As we navigate the world of sustainable agriculture, important questions arise about communication differences between men and women. Our third webinar in our 2022 Gender and Agriculture Webinar Series explored communication and gender in the development of agricultural programmes for smallholder farmers.
The importance of understanding information networks
Dr. Rachel Friedman from the Institute for Climate Energy and Disaster Solutions at the Australian National University (ANU) shared her research in Papua New Guinea (PNG) on creating information networks for gender-sensitive climate-smart agriculture. Rachel highlighted how gender influences information networks. Stark differences were revealed in information networks used by men and women farmers, reflecting their diverse roles within the farming community. Women tended to rely on informal sources such as churches, family, and friends for information, whereas men preferred formal sources like media, community leaders, and extension officers. For men, easy-to-understand and relevant information were top priority factors, while for women, the trustworthiness and quality of information were key concerns. These communication preferences highlight the need for considering gender in the design and implementation of climate information services to ensure equitable access for both men and women farmers.
Identifying barriers to participation in training to ensure access to information
Bethel Terefe (formally at CABI and now a Senior Gender Expert at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) discussed gender dynamics in the adoption of Trichogramma parasitoids as a biocontrol for managing Helicoverpa armigera on tomato crops in Pakistan. In this location, communication channels for the adoption of biocontrol varied between men and women farmers. Barriers to participation were important as they found that women had lower participation levels in training despite their high level of involvement in tomato production activities. Social and cultural norms were also sometimes barriers to women’s participation in training. Interestingly, women’s involvement in pest management increased when biocontrol methods were employed demonstrating potentially increased interest in more sustainable and less harmful pest management strategies.
Enhancing communication skills can help empower women farmers
Dr Gomathy Palaniappan, from the University of Queensland Australia explored communication patterns in the Philippines and PNG. In PNG, women farmers preferred informal sources of information, while in the Philippines, female farmers were observed to prefer more formal sources of communication in comparison to their male counterparts. The location is, however, very important. For example, in provinces that lacked extension services, women farmers were prompted to rely on fellow farmers and family members for information. Gomathy highlighted the significance of building women’s self-esteem for effective communication and how greater communication skills can empower women farmers. In the Philippines, women farmers also expressed more concern about the health effects of farm activities than their male counterparts. Thus, tailoring messages that promote health may resonate better with women in the uptake of biocontrol crop protection technologies.
All three speakers shared critical insights on the importance of gender-based communication in agriculture.
You can watch the webinar here. You will find the links to some of the studies covered in the webinar here:
We hope this discussion sparks further research and action to bridge the gender gap in sustainable agriculture and pave the way for inclusive and impactful IPM programs. This webinar was one of three in the 2022 Women as IPM Leaders Gender and Agriculture Webinar Series. The 2023 Women as IPM Leaders Webinar Series under the ASEAN FAW Action Plan starts soon! Find out more information and join us by going to https://www.aseanfawaction.org/women-as-ipm-leaders
The ASEAN FAW Action Plan would like to thank the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their generous support of this programme.
About the author
Leandra Fernandes enjoys working in the space of plant biosecurity, Integrated Pest Management and gender inclusivity. Outside of work, she is an avid reader and rock climber that loves the outdoors and hanging out with friends. You can connect with her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/leandra-fernandes-0b0615118/