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A focused team can overcome any obstacle and having a visionary leader can move mountains! I like giving my best when I commit myself to doing anything. Being a GREAT Trainer has opened my world. I have been able to interact with several focused gender experts and plant breeders, who deem gender-responsive agricultural research as the way to enhance technology adoption. Plant breeding as a process can develop improved varieties but getting these varieties adopted by farmers needs an interdisciplinary approach, integrating both breeding and gender knowledge. Therefore, training research scientists to incorporate gender-responsive approaches into their research programs takes teamwork and interdisciplinary cooperation.
During the Tropical Legumes Breeding III (TL-III) GREAT training workshop held in Kampala, Uganda from November 26-December 1, 2018, Dr. Peace Musiimenta (a gender expert) and I had an opportunity to work together as a team to prepare and give a keynote presentation on “Gender-responsive Agricultural Research in Sub-Saharan Africa.” We highlighted the importance of including gender concepts while designing and implementing TLIII Plant breeding programs. As a biophysical scientist, working hand in hand with the social scientists has opened my eyes to learning new things and has led to a total mindset transformation for me at both a personal and professional level. Being part of the GREAT-TLIII training Team and actually working together with gender experts to incorporate gender concepts into plant breeding and seed systems has taught me to use my gender-responsiveness lens to think beyond just agricultural research.
In addition to the power of teamwork in processing all the Gender concepts into practice while designing and implementing Plant Breeding Programs, having an inclusive and a visionary team leader puts everything into perspective. Professor Margaret Mangheni, the GREAT Team Leader, is one of a kind, who gives her best and listens to everybody’s views. She is a transformative leader, who believes in you and personally mentors you into the gender-responsive trainer that makes a difference. When I joined the training team, I wasn’t very confident enough because gender was still an evolving concept for me as a hard biophysical scientist. I had done a lot of community-based action research with farming communities in Uganda but had never focused on gender-responsive preferences for both women and men while developing new varieties.
I am now a strong believer that without including a gender-lens in my research design and implementation plan, then I can never make an impact on food security and farmer livelihoods. GREAT is indeed a life changing initiative that has made me a better scientist.
Author: Jenipher Bisikwa, GREAT Trainer, Agronomist, Senior Lecturer, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Makerere University