Tuesday, April 10, 2012

4/5 BB Response: Research on Gender in Africa

This Brown Bag involved 3 panelists: Colgate President Jeffrey Herbst, Breanna Pendleton '12, and Caroline Anderson '12.

President Herbst had spent numerous years doing research in Zimbabwe. One of the biggest lessons he learned was that, often times, laws are just for show and simply signing them does not necessarily signify change. He did not initially begin his research focusing on the gendered aspect of land rights and the environment, but found later that he must include women in his research.

Breanna Pendleton did research on where feminism comes from in Western Africa. Specifically, she did a case study of ABANTU for Development which is an NGO in Accra, Ghana that works to train organizations for the purpose of helping women for her SOAN thesis: "Who Needs Saving? Neocolonialist Feminism in Ghana". While the group does a substantial amount of good, it is run by higher class and Western women who primarily work with and help benefit upper middle to upper class women which, unfortunately, overlooks the needs of lower class women.

Caroline Anderson researched Shapna Coffee and Tea in Uganda for her SOAN honors thesis on maternal health in Uganda. She led various focus groups with women from these coffee growing communities to discuss what was needed for maternal / reproductive health and family planning. Through these discussions, she saw room for growth particularly regarding:
a) education of men in order to diminish the stigmas about condoms and birth control, and
b) distribution of resources so that women would not need to walk 15 miles just to receive a birth control shot

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