Examining the Barriers to Gender Integration in Agriculture, Climate Change, Food Security, and Nutrition Policies: Guatemalan and Honduran Perspectives

Fanny Howland


PhD Researcher


Fanny is a doctoral student in development anthropology and works as a researcher in the Alliance Bioversity and Ciat. She works on climate change adaptation issues from a gender, perception, and policy perspective.


This research is about understanding the gender gaps and possible solutions in agriculture, climate change, food security and nutrition policies that can exist in Guatemala and Honduras, through narrative and policy document analysis.   

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Key Findings

    How to apply research

    • For organisations working to close the gender gap in policy, it is important to have several strategies within the program. They should not only work with government, but should try to work with, strengthen and empower civil society. We found it is very difficult to establish change within the government, as they are opposed to gender equality and gender mainstreaming and their interests are very far away from these goals. It is very difficult to initiate change in government, so as well as attempting to work with them, advocating laws, financing and strengthening gender units and programs led by the government, it is also important to seek other real roles pushing for change in this matter. Need to focus on how we can make civil society stronger and gain more knowledge, information, and data so that we can use these to implement change related to gender.
    • We observed that it is not enough to say that your program is gender-friendly or gender-sensitive and that you are monitoring the number of women that participate in your workshop. In the design of this program, the indicator and the objective should be beyond only participation of women. The indicator and the objective should look at empowerment and active participation. They should be more ambitious and have intangible objectives to effectively bridge the gap.
    • It is important to continue to conduct research on gender and gender gap in order to carry out evidence-based advocacy.
    • The pandemic caused by Covid-19 has been a factor that has increased the vulnerability of the already vulnerable, such as women. Therefore, it is recommended to take advantage of this global situation to keep the gender issue in the framework of the post-Covid-19 recovery agenda.

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    About this research

      This Journal Article was part of a collaborative effort

      This research was funded by an external organisation, but detail has not been provided.

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      About this research

        This research was funded by an external organisation, but detail has not been provided.

        This paper was co-authored

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        What findings means

        Our study examined the barriers leading to poor gender mainstreaming and potential solutions in policies applying to gender, agriculture, climate change, food security and nutrition, in both Guatemala and Honduras. Indeed, to include gender in policy is key to achieve national development goals and global challenges such as climate change and food and nutrition insecurity in the agriculture sector.

        There are multiple barriers of a different nature and at different levels that explain the lack of gender integration in the policy cycle, related and linked to: (1) policy translation from the international level; (2) structural policy barriers at national level; (3) behaviors and corruption; and (4) lack of knowledge and capacity.

        One of the key findings of this research is that a gap exists between policy elaboration and policy implementation. We identified that in Guatemala and Honduras, there are many gender policies that have been elaborated. In some cases, it was a very participatory process, where not only government personnel were participating in the elaboration of the policy, but also NGOs, international cooperation organizations and researchers. However, at the end there is no budget and no project or program to implement this policy. We understood that it is not enough to have policy documents, you must look at policy implementation to understand the gap that exists.

        International corporations have a key role, because in many cases they are the ones who are pushing the government to elaborate gender policy to create gender units within the different ministries. Sometimes they are also key to funding the elaboration of the policy. However, they only focus on the elaboration of documents, and they are not pushing beyond the creation of the policy. International cooperation have a key role and power to influence the governments. They should go beyond the technical issue of not having gender policy and should instead be much more ambitious in terms of bridging this gender gap in these countries.

        Another finding was that there was a very pessimistic view from those working in gender towards the situation and the future in terms of bridging gender gaps. They were very negative in terms of seeing a solution, at least in the short-term. It is important to note that they did not see an easy solution to these gender issues.


        We used a case study approach to analyze the barriers to gender integration in these governments’ policies. Based on semi-structured interviews and policy document analysis, we conducted a methodology based on policy mix, policy integration and policy translation.

        Included both narrative and policy document analysis. For the policy document analysis, we identified all policy documents for both countries related to gender, climate change, food security and agriculture. We analysed in which ways they integrated gender in these documents. For the narrative analysis we conducted interviews with different types of stakeholders, including government bodies (gender and non-gender), and research and international copperation organizations, civil society organizations to understand the gender gap in these topics at different stages of the policy cycle. These stages include policy design, policy budgeting, policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation. We analysed these narratives and grouped them by topic. We used four transversal categories to group these narratives: (1) international influence; (2) structural barriers at national level; (3) behavioral and corruption barriers; and (4) knowledge barriers

        Could have interviewed more non-gender individuals, particularly within the government, such as Ministry of Agriculture, ministry of environment or Secretary of Food Security. However, it was very difficult to establish contact and to establish a meeting with such individuals as they feel that gender doesn’t come within their role, instead it is the job of the gender unit.


        Policy integration/ policy mainstreamThe incorporation of an issue (in our case gender) in policy making and policy evaluation (in our case agriculture, climate change and food security and nutrition policies). Policy integration helps to understand the motivation of gender integration in policy as well as the level of integration of gender.
        Policy mix The concept corresponds to the mix and interactions of policies related to a specific issue (gender in our case). It allows to analyse the coherence of these policies (gender, agriculture, climate change and food security and nutrition policies) to achieve a specific goal (gender equity). The concept is also useful to scope the analysis (within which policy domain we conducted the analysis).
        Policy translation Gender integration has been promoted from international level to national level. This process includes a translation process form international level to national level of gender norms /standards which can explain gaps in the outcome. The concept is used to understand how governments traduced and adapted gender into their distinct policies.

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        Want to read the full paper? It is available open access

        Howland F, Acosta M, Muriel J and Le Coq J-F (2021) Examining the Barriers to Gender Integration in Agriculture, Climate Change, Food Security, and Nutrition Policies: Guatemalan and Honduran Perspectives. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 5:664253.