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Innovations in agriculture and natural resource management are crucial to address food and nutrition insecurity, poverty climate change and environmental degradation. However, innovations do not affect everyone equally. They can change the balance of power in gender relations within households and across entire communities. Innovations can accentuate or worsen current patterns of gender inequality. On the other hand, they can also improve equality, if constraints and opportunities are explicitly addressed and reformed with community members.

In every human society, the relationships between men and women are subject to local norms, and influence how work gets done, decisions are made and benefits are distributed. This means that although men and women collaborate in many different tasks, they also develop different and complementary areas of specialised knowledge, skillsets, responsibilities and priorities. These are contextually-specific and can change over time.


In all Bioversity International’s research in which people are central we use tools and approaches to capture the knowledge, priorities and aspirations of both men and women. We do this by making sure that men and women are equally represented as research participants, data are sex-disaggregated, and approaches to analyse gender relations and gender-specific constraints and opportunities are followed, in order to plan and implement our initiatives accordingly.

In addition, achieving gender equity is a special focus in key areas of our research. In these research areas we take a participatory research approach, to make sure that the research process is sensitive to the implications of innovations, favouring those that improve equality.

Thematic research areas

Gender in forest research

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Gender in seed systems

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Gender - what is it all about?

Gender refers to the social roles and identities associated with what it means to be a man or a woman in a given society or context. Gender roles may be shaped by ideological, religious, ethnic, economic and cultural factors and are a key determinant of the distribution of responsibilities and resources between men and women (Moser 1989).


Marlène Elias

Gender Specialist,

Conservation and Management of Forest Genetic Resources

Did you know?

  • More and more agricultural work is being done by women as men move to non-farm jobs.
  • Women often have responsibilities, such as fetching water, collecting fuelwood, and looking after children that make them more vulnerable than men to the impacts of climate change (Wright and Chandani 2014).
  • Female farmers produce less than their male counterparts because they have less access to or ownership of land, use fewer inputs and have less access to important services such as extension services.
  • If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30%. This could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5–4%, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12–17% (FAO 2011 p. 5).

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GENNOVATE: a cross-CRP, global comparative research initiative which addresses the question of how gender norms and agency influence men, women, and youth to adopt innovation in agriculture and natural resource management.

Watch a webinar about GENNOVATE here.           

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Forest Genetic Resources Training Guide

Available in English and Spanish, the Forest Genetic Resources Training Guideis a tool for teaching and learning about forest genetic resources issues in formal education or on-the-job training. Through its modules, you will learn about the links between sustainable forest management and forest genetic resources, covering areas such as conservation strategies, trees outside forests, seed supply chains, and forest management, forest restoration and logging.


Bioversity International's research on gender is part of the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research, and is supported by CGIAR Trust Fund Donors

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