Workshop covers community, stereotypes

Gender expert Susan Poats leads a hands-on exercise at the workshop.

Gender expert Susan Poats leads a hands-on exercise at the workshop.

Gender Equity Specialist Maria Elisa Christie organized a gender and participative methodologies workshop in October 2008 for SANREM researchers from Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. The event was hosted by Universidad de la Cordillera and the graduate program in development sciences at Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz. The facilitator was Susan V. Poats of the non-governmental organization Grupo Randi Randi. An anthropologist and gender expert, Poats specializes in natural resource management and community conservation in the Andean region.

Among topics that Poats covered in the daylong workshop were definitions of community and how the concept can be used to exclude people as well include them; conflict as a factor in development work; different frameworks for gender analysis; and ways to break stereotypical gender roles.  A key goal of the workshop was to make training, including materials, available in Spanish for host country institutions whose gender researchers do not speak English.

Attending were 18 women and 13 men, most of them young professionals in agricultural and social sciences. “The workshop went very well,” Christie said. “We had more participants than we expected, and they brought diverse backgrounds and experiences to the discussion. There was great interest in more training of this type within the SANREM program. The session laid the groundwork for future collaboration.”

In a follow-up meeting at Universidad de la Cordillera in La Paz, 10 participants discussed differences between control and access of natural resources, focus groups and group interviews, and specifics on interview techniques for culturally sensitive topics. Jere Gilles, a SANREM research partner and director of rural sociology graduate studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, spoke to the group about social networks and effective research methodologies. The group proposed organizing a seminar with SANREM sponsorship to share gender research.

Bolivia, where three of SANREM’s LTRAs have research activities, has been of particular concern in recent months. Demands by the nation’s wealthier states for autonomy have triggered clashes, some violent, with the government of President Evo Morales. Land ownership and control of petroleum and natural gas reserves are also politically divisive issues. Bolivians will vote on Jan. 25, 2009, on a new constitution.

Click to learn more about SANREM’s gender work.