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A KIT Working Paper: Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Gendered opportunities & challenges to innovation in forage production in Afghanistan

This working paper discusses the interface between gender and agricultural innovation systems. More specifically, the working paper investigates how gender norms and roles influence social relations between actors in forage innovation systems in rural Afghanistan. In this regard, the paper firstly explores how gender roles and norms shape the relationships and interactions between different farmers, as well as between farmers and other actors in selected forage innovation systems. Secondly, the paper highlights how gender relations shape women and men farmers’ opportunities to learn about and adopt agricultural innovations in rural Afghanistan.

The paper is based on the premise that agricultural innovation processes arise from, and are entrenched in, the interplay and relations between diverse actors and their social and physical environments. The paper evidences the gendered nature of agricultural innovation systems, and how social relations influence the development, diffusion and use of agricultural innovations. Examples are given of how gender norms and roles shape (and are shaped by) social relations and the interplay between actors in the forage innovation system in Baghlan, Nangarhar and Bamyan. Specifically, qualitative data collected through research diaries highlight ways gender roles and norms can produce and reinforce unequal social relations that mediate women and men’s barriers and opportunities to engage with, and benefit from, innovation processes in the forage system.