Gender, agriculture & rural development

IIFS has a strong gender focus. IIFS, for the first time, is under the process of formulating gender strategy for the institute. With a view to build capacity of professionals working with women in agriculture and rural development, IIFS (in collaboration with Wageningen Univesity, the Netherlands) is now developing Short Course integrating ‘Gender, Agriculture & Rural Development’ which will be offered to professionals soon.


Promoting Young Researchers in South Asia for Grounded Gender-Agriculture Research | “Poverty Squares and Gender Circles: Unravelling Agriculture Gaps, Challenges and Opportunities in the Eastern Gangetic Plains” | Bangladesh, India, Nepal

Project Funded by: Consortium Group of International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) Water Land & Ecosystems under IIFS, BAU

Background: The Eastern Gangetic Plains, which encompasses the Nepal Terai, Eastern India (North Bengal) and Bangladesh, is part of South Asia’s poverty square – home to around 600 million of the world’s poorest people. The area is characterized by one of the world’s best groundwater reserves available at a depth of 1.5–3.5 m (Shah et. al. 2000). And yet, agrarian poverty is endemic here with little variation across national borders. Here as elsewhere too, for almost every indicator – rural women are said to fare worse than rural men (IFAD, 2012). The gender crisis in agriculture is complex, relating on one hand to social and cultural constraints to women’s ownership of land, gender inequitable access to infrastructure and services; and on the other hand to social and structural inability of women farmers to negotiate and engage with markets and related stakeholders as farmers in their own rights.

Most conventional approaches to mitigating poverty in this region have been sectorally specific and/or issue-driven (land reforms, irrigation reforms and interventions etc.). These interventions appear not to adequately take into account how multiple factors and processes of change produce patterns of rural poverty and inequality. These include both long-standing factors, such as unequal access to land, water, technology, credit, markets, representation in policy processes etc. as well as new challenges such as evolving agrarian economies, climate and other contextual vulnerabilities. Taking into account these issues, the project, titled, ‘Poverty Squares and Gender Circles: Unravelling Agriculture Gaps, Challenges and Opportunities in the Eastern Gangetic Plains’ supports the shift from prescriptive policies and blue print interventions to nuanced analyses and strategies. This is particularly so, because in the Eastern Gangetic Plains, poverty and vulnerability are marked by disparities in class or landholding as well as by ethnicity, religion, identity and gender. This complexity requires methodological lenses that carefully capture the spatial dimensions of inequality in order to analyse- if and how gender, land and water policies and strategies work, for whom and how.

The project has three key components. The research component of the proposal will analyze how changes in agrarian economies, policies and practices re-arrange tenure, labor and consumption relations between women and men and amongst the poorest in different local situations and contexts. The research will see if these factors influence the ability or agency of diverse groups of poor women and men to negotiate with key actors and stakeholders under different political, institutional and policy contexts. A second component of the project is in developing the research outcomes into ‘easy to grasp and apply’ analytical and conceptual tools and communicating these to diverse actors and next users at multiple institutional levels. The third component of the research is to promote collaborative partnerships between the research team and other stakeholders in the region so as to enable ways to jointly explore and understand the intricate linkages between poverty, gender and agriculture;and review, pilot and implement gender-aware approaches in services, inputs and products. In sum, the project plans to bridge the “know-do” gaps in relation to gender and agriculture in the Eastern Gangetic Plains.

Scholarship: In order to move away from prescriptive gender approaches to innovative methods of collaboratively knowing and doing gender, the project will award three Research Grants to local, mid-career researchers, and professionals (one each in North Bengal in India, North Bangladesh and NepalTerai). This research scholarship aims at supporting multi-disciplinary, applied research on the interlinkages between gender relations,agriculture and ecological challenges. The 3 winning grants will be selected through a competitive review process.

Topics & Selection Criteria: Interested candidates are invited to submit a research proposal based on topics of their interest; a few indicative suggestions are listed below:

# Examining how long-standing gender injustices in relation to agriculture are shaped by different histories, processes and strategies of agrarian change, and analyzing how these changes vary for different groups of women and men divided by class, caste and ethnicity and religion.

# Analyzing how gender inequality is understood, practiced and addressed within key stakeholder institutions in the region.

# Research on communication gaps and opportunities: what are the practices of knowing and doing gender among relevant stakeholders and how can new knowledge on gender be innovatively transferred to local researchers, practitioners, educators and decision-makers?

# Critically analyzing the phenomenon of ‘feminization of agriculture’ in the local context.

# Water resources management –does water abundance in the region facilitate productive agriculture and a move away from poverty, if not – why not?

The applicants are required to submit a research proposal explaining the rationale of the study, objective(s) of the research, research questions, review of relevant literature, methodology and scope of the study in a word document [Download Application]. The research grant will include a maximum amount of INR 3,50,000 or NPR 5,60,000 or Taka 4,20,000. The applicants are also required to outline and explain the estimated budget for their proposal (see format).

We invite applications from researchers, academics, practitioners, activists and policy makers who are currently working on issues relating to gender and agriculture in the above mentioned locations. The 3 winning proposals (one from each region) will demonstrate inter-disciplinary skills and methods; therefore we encourage proposals from multiple actor teams. The winning proposal/s will outline innovative ways of communicating the research outcomes to policy-makers, practitioners, as well as academic stakeholders(as articles in print; through multimedia, in local public domains, through knowledge-sharing processes, etc.). The duration of the fellowship is 12 months post-award of grant, with an inception date of no later than July 1, 2015.

The research proposal in the specified format along with curriculum vitae of team members and two references is to be submitted to by May 15, 2015.

A committee consisting of project team members, WLE-CGIAR reviewers and at least 2 independent external stakeholders who are aware and informed of the topics and the region/s will jointly review the proposals which will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Proposal indicates an inter-disciplinary, applied research method and approach.
  • Research questions are clearly stated and can be studied in sufficient depth during the 12-month period.
  • Methodology for research is clear and methods for data collection are appropriate for the topic of research.
  • There is adequate evidence that the research can be analyzed to generate policy-relevant or institutional change relevant outcomes.
  • Applicants, in particular, the Lead Applicant demonstrates appropriate technical skills and experience to successfully implement the research.
  • Proposal presents a convincing plan for involving key decision makers, including stakeholders from local government, communities, local leaders, and activists.

Shortlisted grantees will be informed by June 5, 2015 and the 3 final grantees will be selected no later than June 20 through an open interview process.

For any further questions and clarifications please contact:

Research Proposal Format can be downloaded clicking [here]