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Empowering women through research and innovation is a powerful way to alleviate poverty

  • Published at 09:42 pm February 23rd, 2020
UK
Distinguished speakers present at the event “The Role of Gender in South Asian Food Systems Symposium” organised by Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) in Dhaka on Sunday, February 23, 2020 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

The changing roles of men and women in farming and the ways in which boys and girls experience different food choices at the dinner table are just two of the issues being explored at a regional Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) symposium

Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and UK Research and Innovation brought together international researchers, policy makers and CSOs to discuss the role of gender across South Asian food systems, including farming, climate change, nutrition, and food safety.

The changing roles of men and women in farming and the ways in which boys and girls experience different food choices at the dinner table are just two of the issues being explored at a regional Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) symposium.

The event “The Role of Gender in South Asian Food Systems Symposium” is being led by Dr Tahrat Shahid, GCRF’s joint challenge leader for Food Systems and newly appointed gender advisor across UKRI’s GCRF portfolios, reports UNB.

She explained on Sunday that understanding how gender roles are a part of food systems, in this case in the South Asian context, is crucial to designing the kind of research that leads to workable solutions to challenges on the ground, like malnutrition, unequal access to resources, climate change, and so much more.

Dr Shahid said they want to make sure they are cultivating these sometimes difficult conversations not just among gender specialists but non-specialists, too.

“I’m hoping that people who don’t usually think about gender as being part of their work, maybe in areas like engineering and crop science or environmental science and hydrology, for example, will walk away understanding more about how to think about gender and when it’s relevant and when it’s not, and about what gender-equal research really means,” said.

Dr Shahid mentioned that it is not just about having a certain number of women scientists on research team but also thinking about how women, and men, are affected differently by different areas of food systems.

British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson said research and innovation are key drivers for prosperity and sustainability, noting that international collaboration is vital.

“As global challenges from climate change to pandemics like coronavirus emerge and evolve, international collaboration is vital and the UK leads the world in field-weighted research citation impact,” he said.

The British envoy said the UK, the country of Newton, Faraday, Alexander Fleming and Stephen Hawking, is one of the world’s most successful research nations, with 133 Nobel Prizes and four of the world’s top 15 universities.

Professor Helen Fletcher, UKRI’s director of International Development, said with International Women’s Day around the corner, it is timely to emphasize the force for good that gender equality creates.

“Empowering women and girls through research and innovation is a powerful way to alleviate poverty, promote lasting peace and stability and create a fairer world for us all. Tahrat is an experienced gender expert and I’m delighted she is taking on the additional role of Gender Advisor to ensure gender issues continue to be embedded across UKRI’s GCRF portfolio at every stage.”

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) supports cutting-edge research and innovation that addresses the global issues faced by developing countries.

GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund started in late 2015 and forms part of the UK Government’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment and is overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through nine delivery partners, according to British High Commission in Dhaka.

The partners are UK Research and Innovation (UKRI, comprising the research councils, Research England and Innovate UK), the Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Society, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, UK Space Agency, Scottish Funding Council, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and Higher Education Division Northern Ireland.

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