Monday 5 June 2017

Research Uptake Discourse on Women, Entrepreneurship Development and Climate Change

By Dr Catherine Akinbami, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

In order to have a holistic approach, the economic, social and environmental issues which are interdependent aspects of a society must be considered within a unified framework so as to promote human welfare, especially in the rural areas. The consideration of the social dimension of climate change is important in order to ensure that human rights are not compromised as climate change impacts the fundamental security, lives, health and livelihoods of people, especially the most vulnerable. Also, greater consideration of the social dimension can enhance the effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation as well as the policies needed to drive them.  

Dr Akinbami in front of the event banner

On the 20th of April, stakeholders gathered at the Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, Nigeria for a Policy Discourse on women, entrepreneurship development and climate change. The stakeholders comprised of policy makers from ministries (such as Women Affairs, Environment and Habitat, Agriculture and Natural Resources) working directly with women, scholars from academia, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), media practitioners and community leaders. The policy discourse was a means to disseminate my CIRCLE research findings to the policy makers and intimate them on the challenges facing the rural women livelihoods as a result of the impact of climate change, possible entrepreneurship options in climate change, challenges and the adaptive strategies to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of the women in rural areas. The event was an avenue to bring together policy makers and researchers in understanding the need for synergy. It also helped to present reality of the rural women to the policy maker as their livelihoods are being affected by climate change, in order to make them start taking necessary steps in addressing the problems.

Panellists during the discussion session

Participants at the event

The Keynote address titled ‘Bridging the Gap between Research and the Policy-making Process’ was delivered by a seasoned scientist, climate change expert, who is a fellow of the  Nigerian Academy of Science and a Pro-chancellor of a Private University in Nigeria, Prof, A.M.A. Imevbore; Prof (Mrs) J.E. Olawoye’s (Department of Rural Sociology, UI - My supervisor) presentation on ‘Women Development and Climate Change: Adaptation Strategies’ was delivered by Prof (Mrs) E.T. Owoaje, (Department of Community Health, UI) who also chaired the panel discussion. The programme was anchored by a climate change and energy management expert, Prof. J-F.K. Akinbami. Other distinguished participants came from the Ministry of Women Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Environment and Habitat; various NGOs, representatives from local government. Altogether, 32 participants were in attendance, including some students.
The round table discussions focused on the following questions:
  • What NGOs can do to assist in this era of climate change to aid women’s aclimitization
  • What can be done in term of modification?
  • What can be done about using hybrid seeds especially for women in primary production?
  • Based on the research discourse, what can be adopted; and how can gender issues be addressed based on climate change?
  • The next steps the researcher will take to actually affect the lives of the rural women
The keynote speaker also brought out reasons why the relationship between policy and research is not working out.

Why is Research Ignored?
According to Stone, research is often ignored because of the following reasons:
  • inadequate supply of, and access to, relevant information
  • researchers’ poor comprehension of policy process and unrealistic recommendations
  • ineffective communication of research
  • ignorance or anti-intellectualism of politicians or bureaucrats
  • inadequate capacity among policy makers
  • politicisation of research, using it selectively to legitimise decisions
  • gaps in understanding between researchers, policy makers and public
  • time lag between dissemination of research and impact on policy

Other key points raised during the course of the event included:

  • ‘It is a wonderful topic that concerns all of us, as it is going to be of benefits especially to us, the policy makers’. -  Chairman  Opening speech
  • ‘The facilitators in this forum will enlighten and broaden our minds on the issue that the researcher has researched into and it will remind us (policy makers) the need to do something fast so that the women who are in the vulnerable group would be helped’. - Chairman Opening speech
  • ‘This programme is timely and in the right direction. The Ministry has been looking for who to help the women in the field of climate change’. Chairman
  • ‘Women are more in farming, but the challenges are enormous.  As a matter of fact, the women appear to be on their own with no institutional or government support’. NGO Representative
  • ‘It must be noted that research must be aimed at improving the Human Development Index (HDI) if not it will remain purely an academic exercise’. Keynote speaker
A fact sheet on Women, Entrepreneurship Development and Climate Change was developed in both English and Yoruba languages and a radio presentation on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (Amuludun FM 99.1) was also made in Yoruba language which is the indigenous language of the study areas. The purpose was to create awareness about the impact of climate change and educate women in general, and rural women in particular, about the challenges and entrepreneurship opportunities in climate change impact.

A major follow-on activity under development from the discussions is for the women in the communities to initiate a kick-off project which is climate smart. This will open and expose the women to the opportunities in climate change challenges and the use of resources around them. The project will also accommodate provision of some equipment that will assist to practice livelihoods in an ecofriendly manner and training which will be an avenue to train on the use of the equipment, hybrid seedlings and other entrepreneurship options. Outcome of the proposed project: help to engage the women more in various entrepreneurial activities; reducing their idle moments and poverty rate. Above all, this proposed ‘Research Uptake Climate Entrepreneurship Project’ will be a model for policy makers to adopt in rural areas.

I use this medium to acknowledge the Department for International Development (DfID) and Association of commonwealth Universities (ACU) under the Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) programme for funding and necessary support.

For further details on the discussions that took place during the event or the proposed follow-on project, please contact Dr Akinbami at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.

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