In sub-Saharan Africa, it is the women who put food on the table. They are the major producers and processors of food for home consumption, including beans. They also dominate as sellers of food products in seasonal markets, both on street and from permanent market stalls.

Men, on the other hand, are primarily responsible for generating income for the home. In agriculture, their interest lies in commercial crops. So, while women continue to provide much of the labour needed, the growth of multi million dollar bean markets is increasingly attracting men to bean production with unknown consequences to gender equity.

Differing interests breed different requirements. Where women would choose food security above marketability, men would risk household food and nutrition security for marketability.

By addressing the different needs of men and women, and ensuring gender equity in bean research and development, we can have a major impact on agricultural productivity, food and nutrition security, wealth creation and economic growth. Closing the gender gap ensures that women are able to access the same opportunities as men.

Therefore, gender equity – and striving for it – is integrated into every aspect of our work:

Creating an enabling environment

Creating an enabling environment for gender mainstreaming is mandatory.

  • Formal representation and decision making: From the PABRA coordinating team, through to our regional networks, platforms and training activities, we require a minimum representation of 30 per cent women. This ensures that decisions and their outcomes meet the needs and interests of both male and female farmers, especially where gender preferences and needs differ.
  • Funding gender mainstreaming: Just like all other areas of our work, gender has its own budget to ensure continuous gender-focused capacity building in almost every PABRA activity.

Structures to support mainstreaming

We support our members to build the skills, knowledge and structures needed to mainstream gender throughout their national bean programmes. We do this by:

  • Identifying and building the capacity of gender champions within national agricultural research centres: Gender champions serve as advocates, trainers and assessors of gender mainstreaming within national bean programmes, helping to raise awareness, improve and monitor the success of our interventions. Between 2011 and 2013 we trained 21 gender champions within the national research centres of 21 PABRA countries, who in turn have trained 159 national agricultural research scientists and community workers.
  • Developing tools and manuals: [link to resources page] Useful resources to help guide researchers and development workers in analysing and incorporating gender issues into their work.
  • Continuous awareness creation on the need for gender equity across all forums and activities.

Improving processes

Gender mainstreaming is built into all PABRA research, reporting and evaluation processes.

  • We consult with male and female farmers when evaluating new bean varieties to capture varietal preferences and trade-offs
  • Our dissemination interventions target male, female and mixed farmer groups and strive to link them to the markets
  • Gender issues are mainstreamed in the routine monitoring procedures, tools and methods to enable learning.
  • All PABRA research has explicit gender targets that are mainstreamed in activities, outputs, outcomes and performance indicators
  • At household level, we conduct research to understand the gender dynamics between men and women in their social contexts to design more effective and equitable interventions.
  • Our impact assessment research collects gender disaggregated data that supports further investigations on gender specific access and use of research benefits.
  • We regularly sensitise national bean programme coordinators on gender inequality challenges and their roles in addressing them.