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New Publications: Exploring gender equality in Malawi

A new study set in rural Malawi examines increasing jointness in intra-household decision-making to increase resilience and productivity.

Belita Maleko, a farmer in rural Malawi, stands in front of her house. Photo: T. Samson/CIMMYT.
Belita Maleko, a farmer in rural Malawi, stands in front of her house. Photo: T. Samson/CIMMYT.

A new study set in rural Malawi examines how increasing collaborative  decision-making in households helps to increase resilience and productivity.

The authors studied communities working with a household methodology called the Gender Action Learning System (GALS), and a control community which is not familiar with the methodology, to see if promoting collaborative decision-making through  the GALS has measurable impacts in terms of asset development and accumulation, sharing of productive and care/home tasks, on participation in community life and leadership, and on expenditures.

The GALS, introduced by the National Association of Smallholder Farmers in Malawi in 2013 to the study communities, engages participants in discussions and drawings to help them identify a vision for their lives and to make a plan for how to realize their vision. This involves an analytic and planning process which focuses on identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to their vision, and building a time bound action plan.

The study shows that productivity typically increases in the GALS study sites. Women report strongly improved social standing and participation in leadership, and both women and men report developing asset portfolios, both individually and jointly owned, such as ox-carts, land, buildings, and livestock. In both the GALS and the non-GALS sites, men continue to dominate marketing and are final decision-makers. However, in the GALS sites women and men report financial transparency and close discussion on expenditures, in contrast to the non-GALS sites.  Some men are allowing their wives to sell crops like tobacco and to see sale sheets, or registering land in their wife’s name.

Although dramatic changes are reported in a short time as a consequence of working with the GALS, some women were concerned about developing shared asset portfolios given that their communities are patrilineal and patrilocal. This makes their assets vulnerable to being seized in the event of marital breakdown. They thus focused on developing individual asset portfolios.

This work was funded by the CGIAR program on Climate Change and Food Security (CCAFS).

Check out the full article: “Exploring the potential of household methodologies to strengthen gender equality and improve smallholder livelihoods: research in Malawi in maize-based systems.” 2018. Farnworth, C.R., Stirling, C., Chinyophiro, A., Namakhoma, A., Morahan, R. In: Journal of Arid Environments v. 149, p. 53-61, part of the special series “Women in Drylands: Barriers and Benefits for Sustainable Livelihoods.” Edited by Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder, Avigail Morris.

Check out other recent publication by CIMMYT staff below:

  1. Assessing soil properties and nutrient availability under conservation agriculture practices in a reclaimed sodic soil in cereal-based systems of North-West India. 2018. Jat, H.S., Datta, A., Sharma, P.C., Kumar, V., Yadav, A., Choudhary, M., Choudhary, V., Gathala, M.K.,  Sharma, D.K., Jat, M.L., Yaduvanshi, N.P.S., Singh, G., McDonald, A. In: Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science v. 64, no. 4, p. 531-545.
  2. Burning issues of paddy residue management in north-west states of India. 2018. Shiv Kumar Lohan, Jat, H.S., Arvind Kumar, Sidhu, H.S., Jat, M.L., Choudhary, M., Jyotsna Kiran Peter, Sharma, P.C. In: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews v. 81, p. 693-706.
  3. Can productivity and profitability be enhanced in intensively managed cereal systems while reducing the environmental footprint of production? Assessing sustainable intensification options in the breadbasket of India. 2018. Kumar, V., Jat, H.S., Sharma, P.C., Singh, B.,  Gathala, M.K., Malik, R., Kamboj, B.R., Yadav, A.K., Jagdish Kumar Ladha, Raman, A.,  Sharma, D.K., McDonald, A. In: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment v. 252, p. 132-147.
  4. Can we use crop modelling for identifying climate change adaptation options? 2018. Corbeels, M., Berre, D., Rusinamhodzi, L., Lopez-Ridaura, S. In: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology v. 256–257, p. 46-52.
  5. Changes in soil biology under conservation agriculture based sustainable intensification of cereal systems in Indo-Gangetic Plains. 2018. Choudhary, M., Datta, A., Jat, H. S., Yadav, A. K., Gathala, M.K., Sapkota, T.B., Das, Amit K., Sharma, P.C., Jat, M.L., Singh, R., Jagdish Kumar Ladha. In: Geoderma v. 313, p. 193-204.
  6. Climate-smart agroforestry : Faidherbia albida trees buffer wheat against climatic extremes in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia. 2018. Tesfaye Shiferaw Sida, Baudron, F., Hae Koo Kim, Giller, K.E. In: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology v. 248, p. 339-347.
  7. Complementary practices supporting conservation agriculture in southern Africa. A review. 2018. Thierfelder, C., Baudron, F., Setimela, P.S., Nyagumbo, I., Mupangwa, W., Mhlanga, B., Lee, N., Gerard, B. In: Agronomy for Sustainable Development v. 38, no. 16, p. 1-22.
  8. Conservation agriculture and precision nutrient management practices in maize-wheat system : effects on crop and water productivity and economic profitability. 2018. Jat, R.D., Jat, H.S.,  Nanwal, R.K., Yadav, A.K., Bana, A., Choudhary, K.M., Kakraliya, S.K., Sutaliya, J.M., Sapkota, T.B., Jat, M.L. In: Field Crop Research v. 222, p. 111-120.
  9. Conservation agriculture with trees amplifies negative effects of reduced tillage on maize performance in East Africa. 2018. Ndoli, A., Baudron, F., Tesfaye Shiferaw Sida, Schut, A. G. T., Heerwaarden, J., Giller, K.E. In: Field Crops Research v. 221, p. 238-244.
  10. Crop vs. tree : Can agronomic management reduce trade-offs in tree-crop interactions? 2018. Sida, T.S., Baudron, F., Hadgu, K., Derero, A., Giller, K.E. In: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment v. 260, p. 36-46.
  11. Empirical assessment of subjective and objective soil fertility metrics in east Africa : implications for researchers and policy makers. 2018. Berazneva, J., McBride, L., Sheahan, M., Güereña, D. T. In: World Development v. 105, p. 367-382.
  12. Establishing the value of modern seed storage methods for wheat in diverse production ecologies in Nepal. 2018. Devkota, M., Devkota, K.P., Acharya, S., Shrestha, R., McDonald, A. In: Journal of Stored Products Research v. 76, p. 71-76.
  13. Evaluating alternatives to rice-wheat system in western Indo-Gangetic Plains : crop yields, water productivity and economic profitability. 2018. Choudhary, K.M., Jat, H. S., Nandal, D.P., Bishnoi, D.K., Sutaliya, J.M., Choudharyd, M., Singh, Y., Sharma, P.C., Jat, M.L. In: Field Crops Research v. 218, p. 1-10. 
  14. Implications of changes in land cover and landscape structure for the biocontrol potential of stemborers in Ethiopia. 2018. Kebede, Y., Bianchi, F., Baudron, F., Abraham, K., de Valenca, A., Tittonell, P. In: Biological Control v. 122, p. 1-10.
  15. Performance of portfolios of climate smart agriculture practices in a ricewheat system of western Indo-Gangetic plains. 2018. Kakraliya, S.K., Jat, H.S., Singh, I., Sapkota, T.B., Singh, L.K., Sutaliya, J.M., Sharma, P.C., Jat, R.D., Choudhary, M., Lopez-Ridaura, S., Jat, M.L. In: Agricultural Water Management v. 202, p. 122-133.
  16. Phenotyping conservation agriculture management effects on ground and aerial remote sensing assessments of maize hybrids performance in Zimbabwe. 2018. Gracia-Romero, A., Vergara, O., Thierfelder, C., Cairns, J.E., Kefauver, S.C., Araus, J.L. In: Remote Sensing v. 10, no. 349, p. 1-21.
  17. Sustainable intensification influences soil quality, biota, and productivity in cereal-based agroecosystems. 2018.  Choudhary, M., Jat, H.S., Datta, A., Yadav, A.K., Sapkota, T.B., Mondal, S., Meena, R.P., Sharma, P.C., Jat, M.L. In: Applied Soil Ecology v. 126, p. 189-198.
  18. The adaptive capacity of maize-based conservation agriculture systems to climate stress in tropical and subtropical environments : a meta-regression of yields. 2018. Steward, P. R., Dougill, A. J., Thierfelder, C., Pittelkow, C. M., Stringer, L. C., Kudzala, M., Shackelford, G. E. In: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment v. 251, p. 194-202.