“Bring Your Wife, Your Daughter or Your Sister”: Dr. Kathleen Colverson on Gender in Agricultural Development
For over 25 years, Kathleen Colverson has facilitated interactive workshops all over the world, teaching sustainable practices in agricultural production, marketing, food safety and nutrition.
The common thread among all her trainings? They emphasize the importance of looking at food systems through the lens of gender. Before kicking off a session, she first scans her audience: how many men are there? How many women? Are they of different ages? Ethnicities?
Often, when training smallholder farmers in resource-limited communities, she’ll look out into the crowd to find only male faces staring back at her. Colverson pulls no punches in letting the audience know of her disappointment.
“I tell them, ‘I’ll see you next time, but you’d better bring your wife, your daughter or your sister, because I’m sure you’re not the only one doing the work, and I want to see more women and girls before I talk to you again,’” says Colverson, who currently serves as an associate research scientist in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Florida and senior gender scientist for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems.