IGNITE Hosts the First Learning and Networking Forum to Advance Gender and Nutrition Integration

Over the past five years, Tanager through the Impacting Gender & Nutrition through Innovative Technical Exchange in Agriculture (IGNITE) has been providing technical assistance to 20 African agricultural institutions to integrate gender and nutrition in their operations and agricultural interventions. To ensure the sustainability of technical assistance delivery, and to cascade the lessons learned and tools developed into their respective countries, IGNITE works with four local service providers as implementing partners: Nafaka Kilimo in Tanzania; Pan Africare, in Burkina Faso; Fair & Sustainable, in Ethiopia; and Center for Gender Economics, in Nigeria.

In August, Tanager in partnership with Fair and Sustainable launched the Ethiopia Gender & Nutrition Learning and Networking Forum in Addis Ababa. Under the theme, “Building a network to advance gender and nutrition integration in agriculture,” the forum brought together more than 50 stakeholders from 25 institutions to share their best practices, models, and tools on gender mainstreaming and nutrition-sensitive agricultural approaches.

In her opening remarks, Maureen Munjua, Tanager Kenya country representative and IGNITE team leader, acknowledged the significant role women play as drivers of economic growth in their households.

“It’s time to ask ourselves why gender inequality still exists, and how we can collaborate with national partners to advance gender and nutrition integration,” said Munjua. She added that collaboration among actors will lead to sustainable, efficient, and equitable food systems.

The event featured an intriguing panel discussion on the lessons learned and the significance of integrating gender and nutrition. Panelists included: Dr. Mel Oluoch, director of strategic partnerships at Sasakawa Africa Association; Selamawit Woldegebriel Enna, senior international assistance officer, Global Affairs Canada;  Dr. Bayush Tsegaye, executive director at Ethiopian Food Systems and Agroecology Consortium; Naol Adugna Oli, founder at Beta Blockers PLC; and Endriyas Alganeh, group ESG manager at Flow Equity. Among the highlights:

  • In some households, women spend most of their time at home while men do most of the activities in the farm. As a result, women often make decisions affecting their households. Many interventions are therefore targeted toward empowering women, youth, and persons living with disabilities with access to information and markets for their businesses.
  • There needs to be a mindset shift in the private sector from simply linking gender issues at the workplace to actually producing products that not only appeal, but are accessible, to women.
  • A solid monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plan that includes gender dynamics is required to gather and analyze data beyond sex-disaggregation. This will help to determine the extent to which actors are contributing toward gender and nutrition integration within their institutions.

Lessons on gender and nutrition integration

Two organizations also shared their experiences of offering technical assistance on gender and nutrition integration, pointing out the key factors that guided their success.  Dr. Catherine Macharia-Mutie, IGNITE deputy team leader offered the following lessons:

  • Organizational structure, strategy, budgets, and leadership buy-in are major drivers of gender mainstreaming and nutrition integration. ​
  • Data and evidence are critical when building a case for gender and nutrition.​
  • Institutional needs are dynamic, and they vary; hence flexibility is necessary, as no one approach works for all circumstances.
  • Availability of resources and staff by institutions may not always be commensurate to the expected gender and nutrition outcomes.​

Tamene Taye, director of the Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture Capacity Strengthening in Ethiopia (NSA CASE) project,  then spoke about Save the Children’s work in strengthening the capacity of the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture to implement its nutrition-sensitive agriculture strategy. The project does this by addressing organizational gaps in human resources, monitoring and evaluation, sectoral coordination, and financing of NSA activities.  According to Taye:

  • The project is designed to fit with the country’s national agenda.
  • Targeted advocacy and technical exchange visits can help organizations strengthen their governance and leadership on gender and nutrition integration. Improvements to the NSA information system is facilitating informed decisions in the agriculture sector in Ethiopia.
  • Strengthening sector coordination at the Ministry of Agriculture has led to high-impact multisectoral coordination capacity at national level.
  • Leadership buy-in is key to success.
  • Unfortunately, inadequate data from the government remains a hindrance to effective decision-making.

Forum participants agreed to partner with one another going forward to strengthen efforts towards collective impact and encourage greater involvement of the private sector and financial institutions in gender and nutrition integration efforts.

In the coming months, Tanager will launch the Gender & Nutrition Learning and Networking Forums in its other implementation countries.

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