Women and Gender in International Development Discussion Series (CIRED)

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Our mission is to work towards gender equality in development by promoting gender sensitivity in every CIRED (Center for International Research, Education, and Development) project and ensuring that women benefit.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 33
  • Women’s empowerMENt: How do large-scale development agencies approach men and masculinities in gender-based project programming and women’s empowerment initiatives?
    Williams, Rebecca (Virginia Tech, 2024-04-17)
    Due to the work of many critical and feminist scholars and development practitioners, gender assessments and strategies have been mainstreamed into the work of large-scale development agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Gender as a concept within the development paradigm has shifted over time from a focus on integration of women into development projects (women in development, WID), to the examination of gender as a social construct that includes specific roles, norms, and responsibilities assigned to men and women (gender and development, GAD), and ultimately to empowerment approaches that emphasize the need for transformational change of the social and institutional structures that subordinate women. Contemporary discourses and critiques within the field of gender and development bring to the fore the importance of understanding how intersectionality and masculinity operate within these greater systems and structures. In this research project, I use critical feminism and document analysis to examine USAID's gender strategies across 60 nations and regions and how they approach gender and development in terms of men’s unique needs, men’s role in women’s empowerment, and the role of masculinities in men’s performance of gender. Preliminary results show that USAID's gender focus is almost entirely on women's needs with very little work being conducted on masculinity, particularly in terms of the way men identify themselves as "men" or "masculine" and how this influences initiatives targeted to women.
  • Intersections of Vulnerabilities: Multiple Marginalized Experiences of Women and Girls with Disabilities in Nepal
    Khanal, Neeti (Virginia Tech, 2024-03-14)
    Nepal, known as one of the 48 Least Developed Countries in the world, is now on its preparatory five-year plan (2021-2024) to graduate toward being a developing country. This possible graduation however is happening without much visible improvement in status of one of the most marginalized groups in Nepal: women and girls with disabilities. In the presentation, Dr. Neeti will discuss how the experience of women and girls with disabilities is shaped by the complex intersection of ableism and patriarchy. These intersections are further heightened by four barriers: social, physical, communication and institutional, and policy. Further, these experiences are shaped by other aspects of social identities of women and girls with disabilities: caste/ethnicity, class, education, social capital, and place of residence. Nepal has ratified a number of conventions and treaties including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. However, women and girls with disabilities, despite being one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in Nepal, continue to remain invisible in state legislation, policy, and programs. This presentation is based on Neeti Aryal Khanal’s two-decade-long research-based activism on various aspects of women and girls with disabilities in Nepal: gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, experience of motherhood, and institutional and policy barriers.
  • Healing Cartographies: Body Mapping by Guatemalan Women Survivors of Genocide
    Macal, Carla (Virginia Tech, 2024-02-26)
    In this discussion, I examine the embodied transformative memory of GuateMaya feminist groups in Guatemala and in Los Angeles. Through a decolonial feminist perspective and feminist ethnographic approach, I built intimate relationships with the grassroots groups. This presentation will explore the multidimensional ways the groups create a transformative memory opposing Guatemala and U.S. states of what can be remembered and what can’t. The groups are committed to what I call cartographies of healing, weaving memory, movement, and embodied testimonios across settler-colonial borders. The groups honor loved ones' memory by installing public altars, photos, art, and poetry. The presentation will delve into the concept of cartographies of healing and the ethnographic work I employed from 2019 to 2023. A particular method I used was body mapping to examine the embodied transformative memory of the groups and women who seek justice. Body mapping has been used with HIV-positive patients and migrant children. Latin American feminist decolonial geographers (Cabnal 2010; Zaragocin 2020, GeoBrujas 2021) are using the method of body mapping as a decolonial, counter-cartographic perspective that highlights Indigenous peoples’ lived experiences. I use the method to explore the relationships between the body, memory, and healing from intergenerational trauma. Informed by decolonial feminists, I aim to center the testimonios of GuateMaya feminist groups and be guided by a body-mind-spirit perspective to amplify the concerns, visions, and futures of GuateMaya groups across the hemisphere.
  • Gender Transformations Embedded in Livelihood Transitions: Changes and Continuities in Hmong Gender Roles and Relations in Northern Thailand
    Langill, Jennifer (Virginia Tech, 2023-10-12)
    Feminist research has long critiqued the overly economic focus of development studies and scholarship, calling for greater attention to the gender and broader social dimensions of development. While we are seeing much more gender sensitivity in development discourse, overwhelmingly approaches remain siloed between economic and feminist lenses. In this talk, I present an integrated gender and development analysis of livelihood change in an ethnic Hmong village in northern Thailand. I outline 30 years of livelihood transitions in this village through the entry point of gender roles and relations. Such an approach identifies both gender transformations as well as gender tensions and inequities that persist. I argue that gender is more than context and outcome, but woven throughout all forms of livelihood, economic, and environmental change.
  • Women’s labour market participation and intimate partner violence in Ghana: A multilevel analysis
    Owusu-Brown, Bernice (Virginia Tech, 2023-09-14)
    In recent decades, the capabilities approach has emerged as the most pertinent theoretical framework for elucidating development, well-being, and justice. By emphasizing the multifaceted nature of human well-being, the capability approach advocates a broader perspective of development beyond mere economic growth. It underscores the necessity of considering various dimensions that contribute to the enhancement of human lives by assigning importance to freedom. One prevalent form of freedom violation is intimate partner violence, which stems from historically unequal power dynamics between men and women, resulting in the subjugation and discrimination of women by men and hindering the full realization of their potential. This profound restriction of freedom does not only violate their fundamental human rights but also jeopardizes their health, and, consequently, obstructs their active engagement in national economic and social development. The capability approach prescribes women’s empowerment as a remedy for curbing violence, as reflected in both conventional economic and non-economic models. These models forecast that women's engagement in the labor market enhances their bargaining power, leading to a decrease in intimate partner violence. However, in conflict are rather pessimistic models suggesting that women who earn more than their partners via their labor market participation are at risk of expiring increased partnered violence. Conscious of this bi-causal relationship and accounting for the potential endogeneity, I set out to empirically investigate the direction of association of this relationship within the Ghanaian context. Our key finding indicates that woman's work status significantly increases her likelihood of becoming a victim of partnered violence. I conclude that while there is a growing focus on creating job opportunities for women to foster gender equality and development, it is essential to consider and address the implications this may have on their safety and well-being.
  • Food, gender, and identity in a global context: An inter-disciplinary conversation with acclaimed culinary writer Nina Mukerjee Furstenau
    Furstenau, Nina M. (Virginia Tech, 2023-04-13)
    Food reveals a nuanced trail into the history of a region, what makes comfort there, how worship is celebrated; it reveals the labor involved in fields and kitchens, the trees that fruit, and the soils that sustain. Food story is also a personal journey connected with that community tale. Because of its universality, the sensory act of eating and the story behind that act can reach across boundaries of gender, education, access, conflict, geography, and politics in accessible ways. This approach creates opportunities for not only food research, but for a deep dive into gender roles and identity in a global context. This presentation takes a look at the uneven distribution of information between women and men due to gendered norms, literacy of women, divisions of labor, access to resources, and power relations in the context of food story. In journalism, writers learn to focus on the “five Ws,” and who, what, when, and where often make headlines across media platforms. Time and again, however, it is the last W, why, that is the heart of the story, and the pivot point in social science research. The talk closes with an overview of the field research behind Tasty! Mozambique as an example of using food story to reach across boundaries such as gender and education, followed by discussion on the need to understand cultural settings with a social science approach within research.
  • Speaking for themselves: The importance of enabling Ugandan women to share their story through photography and community dialogue
    Spence, Jessica R. (Virginia Tech, 2023-03-16)
    “Agriculture is the backbone of the country,” is a commonly heard phrase in Uganda. With agriculture making up nearly a quarter of Uganda’s GDP, and nearly 70 percent of the country’s population working in this sector, this is true. However, the muscle operating said backbone is exercised daily by Ugandan women. Not only do significantly more women work in the agriculture sector than men in Uganda, but women’s contribution is also typically under-estimated and under-appreciated. Usually charged with child-rearing, home-keeping, cooking, and a host of other responsibilities, women often take charge of the farm and garden in smallholder farming families. In addition to these unbalanced and gendered responsibilities, women do not often retain financial control over the money earned from their labor and suffer from physical and emotional abuse from their male counterparts. There is increasing awareness of, and efforts to end, the vast disparities women face within this sector, namely the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No. 5, Gender Equality. This lecture will focus on the independence and self-identity women agriculturalists have as farmers, and how that identity, coupled with their responsibilities to their families, make them a unique and strong powerhouse for agricultural development and social change. Through photovoice methodology, groups of women living in two different communities in Uganda allowed a researcher to conduct a study aimed at delving into their lives as women agriculture producers, and specifically the changes they face in agriculture due to their gender. A surprising phenomenon occurred within this study, wherein all participants decided to take self-portraits of themselves as part of their photovoice. The study resulted in themes that supported these harsh realities, including technical challenges, patriarchal society, physical fatigue, and varied agriculture practices, but also, through their self-portraits, gave evidence of self-identity and independence as “women farmers.” The personal identity and independence felt by these women provide evidence of the responsibility felt towards their family, children, and duties as a farmer.
  • Water projects and gender goals in Mozambique: How the technocratic culture of international development conflicts with community perspectives
    Van Houweling, Emily (Virginia Tech, 2022-02-09)
    Gender integration and women’s empowerment goals are shaped by a technocratic culture of international development that determines which frameworks, incentives, theories, and methods are valued. Based on 18 months of ethnographic research in northern Mozambique following a rural water project, Van Houweling shows how the perspectives of gender and change shared by the community conflicted with those of the project implementers and donors. The technocratic culture of development created blind spots, contradictions in the project plans, and unanticipated consequences for gender goals. In this presentation, she will draw attention to the negotiated space between the community and various development actors and reflect on how her own identity and multiple roles (as a student, evaluator, Fulbright recipient, and consultant) affected the water project and her relationships with participants. This research is part of her recent book, “Water and Aid in Mozambique: Gendered Perspectives of Change” published by Cambridge University Press.
  • The Gendering of Climate Change Scholarship in Africa
    Vercillo, Siera (Virginia Tech, 2022-11-10)
    There is increasing recognition of the importance of conducting gendered analysis within climate change research. Africa features prominently in the literature on climate change as people and governments across the continent are disproportionately vulnerable to its impacts, with limited capacity to mitigate and adapt to increasingly erratic rainfall, heat stress, drought, flooding, and sea-level rise. Women and men face uneven vulnerabilities to climate change because of differences in gendered norms, divisions of labor, resource access and power relations. This presentation will report the findings from a systematic review conducted of all 260 studies published in the Web of Science on gender and climate change in Africa and offer suggestions for future research in this area. While there is no strong methodological bias found in this literature, comparative case studies and sex-disaggregated analyses predominate from a limited set of countries. Many articles covered the agrarian sector by comparing women’s and men’s on-farm vulnerability to a changing climate based on their adaptation behaviors. Though this literature recognizes women’s important conservation, farming, and food responsibilities, it oftentimes generalized these contributions without providing evidence. A number of important themes were generally missing in this literature, including research on coastal areas, conflict, education, energy, migration, urban areas, and water. Overall, more justice-oriented research is needed into the socioeconomic structures that intersect with varied social identities to make certain people, places, and institutions more vulnerable. Investigations into the power dynamics between (social) scientists and African institutions are also needed as most articles reviewed stem from North America and Europe and are locked beyond paywalls.
  • Beyond 'Women’s Traits': Analyzing Gender and Social Differences for Inclusive Crop Varietal Design
    Tufan, Hale Ann (Virginia Tech, 2022-10-13)
    Gender is integral to agricultural innovation. Yet, gender relations, social inclusion, power, and agency often remain an afterthought in agricultural innovation processes. Using crop improvement examples, this talk critically explores gender in agricultural innovation and design, including frameworks and approaches for inclusive design, innovative tools and methods that integrate gender research, and how intrahousehold dynamics shape crop trait preferences, varietal adoption and seed systems.
  • Gender in Field Research, Gender in Academia: Navigating Multiple Identity Positions
    Haenn, Nora (Virginia Tech, 2022-09-08)
    Drawing on research that examines masculinity in a male-dominated, small-scale Mexican fishery, this talk explores gender as both an object of study and an identity that researchers must navigate as we traverse institutional and cultural settings. Research on fisheries and other common pool resources often relies on ideas of social capital to explain the communitarianism underpinning their management. One prominent definition of social capital emphasizes trust. That is, researchers argue social capital in the form of mutual dependability and shared expectations is essential to the social bonds that facilitate common pool management. Paradoxically, fishermen in San Evaristo on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula explained, “lies build trust.” Unpacking this notion, I employ an understanding of social capital as process to show that connections between trust and social capital are far from straightforward. In San Evaristo, fishermen worked assiduously to craft harmony and fend off deceit. They did so by creating a linguistic world unto themselves, a world of ribald jokes and non-stop boundary pushing. This world excluded women and calls for consideration of the gendered worlds through which researchers move. What happens when gendered researchers meet gendered social capital? The talk closes by inviting discussion of practical strategies women and men can employ to navigate gendered social structures and cultural norms.
  • Experiences in Merging Gender Transformative Approaches With Development Efforts in Aquatic Food Systems in Bangladesh
    Choudhury, Afrina (Virginia Tech, 2022-04-14)
    Afrina shares her experiences from working in Bangladesh for the past nine years and how her organization has come to embrace gender transformative approaches as a sustainable gender integration approach. She talks about the developmental and research challenges of taking up such an approach within a technical aquaculture environment and why it’s worth it. Finally, she shares how they are expanding gender transformative approach research further into new fields like entrepreneurship.
  • Climate Justice, Gender, and Challenges in a Fractured World
    Sultana, Farhana (Virginia Tech, 2022-03-24)
    Climate change has had unequal and uneven burdens across places whereby the planetary crisis involves a common but differentiated responsibility. The injustices of intensifying climate breakdown, overlapping with injustices from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, have laid bare the fault lines of suffering across sites and scales. A climate justice framework helps us to think about and address these inequities. Climate justice fundamentally is about paying attention to how climate change multipliers impact people intersectionally, unevenly, and disproportionately, as well as redressing the resultant injustices in fair and equitable ways. In this talk, I discuss how and why a feminist climate justice perspective allows for more equitable interventions to be envisioned and co-created for meaningful impacts in a fractured world.
  • Women, Smartphones, and Leafy Greens: How ICTs support women producers in Western Kenya to secure their position in commercializing value chains for indigenous vegetables
    Agnew, Jessica L.; Sumner, Daniel M. (Virginia Tech, 2022-02-10)
    In Western Kenya, women are actively engaged throughout all stages of African indigenous vegetable (AIV) value chains. AIV production and marketing are important means for women to generate economically viable livelihoods and support their families’ nutrition and food security. Enhancing the efficiency and productivity of AIV value chains have the potential to enhance the accessibility of AIVs and enhance the income of women participating in the value chain. However, gender and other factors affect women’s ability to benefit from upgrading activities and improve or maintain their position in the value chain. In this discussion, we will examine how access to information communication technologies such as smartphones, the internet, and blockchain can help to secure the place of women in better functioning AIV value chains in Western Kenya.
  • Women, Water, and Transformative Gender Research
    Rodriguez, Mary T. (Virginia Tech, 2021-11-18)
    Women around the world are primarily responsible to provide water for the household. They can walk up to several hours a day to fetch water. How does bringing water to a community through the use of boreholes and/or piped water schemes impact the lives of women? How do women engage with water provision schemes in their communities? What challenges do they face in paying for water for their many household needs? Through the use of gender transformative research, we can explore these questions and more.
  • Engaging Men in Supporting Maternal and Child Consumption of Milk and Other Animal Source Foods in Rwanda
    Colverson, Kathy (Virginia Tech, 2021-10-21)
    Maternal and child nutrition practices, including consumption of milk and animal source foods, are considered the responsibility of women in many low- and middle-income countries. However, men can influence nutrition in their households through their decision-making, control of resources, and social support. Despite the role of gender and the importance of men in influencing nutrition in their households, most nutrition programs target women and men are not comfortable participating. This ongoing project funded by the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab project is exploring methods of engaging men more actively in household nutrition through a combination of training and communication materials tailored to meet their needs. Training materials were developed after extensive field research with men and women using focus groups and key informant interviews. These materials were used to train local partners on providing nutrition education to men, and assess the effectiveness of changes in household nutrition before and after the training. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the final results are pending, but should be available by the conference. The implications of this research could improve overall household nutrition, particularly as it relates to consumption of animal source foods by women and children.
  • Gender and Decision Making: Quinoa Production among Indigenous Women in Rural Ecuador
    Cárdenas, Elisa (Virginia Tech, 2021-09-16)
    Women’s empowerment can be analyzed in agriculture through their ability to make choices that align with their life goals. Household farm decision-making is often examined as an individual or a jointly made choice, both frequently described as empowering in quantitative studies as women participate in agricultural decisions. However, empowerment is contextual and often difficult to measure and, thus, a qualitative methodology (focus groups and interviews) can better illuminate how joint decision-making processes occur to investigate women’s empowerment. This research asks: how is decision-making among Indigenous women influenced by their gender when producing quinoa in rural Ecuador? The findings include a feminization of agriculture among the participants, in which Indigenous women have become in charge of quinoa production, a traditionally male-dominated crop, due to Indigenous men’s absence in the farm. Furthermore, the participants described decision-making as jointly made, but men had greater authority, which was influenced by their religious beliefs, and men often made final decisions even when they had little or no participation in the farm work. Overall, women’s participation in quinoa production increased, but because the participants associated men as heads of household, women’s decision-making power was still limited even as they have become principal farmers. This study contributes to the literature of decision-making and demonstrates the importance of contextual characteristics, such as the feminization of agriculture, that influence decision-making processes. Overall, Indigenous women farmers are limited by patriarchal norms in their decision-making opportunities and overall empowerment.
  • Towards a politics of mobility and women's empowerment: the case of self-help groups in India
    Nichols, Carly (Virginia Tech. University Libraries, 2020-11-19)
    The Women and Gender in International Development Discussion Series is organized by the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED) and is an InclusiveVT initiative of Outreach and International Affairs (OIA). The series offers an opportunity for scholars and development practitioners to share their research and knowledge surrounding gender and international development with the Virginia Tech community and beyond.
  • Victories and failures of gender expertise in global governance: The case of post-conflict state-building
    Reeves, Audrey (Virginia Tech. University Libraries, 2020-10-15)
    The Women and Gender in International Development Discussion Series is organized by the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED) and is an InclusiveVT initiative of Outreach and International Affairs (OIA). The series offers an opportunity for scholars and development practitioners to share their research and knowledge surrounding gender and international development with the Virginia Tech community and beyond.
  • Four Stories About Food Sovereignty: The Potential and Limits of Community Action and Transnational Solidarity under Conditions of Global Capitalism
    Gill, Bikrum Singh (Virginia Tech. University Libraries, 2019-10-17)
    The Women and gender in International Development Discussion Series is organized by the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED) and is an Inclusive VT initiative of Outreach and International Affairs (OIA). The series offers an opportunity for scholars and development practitioners to share their research and knowledge surrounding gender and international development with the Virginia Tech community and beyond.