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Seeds of Change Conference

Farming Couple in Nepal

PNG Farming Family

India by Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt

Man and woman with chickens

Fishing family in India

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Gender Equality Through Agricultural Research for Development

2nd to 4th April 2019

The Ann Harding Conference Centre
University of Canberra, AUSTRALIA

An interdisciplinary conference for researchers and practitioners in all fields of agriculture (including food/commodity/cash crops, subsistence/semi-subsistence sectors, supply chains, forestry, fisheries, and water management) jointly funded by:

Collaborators logosAustralia­­­n Centre for International Agricultural Research
CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research
University of Canberra

--------------------------------– ANNOUNCEMENTS –---------------------------------

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Thanks and farewell

To all who contributed in so many ways to this wonderful event, thank you.
We hope your continuing journeys are happy and safe.

The Seeds of Change Conference Team

Public Lecture delivered by:

Professor Naila KabeerProfessor Naila Kabeer is currently Professor of Gender and Development at the Gender Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science. Learn more about Professor Kabeer on her website - Naila Kabeer - Professor Kabeer presented on the topic:

Empowering Women, Improving Livelihoods — keys to rural development.

This lecture brings together key findings from evaluations of policies and programmes that seek to promote women's empowerment and livelihood capabilities in rural development in the Global South, with specific attention to their role in agriculture.  Efforts to address the immediate and larger constraints that impact on women's livelihood capabilities will be assessed: what has worked, what has failed, and why?  Bringing together lessons from both sets of interventions can deepen our understanding of how gendered constraints work in different circumstances.  This in turn can help us to craft more effective policy measures to empower rural women and improve their livelihoods, which we know generates flow on benefits for their families, their communities and societal food and nutrition security.

Keynote speakers

Professor Katherine Gibson Professor Katherine Gibson is internationally known for her research on rethinking economies as sites of ethical action. Learn more about Professor Gibson on her Western Sydney University, Institute for Culture and Society page -

Professor Gibson presented on the topic:

Building gender equity from the bottom up in agricultural communities

What is the future of agriculture in the Anthropocene?  While half of the world’s population now live in urbanized areas, the other half reside in rural areas where agriculture provides the main source of livelihood. Will the draw of city life continue to drain the globe’s rural hinterlands? Or can dignified livelihoods be sustained in rural settings? Here, as in most other places, women hold up half the sky—and more. Their contributions to agricultural livelihoods often go unrecognised, while their capacities to shape rural futures and build prosperity could be better supported. Without more attention being paid to achieving gender equity in rural life the prognosis is dim, both for improving agricultural productivity and community well-being. In this lecture I will present some strategies that have been co-developed with rural communities to monitor gender equity from the bottom up and strengthen gender equity in agriculture and post-harvest processing. These strategies acknowledge the diverse economic practices that contribute to rural wellbeing and aim to foster those practices that women and men value and aspire to.

Ms Vicki Wilde (Senior Program Officer, Agricultural Development and Women's Economic Empowerment, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and Dr Jayne Curnow (Social Sciences Research Program Manager, ACIAR) presented on the topic:

Gender in Agricultural Research for Development as a Driver for Inclusive Transformation.

Jayne CurnowJayne Curnow:  Building Intellectual Bridges and Shared Agendas

From design to evaluation, only agricultural research for development that addresses gendered social relations is thorough, comprehensive science. Poverty reduction will accelerate with greater attention to gender equity and the empowerment of women. These are my working hypotheses. Ten years ago this would have been intellectually radical but the groundswell of the next wave of change towards more equitable gender relations is now palpable and such hypotheses garner more intellectual interest than backlash. There is more that unites us than divides us across gender, racial and religious lines. Could it be that current academic structures and intellectual paradigms mitigate against seeking commonality and rather emphasize difference leading to division? Now that is an idea that may still be seen as radical.

There is now so much to build on for those seeking to achieve equality. A key to success in our particular field is building productive collaborations with bio-physical scientists. Great fear swirls around the discourses of gender – fear of saying and doing the wrong thing, fear of losing out in a zero-sum power game. Our work is inherently multi- or trans-disciplinary and I argue it is incumbent upon social scientists to take the lead on dispelling this fear and creating the shared language and comprehension required to work across disciplinary boundaries.

But let us not forget that the shackles of structural inequality still chafe. The glass ceiling holds fast in many spheres. Equal pay for equal work is still, still!, a target not a reality for many. We are now in a moment when the next wave of feminism is gathering momentum. From experience we know it will crest and subside, and strong undercurrents will draw back some gains. Such are the patterns of societal change. What are the next incremental steps to equality? How do we foresight and plan for the inevitable backlash? That is our task

Vicki WildeVicki Wilde: Building On-Ramps for Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture

The world has seen progress toward greater gender equality in recent decades, but significant barriers persist. We focus on inclusive agriculture transformation because smallholder farmers and small-scale livestock keepers are over-represented in the lowest percentiles of national income distributions, and among these women are poorer than men. The beauty of economic empowerment interventions, like increasing women’s land rights and expanding women’s access to agricultural markets and financial services, is that they have huge spill over effects. Directly, these interventions reduce poverty; indirectly, they encourage women to expand their sense of self and challenge the unwritten rules that say women are lesser than men.

It can be particularly challenging to upgrade the economic lives of women in agriculture. Despite women’s pervasive roles in agriculture, returns on their labor remain low. We count on your research and experience to show us:

  1. What works to ensure equitable access to the technologies, services and knowledge generated by agricultural development investments. How do we build the on-ramps for more equitable participation in the new opportunities that emerge with agricultural transformation? We also need to find more ways to use such evidence to help promote policies that would further enhance access and opportunity for more-marginalized populations, and for women's empowerment.
  2. What works to help smallholder farmers and small-scale livestock keepers increase their assets and increase returns to the use of those assets. It is no easy task to address the highly gendered and pervasive imbalance in assets and opportunities today. We can start by getting more intentional about documenting the distributional consequences of agricultural interventions, and any unintentional consequences.

Plenary Panelists - A conversation with men champions of gender equality: Challenging harmful masculinities for better development outcomes

Akhter Ahmed - - is a Senior Research Fellow and Country Representative, IFPRI Bangladesh. .  He has extensive experience interacting with and communicating research-based evidence to policymakers, influencing dialogue on nutrition- and gender-sensitive agriculture in the country. He led the impact evaluation for a joint IFPRI-Ministry of Agriculture pilot project (“Agriculture, Nutrition, and Gender Linkages,” or ANGeL), which assessed different strategies for improving food security, nutrition, and women's empowerment. A notable aspect of this RCT is that one of the interventions engaged men and other key household decisionmakers such as mothers-in-law in gender sensitization activities, using Helen Keller International’s Nurturing Connections curriculum.

Steven Cole - - is a Senior Scientist (Gender) for WorldFish.  Steven leads the social science research for WorldFish in Zambia, in particular, integrating gender and other social science perspectives in aquaculture, small-scale fisheries, value chains and nutrition research.  As a part of this work, he spearheaded the development and testing of gender transformative strategies in smallscale fisheries in Zambia.   One of Steven’s ongoing areas of focus is engaging men in change processes within Participatory Action Research and encouraging male research colleagues as gender champions.

Steven is the Leader of the Aquaculture Technical, Vocational, and Entrepreneurship Training for Improved Private Sector and Smallholder Skills project and leads two other aquaculture research projects in Sierra Leone and in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.  He is the designated WorldFish Research Lead for Sierra Leone.  Steven has published a number of peer-reviewed publications, including on masculinities and rural development in Zambia and gender transformative change. He obtained his PhD in Biological Anthropology from the University of Arizona in 2012.  He also holds a MSc degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics and a BSc in Health and Nutrition.

John McDermott - John McDermott joined IFPRI in 2011 to lead the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), led by IFPRI. Previously he was Deputy Director General and Director of Research at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi from 2003-2011. John has lived and worked in Africa for 25 years. As a researcher, John’s research career has focused on public health, animal health and livestock research in developing countries, primarily Africa. He has led projects on zoonotic and emerging diseases in Asia and Africa. John has a strong background in quantitative methods (modeling, study design, statistics).

He has earned a PhD in quantitative epidemiology from the University of Guelph, a Masters Degree in Preventive Veterinary Medicine from the University of California – Davis, and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Guelph. During his research career, John authored or co-authored 200 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters and conference papers and has advised over 30 post-graduate students, including 20 PhD graduates. He was a visiting Lecturer at the University of Nairobi and a Professor at the University of Guelph. He has also served as an advisor to FAO, WHO, OIE, and other international agencies, served as a non-executive Director of the Global Alliance for Livestock Vaccines and Medicine (GALVmed), and as a member of the advisory committee of Veterinarians with Borders in Canada.

Philip Erick Otieno Owitti - – is the Executive Director of Advocates for Social Change- Kenya (ADSOCK) [formerly Men for Gender Equality Now (MEGEN)]. ADSOCK was established in 2001 during a regional Men to Men Conference that was held in Nairobi, Kenya and brought together men from six (6) African countries.  Following the regional conference, ADSOCK set out to demonstrate what a national movement could do, using different methodologies to reach out to men in diverse communities.

Surendran Rajaratnam - –  is a Senior Gender Research Analyst at WorldFish, where he conducts and contributes to a range of gender strategic studies in Asia and Africa. Amongst these, Surendran has examined constraining and enabling gender norms and their influence on innovation processes in Bangladesh and the Philippines and is currently working on integrating research on masculinities into technical aquaculture and fisheries work with the Government of Assam, India as part of the APART project. Over the past 6 years, Surendran has also navigated the complexities of becoming a male champion for gender equality and gender science within the research for development sphere.  As a part of this, he has been critically reflecting on how to recognize men as a part of the social change process towards greater equality.

Surendran also sits on the Executive Committee of the Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section (GAFS) of the Asian Fisheries Society and serves as editor of the section’s newsletter. He obtained his Master’s Degree in 2013 and is currently pursuing a PhD at Universiti Sains Malaysia on Rohingya women refugees’ access to healthcare services in Malaysia.

Six themes

Link to content on ACIAR site -

Large disparities in nutrition and health outcomes exist between different social groups, and resources and processes related to these outcomes are often distributed inequitably.  These differences intersect with gender, in some cases compounding gender differences, and in others, offsetting them. Recognizing these inequities, this theme explores the role of gender and other social categories such as age, caste, class, ethnicity, race, and religion, among others, that create differences in health and nutrition outcomes and processes that are unnecessary, avoidable, unfair, and unjust.  We invite papers that examine how the multiple processes and drivers of food systems can be transformed to make health and nutrition outcomes more equitable.  We encourage submissions that analyze the intersection of gender with age, socio-economic factors, caste, ethnicity (among others) in determining nutrition and health outcomes.  Studies using mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) and those assessing the gender and equity impact of value chain innovations and interventions on equity-related outcomes are particularly welcome.

Theme Leader

Hazel Malapit

Hazel Malapit

Link to content on ACIAR site -

This theme will explore the relationships among gender, agricultural productivity, and rural transformation.  Rural transformation may be occurring due to outmigration of particular demographic groups,  improved infrastructure, increased access to public services, and new opportunities both in the agricultural and nonagricultural sectors.   Gender relations both influence these processes of rural transformation and are changed by them.  Women may be empowered by taking over new roles when men migrate out or may be burdened by additional responsibilities with limited access to resources.   Papers that analyze these issues are invited for these sessions.  In addition, the theme will include papers that address issues of agricultural productivity and the gender gaps in agricultural productivity within the context of rural transformation.

Theme Leader

Cheryl Doss

Cheryl Doss

Link to content on ACIAR site -

This theme will draw attention to programs, projects and strategies that have successfully integrated gender into design and implementation and lessons learned for future practice. The theme will explore programming insights focused on: effective ways to catalyse social and behavioural change for both agricultural and gender equality and social outcomes; gender–sensitive evaluation and impact assessment systems for continuous program improvement; and gender transformative approaches to the adoption of innovative technologies.

Theme Leaders

Sally Moyle and Anu Mundkur

Sally MoyleAnu Mundkur

Link to content on ACIAR site -

This theme will examine how men are being affected by changes in rural economies and societies. It is increasingly being recognised that focussing only on women, however understandable, is insufficient to overturn the norms that entrench gender inequality. In the context of agriculture, for example, divisions of labour and the control of income from cash crops have usually privileged men at the expense of women, but changes in rural economies are having a profound impact on both men’s and women’s lives. Increasing reliance on cash crops, the movement of men for work and efforts to transform conjugal relations are seeing changes in men’s roles in rural communities. Some scholars even argue that such changes have caused a ‘crisis of masculinity,’ which can result in pernicious forms of masculinity. This theme will examine specific changes occurring in the agricultural context and how men and especially their beliefs about how to be a man are being affected. It will also examine gender programming and interventions that focus solely on men or on men in households or families.

Theme Leader

Richard Eves

Richard Eves

Link to content on ACIAR site -

Women and men inhabit ‘webs of relationships’ in farming and allied activities in rural areas, relationships that permit them to live and make a livelihood, to produce, and to reproduce. These gendered relations are not always voluntary, and can be substantially influenced by external factors. In turn, women and men, as they go about farming, significantly co-produce labour and production relations.  

Many of these are shifting, inexorably, rapidly and sometimes fundamentally, in the contemporary world. As more men move out of rural areas in contemporary times, and more women must take greater roles in agriculture within various resource constraints, are they transforming the ways in which production has been carried out conventionally, while transforming themselves? One is compelled to ask: what are the directions of these gendered changes? How are labour and production in farming altering? What factors are driving these changes? Who is benefitting and in what ways? What are the implications of these dynamics?

This thematic session examines some aspects of these (and other) questions thrown up by the now radically recreated gendered rural and agricultural landscapes, and the resultant complex challenges they pose to researchers, development scholars and practitioners and policy-makers.

Theme Leader

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt

Link to content on ACIAR site -

While agri-food systems research is gaining ground, challenges remain when it comes to effectively integrating gender. Gender integration in agricultural research to-date has tended to focus on the production domain with relatively scant knowledge and systematic learning vis a vis integrating gender within a broader agri-food system perspective. Taking a systems perspective spotlights trade-offs,  interconnectedness, and dependencies within the chain: interdisciplinarity becomes central. This conference theme focusses on what effective gender integration means: it will surface key challenges as well as state-of-the-art learning regarding strategies, methods, and tools for integrating gender in agri-food systems research. This includes considering the implications of rapidly transforming agri-food systems and of development investments in gender equality/equity on gender gaps and opportunities, as well as what those mean for food security, health and nutrition, and livelihoods of vulnerable groups. Key goals are: to examine the role of intersectionalities in determining opportunities available in the agri-food systems;  and, to unravel and measure economic and social impacts to inform research priority setting and investment decisions. We welcome papers that capture the processes of gender integration and related learning, in addition to examples of gender-integrated agri-food systems research. This exchange is anticipated to highlight the opportunities and challenges gender and social science researchers face in the agri-food system domain, and explore ways to achieve more effective gender integration.

Theme Leaders

Ranjitha Puskur and Cynthia McDougall

Ranjitha PuskurCynthia McDougall

Conference teams

Barbara Pamphilon (UC)

Barbara PamphilonBarbara is the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Communities at the University of Canberra (UC). Barbara has taught and researched community development for nearly three decades. She has a special interest in collaborative research methodologies that enable multiple knowledges to emerge. Her recent work has been in Papua New Guinea where she works with women semi-subsistence farmers and their families to develop ways to support equitable and effective farm and family practices.

Rhiannon Pyburn (CGIAR)

Rhiannon PyburnRhiannon is the Coordinator of the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research, and she is a Senior Advisor based at KIT Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Rhiannon has worked in the gender and agriculture/Natural Resource Management space for over 20 years, focusing on gender equity in value chain development, social and environmental certification and standards, agricultural innovation systems and social learning. She has a special interest in supporting gender integration into biophysical and technical research, and the institutional change required to support interdisciplinary and gender mainstreaming.

Jayne Curnow (ACIAR)

Jayne CurnowJayne is an anthropologist with extensive leadership experience in international aid and research for development spanning the water, agriculture, natural resource management, legal, economic, and health sectors. Currently at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Jayne is the Research Program Manager, Social Sciences. The Social Sciences portfolio invests in collaborative research projects between Australian researchers and partners across Asia and the Pacific. Its research themes include livelihoods, agricultural extension, gendered social relations, women’s empowerment, climate adaptation, ecosystems and natural resource management. She chairs the ACIAR Gender Committee and led the development of Gender Equity Strategy and Policy across the agency and its research programs ( ACIAR Gender Equity Policy and Strategy 2017 - 2022 ). Jayne is fluent in Bahasa Indonesian and Malay.

Hazel Malapit - Gender and equity for nutritious and healthy food systems

Hazel MalapitHazel is a senior research coordinator at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). She coordinates research, training and technical assistance on the implementation of  the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), including refinement and adaptations of the tools for project-level use, and for capturing empowerment across the value chain. She manages and coordinates the integration of gender, equity and empowerment into the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), and conducts research on gender, women’s empowerment, agriculture, health and nutrition issues. She is co-Principal Investigator for the Gender, Agriculture & Assets Program (GAAP) (Phase 2), and is a member of the Advisory Committee for the; CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research. Read more about Hazel -

Cheryl Doss - Gender, agricultural productivity and rural transformation

Cheryl DossCheryl is a development economist who focuses on issues of women’s land rights, the gender asset and wealth gaps, intrahousehold analyses, methods for collecting sex-disaggregated data for gender analysis, and agriculture and rural development, with a primary focus on Africa. She joined the Oxford Department of International Development in 2016, after 17 years at Yale University and is also now the flagship leader for gender research in the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM). She has an extensive publication record in journals in economics, international development, and agricultural economics. She has also served in advisory and consulting capacities for UN Women, UN Statistics, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, FAO, the World Bank, among others.

Sally Moyle and Anu Mundkur - Cultivating equality: Bringing evidence from the field to close the agricultural gender gap

Sally MoyleSally joined CARE Australia in November 2016 as the Chief Executive.  She has had extensive experience in international development policy and practice, and almost twenty years’ experience addressing gender issues both domestically and in international development. Most recently, Sally was the Principal Gender Specialist and Assistant Secretary, with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and has been in senior executive roles in the Australian Government since 2008, including DFAT, the Office for Women, and working on Indigenous Affairs and in Disability Care in the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Prior to joining AusAID in 2006, Sally had senior roles at the Australian Human Rights Commission. Sally is an Honorary Associate Professor at the College of Asia and the Pacific at ANU.

Anu MundkurAnu has extensive practical and applied research experience in the fields of gender and development.  Her areas of expertise include women peace and security, gender and international aid. She has over fifteen years of professional experience, including nearly ten years working, in different roles, on gender projects funded by the Commonwealth of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia Aid). Currently, Anu is the Head of Gender Equality at CARE Australia. Prior to joining CARE Australia, Anu was seconded from Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) to the Australian Civil-Military Centre (ACMC) where she focused on supporting the development of national capabilities to prevent, prepare for and respond more effectively to humanitarian crises overseas. She was also a co-founder of the Gender Consortium, Flinders University. In 2016, Anu served as one of two NGO representatives on the Australian Government Delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (60th Session) and a year prior, was inducted into South Australia’s Women’s Honour Roll, which each year recognises 30 women in the State who promote an inclusive community based on principles of equality, peace and justice.

Richard Eves - Men, masculinity and changing rural economies

Richard EvesRichard is an anthropologist who has been undertaking research in Papua New Guinea since 1990. His work deals with contemporary issues in Papua New Guinea, straddling the boundaries between anthropology and development with a particular focus on gender and violence. Most recently, he has completed research for the multi-year  Do No Harm project, funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development. This project examined the relationship between women’s economic empowerment and violence against women in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. In collaboration with CARE (Australia), he has also conducted research into women’s economic empowerment among coffee small-holders in the Eastern Highlands Province of PNG.

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt - Labour and production relations

Kuntala Lahiri-DuttKuntala is a Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. Kuntala is one of the leading researchers on a broad spectrum of gender and community livelihood issues in natural resource management, with a particular focus on three sectors such as agriculture, water, and extractive industries (including artisanal and informal mining). Kuntala has authored a number of articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters in scholarly books, and books on these thematic topics. Kuntala’s research is informed by feminist scholar-activist research methodologies.

Ranjitha Puskur and Cynthia McDougall - Gender integration in agri-food systems research for development

Ranjitha PuskurRanjitha leads the gender research program at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). She has been part of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) since 2002 leading research on gender and innovation systems in water, livestock, fish and rice. Her work focuses on generating knowledge, learning and evidence that can translate into technical and institutional innovation and lead to social inclusion and gender equitable outcomes in agriculture. She is an Aspen New Voices Fellow.

Cynthia McDougallCynthia is the Gender Research Leader for WorldFish and the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-food Systems (‘FISH’). She is an interdisciplinary social scientist with over 20 years of experience in food security, gender and social equity, and natural resource governance. In her current role, she leads gender strategic research as well as the integration of gender in aquaculture, fisheries and nutrition research in Asia, Africa and the Pacific. Her particular interest is in mixed methods,  participatory action research and gender transformative approaches and how these can leverage scalable shifts towards empowerment, equality, poverty reduction, food and nutrition security and sustainability. Dr McDougall holds a BA Hons (Political Science and Development Studies) from Trent University in Canada, an MPhil (Geography) from Cambridge University in the UK, and a PhD (Knowledge, Technology and Innovation) from Wageningen University, The Netherlands.

Conference Leaders

Dr Jo CaffreyDr Jo Caffery -  convenor of the Australian and Indigenous

Dr Kym SimonciniDr Kym Simoncini  -  convenor of the Low and Middle Income country

Dr Ann HillDr Ann Hill  -  convenor of conference group learning


Conference Support

Siew Imm Tan - Liaison

Jenny Truong - Administration

Kila Raka - Support

Peter Fock - Website

University of Canberra, Australia

The University of Canberra is a young university located near the centre of the city but also where we share our campus with kangaroos. For more information about University of Canberra -

Canberra is the capital city of Australia. It is a small and accessible city with a range of accommodation options. Autumn is a perfect time to visit. For more information about Canberra - <

Conference program

Program highlights

  • Conference Dinner at National Gallery of Australia - from 5:30pm, 2 April 2019
  • Keynote address by Professor Katherine Gibson, Western Sydney University, Institute for Culture and Society - 9am, 3 April 2019
  • Public Lecture by Professor Naila Kabeer, London School of Economics - 7pm, 3 April 2019
  • Plenary Panel - A conversation with men champions of gender equality: Challenging harmful masculinities for better development outcomes
  • Discussion Groups with Invited Speakers
  • Networking opportunities

Full details are in the conference program, available in the documents linked below.

Clicking this link or the image will open the published Seeds of Change Program (PDF 2Mb)Seeds-of-Change-program-cover