John Allwright Fellowship Executive Leadership Program (JAFel)

Dipika Das recently took part in a ‘John Allwright Fellowship Executive Leadership Program (JAFel)’. The program is designed for John Allwright fellows in Australia and was delivered by the University of New England in Armidale (New South Wales) on behalf of ACIAR. The program improves project leadership, project management, entrepreneurship, gender equality and crisis management. The program’s ‘Gender and social inclusion’ theme explored the significance of gender in agriculture and gender analysis frameworks to access inequalities in agriculture. Dipika shared her experience on the International Water Management Institute’s project team, finding that gender power relations are integral to the functionality and sustainability of agriculture.


The course lasts 18 months and includes an initial training workshop and online modules with assignments. 25 participants from 14 different countries participated in the training workshop that took place from 28th of January to 8th of Feb 2019, which involved extensive learning opportunities, group study, networking sessions with the ACIAR Canberra team, field-work and reflection sessions. Tentatively, the whole JAFel team will reunite in Armidale once again to discuss progress and officially close the first JAFel cohort training program in March 2020.

Dipika is undertaking her PhD at USQ and using gender perspectives to explore women’s participation in agriculture focusing on women smallholder farmers’ bargaining power in agricultural value chains.

Gender field work on “Dry-Season Irrigation for Marginal, Tenant and Women Farmers”

After the annual project meeting in Kolkata, Stephanie Leder, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Dipika Das, University of Southern Queensland (USQ), conducted field work in Koiladi and Khoksar Parbaha, Eastern Terai, Nepal. Stephanie conducted Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with each of the five farmer groups as well as individual interviews and observations, applying a feminist lens on the functioning of farmer collectives and irrigation technology adoption. The outcomes for women and men within farmer collectives are ambivalent, as will be further detailed in a forthcoming article: on the one hand, several women are benefitting from project provisions such as solar irrigation technologies, agricultural and gender trainings, and seed provisions. On the other hand, the groups in Kanakpatti, in particular, have unequal power relations which threatens ‘technology grabbing’ and control over finances through private water selling by individuals which does not benefit other group members. Therefore, there is further need to strengthen institutionalization around the technologies and services provided. Regular social facilitation and monthly meeting support is still needed for the groups to function well. Similarly, documentation by project staff of market information and irrigation use need to be shared regularly with all groups as, currently, groups do not have access to this valuable information which is being collected by project staff.

Interview with women smallholder farmer in Kanakpatti village, Saptari

Dipika Das is a John Allwright PhD Fellow at USQ, who is using gender perspectives to explore women’s participation in agriculture focusing on women smallholder farmers’ bargaining power in agricultural value chains. Dipika conducted interviews with women farmers (both project participants and non-project participants) and conducted FGDs with the collective farmers group on their bargaining experience in Saptari. She is currently conducting similar studies in Madhubani sites in India.

CSIRO (Australia) will fund SLU’s student Sadiq Zafrullah to conduct master thesis research with the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) to follow up on Stephanie’s IWMI work on “Gendered groundwater technology adoption in Northwestern Bangladesh” in spring

After a FGD with a female collective farmer group

Six women with endless ideas and unbound aspirations: UBTMS-CDHI inspires entrepreneurial innovations

On August 31st, months of hard work culminated at the Women Entrepreneur Innovation Awards Programme’s award ceremony, co-organised by the Centre for the Development of Human Initiatives (CDHI) and Uttar Bango Terai Mahila Samitee (UBTMS). The 500+ seats were completely full and there was standing room only for later arrivals. Two women from the DSI4MTF sites Uttar Chakuakheti and Dhaloguri competed, showcasing their “solutions to emerging issues.” The attached article by Mitali Ghosh and Dhananjay Ray demonstrates the strengthening of institutions and value chains and the empowerment of women within these sites. In the words of Professor Rajeshwar, in attendance, “self-efficacy is what would make the difference. The route to gender equality is challenging but innovation and efficacy may make the route easier.” Indeed, the pride on the women’s faces speaks volumes to how encouraging innovation and unleashing aspiration and action may help in developing self-efficacy and well being.

Read the full article here.