Following the recent workshop on ‘Integrating Gender into Agricultural Programming‘, the Africa RISING project in the Ethiopian Highlands has decided to engage ‘gender champions’ to raise gender awareness, cultivate gender equity and ensure sustainability of gender work in the project.
At least two gender champions have been selected in each of the 4 woredas where the project is working to ensure that gender differences are taken into account in each and every innovation platform (IP) activity. At least one of the gender champions serves on the IP as a technical committee member. The seven gender champions selected so far will drive the gender agenda within Africa RISING’S action sites.
They have been trained in gender and sensitized about the gender goals of the program. They will work closely with the project’s gender scientist and IP facilitators to nurture gender within the IPs.
The criteria for selection of the champions included:
- Knowledge and interest in gender and committed to closing the gender gap
- Previous experience in working with men and women’s groups
- Knowledge about Africa RISING’s sites at woreda and kebele level
- Representative of partner institution working within Africa RISING’s sites
Roles of the gender champions
Gender champions will not be gender experts but will support Africa RISING scientists and IP facilitators to mainstream gender in program interventions and provide a deeper understanding of the local context surrounding gender in mixed farming systems. The gender champions will share the gender goals with community leaders and IP members, secure local buy-in for gender goals, persuade hesitant women and disadvantages men to join IPs and innovation clusters; create a suitable environmental for participation of men and women and address gender challenges as they arise during the course of the interventions.
Some of their specific roles will include:
- Actively participate in innovation platform activities at woreda and Kebele level
- Ensure that women are represented in IP activities and that they participate actively
- Ensure that women are represented in leadership committees
- Actively participate in data collection and report writing
- Input to knowledge products
- Share relevant resources
- Work closely with male actors who are committed and influential in community development initiatives such as male community leaders to drive change in gender constraining norms and attitudes
- Identify areas that need attention to ensure that research interventions benefit both men and women farmers
- Participation in gender championing is primarily on a voluntary basis.