
There is scarce attention paid to the roles and
responsibilities men and women when formulating
agricultural and rural development plans and policies. For
example when extension staff plan to work in a particular are
the time set in most cases is not convenient for women.
Therefore you end up having only men attending certain
meetings and the message may not reach the women who
actually may be the right target.

Conclusion
The gender perspective looks at the impact of gender on
peoples opportunities, social roles and interactions.
Successful implementation of the policy, programme and
project goals of international and national organization is
directly affected by the impact of gender in turn, influences
the process of social development. Gender being an integral
component of every aspect of the economic, social, daily
and private lives of individuals and societies and of the
different roles ascribed by society to men and women.
Therefore in order to enhance agricultural development
there is need to take into consideration the gender roles of
women and men in the different communities to ensure that
persistent gender disparities are not perpetuated. The
prospects for gender mainstreaming in agriculture have been
shown to be good. However it has been also indicated
there are challenges that still need to be overcome in order
to effectively mainstream gender in agriculture. The real
progress can only be made if these challenges receive

F. OPIO

702

attention at national and local levels as an intergral part of


the regular activities ministry officials, development
planners, law makers and enforces, project managers,
agricultural leaders, local leaders and key groups in the rural
areas.
Definitions
Gender: in this paper refers to the relation between men and
women both perceptual and material. It does not refer to
women or men per se. Gender is not biologically determined
as a result of sexual characteristics of either women or men,
but is constructed socially. It is a central organizing principle
of societies and often governs the process of production
and reproduction, consumption and distribution.
Gender roles: are socially ascribed roles of women and
men which vary among different societies and cultures, and
ages, and during different periods of history. Gender specific
roles and responsibilities are often conditional by household
structure, access to resources, specific impacts of the global
economy, and other locally relevant factors such as
ecological conditions.
Access: is defined as the possibility the capacity of using
the resource, or its availability.
Control: ownership or the power to decide on the use of
a resource
Gender equity: means addressing the different needs of
women and men equity or fairly.
Equal opportunity: women and men should have equal
conditions for realizing their full rights and potential to
contribute to national, political, economic social and cultural
development and benefit from results.
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