LILONGWE--The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and its partners have awarded Ph.D. dissertation research fellowships on the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) to four individuals including Malawian statistician Christopher Manyamba.
Announcing the 2012-2014 WEAI doctoral dissertation fellowships, the IFPRI says the four achieved their marks for their quest for empirical investigations of multidimensional empowerment utilizing the WEAI.
“The threefold goal of the fellowship is to strengthen understanding and evidence of the WEAI,” says the announcement adding that it aims to “expand understanding of WEAI dynamics through complementary qualitative and ethnographic work and support promising researchers interested in gender and agriculture”.
Research proposals were selected from a pool of candidates on one or more of 19 Feed the Future countries.
Manyamba, who studies Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria, won the award following his successful dissertation titled “The Relationship between Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture and Household Food Insecurity: Implications on Agriculture Policy and Objectives.”
The study proposes a participatory approach in the design and implementation of a household survey in Malawi and analysis in computing the WEAI and aggregate Food Security Score in order to understand if empowering women in agriculture plays a critical role in agricultural growth and food security, using robust statistical models.
According to Manyamba the study will examine the association between the five spheres of WEAI and household food security to demonstrate the importance of the WEAI as a critical tool in determining household food security and how it can be incorporated in the mapping of key government strategies of sustained economic growth and sustained availability and accessibility of food at national level.
“At household level the results will inform policy in seeking ways to facilitate a process where women and their communities are empowered to determine their destiny within the context of agriculture and food security and the need for women to take part in all levels of decision-making and make use of their knowledge in reducing structural poverty,” said the awardee adding that the results will not only be critical in informing stakeholder national dialogues on the fight against hunger, “but will serve as a benchmark for tracking country level progress toward gender equality, which is one of the Millennium Development Goals”.
Other awardees include University of Georgia, Anthropology student Jessica Ham with her dissertation titled “Growing Uncertainty: effects of food insecurity and health on women's productivity in Upper West Ghana” which taps on recent research that indicate that food insecurity is associated with poor mental health.
The study proposes to establish how this relationship influences behavioral patterns.
Brooke Krause who studies Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota emerged winner following the success of the dissertation “Social Capital, Women’s Empowerment, and Trust: Can Informal Information Networks Improve Child Health and Nutrition in Highland Guatemala?”
American University Economics student Greg Seymour excelled with a paper titled “Multidimensional Empowerment Measurement: Three Essays Investigating the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index.”
The announcement explains that Manyamba’s essay recognized that women play an important role in agricultural production, yet often face greater resource constraints than men. It proposes that increasing women’s empowerment can help to shrink gender resource gaps and increase agricultural productivity and food security.
“This essay empirically examines the links between the WEAI and agricultural productivity and household food security in Bangladesh, in order to identify where policy interventions should be directed to maximize gains in agricultural productivity and food security,” says the statement.
The WEAI is a partnership among IFPRI, the US Government's Feed the Future initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) of Oxford University.
The Index is the first of its kind to directly capture women’s empowerment and inclusion levels in the agricultural sector. Its purpose is to understand why women in developing countries face persistent obstacles and economic constraints to inclusion in the agriculture sector though they play a critical role in agricultural growth.
(c) The Maravi 2012. Reproduction without acknowledgement prohibited