14 January 2016. Bioversity International’s Gender Research Fellowship Programme which ran from 2013-14, provided an opportunity for five Research Fellows affiliated with national partner institutes to take these skills on board and use them to enhance the gender responsiveness of their Bioversity International projects. The video Revealing farmers’ knowledge through research gives a window into the experiences of these Fellows as they took on the challenge. Two messages are evident in the film. First, participatory research can give a voice to those who are often not heard. Second, the Fellows themselves were surprised and transformed by facilitating this kind of co-learning process.
Published on 14 Jan 2016
Four social and natural scientists who used participatory methods to conduct their research as part of Bioversity International projects on forest genetic resources in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, India and Malaysia, reflect on what they learnt and share with other researchers and development professionals the key challenges and benefits of participatory research.
The video identifies a number of challenges the Fellows faced doing their research and how they worked creatively to overcome them:
- Researchers need to gain experience with participatory-research tools. Choosing the most appropriate tools is a challenge as there are many to choose between. A good researcher will choose a few tools designed to give a voice to those who don’t know that they have knowledge to share or are not accustomed to being listened to.
- Working with gender-differentiated groups brings out invisible, insider knowledge. Once men and women have worked in separate groups and they come together in plenary to share their results, it most often becomes evident that women and men have been looking at issues differently. This experience enriches and deepens knowledge and often results in concrete actions and changes.
- Quantification of information takes creativity and the use of appropriate tools. When qualitative data, such as farmers’ knowledge, is made visible using tools like scoring, it can be put into graphs. In addition to graphs there are a number of tested tools that can help represent qualitative information graphically.
- Participatory research processes can increase self-esteem and build confidence when people (especially women) find out they know more than they thought they did, can do things they didn’t think they could do and are being recognized for their knowledge. People who speak only indigenous languages, often women and marginalized groups, tend to be left out of development discussions. Research processes that give them space to express their knowledge can be empowering, as well as allowing scientists to learn from them.
- Increased confidence and empowerment contribute to equality. When men and women from diverse social and ethnic groups are given access to knowledge about each others’ skills, needs and experiences, it increases mutual respect and opens the door for innovation. They learn things about each other that they didn’t know and talk about things they had never talked about. We found this with research in India bringing together diverse social and ethnic groups, and in Malaysia bringing together women and men.
Watch the video: Revealing local knowledge through research
Read the blog: Case studies from around the globe show that gender-responsive participatory research is the way to go
Find out more about how Bioversity International carries out participatory research