Our annual meeting was held in July 2019 in Bangkok. This provided us with an opportunity to reflect on the progress of the research so far, to draw comparisons between our two case study countries and to consider the situation of other countries within the South East Asian region and to engage in outreach with a number of stakeholders.
The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) generously agreed to host us in their offices which are located on the campus of the Chulalongkorn University. This partnership meant that we could benefit from discussions with their experts working on projects related to gender, food and land in South East Asia and also allowed us to connect with a number of academics and social researchers from the politics department at Chulalongkorn. The first part of our meeting was largely internal to the DEMETER team and involved two days of discussion of our draft publications. The rest of the time was spent working on our research instruments for the qualitative and quantitative surveys being carried out in both Cambodia and Ghana in 2019/2020 and developing a timeline for our film projects and other outputs.
On the first evening of the workshop, Emeritus Professor Ben White from the International Institute for Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague gave a keynote address entitled “At the intersection of gender, generation and class: young women farmers in commercializing smallholder agriculture”. Saba Joshi, DEMETER PhD candidate from the Graduate Institute, provided comments on the keynote in light of her doctoral research that looks at how contestation over land is shaping political identities among women and indigenous minorities in Cambodia, and Sara Vigil, Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute and PhD fellow at International Institute for Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Hague and University of Liege, Belgium, discussed her work on climate change, land grabs and migration in Cambodia and Senegal. Rosalia Sciortino from Southeast Asia Junction (SEAJunction) acted as moderator for the address which was hosted by SEA Junction and Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute (CUSRI).
The second outreach event that we held during our week in Bangkok was a policy dialogue that took place at the FAO Regional Office under the direction of gender adviser, Clara Park. A number of different stakeholders from international organisations, governments and civil society attended the discussion during which researchers from the DEMETER team along with other projects from South East Asia presented their findings on changing agrarian livelihoods and impacts of these on gendered power relations and the rights to food and land with a view to providing recommendations for policy and legislative change.