The Genesis and Performance of Gender Focal Person Structures in Rwanda and Uganda National Agricultural Organisations: A Critique
2. Conceptual Framing: Situating the GFPs in the Global Historical Context
3. A Profile of the Case Study Organisations: National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB)
“empowering and promoting proactive participation of all gender categories in agricultural development”.
5. The Origin and Status of Gender Focal Person Structures in NARO and RAB Case Studies
5.1. Origin Traced to Individual Champions and Development Partners
5.2. GFP Appointments Aligned with the Existing Structure
5.3. Variations and Misconceptions around GFP Roles
‘We have a gender committee at the institute to handle gender issues. The committee is composed of women to counsel the staff especially on personal issues. For example, we were faced by a situation where one of our staff was interested in furthering her studies but was scared to lose her boyfriend. Our gender committee intervened and handled the issue. The committee also handles issues to do with the elderly’.(Male Director, in one of the Zonal Institutes, NARO)
‘We don’t have a real unit at the Institute level that we can say is a gender unit or a team. And sometimes I may have to be reminded that I am a gender focal person because I have many other assignments which are not gender related’.(GFP, NARO Institute)
findings portrayed a disconnect between expectations by national level GFPs and the sub-national GFPs. While the former expected the sub-national GFPs to implement and report to them on technical research related matters, the sub-national GFPs instead mentioned involvement in ad hoc activities of a personal or social nature, for example, helping staff who had failed to pay school fees for their children (Institute level GFP, NARO), encouraging fellow staff to get treatment for HIV/AIDS (Institute level GFP, NARO), providing induction of new female staff on social perceptions about women and expected dress code (Institute level GFP, NARO), and “conducting small activities that do not require a lot of funding” (Institute level GFP, RAB).“What are your roles and responsibilities as a gender focal person/champion? Who do you report to?”
5.4. GFPs Had Low Visibility and Were Nonfunctional
“I don’t think there is someone who is in charge of gender in RAB”, while another one mentioned that: “I have known today that we have a GFP at the zone”.
6. Why the GFPs’ Structure Is Not Working
6.1. Institutionalisation Journey Incomplete
6.2. Priority Setting: Contradicting Perceptions
‘In order to set research priorities, we use a bottom-up strategy; as a routine, every year the ZARDIs hold annual meetings where all stakeholders are invited. In such meetings, needs of different categories of beneficiaries, including women, are identified so that they inform the research agenda. At times, different institutes conduct baseline surveys on farming systems. The information from these baselines is disaggregated by gender. Therefore, information about men and women comes out clearly from gender disaggregated data reports. Sometimes, when new projects are starting, they require baselines against which to assess impact. Men and women are interviewed separately to get their unique needs. Research priorities are identified after reviewing project reports, baseline and impact studies, and annual reviews. In our understanding of gender responsiveness, we go beyond consideration of the numbers of men and women participating in activities but also whether the needs of these different gender categories have been addressed’.(top manager, NARO)
‘It (priority setting) is like a bottom-up approach from farmers. We prioritize, for example, like in this meeting and collect points of interest from the farmers. When we call for meetings, we call both men and women though it is men who are always the majority and, in many instances, we don’t target women specifically. … there is no special encouragement for women to attend’.(Institute Director NARO)
6.3. Policies, Operational Guidelines, and Management Not Supportive
‘I know that we have a gender policy at the Ministry of Agriculture, but I do not know much about it, although I think I have it on my desktop computer. I haven’t read it. I can’t remember how I got it. The policy is there but we have not implemented it’.(Female, Coordinator Research, RAB)
‘If the Director General had written an order saying every project must have gender, it would have added something onto what ASARECA said. But he is only supporting informally through talking about it’.(Female Gender Focal Person, RAB)
6.4. Recruitment, Reporting and Accountability Systems Not Formalised
‘I had a selection criteria. First, they had to be gender sensitive. When I was appointed, I conducted a big 2-day meeting where I introduced the gender issues. During the meeting, I saw the people with sensitivity and non-sensitivity. For gender sensitivity, there were some questions which I asked people in the gender workshop such as: ‘can you do this work if you were a man or woman’? For men, the question was about cooking. Men in Rwanda don’t cook. I asked if they could help their wives to cook. 90% said no. They were not gender sensitive because they subscribed to the rigid traditional gender roles. Second, I considered inclusiveness—I wanted a crop scientist, livestock scientist, social scientist, agribusiness scientist. I wanted a balance’.(National GFP, RAB)
‘I was chosen by the director to be the focal person because he noticed that I would interact with almost every category one including fishermen despite my profession as a technician’.
‘The former executive director was my mentor. She would send me to attend gender workshops so I can be a TOTs so l can teach others. Through these trainings I was able to get more interest in gender. Therefore, with time the Former executive director understood my interest in gender and pushed me to take on the responsibility’.
‘I was appointed by the Director who felt that with my position as communications officer I was best suited to infuse and influence the implementation of a gender sensitive kind of research’.
‘I was selected by a NARO team by a gender training expert because I showed deep desire/interest in wanting to conceptualize gender and did a lot of personal reading/research on it’.
6.5. Inadequate Capacity of GFPs to Support Gender Integration in Research
6.6. Very Low or Non-Existent Gender Budgets
‘To incorporate gender requires a lot of funding but the gender budget is always meager. Usually when there is a shortage, gender tends to be ignored’.(M and E, RAB)
‘We itemize activities and allocate funds accordingly. There was no specific budget for gender activities’.(Male, PI, Eastern Agriculture Zone/RAB)
‘I have no specific budget as a gender focal person’.(Male, GFP, RAB)
‘The problem is that the gender focal person at Headquarter has no funding to move to those people (i.e., the regional gender focal persons)’.(Male, GFP, RAB)
‘For this type of work, I use funds of other projects…Social economic research including baselines for all projects in the south’.(Male, GFP, RAB, national level)
6.7. Misconceptions about What Gender Integration Entails
‘Staff here think that gender is for women. The men scientists are scared that if gender is incorporated, they would lose their jobs to their women counterparts’.(Male GFP, NARO)
‘People have never understood gender, which they are required to integrate. It does not make sense, most especially for scientists whose background is pure science, to be asked to integrate gender in a manner that is not clear’.
‘A lot of people are talking about gender so much so that many people have heard about it without necessarily appreciating or understanding it. There is gender fatigue but not much understanding—people are tired of hearing about gender before they understand it’.
‘Gender is important, and we look at gender issues in our work at the planning level and during implementation of our activities. We consider the percentage of men against women, we have toilets well marked for men and women, we consider the needs of people with disabilities but mostly women’.
‘Most researchers who claim to integrate gender do not know how to do it because there is no guideline as what should be done’.(Director, NARO)
‘Research in NARO is structured on commodities and there is no commodity called gender. Therefore, gender has no home, and you keep pleading for it. Even pleading for it is not easy because scientists say that science is science, we are recruited to do science, and including gender, which was not our original calling, seems to be taking us to a different direction’.(Male, Gender Focal Person, NARO)
7.1. Effect of Informality on GFP Structure Operationalisation
‘Involving the GFP in a research process is often done on a crisis basis. Scientists only invite me to give advice after their workplans have been queried by donors and have been told ‘you must incorporate gender’. With this they call me to integrate gender in their already formulated activities. The World Bank funds NARO activities, and in the Aide Memoire there is perennial comment that gender hasn’t been addressed. Currently I have lost interest in supporting them because I am not formally appointed to serve as a GFP’.(Female Gender Focal Person, NARO)
“… so, if they fail to do any gender responsive work/integration, they cannot be held accountable”.
‘The people currently performing the gender related roles are doing it as an add-on because it is not their core responsibility. They are not assessed and promoted on the basis of this additional role of gender, but on the core mandate; therefore, they accord gender less priority’.
7.2. Incomplete Institutionalisation of GFPs
7.3. Misconceptions around Capacity Needs of Gender Focal Persons
7.4. Donor Strategy Weak
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Mangheni, M.N.; Musiimenta, P.; Boonabaana, B.; Tufan, H.A. The Genesis and Performance of Gender Focal Person Structures in Rwanda and Uganda National Agricultural Organisations: A Critique. Sustainability 2021, 13, 10290. https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810290
Mangheni MN, Musiimenta P, Boonabaana B, Tufan HA. The Genesis and Performance of Gender Focal Person Structures in Rwanda and Uganda National Agricultural Organisations: A Critique. Sustainability. 2021; 13(18):10290. https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810290Chicago/Turabian Style
Mangheni, Margaret Najjingo, Peace Musiimenta, Brenda Boonabaana, and Hale Ann Tufan. 2021. "The Genesis and Performance of Gender Focal Person Structures in Rwanda and Uganda National Agricultural Organisations: A Critique" Sustainability 13, no. 18: 10290. https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810290