A.I.D. DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE ABSTRACT
A.I.D. Program Evaluation Report No. 18
Women in Development: A.I.D.'s Experience, 1973-1985
Vol. 1. Synthesis Paper
U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) Washington, D.C. 20523
Gender-related factors influence the success of development
projects and the quality of the entire development effort.
Understanding the ways in which poor women and men interact,
divide responsibilities, and allocate resources is essential to
planning effective development programs. But recognizing and
analyzing gender roles in the baseline situation is not enough.
Planners must adapt project design and implementation to respond
to gender differences and to ensure that women participate in
proportion to their roles and responsibilities.
These findings emerge from desk reviews of almost 100
A.I.D. projects and detailed field studies of 10 projects. The
study, initiated in 1984, reviewed a sample of A.I.D. projects
in five sectors--agriculture, education, energy,
employment/income generation, and water/sanitation.
The findings show that the effort spent on improving gender
analysis and making adaptations in design and implementation
pays off in project results. Projects planned and implemented
with attention to gender variables are more likely to achieve
both their immediate purposes and their long-term socioeconomic
goals than projects which ignore gender variables. Although
women-only projects and women's components can be useful in
specific contexts, the data show that mainstream (integrated)
projects which are gender-sensitive, more successfully promote
and utilize women's contribution to development, and better
achieve overall development objectives.
The paper provides an analytic framework for gender
analysis and gives guidelines for adapting project design and
implementation to overcome barriers to women's participation.
SUMMARY OF DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE
To examine the relationship between gender variables and
the achievement of project purposes and goals, A.I,D.'s Center
for Development Information and Evaluation (CDIE) reviewed a
sample of A.I.D. projects implemented over a 12 year period.
From a list of 416 projects in the A.I.D. data bank,
researchers selected a random sample of projects in five
sectors--agriculture, education, energy, employment/income
generation, water/sanitation. Of the 98 projects chosen, 82
percent were mainstream projects and 18 percent were women's
projects or projects with a women's component. Researchers
conducted desk reviews of each project using a common
questionnaire to code information in the documentation.
To provide in-depth information, CDIE chose 10 projects for
detailed field studies--six from the cases in the desk reviews
and four others at the suggestion of A.I.D. staff.
The desk reviews and field studies show that understanding
gender differences and adapting projects accordingly increases
the likelihood that projects will achieve their objectives. Key
findings and recommendations are summarized below.
* Projects are more likely to achieve their objectives when
the flow of resources to women matches the baseline
division of labor in project-related activities. For
example, in the agriculture sector, projects that deliver
resources directly to women in accordance with their role
in the local farming system are more likely to succeed in
achieving their purposes than projects in which there is no
gender focus. Similar findings apply to other sectors--
energy, employment and water/sanitation.
* In the agricultural sector, a positive relationship exists
between resources targeted to women, resources actually
received by women, and achievement of project purposes.
But targeting women or earmarking resources for women must
be accompanied by appropriate adaptations to remove
technical and institutional constraints to female
* In direct-service projects, high participation by women
(substantial numbers of women receiving training, credit
and extension) is associated with the achievement of
objectives; low participation by women is not. For
example, several water supply and sanitation projects in
which women's participation was known to be high were very
successful in achieving their immediate objectives. In
contrast, a water project with low participation by women
failed to achieve its objectives. Similarly, credit
projects that adapted delivery systems and had high levels
of female participation were more successful than those
that lacked adaptations.
Gender analysis alone has little effect on project outcomes
unless appropriate adaptations are made to overcome
barriers to women's participation. Adaptations include
adjusting the focus of project activities and their
location, modifying the timing and duration of activities
and providing support services such as child care. Even
when no formal barriers to women's participation exist,
adaptations may be needed to ensure women's involvement.
Many projects with good gender analyses failed to make
Gender analysis helps explain why some projects achieve
their immediate purposes but have limited socioeconomic
impact. For example, a project may achieve its purpose of
income generation, but fail to achieve its goal of
alleviating hunger if, because of family expenditure
patterns, the income generated is not used for the purchase
* At the design stage, gender analysis should be an integral
part of both the social and economic analysis. Many
projects suffered because they failed to adequately analyze
how gender differences in labor constraints or incentives
to participate would affect project outcomes. In a
Thailand project, for example, many families dropped out of
on-farm trials because the new practices increased women's
Gender analysis should extend throughout the life of the
project from design to implementation and evaluation. Many
projects were better able to meet their objectives because
they adjusted to unanticipated gender-related factors. In
Kenya, a farm survey found that project innovations were
not spreading because resources were concentrated on
full-time male farmers in an area where 60 percent of adult
males had migrated to work elsewhere. Subsequently, the
project targeted indigenous self-help groups (80 percent
female), establishing a basis for widespread technology
* During project implementation, internal reporting systems
should provide feedback on the relative proportion of
project resources going to men and women and to various
socioeconomic groups, so project managers can assess the
significance of gender-related factors. (The definition of
what mix is "right" depends on existing gender roles.)
Women-Only, Women's Component and Integrated Approaches
Women-only projects have had tiny budgets, low government
priority and minimal impact. They have been more successful in
delivering training than in generating income. A women's
component within a larger project can either benefit women or
isolate them. Adding a component focused exclusively on women's
family roles diverts attention from women's economic roles and
may reduce the main project's attention to gender issues.
An "integrated" project is any mainstream project without a
women-only design or a women's component (A.I.D.'s definition).
Eighty-two percent of projects in the sample met this definition,
but more than half were "gender-blind" (low levels of gender
analysis and no adaptation) and only one-quarter were gender-
sensitive (specific gender analysis and adaptation). The
evaluation shows that gender-sensitive design correlates with
achievement of objectives, while gender-blind design correlates
with failure to achieve objectives. Of the three project types,
gender-sensitive integrated projects appear to be the best way
to utilize women's contributions and ensure that project
objectives and development goals are met.
Definition of Terms
The terms residents, participants and beneficiaries are
often used interchangeably, even though.residents of a project
area are not always participants and participants are not always
beneficiaries. Precise use of these terms will help planners
identify actual participants and beneficiaries of a project and
assess how their gender may affect project outcomes.
Focus of Women in Development Efforts
The study demonstrates that Women in Development efforts
can do more than have positive consequences for women. Gender-
related factors influence whether or not project objectives are
met. Women in Development goals will be realized by giving
attention to these gender issues. Projects will then benefit
from the necessary participation of both sexes and contribute
more fully to overall development goals.
Copies of the complete report, A.I.D. Program Evaluation No. 18,
Women in Development: A.I.D.'s Experience, 1973-1985 Vol.1.
Synthesis Paper, April 1987, (PN-AAL-U87), may be obtained from
the editor of ARDA, A.I.D. Document and Information Handling
Facility, 7222 47th Street, Suite 100, Chevy Chase, Maryland
20815. The Center for Development Information and Evaluation
welcomes comments on the report: Bureau for Program and Policy
Coordination, Center for Development Information and Evaluation,
Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C. 20523.
A.I.D. ACCOMPLISHMENTS ON WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT
o Published the first Policy Paper on Women in Development.
This policy has been used as the guideline for every
subsequently-published Policy Paper by all donors and
o The first donor WID organization to stress the "economic"
roles of women versus an "equity only" approach.
o The first donor organization to move from an approach of
"women-specific" projects to one of "integrating" women into
overall development efforts. This approach has now been
adopted by almost all donor and multilateral
o The first WID donor/organization to research and begin
analysis of macro-economic policies and their relationship to
the gender (human) dimension.
o Ensured that all USAIDs and A.I.D./W bureaus have WID
o Instituted training programs for senior A.I.D. staff on WID
issues and are producing sector-specific guidance manuals.
o Established regional Bureau Task Forces to act as liaison on
WID issues in the bureau and respective USAIDs.
o The Office of Women in Development is the single largest WID
organization of all donor countries, and its approach of
"leveraging" funds, integrating its work throughout the project
cycle, and providing high-level technical support and training
to missions serves as the model for all other bilateral and
Specific examples of these accomplishments are attached.
BRIEFING ON WID ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Recent developments in AID/W point to a productive future for
integrating Women in Development into the Agency's programs and
projects. WID support is evident in each of the regional
bureaus and the presence of a WID officer in each bureau helps
to coordinate WID integration.
BUREAU AND MISSION ACTIONS
The LAC Bureau is training mission staff on the integration of
women in development using as a guide the recently-developed
LAC Gender Handbook. Communication between the regional WID
Officer and the LAC Missions is very strong and ensures
cooperation and information flow.
The ANE Bureau established a WID Task Force in the fall of 1987
to develop an agenda -including overall WID strategy and
selection of priority countries for WID initiatives.
Coordination among AA/ANE, the Task Force, and PPC/WID is
strong, and a cable to priority countries indicating technical
support options to missions is expected to be sent soon.
The Africa Bureau recently sent a guidance cable to all its
Missions for FY 88-91 Action Plans which incorporated
appropriate language about gender. This effort fulfills one
aspect of the Agency mandate and an element in the AFR/WID
Working Group's Action Plan to improve implementation of
A.I.D.'s WID policy in the region. The AFR/WID Action Plan
focuses on bureau sensitization and staff training, program
development, research, monitoring and evaluation, and project
Evidence from the Missions worldwide suggests that there is
awareness and concern for integrating women in programs and
projects. PPC/WID's efforts to provide Missions with more
information on WID activities and resources available to
Missions, including guidance about "how to do WID" have taken
various forms, including training, evaluation, document review,
technical assistance, and information dissemination.
Regional training for the Africa Bureau was held in Nairobi in
September. The goal of this pilot effort, co-funded by the
bureau and PPC/WID, was to provide mission personnel with
information, tools and guidelines for utilizing and
incorporating gender considerations into agricultural
development programs and projects. The workshop was
participatory and sought input from participants to refine
these tools and guidelines. Results from the workshop have
been included in the on-going development of a Gender
Information Framework-- a "how to" step by step guide for
addressing gender issues in the Agency's policies, programs and
In the LAC region, WID workshops were carried out in
USAID/Bolivia and USAID/Guatamala in October and November
1987. USAID/Bolivia has requested follow up workshops for a
Spanish speaking audience. USAID/Guatemala is implementing a
portfolio review and strategic planning to integrate women more
effectively into mission activities.
PPC/WID, in cooperation with the regional and central bureaus,
is participating in a small number of strategically important
evaluations. Efforts are underway to place contractors on
evaluation teams or to include PPC/WID in writing SOWs for
evaluations. For example, PPC/WID at mission request, will
fund technical evaluation support in the Pakistan 5-year
program review and in the India Social Forestry mid-term
PRE and WID are collaborating in developing a system whereby
all evaluation SOWs include a WID section which addresses the
involvement of women in private enterprise development, both as
macro and larger "small" and medium sized entrepreneurs, and as
employees filling new work places created by an expanding
private sector. In addition, the plan foresees the development
of recommendations by PPC/WID for specific scheduled
evaluations of PRE projects. This practice has already been
implemented in the case of PRE's IESC evaluation. Similar
collaborative efforts are emerging with the S&T Bureau,
specifically with the Rural Development/ESE and with the
Nutrition and Health offices.
Three PPC/WID technical specialists work with regional bureaus,
their respective WID Officers, and their regional WID task
forces in reviewing CDSSs, APs, PIDs and PPs. PPC/WID reviews
selected PIDs and PPs as these documents are forwarded to the
office from PPC's Regional Bureau liaison officers. These
reviews result in suggestions and/or recommendations to
In an effort to improve its ability to monitor integration of
WID issues in A.I.D.'s documents, PPC/WID has installed a
computer Tracking System. It is designed to keep track of
issues, recommendations made regarding WID, how they relate to
constraints and problems frequently encountered in programs and
projects, and actions taken by PPC/PDPR, the regional and
central bureaus, and Missions as a result of the review process.