InnovATE Contributes to INGENAES Global Symposium and Learning Exchange

The INGENAES Global Symposium and Learning Exchange was held in Lusaka, Zambia January 23-25, 2017. The INGENAES project was designed to assist partners in Feed the Future countries to build more robust, gender-responsive, and nutrition-sensitive institutions, projects and programs capable of assessing and responding to the needs of both men and women farmers. The Learning Exchange was three days of sharing past experiences, human-centered design, and innovations in gender and nutrition issues in extension. InnovATE’s own Ruth Mendum, of Pennsylvania State University attended and presented on InnovATE’s training modules on gender bias called, “Teaching Gender to Secondary and Tertiary Students.” Mendum and her colleague, Patricia Neiner also from Pennsylvania State University, developed the modules. Mendum not only taught others about using this gender tool but also took away some valuable lessons.

The form of the training was a key issue for potential users. Mendum said, “The fact that our modules can be downloaded and used on paper for use in areas where there is no electricity or Internet access was surprisingly important.  I had the opportunity to download materials for one participant and it was clear that others intended to use our materials in that way.”

This is an important lesson for InnovATE and other international development projects. Mendum said, “In the future it would be useful to think about a scaffolding approach where we offer a high tech Internet ready version, a downloadable Power Point version  as we do now, and then perhaps a downloadable version designed for use as a physical, paper object.  One might even like to think about working with literacy education experts to create non-electric, non-English or even pictorial materials for use in some contexts.”

Additionally, Mendum reported, “For all kinds of reasons the request was made that advanced training happen in-country or regionally rather than requiring that one travel to the US.  Several participants mentioned that both the time required for travel from remote areas and the financial burden of both travel and visas made this conference [in Zambia] uniquely accessible.”

Mendum also took away an important lesson about international collaboration on gender training. She said, “Beyond the pragmatic issues, gender training is a sensitive cultural topic.  I spent most of the three days I was in Lusaka, talking to everyone I could reach about their needs and desires for non-controversial, culturally inclusive gender training.  In my view, at this particular place and time in history, it is important for US citizens to take the time to travel to their collaborators and learn and create together in non-US spaces.”

To read more about INGENAES, you can view the official website here.