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Here are a few of our favourite videos featuring researchers, policymakers and practitioners all over the world discussing key issues in evidence-informed policy: what it is, what the challenges are, and how to address them. Got more to share? Please tell us in the comments! 1 What is EIPM? Here Louise Shaxson of the Overseas Development Institute’s Research and Policy in Development programme draws on her experience with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to explain the concept of evidence-informed policy making, highlighting the role of processes within public institutions: “you can have the best evidence in the world but if you put it through poor processes you won’t get good evidence informed policy making”. At INASP we see these processes as a complex set of structures, relationships and behaviours within public institutions that shape how evidence is gathered, synthesised, appraised and communicated to inform policy. 2) Getting … Continue reading
Dr Sabina Bhattarai addressing an international conference on dermatology, 2016.
Dr Sabina Bhattarai is an Associate Professor and Vice Principal at Kathmandu Medical College, Sinamangal and Editor-in-Chief, Nepal Journal of Dermatology, Venereology & Leprology. The Journal is published in NepJOL, supported by INASP. We asked her about her experience in journal publishing in Nepal and the challenges she faces as a female journal editor.
– Interview by Thakur Amgai
When and how did you get into research and academic publishing?
I have been doing research for a long time now. It’s part of my job. All professionals in medical fields do research as part of their job. Apart from the regular medical practice of consulting patients and providing them treatment advice, I am also a teacher in a medical school, which requires me to do more research. Writing and editing is my passion. I remember enjoying writing even as a child. I used to participate and be awarded in writing contests at school. Perhaps, that’s the reason that my teachers and friends recommended me whenever opportunities to publish wall magazines, chart papers, or bulletins came up. This continued and even flourished when I passed high school and joined university. And here I am now – editing a professional journal.
That sounds very inspiring. How is it that you got such good opportunity as a female child at that time in a country where many parents marry off their daughters before they turn 18?
I was lucky in that matter. I was born and I grew up in central Kathmandu’s Baneshwar area in an educated liberal family. I got the same equal opportunity as my brother for education. My mother was a scientist at Nepal Agriculture Research Council. She always encouraged me to study. I got the best of education available in Nepal at that time. It was much later in life that I witnessed the unbelievable discrimination and harsh life girls were facing in the country.
Could you tell me about your current work in research publication and how you got there?
Currently, I am an Associate Professor of Dermatology & Venereology and Vice Principal at Kathmandu Medical College, Sinamangal. That’s my full time occupation. Apart from that, I am the Editor-in-Chief of Nepal Journal of Dermatology, Venerealogy & Leprology. We have formed a society of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology in Nepal, of which I am a member. The society publishes this journal. I have been its chief editor for eight years now. Before that I used to contribute to it actively.
What challenges do you face as a female editor-in-chief of the journal?
There are challenges that all journal publishers in Nepal face irrespective of gender. I have experienced that external mobility is a bit challenging especially at odd hours. Having to go to the printing press and sit behind the layout designer looking for errors on the copy for long hours is not an easy job. But this challenge would be there even for a male. Being a female hasn’t affected the process and output of the journal in anyway.
In general women face a lot of challenge in workplaces in Nepal. However, the situation is quite the opposite where I work. Unlike many other academic institutions women are in the majority at Kathmandu Medical College. Both men and women at KMC are very supportive here.
Do you think that the gender roles in Nepalese society hinder women from coming forwards and succeeding in their academic career?
Of course! It is not just the academic career ̶ women in general face challenges in everyday life. I also face challenges despite being privileged and receiving equal opportunities in terms of my education and upbringing. For example, once I was driving on the road and a bus hit my car from behind and ran away. Although the bus driver had caused the accident, he would not accept fault. When he finally had to accept after eyewitness accounts he said, “how would someone who must have been doing dishes drive well?” That is the kind of perception of some men in the society even today.
Do you think the representation of women on editorial boards is changing?
There are very few women engaged in academic publishing but a lot has changed lately. You can see three of the top positions of the country – president, speaker of the house and the chief justice – are women. And 33% of the MPs are women. All women need is opportunity and a little bit of confidence.
I believe that an environment of collaboration and sharing among women writers and editors would benefit all. At present even the few women writers and editors in this industry are working on their own without any support.
Do you see gender bias in the composition of editorial boards in journals published in Nepal?
Of course, there are a low number of females in editorial boards of all journals (with a few exceptions). However, this bias did not originate at academic publishing level. It is just a proportional representation of other areas. What I mean is, the ratio of female to male who complete further studies is low. Then, the ratio of female to male who work in this industry is low. So, the number of women in journal publishing is proportional to the number of educated women in Nepal but disproportional to their total population.
What can an international institution like INASP do to promote career of female researchers?
Organizations like INASP could help bring women together on a platform to facilitate sharing and learning, which would ultimately help raise awareness and increase their confidence.
I have taken part in an INASP workshop on publishing earlier and have found it to be very useful. If there is an opportunity, I would love to be a part of INSAP gender programmes in Nepal which would help enhance career of female researchers/editors as we definitely need to have more representation of women in academic publishing and of course it is not that you cannot work as well as men, it’s just a matter of opportunity. ■
Participants in Ghana celebrate the end of a productive and inspiring two days.
Sustainable access to cutting-edge research information is essential for any strong research and knowledge system. Strengthening southern library consortia has been an important component of INASP’s work for many years.
‘Leading in the Library: A learning lab for sustainable access to knowledge in developing countries’ is a collaborative partnership between INASP and Caplor Horizons working with library consortia to inspire organizational change. The project helps strengthen leadership, strategy and influencing skills by providing space for blended learning, where a combination of online, face-to-face and other training approaches are used.
This work will strengthen the organizational effectiveness of institutions (library consortia) that play a pivotal role in the knowledge economies of Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda by enabling access to cutting edge research from around the world.
The ‘learning lab’ is an iterative and constantly evolving approach. It requires a great level of flexibility by the team to develop and adapt the project as it develops in unique ways in each country. However, being able to respond to these emerging themes and challenges is what provides an added dimension of depth and alignment with local needs.
Earlier this month, Ian Williams (Executive Director) and Lorna Pearcey (Director of Development) from Caplor Horizons together with Kemal Shaheen (Programme Manager, INASP) and members of the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH) reflected upon the current situation at CARLIGH and on the potential barriers and opportunities for future sustainability. The key insights and participant feedback make for an interesting read:
Gender Centre for Research and Training running a workshop in training to policymakers on mainstreaming gender in development policies and practices.
– Blog post by Amira Osman, Co-founder of the Gender Centre for Research and Training, Sudan
Gendered evidence is important for policy making because it gives policy makers and development planners a clear picture on the gender needs of the population they are targeting. In recent years, this need has received greater attention. However, there are still numerous barriers and challenges to mainstreaming gender in programmes and policies.
To discuss this, a breakout session was held at the VakaYiko symposium in Accra on 5 October 2016. Policy makers, researchers and civil society organisations from countries in Africa, Latin America and Europe joined the discussion. Also present, was a Regional Director from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in Ghana, who shared a practical perspective on challenges and opportunities to mainstreaming gender evidence within government policy. Here are five key things to come out of the discussion:
1. Gender is a socially constructed issue
What we understand by ‘gender’ varies from culture to culture and changes over time. Furthermore, the concept of gender is sometimes seen as a western concept. Therefore the concept needs to be deconstructed and understood in relation to ethnicity, culture, geography, age, disability, religion and social status, making it more relevant to the experiences of people in the local context This is a key to developing a policy that is informed by relevant gender data and gender analysis.
2. Gender is often not seen as a priority
Policy makers at the top of hierarchical decision-making structures – often men – don’t see collecting and using gendered evidence as a priority. As such, adding a gender perspective to their activities challenges the status quo, including their power.
3. Policy making bodies often lack necessary resources, time and skills
Scarce or stretched resources is a major barrier. Even within departments with a specific gender remit – such as Ghana’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection – inadequate financial resources to collect gender disaggregated data was raised as a major challenge. The lack of communication between data producers (researchers) and users (policy makers) can further hinder this.
4. Quantitative and qualitative data collection methods are needed
There is often a reliance on quantitative data methods, which tend to favour statistics without paying attention to women’s and men’s different roles in society. For example, quantitative data may tell us about the number of women in a parliament but adding qualitative data will inform us about women’s and men’s experiences/perspectives within such an important decision making body.
Qualitative methods such as focus groups and in-depth interviews allow participants, in particular women, to engage in fruitful discussions and to raise issues of concern such as their experiences with domestic violence, which women may not feel comfortable mentioning in a survey conducted by a male interviewer. In this sense, the sex of the interviewers is relevant particularly in contexts where sex segregation is common, i.e. female interviewers are needed for female interviewees and male interviewers are needed for male interviewees.
5. Capacity building on gender disaggregated data and data analysis is a practical step
Capacity building for different stakeholders, such as community leaders, grassroots organisations, civil servants, researchers and policy makers, is needed. Capacity building for stakeholders on gender disaggregated data and gender analysis is a practical step to equip them with relevant skills to mainstream gender in policies and programmes.
To tackle the above key points/challenges, the Gender Centre for Research and Training in Sudan (GCRT), using the VakaYiko grant managed to provide capacity building sessions to mid and high level policy makers from two ministries in Sudan on gender and gender analysis to inform policy. The sessions acted as platforms for dialogue which helped policy makers to raise questions, analyse information and develop plans and policies that address the needs of women, men, boys and girls and to facilitate gender mainstreaming in all programmes.
To tackle the above challenges participants suggested the following:
• Reaching women, girls, boys and men in remote areas and incorporating their perspectives and needs in any gender and capacity building projects targeting them.
• Promote dialogues between policy makers and researchers to enable better collection of sex-disaggregated and qualitative data.
• Develop and sustain a gender perspective and gender analysis in all decision making processes.
• Allocate resources for all of the above suggested activities.
Read an interview with Thywill Eyra Kpe, Regional Director for the Department of Gender (Central Region) in Ghana, on how gender evidence is used to inform regional policy in Ghana.