Feed the Future
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Reducing the Gender Gap in Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services: How to Find the Best Fit for Men and Women Farmers

This particular MEAS discussion paper addresses the concept of gender in agricultural extension and advisory services. It explores the significance of gender relations for the design, operation, and monitoring of agricultural extension and advisory services. The paper provides readers with a summary of key issues and debates from the literature on gender in agricultural extension and advisory services, and draws on case material to highlight these issues. The chapter begins with a historical overview of how extension and advisory services have attempted to incorporate gender issues, followed by an analysis of the “best fit” framework (Birner et al., 2006) from a gender perspective. It also identifies common constraints that small farmers, especially women, face in accessing and then implementing the guidance of EAS providers. Against this background, the chapter concludes with a discussion of principles of design for achieving gender-equitable EAS programming. 

The paper is a collective effort of Cristina Manfre and Deborah Rubin (Cultural Practice, LLC), Andrea Allen (Michigan State University), Gale Summerfield (University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana), Kathy Colverson (University of Florida), and Mercy Akeredolu (SAFE/Winrock International).


The Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) Discussion Paper series is designed to further the comparative analysis and learning from international extension efforts.  The papers contain a review of extension and advisory service best practices drawn from the global body of experience in successfully reaching resource-limited farmers.  The papers identify the underlying principles associated with high levels of success in reaching women and men farmers and how, in differing contexts, these core principles have been successfully adapted to fit local conditions in establishing productive, profitable and sustainable relationships with individual producers, producer groups, the private sector and associated research and education institutions.

The series, and the companion MEAS Working Papers, include papers on a wide range of topics, such as the realities of pluralistic extension provisioning, sustainable financing, human resource development, the role of farmer organizations, linking farmers to markets, the importance of gender, health and nutrition, use of information and communication technologies and climate change adaptation.  The papers target policy makers, donor agency and project staff, researchers, teachers and international development practitioners.  All papers are available for download from the MEAS project website, www.meas-extension.org.

The Editors,

Brent M. Simpson, Michigan State University, and

Paul McNamara, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign