Our key takeaways from the gender webinar

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As you know we’ve recently held our first ever #data4food webinar, thanks to everyone who managed to join! But don’t worry if you didn’t get the chance – a recording is now available on our bigmarker account.  We thought it would be good to share our takeaways. 

We were lucky enough to have 4 great panelists who spoke to us about their experiences with data collection and gender:

  • Joyce Luma, Country Director of WFP South Sudan
  • Sangita Vyas Managing Director of r.i.c.e. (Research Institute for Compassionate Economics)
  • Micah Boyer, University of South Florida
  • Kusum Hachhethu, mVAM Team and Nutritionist

Thanks for joining our #data4food webinar! Our key takeaways are:

  1. To get to Zero Hunger, it is critical to understand women’s experience. As Joyce explained, women are the best placed to describe issues that matter – including child nutrition, feeding practices and household food consumption. Without having women’s perspectives, it’s not possible to have programmes that are well designed. If mobile surveys are to play the role in delivering information to design relevant hunger alleviating programs, we need to reach women.  
  2. Understand your context. Using mobile technology to reach women is easier in some communities than others. Micah explained  that there are important barriers to women’s access to and use of mobile phones in many places in West Africa. In Kenya on the other hand, Kusum found that many women either owned or had access to phones. A good practice is to conduct formative research that helps understand women’s access to mobile before launching your survey. You can then plan your questionnaire design and project around this information.
  3. Yes, it is possible to reach out to women who do not own phones. Sangita explained how  r.i.c.e asks mobile survey respondents to identify harder to reach demographics, including women from deprived backgrounds. Asking to speak to women members of the household even if a man answers or going through shared phones are ways to reach women. Similarly Joyce pointed out that in these contexts you should simplify the questionnaire – making sure that you use voice rather than SMS to ensure that you don’t have any problems with literacy.
  4. Don’t push it. Does it really make sense to reweigh a sample that is 95% male and 5% female? While mobile data collection is cheap and quick, in some cases, like when the biases are too large, we are better off collecting data face to face.
  5. Consider alternatives to representative statistics.  More use of qualitative approaches would help. Joyce said that in South Sudan, mobile phone ownership is too low to carry out representative surveys. WFP South Sudan therefore uses key informants to obtain food security information. One could obtain information about women’s health and nutrition from health workers.
  6. Continue investing in methodology. The potential of remote data collection to provide food security information in contexts like conflicts means that it’s important to continue investing in methodology to ensure that this information is as good as possible.  Sangita pointed to the importance of thoroughly training enumerators to achieve quality results.  

You can also track our conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag #data4food. Stay tuned for our next webinar!

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