Global Theme: Gender

The IPM Innovation Lab is committed to ensuring that gender is an integral part of all IPM interventions. The Gender Global Theme works alongside other programs toward this goal.


Even though we might not be aware of it, everything we do in our lives is gendered. In developing countries, this concept is particularly important because men’s and women’s roles, responsibilities, and resources are governed by gender expectations. In many countries, women’s participation on the farm goes unnoticed or unrecognized despite the fact that they carry out most of the agricultural work. By ensuring that women participate in the program and have access to information and resources, IPM projects can help reduce the marginalization of women.

The IPM Innovation Lab works with gender specialists in each of our sites to develop solutions to agricultural challenges that allow all members of a community to benefit. The gender global theme asks each program to consider the questions, “How do our programs affect gender?” and “How does gender affect our programs?”

The three major foci of the gender global theme are: research, capacity-building, and gender equity.

Program achievements and highlights

  • The Gender Global Theme works in collaboration with Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Bangladesh to identify constraints and opportunities for women farmers in the production of Trichoderma, a beneficial fungus, which can be mixed in with compost. Women who worked with this project reported increased honor, pride, and confidence. Trichoderma production was found to not significantly increase the women’s workload, and it in fact increased their influence in decision-making. This research suggests that the benefits of IPM go far beyond economic indicators, and contribute to women’s empowerment.
  • The project developed and disseminated a “women’s participation checklist” for IPM activities. This checklist allows each program to perform a self-check on how well they are incorporating gender considerations into their work. It also serves as a mechanism that leads teams to increase women’s participation.
  • In line with IPM’s Gender Global Theme, we created an on-line worksite in the Collaboration and Learning Environment web resource hosted at Virginia Tech called Scholar. The worksite houses teaching modules for a Women and Development class. These modules include a great deal of key readings (and their summaries) relating to gender, the environment and development. For access to the worksite, please send a request to Dr. Maria Elisa Christie at
  • In a recent publication in the journal Gender, Technology, and Development, the project found that gendered roles and knowledge had a measurable effect on farmers’ contact with pesticides. This research reveals the different ways men and women are harmed as a result of the over-use of pesticides and introduces alternative technologies of pest management to reduce their dependence on toxic chemicals.

Phase IV official program title

Global Theme Gender


Principal Investigator

Maria Elisa Christie, Director, Women and Gender in International Development, Virginia Tech

Research Associate:

Mary Harman Parks, Virginia Tech

Host Country Collaborators:

Yordana Valenzuela, Joyce Haleegoah, Mah Koné Diallo, Margaret Mangheni, Justar Gitonga, Joyce Lyimo-Macha, K. Uma, S. Thiyageshwari, M. Anjugam, Shahnaz Huq-Hussain, Alifah Lestari, Herien Puspitawati, Mam Sitha, Helen Dayo