Tell us about yourself
I am Dr. (Mrs.) Monica Addison, a highly motivated Research Fellow at the Bureau of Integrated Rural Development (BIRD) of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana. I had my secondary education at St Louis Senior High School in Kumasi, Ghana. I am a proud alumna of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana. I graduated with a PhD in Agricultural Economics in 2018, M.Sc. in Development Policy and Planning in 2003 and B.Sc. in Agriculture in 1997.
My B.Sc. research work focused on gender and crop productivity, which made me develop interest in gender issues. After obtaining my B.Sc. degree, I worked with an international NGO, Self-Help International, as a Socio-Economist, on a project dubbed, “Intermediate Means of Transport (IMT).” The main objectives of the IMT project were to improve rural mobility at minimal cost, alleviate drudgery associated with head portage by women and children, improve earning capacity of farm workers, alleviate poverty and make time available to village women for more productive work as well as enable them to devote more time for family welfare and household. As a socio-economist, my role included to conduct surveys and collect data, analyze, interpret and advise management on identified economic and social issues pertinent to the project, to facilitate learning, project adaptation and evidence-based decision making. My initial involvement with the industry made me develop a very strong passion for women issues.
I worked with the NGO for three years before pursuing my master’s degree. Throughout my early career development, I focused on championing the course of women – the poor and the vulnerable – to reduce poverty in rural areas I worked. I designed agro-processing project and obtained an initial grant of $5,000.00 to assist five women groups to enhance palm-oil and gari processing activities. Since then, the project has expanded to reach many more women in agro-processing in Ashanti region.
When people ask me: Do you have a degree in gender? I respond that, I have broad professional experience, but I don’t have a degree in gender. That said, I love my work, and my skills and knowledge in gender have come as a result of my passion. I’ve also been lucky to have had great professional mentors.
My areas of interest have always been gender and crop innovations, agriculture and food security, climate change and poverty reduction. However, I am passionate about gender roles, equity, equality and women’s economic empowerment. Sustainable development relies on ending discrimination towards women and providing equal access to opportunities for employment. I grew up in a society where I witnessed numerous discriminations against women but was too young and powerless to help. Currently. I focus on promoting gender equality because I believe women have been relegated to the background for far too long. Not only does gender inequality affect the lives of individual men and women, it also retards economic growth and hinders development. There is inequality of opportunities that is why I decided to champion the course of women, because I believe that we can break these unfair practices against women.
My goal and prospects about my future career are to lead and manage grant research projects that targets gender issues, climate change and food security to contribute to the research strategies of my Department and the College, and to provide academic leadership to students working in their own research areas and contribute to their development through mentoring and coaching.
I have been working on different research projects. Specifically, I conduct applied economics research (both qualitative and quantitative) and have published quite a number of papers in refereed journals and participated in several international conferences. Gender related research projects I completed include comparative analysis of crop productivity between men and women, gender role, input use and technical efficiency, gender constraints and rice varietal characteristics preferences, gender and adoption of technology as well as gender and income distribution among others. The key finding so far is that gender roles influence technical efficiency, varietal preferences and utilization of agricultural innovations. Another important finding is that gender roles skew income in favour of men and further widens income distribution between and women.
Most promising and /or exciting research work
I recently worked with a team of researchers to complete a grant research project dubbed, ‘’assessment of drivers, access, barriers, and impact of digitalization on rural livelihood (RuTech Assessment project)’’, funded by GIZ, a grant amount of €60,000.00. Findings showed that digitalization has resulted in the technological transformation of smallholder farmers, improved productivity and access to market, increased revenue and impacted positively on employment. The most promising of the research is the prospect of transitioning towards a sustainable bio-based economy through digitization.
During Data Collection Exercise in the Field
There are a lot of challenges working in research field in academia. Researchers in higher education are under constant pressure. There is “constant pressure on me to obtain funding to conduct research activities.” The burden of finding research funding is increasingly falling on researchers – and I find it very stressful. Furthermore, there is a significant challenge of finding enough time for all the activities necessary to mobilize resources, conduct and manage research.
Generally, Researchers describe feeling pressure not only professionally – between research, teaching, and administrative responsibilities – but even in terms of an inability to maintain a work-life balance. A key part of showcasing research is keeping researcher profiles current, complete, and accessible. But there are significant challenges in doing so. The “culture of research” is another factor that influences the motivation and availability of resources for scholars who seek to invest their time and effort in research. Another challenge we face is getting to connect to parliamentarians and policy makers to improve access to evidence in their legislative and policy making work. Finally, there is a challenge in finding money to publish research findings in high impact open access journals.