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Front Cover 1
Table of Contents
Extension approaches to reach rural women
Extension approaches to reach women farmers
Providing agricultural extension services to farm women through male technicians in the Yemen Arab republic
Development for rural Zambian women
Working with fisherwomen in Bangladesh
Rural women's activities in marketing: A hog-raising project in the Phillipines
Fiji: Training women for income-generation
Participatory education for women: A framework
The practice and peril of projects for women in the Third World
Nepalese women in natural resource management
An effective method of training extension workers
Creation of an agricultural course in a Sardinian primary school
Theory into practice: A case-study of postgraduate agricultural extension training
A joint authorship publication
of FAO, Unesco and ILO, this
journal is an annual review
of current opinions and experience
in agricultural extension and
their contribution to
Jamaica. Woman farmer
TRAINING FOR AGRICULTURE
AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
FAO Economic and Social Development Series
Food and Agriculture
United Nations Educational,
Organization of the United Nations
Scientific and Cultural Organization
International Labour Organisation
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
The designations employed and the presentation of mate-
rial in this publication do not imply the expression of any
opinion whatsoever by the Food and Agriculture Organi-
zation of the United Nations concerning the legalstatus of
any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or
concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
The views expressed are those of the authors.
The copyright in this book is vested in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations. The book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, by any method or process, without
written permission from the copyright holder. Applications for such permission, with a statement
of the purpose and extent of the reproduction desired, should be addressed to the Director,
Publications Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Via delle
Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.
Printed in Italy
Extension approaches to reach rural women 1
Extension approaches to reach women farmers 11
Reaching female farmers through male extension workers
in Malawi 11
Providing agricultural extension services to farm women
through male technicians in the Yemen Arab Republic 21
Development for rural Zambian women 29
Working with fisherwomen in Bangladesh 39
P. Natpracha and B. Williams
Rural women's activities in marketing: a hog-raising
project in the Philippines 47
Fiji: training women for income-generation 53
Participatory education for women: a framework 61
The practice and perils of projects for women in the Third World 71
Nepalese women in natural resource management 83
An effective method of training extension workers 91
Creation of an agricultural course in a Sardinian primary school 97
Theory into practice a case-study of postgraduate
agricultural extension training 105
Nineteen eighty-five marks the end of a ten-year period designated by the
United Nations as the Decade for Women. Its three goals have been to pro-
mote genuine equality between women and men; to ensure the full integra-
tion of women in development as participants and beneficiaries; and, to
enhance the contribution of women to the promotion of world peace.
In recognition of the efforts made over the past ten years toward
accomplishing these goals, and of FAO, Unesco and ILO's continuing com-
mitment to their achievement, the theme of the 1985 issue of this publication
is Women in agricultural and rural development: progress during the Decade
for Women, 1976-85.
A number of articles in this issue document the attempts made in differ-
ent regions of the world to reach more rural women more efficiently; point to
reasons for success or the lessons learned from failures; or reveal the innova-
tive practices undertaken to increase the participation and productivity of
women in agricultural production and rural development.
Case-studies in Malawi and the Yemen Arab Republic provide examples
of different approaches to reach women farmers in the diverse cultural tradi-
tions of Africa and the Near East. Descriptions of development activities in
Zambia, the Philippines, Nepal, Fiji and Bangladesh call attention to the
difficult situation of rural women and the problems connected with including
them in production-oriented training and extension programmes. These
accounts, while they do not presume to provide simple solutions or definitive
analyses, attest to the importance of education and training, without which
women cannot obtain the credit, technology and skills needed to better their
lot and their contribution to development.
Other articles, in keeping with this publication's emphasis on training
and extension for rural development, present innovative methodologies for
education and extension training in general and give accounts of the success-
ful development efforts that have resulted.
All the ensuing articles, although not explicitly focused on rural women,
reflect a measure of hope that the rural development process, through educa-
tion and extension, can provide a basis for realizing the goals of the UN
Decade for Women equality, development and peace for all.
to reach rural women
Almost half the agricultural labour-force in developing countries is female. In
some regions, official estimates are particularly high, such as in Africa, where
in the Congo, for example, women make up over 60 percent of the labour-
force. It is known, however, that the proportion of women is often underesti-
mated. Women may not be reported for their work, they may be engaged in
unreported work, or they may not even be asked what their work contribu-
tion is. Unofficial estimates of women in the agricultural labour-force of indi-
vidual African countries may often be as high as 80 percent.
At the same time, food production shortfalls exist that cause many coun-
tries, particularly in Africa, to experience severe crises regarding food availa-
bility. It is logical to try to alleviate food shortages by improving production
resources, inputs and services to farmers. When the farmers are women,
however, they are generally bypassed in development efforts, of which exten-
sion activities occupy an important part. In Kenya, for example, it has been
estimated that male farmers who are heads of households are contacted by
extension agents 13 times more often than female farmers who are heads of
households (Staudt, 1981).
The challenge remains to find ways in which extension can reach female
farmers. All too often this is not achieved because of traditional practices,
- working with the head of the household only, assumed to be a man;
- concentrating on commercial crops rather than food crops which are usu-
ally grown by women;
- failing to note the division of labour by sex within family units;
- assuming that information given to one family member is shared with
other family members;
Dr Susanne Gura is an Associate Professional Officer (Women and Food Systems) in the
Human Resources, Institutions and Agrarian Reform Division (ESH), FAO, Rome.
L S. GURA
- assuming that women's time is flexible and that women are available for
extension activities at the same places and times as men;
- assuming that women's interests are concentrated in home economics.
Awareness of the negative effects of these practices and of the need for
change is increasing. New approaches and methods have been developed to
improve extension services to small farmers in general and, with some adap-
tation, these have proved to be useful in reaching small farmers who are
women. This article reviews the following relevant practices and approaches:
- client group analysis, recognizing that farmers' groups are not homogene-
- extension methods designed to reach specific producer groups rather than
individuals or families;
- participatory methodologies that involve recipients as directly as possible
in the design of development efforts;
- the linking of farming systems research to agricultural extension systems.
It is recognized that in general there is a shortage of qualified extension
staff and funds. However, where women are a major part of the rural labour-
force, it is imperative that they should be among those reached by extension
activities, even at existing resource levels. If the food security problem is to
be solved at the household level, priority must be given to improving prac-
tices in the production of food crops as well as cash crops. This is not likely to
be achieved unless women's responsibility in growing food crops is taken into
Rural women as a client group
Rural women need to be recognized as a client group with specific extension
and training needs. Their participation in agricultural work is often extensive,
and their agricultural activities frequently differ from those of men. Exten-
sion messages must be directed toward women, when their activities and
interests are involved, and efforts must be made to identify and meet their
Women have mistakenly been considered as a homogeneous group in
many development efforts. However, women's involvement in agricultural
work and decision-making can vary widely even within a single region as a
result of different ecological subzones, farming systems, income classes, or
EXTENSION APPROACHES TO REACH RURAL WOMEN
stages in the family life cycle. These differences call for careful planning in the
design and delivery of extension services. Farming systems research and the
participatory methodologies described below provide two approaches that
help to identify target groups and their extension needs.
In addition to extension messages, field practices must address women's
needs. In reality, field extension practices have often worked against women
producers. For example, public discussion meetings have been held at times
that were convenient to men but when women were unable to attend; infor-
mation has been released through channels such as pamphlets and radio, or
through posters pinned up in banks or similar places that are largely inacces-
sible to women. Farmer training has often been held at centres without
facilities for women and small infants.
In Zambia, recognition of the high percentage of female farmers and of
their problems in leaving the home has led to the development of mobile
training units instead of farmer training centres that tend to be more accessible
to men (Safilios-Rothschild, 1985).
Sometimes cultural practices or religious customs make it difficult or
impossible for male agricultural agents to work with female farmers. For
example, in Pakistan, purdah regulations precluded male extensionists from
entering homesteads to vaccinate poultry while the husband was absent.
Because of full schedules, the agents were unable to return to these families
and a spread of poultry diseases followed. Consequently, female extension
agents were later employed (Carloni, 1983). In these instances, women need
to be recruited and specially trained as agricultural extension agents.
Contact between male extensionists and women farmers is sometimes
more acceptable if men work with groups of women rather than with indi-
viduals.1 Alternatively, male extensionists who are initially accompanied by
women extensionists may later be accepted in rural families on their own.
The "rules" governing contact between men and women may not apply
equally at all levels of society. Poor rural women eking out a subsistence liv-
ing are less influenced by social status and may be contacted by professional
men, even in many countries where stereotypes are contrary to such contact.
The gender of staff is perhaps less important as an extension criterion in
reaching rural women than has been thought. There are cases where male
field agents who have understood women's production roles and needs have
worked willingly and effectively with women producers. In an FAO-execu-
1 See articles by Spring and by Hamada, pp. 11 and 21.
4 S. GURA
ted project in Zaire, emphasis was placed on working with women's groups to
improve cassava and maize production. Traditionally, these food crops are
"women's crops" and male agriculturists have not always been trained in their
production. In this case, male extension workers, after intensive in-service
training in the cultural practices and introduction of new varieties of the
crops, successfully reached women farmers.
In Kenya, an extension agent was interested in helping his women clients
in nutrition matters (Muzale and Leonard, 1982). In another case, an exten-
sion agent in Sri Lanka trained women in the use of tractors and spraying
equipment and in modern crop husbandry (Postel and Schrijvers, 1980).
These were cases in which the women were not only strongly organized, but
were also recognized by district administrative officers and agricultural super-
visors as appropriate clients for extension assistance. In each case, train-
ing and orientation, rather than the gender of the field-worker, was the key
Working through women's groups
Group approaches, compared to methods of extension that are geared to
individuals, have the potential to extend the reach of extension efforts, and
to increase the impact of extension work. Approaching groups of women
rather than individual women might help to circumvent those cultural restric-
tions that often impede contact between a female farmer and a male exten-
An interesting approach is currently being tried in pilot schemes in India
involving the use of "female information brokers". It is the task of female
information brokers to organize groups of farm women to meet the male
extension official regularly. Three categories of women have been identified
as potential information brokers: the wives of extension workers,
female village officials and older village women. These women, because of
their social position, can facilitate contact between village farm women and
To implement a group extension approach, the first step is to identify
existing groups of women and the activities they wish strengthened. This has
been done recently, for example, by the Ministry of Women's Affairs in the
Republic of Cameroon and by the International Labour Office in cooperation
with the Danish International Development Agency, which is surveying net-
works of women's groups in selected countries.
Another example of the group extension approach is support for existing
EXTENSION APPROACHES TO REACH RURAL WOMEN
women's savings and credit groups. All over the world, agricultural credit and
savings groups are organized and run by rural women. Examples are: arisans
in Java; mabati groups in Kenya; isusu in West Africa; mushti in Bangladesh;
dhikuri in Nepal; kutu in Malaysia; wokmari in Papua New Guinea and
gamayas in Egypt. The procedures, management and distribution of benefits
of these savings groups are well adapted to meet women's specific needs.
Where these informal organizations can be assisted to develop a larger sav-
ings base, and be linked to services to improve members' income-generating
capacity, the results can be spectacular. For example, the resilience of farm-
ing among women food producers during the struggles and hardships of the
last two decades in Zimbabwe and the relatively widespread adoption of
high-yielding varieties of maize (at least compared with Zimbabwe's
neighbours), is directly tied to the development and growth of rural savings
clubs. Most of the members of these clubs are illiterate women (Smith, 1984).
An alternative group approach that some extension services have pur-
sued is to organize women explicitly for productive agriculture-related
activities. For example, the women's cooperative movement launched by the
Ministry of Local Government in Bangladesh has promoted the formation of
women's groups to work with agricultural extensionists in agricultural pro-
duction. Women's groups have also been created in Benin, Ghana and
Guinea for the introduction of improved technologies for fish processing and
conservation. Consequently, it has been recommended in many cases that
women's groups be formed and used in extension work.
Since it is recognized that extension is more than a one-way communication
process where messages pass from extensionist to client, that it includes the
client's knowledge and perception of a problem, a range of methods that rely
on the farmer's experience and knowledge has been developed. Many exten-
sion agencies expect farmers to participate directly in the design of extension
Few attempts have been made to bring women's issues directly to the
attention of policy-level extension officials. On the occasion of the 1984
World Food Day, a workshop that focused on rural women was organized by
FAO in Nepal. High-level extension officers were confronted with rural
women who described current problems and suggested solutions. One impor-
tant suggestion was to include more agricultural topics and information in
extension programmes in addition to home economics.
Village-level training workshops in marketing and credit were organized
by FAO in many African countries in 1985. The leaders of women's producer
groups explained their successful marketing activities to other women. Gov-
ernment officials as well as representatives of agricultural credit organiza-
tions observed the workshops and learned directly from rural women about
the problems and constraints they face.2
An umbrella programme was carried out by FAO for disadvantaged
rural women. By a participatory approach, this programme encouraged
women to identify their needs and desirable project activities, and projects
were formulated for women's groups on plantations, in resettlement schemes
and refugee camps, in both arid and semi-arid zones. Experiences such as
these provide insights as to how women in such groups participate, gain self-
reliance, and establish mechanisms for getting needed inputs; and how gov-
ernmental, financial and other institutions respond to and support such
Farming systems research
In farming systems research (FSR) the farm is viewed as a system composed
of many interrelated elements, including physical, economic and social fac-
tors. This approach lends itself to the consideration of a broad range of
activities by gender. More attention is being given to the farm family as a
whole and to issues such as subsistence-level production, off-farm employ-
ment and household management, all of which influence agricultural produc-
To date, the role of men rather than the role of women and children has
been emphasized more in FSR, although measures are being taken by a
number of institutions to correct this. FAO has modified its farm analysis
package to consider women and children better. Women's and children's
activities, interests and responsibilities in agriculture need to be acknowl-
edged more clearly. As well, relevant data need to be disaggregated and
analysed by sex and age. The role of men in the rural household and family
can also be given attention through this approach.
Such important activities as the post-harvest handling of crops, small-
livestock raising and home gardening considered women's responsibilities
2 This "farmer-train-farmer" method was successfully used earlier (ESCAP, 1979).
EXTENSION APPROACHES TO REACH RURAL WOMEN 7
in many countries have been neglected in FSR. In the light of efforts to
reduce post-harvest losses, the need to reach rural women who are almost
completely responsible for the drying and storage of crops has become evi-
dent (Stevenson, 1984).
FSR appears to be particularly useful in revealing the problems of
female-headed households, many of which have been overlooked by exten-
sion programmes (Staudt, 1981). Women heads of households are indepen-
dent producers of both food and, although more marginally, cash crops.
Many are married to migrant men in whose name the land is registered, so
that often they are not recognized as independent farmers. Thus, they have
no access to credit or extension services. The same is true of many polyga-
mously married women who cultivate their own as well as their husbands'
fields. FSR can help to analyse such complex arrangements and define exten-
In general, FSR seeks to develop stronger research-extension links.
Extension staff who work daily in the field develop a thorough understanding
of the problems of farm women within the family in their working areas and
help to find solutions in collaboration with FSR.
Extension agents who are daily confronted with the realities of rural situ-
ations may call for new policy directives. In two FAO projects, local ekten-
sion officials were the ones who stressed the importance of women's contribu-
tions and were directly responsible for convincing project officials to alter the
project design (Carloni, 1983).
Women farmers are being recognized as a special target group within the
rural population, whose activities and interests and therefore extension
needs differ from those of men. The time for a welfare approach to help
rural women is past. Since women's activities are critical to food production,
especially in most African countries where food security has deteriorated
recently, agricultural extension services need to make far greater efforts to
reach rural women.
There is general agreement that in the long run employing more female
agricultural extension workers will help to reach rural women more satisfac-
torily. This is particularly important where socio-cultural practices limit con-
tact between men and women outside the family. Female extension staff
should not be limited to working in home economics, just as women clientele
.should not be expected to be interested in home economics exclusively.
8 S. GURA
An even more important factor than the sex of extension workers is their
training and orientation toward recognizing rural women's contribution and
technical needs. Extension workers, both male and female, need to be
trained to understand the family farm as a complex unit involving agricultural
as well as household and family issues. The reorientation of existing male
staff can be effective, particularly when they go on to work with women's
groups rather than individuals.
Curricula in agriculture should include more information than they do at
present on the role of both sexes in the farm family. Male extension agents
have not been learning why women are an important part of their clientele for
technical information. Male staff already in place can be given in-service
training for reorientation, or special meetings with women farmers can be
held to expose extensionists directly to the extension needs of rural women.
An example of a well-rounded training programme is provided by the
Yambio Institute of Agriculture in the Sudan. This institute offers a two-year
diploma course for middle-level agricultural extension workers and techni-
cians. About five years ago, with FAO assistance, the institute reoriented its
training programme to include, in addition to agricultural courses, subjects
related to home and family affairs such as nutrition, child development and
resource management. The same training programme is provided for both
male and female students (women constitute about 15 percent of the stu-
dents). The graduates are therefore capable of helping male and female
farmers in both their agricultural tasks and their home and family respon-
sibilities. This positive experience is now being repeated at the Shambat Divi-
sion, College of Agricultural Studies, Khartoum Polytechnic in the Sudan.
Reorientating existing male extensionists to give more attention to the
role of women in agriculture and to work with women's groups is one of the
best immediate means of reaching rural women farmers in view of the staff
shortages that extension services are experiencing everywhere.
Increased links between research and extension, such as promulgated in
farming systems research, can help bring to light the technical roles and needs
of both men and women in agriculture and can stimulate practical approaches
that bring inputs to both sexes.
CARLONI, K. Integrating women in agricultural projects case studies often FAO-assisted
1983 field projects. Rome, FAO.
ESCAP/FAO INTER-COUNTRY PROJECT. Learning from rural women: village-level success
1979 cases of rural women's group income-raising activities. Bangkok, FAO Regional
Office for Asia and the Pacific.
EXTENSION APPROACHES TO REACH RURAL WOMEN 9
JIGGINS, J. Agricultural extension and training for rural women. Rome, FAO. (Unpublished
MUZALE, P.J. & LEONARD, D. Women's groups and extension in Kenya: their impact on
1982 food production and malnutrition in Baringo, Busia and Taita-Taveta, Kenya.
Report to the Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya. University of California, Berke-
ley, Managing Decentralization Project.
POSTEL, E. & SCHRIVERS, J. (eds). A woman's mind is longer than a kitchen spoon: report
1980 on women in Sri Lanka. Research project on women and development. Leiden
(Netherlands), State University of Leiden.
SAFILIOS-ROTHSCHILD, C. The policy implications of the roles of women in agriculture in
1985 Zambia. New York, The Population Council, and Lusaka, The National Com-
mission for Development Planning.
SMITH, G.A. Operational guidelines forpromoting women's savings groups activities in rural
1984 development projects in eastern and southern Africa. Rome, FAO.
STAUDT, K. Women's organizations in rural development. In Invisible farmers: women and
1981 the crisis in agriculture, ed. B. Lewis. Washington, D.C., USAID Office of
Women in Development. WID monograph.
STEVENSON, K.A.P. Social and economic aspects of prevention offood loss activities. Rome,
Extension approaches to reach
Traditional extension approaches have failed to reach women farmers in
large measure because of the cultural, social and economic factors that sepa-
rate women from men as a client group. The case-studies that follow are set
in the diverse cultural traditions of Africa and the Near East. They provide
examples of field experiences that have potential for success through innova-
tive modifications of traditional extension practices. In both cases the exten-
sion messages are delivered mainly through male field-workers.
Reaching female farmers
through male extension workers
In many places in Africa extension services are structured so that female
extensionists work with rural women and male extensionists with rural men.
At first glance this seems a reasonable sexual division of labour. However,
extension policies concerning the delivery of services to farmers should
include a way to deal with needs based on the diversity of household arrange-
ments and situations that exist in rural areas. This article looks at an extension
service that was differentiated by sex and considers some changes that were
made which allowed the service to address better the needs of rural house-
holds and, in particular, the needs of rural women. The country under consid-
Dr Anita Spring is Associate Dean and Associate Professor at the University of Florida,
Gainesville, Florida, USA. She is the former director of the Women in Agricultural
Development project in Malawi, funded by USAID.
12 A. SPRING
eration is Malawi; the innovation is an extension"circular that legitimate the
male extension staff's work with women farmers.
Certain variables need to be examined to ascertain if the sexual division
of labour where female extensionists are directed to work only or mainly with
women clients and male extensionists are directed to work only or mainly
with men clients is warranted or even wise. It is necessary to evaluate a variety
of factors, including i) the demography of the situation, i.e. the number of
extension workers and farmers by sex; ii) the training/education of extension
workers by sex; iii) the content of extension programmes according to the sex
of the extensionist and the sex of the farmers; and iv) the delivery of develop-
ment services according to the sex of the extension worker and recipient. In
terms of demography, the number of male and female extension workers may
be very differential. Usually the extension staff is largely male. In terms of the
clients there may be more women than men in the rural population because
of male migration for wage labour. The result may be fewer female exten-
sionists to serve rural women than male extensionists to serve rural men. In
terms of training, the education of men and women extensionists may be dif-
ferential in terms of the type, quality and length of the courses they receive.
Courses that are taken predominantly by men are generally more technical
and longer than those for women extensionists.
There may be a number of assumptions about rural clientele and the
'goals of extension. One assumption is that rural women are involved only in
domestic and reproductive activities and therefore require information and
training only in home economics (particularly in cooking and sewing). What
is overlooked is that African women have important productive roles in farm-
ing in order to feed their families.
In terms of the delivery of extension services, men and women farmers
may have differential access. Men, as members of groups or as heads of
households, may be eligible for services while women are denied access even
though some may be heads of households. Because of the sexual division of
the extension service, there is little or no way to account for the variety of real
situations where the needs of the various household members are important.
In some households both husband and wife are full-time farmers; in others,
the husband may be away but may send money for the wife to use to manage
the farming system; in others, a woman may have no male labour or support;
in still others, only the husband farms. Some households may share resources
effectively; in others, males may preempt resources that other household
members generate. The assumption that if the husband is trained or assisted,
the assistance will "trickle over" to other family members, and particularly to
the wife, may not be justified in fact.
REACHING FEMALE FARMERS IN MALAWI 1i
The extension service in Malawi and WIADP
Malawi has developed a sophisticated extension service located within the
Department of Agricultural Development of the Ministry of Agriculture
(MOA) that is responsible for carrying out the National Rural Development
Programme (NRDP). There are approximately 1 950 extensionists nation-
wide; however, only about 150 workers, or 5 percent, are female.
The case-study presented here shows that women are important in pro-
duction in the smallholder sector, but that until recently most extension ser-
vices for women have focused on imparting domestic rather than agricultural
production skills. The home economics training and other services that rural
women farmers received were given by female extensionists who were few in
number and less technically trained than the male staff. Only male exten-
sionists could enlist farmers for agricultural services such as credit and inputs,
or give technical agricultural information, and they worked mostly with male
farmers. In 1981 MOA changed the home economics section to "Women's
Programmes". This set the stage for a greater focus on agricultural training
and on the delivery of other extension services to small groups of rural women
by female extensionists. However, the male extension workers were unaf-
fected by this change.
The Women in Agricultural Development Project (WIADP), funded by
USAID, operated in Malawi between 1981 and 1983. WIADP carried out
extensive research nationwide on i) the productive roles of women and men
in farming; ii) the types of extension services offered to rural people; and
iii) the types of orientation and training that male and female workers
received (Spring, Smith and Kayuni, 1983). WIADP aimed to document the
contribution of women and men to agricultural production in the smallholder
sector (as compared to the estate sector), and to convince development per-
sonnel that women needed to be targeted within the goals of NRDP. WIADP
also examined the impact of the extension system on men and women farmers
in terms of the training of extension personnel and the delivery of develop-
ment services to farmers. The training of male and female technical and field
assistants at all educational institutions was examined for differences and
similarities as to the types and content of the courses. Finally, suggestions
were made to revise the training of both male and female extension workers
regarding the content of courses and the methods used to reach rural people
WIADP had the idea that male extension staff could work with female
as well as with male farmers and could extend a greater number of services to
women if appropriate methods were used. WIADP also devised ways in
14 A. SPRING
which female extensionists could receive more agricultural training (Spring,
1983). It prepared an extension aids circular entitled Reachingfemalefarmers
through male extension workers that legitimate more intensive work by the
male staff with women farmers and offered suggestions as to methods that
could improve extension services to women. In this article, the background
on women's contribution to smallholder agriculture is discussed, and then the
type and frequency of the extension contacts with farmers are related.
Finally, the circular with its suggestions on methods to improve extension
services to women is described.
Background on women's contribution to smallholder agriculture
Although extension and research personnel were aware that rural Malawian
women worked in the smallholder sector, they rarely acknowledged women's
contribution, or believed it to be insignificant. Some extension workers felt
that rural women were not really farmers, but only helped their husbands, or
that women did some farm operations, men being the farm managers.
Clark (1975), writing for the Ministry of Agriculture in the early 1970s,
estimated that Malawian women did 50-70 percent of the agricultural work in
the smallholder sector. WIADP's research in the 1980s showed that women
contributed most of the labour in smallholder agriculture and that a variety of
crop operations, land, and labour patterns existed in Malawi (Spring, Smith
and Kayuni, 1983). WIADP used data from the National Sample Survey of
Agriculture (NSSA) collected by the Government of Malawi through MOA
in 1980/81, from agro-economic surveys that had been collected in Malawi
between 1968 and 1982, from its own farming systems research and surveys,
and from other researchers' data. Some of the findings include the following:
* There are more women than men in rural areas and women are important
in smallholder agriculture since men are often away doing wage labour.
Approximately one-third of all rural households are headed by women; this
type of household seems to be increasing because of male migration. Women
have taken over the management of family farms more as a result.
* Women spend as much time on farm work as on domestic activities, work-
ing as much on farm activities as men.
* Women are involved in a variety of cropping patterns from mixed subsis-
tence to cash crops. They grow maize, groundnuts, rice, cassava, tobacco,
cotton, coffee and tea. Sometimes the land they cultivate is family land and
sometimes they have their own plots.
REACHING FEMALE FARMERS IN MALAWI
* Women work on both food and cash crops and do many of the farm opera-
tions (such as spraying cotton and planting tobacco seedlings) that are com-
monly believed to be done only by men. In fact, farm operations are differen-
tial by sex in some areas and in some households, while in other places and
households they are not. The sexual division of labour has given way to expe-
diency in many places; women are involved in all aspects of cultivation includ-
ing land clearing, ploughing, applying fertilizer, protecting crops, etc., either
routinely or when male labour is unavailable.
* Agricultural development projects increase the amount of hours each day
and days each year that both men and women have to work.
* Women in many areas are involved in the care of livestock, particularly of
small ruminants and poultry. Men are mostly involved in the ownership of
cattle whose care may be with youths or young men on the range. Women
become important caretakers if cattle are penned in the village for fattening.
* Households headed by women are likely to be associated with increased
labour constraints, simpler farming systems, food deficits, and a lack of
agricultural services. Households with male heads are aided significantly by
the male head's labour or remittances; these households are able to cultivate
more land and to hire additional labour.
* Compared with men, women receive few agricultural extension services
such as training, inputs, credit, visits, etc. Women's farming practices (such
as time of planting, spacing, fertilizer usage and crop protection practices)
are often deficient and reflect women's lack of agricultural education and
extension services. However, when women are given credit, agricultural
training, inputs and farm management skills, their agricultural performance
becomes similar to men's. In particular, women make good use of credit and
Extension contacts with male and female farmers
WIADP documented the delivery of agricultural extension services from
three sources: the NSSA extension survey; data on the number of men and
women farmers who were club members and credit recipients in a number of
rural development projects; and interviews with, and observations of, exten-
sion personnel in the field (Spring, Smith and Kayuni, 1983).
The data showed that farmers' contact with extension workers through
home and field visits, attendance at group meetings and demonstrations, and
participation in training courses, were differential regarding sex. Extension
workers were the major source of advice for both men and women farmers,
10 A. SPRING
but men received more personal visits and more advice on more topics. Group
meetings tended to reach more farmers than personal contacts, but here
again women did not benefit as much as men. Relatively few farmers of either
sex visited extension demonstrations, but more men than women learned
from this method. Field visits reached a smaller proportion of farmers than
personal visits or group meetings, and women were contacted less than men.
In WIADP's analysis of NSSA data, three categories were compared:
male household heads, their wives, and female household heads. There was
variation in the topics of instruction received from extension workers. In all
agricultural topics, men received much more instruction than either wives or
female heads. However, in many areas wives received more instruction than
female heads, while in some areas female heads received more than wives.
The data also showed that very few wives received agricultural information
from their husbands. The presumed transfer of technology from husbands to
wives within the household unit did not take place. The assumption that if
husbands were trained or assisted, other family members would be trained
was not confirmed by the data.
In spite of the common assumption by extensionists and management
that women were involved significantly in credit programmes, the data on the
participation of men and women in farmers' clubs and credit programmes
showed few women as participants in credit and other agricultural pro-
grammes compared to home economics extension services. WIADP also
related the percentage of female-headed households in various areas to the
percentage of women receiving extension services. The figures were widely
discrepant in most areas and this showed that many households were
routinely being bypassed.
During interviews and discussions with WIADP, male extension work-
ers raised the issue that cultural factors might prevent them from working
with female farmers. In particular, male workers noted that people would be
suspicious if they contacted female farmers in the same ways in which they
contacted men. However, some male workers often visited and signed up a
few female farmers for credit. It was from these successful techniques and
new techniques developed and tested in real situations that WIADP was able
to extract workable methods to recommend on a larger scale, such as asking
husbands to call their wives during personal and field visits; requesting local
leaders to inform female villagers about meetings; having local leaders point
out female household heads needing extension services; and working with
women in group meetings or in farmers' clubs. These techniques would
alleviate the difficulties of having men work with women to whom they are not
REACHING FEMALE FARMERS IN MALAWI 17
The Extension Aids Circular:
Reaching female farmers through male extension workers
There has been a need to help extension personnel recognize the role that
women play in smallholder agriculture and to be given workable methods for
including women in the delivery of agricultural services. Furthermore, there
has been a need to legitimate the male extensionist's work with women farm-
ers nationwide, a policy that would not rest on previous notions that only
female extensionists could work with rural women. WIADP, in conjunction
with the director of the Extension Aids Branch and the women's programmes
officer, designed an Extension Aids Circular, one of many technical circulars
published by the Extension Aids Branch. Its purpose is to direct the larger
and better trained male extension units to work with women farmers. The cir-
cular was prepared for and distributed to all extension personnel in Malawi
from grass-roots workers to management and its publication was announced
in the national newspaper.
Reaching female farmers through male extension workers (Extension
Aids Circular No. 2/83) was published in August 1983 by the Ministry of
Agriculture. The circular draws attention to the fact that women farmers
need extension services because:
- "women contribute much to the production of food, cash crops and live-
- "women perform many farm operations;
- "women head about 30% of Malawi's rural households and make the farm
decisions for those households; and
- "women are farmers as well as being farmers' wives".
These points constitute the first page of the circular with a photograph of a
male extension worker instructing a group of women and men farmers in land
preparation and planting techniques. The eight photographs in the circular
are from the Extension Branch collection and depict women in various farm-
ing operations suckeringg tobacco, operating an ox-drawn plough, and plant-
ing seed), attending extension demonstrations led by a male extensionist,
attending a village meeting with male farmers and male extensionists, receiv-
ing credit inputs, and exhibiting a certificate of recognition for excellence in
farming. The photographs depict real people in real circumstances and were
taken in different parts of the country.
The text is divided into two sections. First, the circular explains that
there are few female and many male extensionists and that women farmers do
18 A. SPRING
much of the work in the smallholder sector. It states that some people might
argue that women are interested in home economics rather than agricultural
training and notes that agricultural training has mainly been directed to men.
However, the circular points out that women are interested in both subjects
and that where the initiative has been taken to offer agricultural programmes
to women, they have learned new technologies and have increased their pro-
duction, often generating income for home activities.
Second, the circular presents methods for improving the delivery of
extension services to rural women. Recommendations are given on village
meetings, agricultural training courses, credit programmes, farmers' clubs,
demonstration plots and field days, and record-keeping. The circular states
that village meetings are ideal for implementing a group approach and that
women can be recruited by local leaders, husbands or female extension work-
ers. The circular notes that extensionists will have to discover why women do
not attend meetings. It suggests several reasons such as the scheduling of
meetings in conflict with women's agricultural or domestic duties, the ten-
dency of male extensionists to address men's problems and ignore women's
problems, the need to explain to both sexes that agricultural services should
be offered to women, and the problem of having both husbands and wives at
the same meeting with no one home to look after the children to be inves-
tigated and corrected. Suggestions are offered concerning the scheduling of
meetings, the use of leadership training for women so they may express their
problems in public, and the need for staff to convince women that male exten-
sionists are interested in women's farming problems. Male workers are
encouraged to include the wives and female relatives of male farmers during
personal visits to homes or farms for training, credit and soil conservation
For agricultural training courses, extensionists are told that it is possible
to target women for places in courses at training centres at all levels, as has
been the case in an area in Malawi where 30 percent of the places are reserved
for women. Because it is new for women to attend agricultural courses, new
methods of recruitment are needed. In the training courses, women should
receive the same information on crops, livestock and farm management as
Although the circular notes that the seasonal and medium-term credit
policy is non-discriminatory in that both men and women are eligible, in prac-
tice few women receive credit. It is pointed out that the decision to seek credit
has to be considered at the household level. In married households one or
both spouses might seek credit for the same or for different farm enterprises.
Female-headed households must be targeted in particular. According to the
REACHING FEMALE FARMERS IN MALAWI 19
situation in the household and to farmers' preferences, therefore, credit
should be offered by the extension worker to worthy farmers regardless of
sex. Since credit and technical information are being given to farmers mainly
though farmers' clubs, women should be encouraged to join clubs in their
own right, or if married, with their husbands.
Extensionists are involved in selecting farmers in their area to participate
in various demonstrations and programmes that require land or manage-
ment. These include research trials and attendance at special field days where
farmers learn new technologies. The circular admonishes extension workers
to choose women as well as men for these activities. Finally, extensionists are
encouraged to monitor their extension contacts with women and men farmers
and to include in their records the number of men and women, the type and
frequency of contacts, attendance at demonstrations and training sessions,
and participation in credit and input programmes.
No formats for recording and reporting the delivery of extension services
to men and women are given in the circular. However, in several places in the
country, WIADP, along with management, designed formats that extension
workers and their supervisors can use in reporting extension activities such as
credit, training and club participation. These formats list the sex of the farmer
participating in each activity or programme.
Significance of the Extension Aids Circular
Prior to the circular some male extensionists did, in fact, include some women
farmers in their programmes. However, the inclusion of women was neither
consistent nor reflective of women's contributions and needs. Most male
extensionists preferred to rely on a few female extension workers to reach
women. The circular legitimate and mandated male extensionist work with
women farmers in the smallholder sector.
The work that rural women do may warrant male extensionists, who are
often more numerous, better trained and well situated within the delivery sys-
tem, working with women to bring them into the mainstream of development
services. This is not to say that home economics programmes should not be
offered to rural women. Home economics subjects could be considered as
enrichment programmes, or their content could take women's productive
work into account. However, when the situation is such that female exten-
sionists are few in number or that their training has failed to provide the skills
needed to focus on women's productive roles, male extensionists will have to
contribute. Arguments that say that men cannot work with women farmers
will have to be re-examined, and new methods and techniques will have to be
devised that are feasible and that consider cultural constraints. A mechanism
that instructs extension staff in techniques and legitimizes the use of new
methods must then be devised. Here, an extension circular, based on
research on farming systems, the contributions of men and women farmers,
and on data as to how the delivery of services is working and might work more
effectively, has provided the way to direct hundreds of extensionists to target
a significant portion of the rural population. The ways offered were culturally
acceptable and appeared in the form of recommendations from the Ministry
of Agriculture. Shortly, it will be possible to do follow-up studies to ascertain
the impact of these recommendations on the delivery of extension services to
rural households and especially to rural women.
CLARK, B. The work done by rural women in Malawi. East. Afr. J. Rural Dev., 8(2):80-91.
MALAWI MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE. Reaching female farmers through male extension
1983 workers. Government Printer. Extension Aids Circular 2/83.
SPRING, A. Priorities for women's programmes. Report for the Ministry of Agriculture,
1983 Government of Malawi. Washington, D.C., USAID Office of Development.
SPRING, A., SMITH, C. & KAYUNI, F. Women farmers in Malawi: their contributions to
1983 agriculture and participation in development projects. Report for the Ministry of
Agriculture, Government of Malawi. Washington, D.C., USAID Office of
Providing agricultural extension services
to farm women through male technicians
in the Yemen Arab Republic
To introduce and popularize improved agricultural technology, extension
services in the Yemen Arab Republic were started in the early 1970s. The ini-
tial success of these activities led to a decision to repeat them in the Tihama
region, traditionally the country's bread-basket.
Near the end of the decade, the need to improve local food production
systems to meet increasing demand, coupled with the steady migration of
men to the oil-rich Gulf states and to urban centres, required a reassessment
of agricultural extension programmes.
The potential role of women in agricultural production was recognized.
It was felt that training farm women would, first, improve their efficiency in
doing farm chores traditionally done by them, and second, prepare them to
take over other agricultural operations left by men. Trained farm women to
fill the gap in the work-force would prevent a severe slump in agricultural pro-
duction and ensure adequate farm management.
While women's potential to contribute to agriculture has been recog-
nized and tapped in other parts of the world, approaches acceptable to the
Yemeni culture needed to be defined. Moreover, there was a need to identify
women's present role on the farm as well as to identify those agricultural
operations traditionally done by men for which women could now be pre-
pared to assist with or take over.
To test the possibilities of extending agricultural services to farm women
in line with cultural restrictions, a United Nations volunteer (UNV) female
agriculturist was recruited. She was to complement the assistance to field
operations provided by other male UNVs in the Tihama UN-FAO project.
Ms Dorothy Hamada is an FAO expert who worked in Yemen before her assignment in the
Before a programme to assist farm women could be worked out, the
female UNV had to familiarize herself with the area and the farm community,
particularly with women. To do this, she worked with her male colleagues in
their established field projects and with their farmer cooperators. This made
possible first-hand observation and experience.
It soon became apparent that certain factors would affect the chances of
success of any women's programme undertaken by the UNV. The more
important factors were:
- the absence of Yemeni female agriculturists and the impossibility of
recruiting women to be trained for the purpose would limit the area that could
be covered. More important, this meant that any programme started was
likely to be discontinued after the UNV completed her tour of assignment;
- the UNV's limited knowledge of Arabic restricted communication with
farm women and required an interpreter. The only interpreters available
were the male extension technicians; and
- as a female, the UNV's competence as an agriculturist and her ability to
do farm work were seriously doubted by the male farmers as well as by her
colleagues. Her credibility had to be proved before she was allowed to work
with the women. This was time-consuming.
Women in agriculture in the Tihama region
Agriculture in the Tihama region of the Yemen Arab Republic is basically
self-sustaining and oriented toward the self-sufficiency of the farm family. As
such, cereals are the main crop; livestock and their forage requirements, plus
some spice and vegetable production, come next. With crop farming possible
only half of the year, the storage of reserves is a major feature of Tihama
farming. Any excess above the farm family's requirements is marketed. Some
commercial farming by private individuals and state farms has developed.
While Yemeni women are engaged in farming, they generally do their
work apart from men or in seclusion, particularly when men who do not
belong to the immediate family are near. The lower the social class of the
women on the farm, the more often they are found doing farm work. This is
also evident in the profile of the women found working on state and commer-
cial farms. There is a separation of sexes in all social contact.
In family-operated farms, women help sow grain. They drop and cover
the grain while walking behind the men who drill the furrows with an animal-
drawn implement; or they ride at the back of the tractor, manually dropping
EXTENSION SERVICES IN THE YEMEN ARAB REPUBLIC Z5
grain into improvised grain drills attached to a tractor-drawn furrowing im-
They weed and clean the fields, primarily for forage to feed livestock.
Women are generally responsible for cutting the grain panicles and loading
them in straw baskets or bundling them (in the case of millet). These opera-
tions are done either while the crop is still standing in the field, or after the
men have cut it at the base of the plant and laid it on the ground along the
length of the plots. Women also do threshing, beating the panicles with whip-
like flails. They share the chore of packing the grain and storing it, and are
responsible for keeping the seeds for the next planting.
The care of livestock such as chickens, goats, sheep and sometimes cattle
is assigned to women and children. They feed, water, pasture, stable and milk
the animals. Camel husbandry is a man's job.
Food processing and food preparation are women's responsibilities.
Where there are no motor flour mills, the women crush the soaked grain be-
tween a flat and a roller stone hand-mill. Fermenting and drying crop prod-
ucts, salting and curding, and butter and cheese making are also part of a
woman's routine. Gathering firewood and carrying water are also women's
Spinning wool, handicrafts from palm leaves and reeds, and the repair of
the mud walls of the home and fences are done by many women in Tihama.
In some cases, this extends to painting the mud walls.
With the expansion of commercial farming and the establishment of
state farms and experimental stations, an increasing number of women are
recruited to work on these farms. They engage in planting, the preparation of
potting mediums and in potting, weeding, thinning and replanting. When in
the field during irrigation, they help direct the water through plots. They are
employed as cotton and vegetable pickers, packers and sorters.
There are three major areas of agriculture in which Tihama women are
not normally involved: i) land preparation ii) decision-making and farm man-
agement, and iii) marketing, both buying and selling. They may influence
these operations but are not actively involved.
Agricultural technicians in Yemen
Only recently have careers in professional agriculture become available in the
Yemen Arab Republic. Until 1980 there was no agricultural college. The
training of agricultural technicians was provided by junior schools and
through specialized short-term courses offered by some agricultural projects
and institutions. On-the-job training was also a major source of labour. For
higher education, Yemenis had to go abroad. None of the country's agricul-
tural schools were open to girls. Thus there were no female Yemeni agricul-
turists. Cultural restraints prevented young Yemeni ladies from working
alongside men and also prevented their recruitment for work in agricultural
extension offices, particularly those involving field-work.
Grass-roots extension technicians were mostly young boys having an
elementary education. Middle-level supervisors were high school graduates
with more field experience and some special training. Senior project counter-
parts were university graduates.
Field technicians were assigned to a group of adjoining villages and were
required to live within their area of assignment. They were normally from the
area itself. There was an advantage to this system of recruitment in that the
field technicians were familiar with the area, the people and the cultural and
political environment. In turn, they were known and accepted by the local
people with whom they worked.
Agricultural extension services included the setting up of plots in farm-
ers' fields to demonstrate improved agricultural technology; conducting
classes for farmers; home and farm visits; farmers' days and field shows; a
radio "school-on-the-air"; and the documentation of farm activities. Simple
extension offices were set up in the larger towns and villages.
To supplement the on-the-job training of staff as they worked alongside
their expatriate UNV counterparts, short courses were provided from time to
time. Each year, representatives of the agricultural projects of institutions
throughout the country were invited to a seminar in Tihama to share experi-
ences, findings and recommendations. Dialogue with field staff was encour-
aged during these gatherings. The staff was further encouraged to participate
in joint applied research, controlled seed production and multiplication
activities, and in information documentation and simple farm analysis.
A strategy for assisting farm women
Given the limitations prevailing in areas such as Yemen namely i) no
female agriculturists and the impossibility of recruiting females to work as
agricultural extensionists, and ii) the difficulties of recruiting expatriate,
Arabic-speaking female agriculturists willing to work as conventional farm
technicians (that is, travelling extensively and willing to live in often unfamil-
iar surroundings), an alternative strategy was designed. This called for the
Yemeni male agriculturists themselves to assist farm women, and to ensure
EXTENSION SERVICES IN THE YEMEN ARAB REPUBLIC
that agricultural information drives addressed women as well as men. While
this is not a new approach in extension work, it was previously thought impos-
sible in the Yemeni culture.
The female UNV adjusted her work, continuing to assist her male col-
leagues in the field to gain credibility and also took a more active role in proj-
ect documentation, programming, training and communication work. Assist-
ance to farm women was then channelled through male field technicians.
Prerequisites of male extensionists engaged in women's agricultural pro-
* They should be from the villages to which they are assigned and be cultur-
ally and socially acceptable to the farming community.
* They should know exactly what women on the farm do and how the work
* They must be sincerely committed to working with women and believe that
women can contribute to agricultural production. Unless the male extension
workers have the proper attitude toward working with farm women, their
chances of success will be slim.
Planning the programme. In planning any agricultural extension programme,
the concerns of farm women should be considered. Wherever and whenever
women are involved in an agricultural operation, they should be included in
the assistance provided by the extension programme. Specific objectives and
means of assisting farm women should be defined in the programme and not
merely assumed to happen in the course of events. It is also wrong to assume
that if male farmers are trained by an agricultural extension worker they will
necessarily pass on improved skills to women.
In areas where women are not traditionally involved and now have to
participate, any technology introduced must bear in mind women's previous
inexperience and differences in physique, making necessary adjustments.
Extension workers must be reminded that women should be given an equal
opportunity to learn improved skills and receive information. In countries
like Yemen, this equal-opportunity clause can operate by providing similar
but separate training for farm men and farm women. All training for farm
women will necessarily have to be on the farm.
An agricultural extension programme will not automatically reach all
sectors of the farming community. Restrictions to the equal distribution of
information and services is a reality. A holistic approach to programming
assistance to the farming community should include adult males, females and
Preparing extension workers. The training programme for male agriculturists
must be reviewed. There may be areas of agriculture which are seen as
women's jobs and as such may consciously or unconsciously be left out of any
training programme. However, such areas should be included in the training
programme for male agricultural extensionists.
If men are to assist farm women properly, they should receive training in
those jobs done by women. In other words, men must know a job if they are
to train women to do it better. In Yemen, farm operations that are likely to
be overlooked or underemphasized include sowing seeds as distinct from land
preparation; weeding, harvesting, threshing; seed selection for planting; the
prevention of crop and food losses; food processing and grain milling; water
and firewood conservation; and the introduction of time- and labour-saving
devices and techniques.
Research and the selection of the farm technology needed by the agricul-
tural extension service should include women's concerns, e.g. small hand-
tools and implements that would make women's work less cumbersome, less
wasteful and lighter. The prevention of losses during farming should include
a study of losses during food processing and preparation. Recycling to con-
serve and extend the utilization of farm products is another area that is rele-
vant to farm women's efficiency.
The use of mass media. The mass media, particularly TV, video, radio and
the printed media, are very useful tools for reaching farm women. They help
to resolve the problem of personal contact between different sexes. In the
Islamic culture, the use of TV and video can, to some extent, substitute for
live demonstrations of techniques and women's classes given by male field
technicians. In fact, TV and video are becoming increasingly popular in
Yemeni villages as women can enjoy viewing programmes in the seclusion of
the women's quarters.
Special programmes for female audiences can be prepared and TV or
video tapes distributed to extension centres for loan to women or groups of
women. While messages may address specific sexes, this does not exclude
either sex from viewing the tapes. They then have the additional advantage
of further educating an informed public.
For those whose literacy levels are low, audio-visual messages are easier
to comprehend. For radio, the use of local dialects and speakers would
improve delivery, while the use of simple graphics and drawings would
improve the printed material.
As with other aspects of an extension programme, there must be con-
scious effort in the communication programmes to address women. Research
EXTENSION SERVICES IN THE YEMEN ARAB REPUBLIC
on methods of presentation preferred by women, the time of day they are
more likely to listen to the radio or TV, and the texts that meet women's edu-
cational levels must be undertaken.
Mass media programmes should be complemented with a follow-up by
field technicians. This would provide feedback on the effectiveness of pro-
grammes, help clarify the message or aspects of the message that may not be
understood by farmers, and encourage the use of the information delivered.
Documentation and monitoring. There should be a continuing monitoring of
women's farming concerns. Built into the agricultural documentation and
monitoring system should be present roles, changes, experiences with
approaches to reaching farm women (including possible alternative
approaches), and a record of other facts influencing the role of farm women.
More important, this information should be tabulated, analysed and
the findings should be used to improve the programme continually. Docu-
mentation systems should be reviewed to ensure that information is col-
lected on farm women, their activities and on women's contribution to
Two birds with one stone. Assisting women need not continue to be neglected
where there are no female technicians to cover farm women's concerns and
where the prospects of providing for this in the near future are doubtful.
Using expatriate female technicians is, at best, only a temporary and often
very expensive --solution.
Moreover, the absence of female technicians need not postpone improv-
ing farm women's contribution to agricultural development. Male, as well as
female, agricultural extension workers can be employed to provide assistance
to both male and female farmers. This need not mean doubling the work-load
of any one technician. His or her area of coverage will depend on how much
can be effectively covered.
"Killing two birds with one stone" can be more economical. Provided the
technician is assisted in the preparation of a programme, one technician will
reduce the chances of an overlap or gaps in a programme owing to difficulties
in defining which of two or more technicians should be responsible for a par-
ticular farm operation. The technician can be trained to look at farming as a
package of interrelated operations done by both men and women.
On the part of administrators and supervisors, the need to coordinate the
work of two separate employees, to provide logistic support for two techni-
cians, to respond to personal and personnel needs is reduced. This can
increase the cost-effectiveness of a programme.
28 D. HAMADA
The experience in the Tihama region of Yemen is still new. Constant adjust-
ments will have to be made before an efficient system for assisting farm
women is operational. Experience, however, shows that it can be done. Male
agriculturists can work with farm women and they can be as effective as
Development for rural Zambian women
The great majority of rural Zambian women are very poor. Many are unable
to cultivate sufficient food crops during the agricultural season to feed their
families throughout the year. They cultivate with simple tools, occasionally
labouring with their children. More than one-third of adult rural women are
heads of households. They are the poorest of the rural population; some own
no agricultural tools, such as hoes, at all. They cultivate alone and produce lit-
tle. Whether married or single, rural women must work long hours each day,
and not only in their fields; they perform the burdensome routine domestic
chores of water and firewood collection and food preparation. Most bear
many children, only to endure numerous infant and child deaths. Rural
women themselves are often in poor health, which reduces their productive
capacities. Yet their children must be fed and so they must work, both to pro-
duce food and to earn pitifully small amounts of cash for basic necessities,
such as their children's school requirements.
This article examines the reasons why Zambian women do not yet fully
participate in rural development efforts, assesses the current constraints they
face, and analyses their participation in the LIMA (farm) Programme,
intended to improve the productivity of small-scale farmers. The information
comes from a recent review of the progress made toward integrating Zambian
women in development as a result of the United Nations Decade for Women
Rural women's marginalization
Many studies in the past decade have provided ample evidence that Third
World women have not fully participated in or shared the benefits of socio-
economic development (Rogers, 1980). The reasons for this vary according
to each country's history. In order to understand the overwhelming problems
that Zambia's women farmers face today, it is necessary to examine briefly
Dr B. Keller is Senior Lecturer in the Department of African Development Studies at the
University of Zambia in Lusaka.
their traditional productive roles, the impact of colonialism, and the main
trends since the country's independence from the United Kingdom in 1964.
The traditional, or precolonial, socio-economic structure has not been
the cause of the current marginalization of rural Zambian women. Ethno-
graphic data collected by researchers at what was then the Rhodes-
Livingstone Institute,' document the importance of women in agricultural
production. In small, kinship-based, horticultural communities, husbands
and wives divided the work of food production according to local systems of
sexual division of labour. Although women worked longer hours than men
since they were responsible for time-consuming chores such as weeding, they
could rely on the assistance of their husbands as well as relatives and
neighbours through cooperative work parties. Although women were subor-
dinate both socially and according to customary law, gender inequality did
not systematically impoverish women in comparison to men. Local com-
munities were self-sufficient in food, and some such as those in what is now
the Western Province along the Zambezi River produced food surpluses.
The economic impoverishment of women began with colonialism in the
late nineteenth century (Muntemba, 1982). Zambia and other parts of south-
ern Africa were labour reserves, providing unskilled male labour to the mines
and commercial farming centres of South Africa, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
and to Zambia's copper belt. Men spent much of their adult lives away from
their villages and the work and cost of family maintenance was borne by
women. In the absence of their husbands, women could not perform such
heavy tasks as clearing new fields. Plots that would normally have been left to
lie fallow were over-utilized and levels of food production began to decline.
Some women, unable to carry on food production alone, were forced to earn
food by working for the few more prosperous local farmers (Cliffe, 1979).
In the Southern Province the colonial state encouraged peasant farmers
to produce maize to feed the growing urban population of the copper belt.
Women's labour was used for cash crops as well as food production, but they
did not necessarily benefit from their increased work-load. Although men
and women worked together in maize fields, the new cash crop was consid-
ered to belong to men. Elsewhere, the colonial state did little to assist or
improve subsistence cultivation, which was increasingly the work of women.
1 The oldest social science research institute on the African continent, now called the Insti-
tute for African Studies. Prominent anthropologists, such as Elizabeth Colson, studied the
complementarity of men's and women's work (1958).
DEVELOPMENT FOR RURAL ZAMBIAN WOMEN 31
By the 1940s, some rural areas were no longer self-sufficient, much less pro-
ducers of food surpluses, and they became food importers, a situation that
has continued to the present day.
After 1964 the Zambian Government invested the profits from a booming
copper economy to improve the neglected material infrastructure, such as
roads, and to improve medical, educational and other services promised to
citizens as the fruits of independence. Economic diversification away from a
copper-based economy, including improved agricultural production, made
slow progress. Rural-to-urban migration increased, resulting in Zambia's
nearly 50 percent urbanized population today, a situation not typical of the
rest of Africa (excluding South Africa). The remaining rural population,
including a disproportionate number of adult women, worked longer and
harder. Producer prices for cash crops- including groundnuts, traditionally
a "women's crop" were kept artificially low in order to subsidize the cost
of living of the politically important urban population. In general, women's
economic position worsened, commensurate with growing rural-urban
inequalities, but this was not remarked upon so long as copper remained in
demand and brought high prices internationally.
International Women's Year in 1975 coincided in Zambia with falling
copper prices, declining government revenues, and a generally worsening
economic situation. Recognizing the necessity of economic diversification,
the government launched a variety of programmes to increase agricultural
production both for national food self-sufficiency and for export. Some were
large-scale, capital-intensive programmes, but others, such as the LIMA
programme, which will be discussed below, were specifically directed at
small-scale, primarily subsistence producers. One characteristic of the LIMA
effort, the cooperative movement and other programmes addressed to the
rural poor, was their lack of recognition of existing gender inequalities. By
treating peasant households as units and by assuming that most households
were headed by men, agricultural development efforts largely overlooked
A consciousness of the important economic roles played by rural women
has been only slowly achieved in Zambia. By 1980, however, the United
Nations Decade for Women had begun to have an impact. Largely as a result
of the advocacy of several United Nations agencies and important donor
agencies (such as those from the Scandinavian countries), there has been an
increasing number of special projects for rural women. Also, though to a
much lesser degree, there has been an examination of existing structures,
such as extension services and credit facilities, to ascertain their availability to
JZ B. KELLER
Current constraints faced by rural women
The existing government policy is to integrate Zambian women in develop-
ment. However, examination of the constraints that women now face indi-
cates that integration will not be easily or quickly accomplished. Zambia's
rural women have inadequate and unequal access to the major factors of
agricultural production, notably land, labour, capital and skills.
Zambia is a large country with a seemingly small population dispersed
thinly in most rural areas. Access to land for agricultural production would
not seem, on the surface, to be a problem. In the past, married women usually
had their own fields, obtained from and cleared by their husbands. Today,
fields obtained through the system of communal land tenure belong to the
family as a whole. If a surplus is produced for sale, the income belongs to the
head of the household, who is the "owner" of the field, invariably the hus-
band. A married woman cannot easily obtain land in her own right. Even if
she manages to do so, her attention to her crops will take a secondary place
to those of the family field. In some parts of Zambia where the cash-crop pro-
duction of maize and cotton is more highly developed, land is more often pri-
vately owned, with men rather than women taking the title deeds.
In the Southern Province, where most of the maize a staple food and
an important cash crop is produced, women's labour is of critical impor-
tance to progressive small-scale farmers. Using ox-drawn ploughs, men are
able to increase their maize production for the market to the degree that they
can increase their work-force. Typically, polygamous marriages facilitate
this. Women's agricultural labour makes multiple marriages a good economic
investment for men. In general, married women have their labour power
controlled by men and have no ability to command work from others, except
out-of-school children. Since husbands control most sources of income from
farm production, wives often do not receive cash returns commensurate with
their labour input. Unable to produce an agricultural surplus for sale them-
selves, they meet periodic cash requirements such as for buying school
uniforms for a child -by the sporadic brewing and selling of beer. The labour
constraint is especially critical for female heads of household who constitute
30-40 percent of all households in Zambia's rural provinces. Cultivating a
small plot totally alone and being solely responsible for their children's needs,
they are the poorest of Zambia's numerous rural poor.
Most adult women, single or married, are unable to increase their
agricultural production because of a lack of access to credit for necessary
inputs of hybrid seed, fertilizer and pesticides. Small loan facilities through
the government have, in general, not been very accessible to peasant farmers
DEVELOPMENT FOR RURAL ZAMBIAN WOMEN 33
who have nothing to offer as security. Inadequate credit programmes
designed to foster small-scale cash-crop production have been monopolized
by male, "emergent" farmers.
In addition to basic factors of production, women have inadequate
access to information and skills. The agricultural extension services have
largely been run by men, for men. Male extension workers do not, as a matter
of custom, directly approach another man's wife. New agricultural
techniques are therefore demonstrated to men when, in fact, it is the wives
who perform most of the agricultural tasks. Female heads of household
should be more approachable but, as the poorest in a rural community, they
tend to be overlooked by extension services oriented to identify and assist
more progressive farmers. The female extension programme, both in agricul-
ture and community development, has emphasized home economics rather
than agricultural production skills. The result in Zambia is that many women
can knit but are unable to understand instructions for applying fertilizer.
Women's unequal access to land, labour, credit and skills should be seen
in the wider context of rural poverty. Most rural families live in poor housing
without latrines, have an inadequate intake of protein foods and use
untreated water sources. Adult women in such households are invariably
overworked and often in poor health from too-frequent child bearing and
endemic diseases such as malaria and respiratory infections. One recent
study, for example, documented the use of adult women's time in one area of
Zambia's Northern Province (Allen, 1984). Women spent the largest propor-
tion of their time first in performing domestic chores and second in being sick.
Time spent in agricultural production came third.
As a result of the International Decade for Women these constraints are
now more clearly recognized and publicly discussed. Recognition has not yet,
however, influenced national development planning so that the impact of all
development planning and projects on women's status may be clearly as-
sessed. Rather, "special" projects are designed for Zambian women which
remain outside the mainstream of national development efforts. Some of
these women's projects continue to be of the home economics type. Increas-
ingly, however, the emphasis has changed to projects that encourage women
to generate income, both through increased farm production and through
small-scale industries, usually those "suitable" for women, such as textile or
clothing production. Such income-generating projects have made little
impact, except on the few who participate in them. As a development model,
they cannot easily be generalized to a wider population because the basic con-
straints that women face- land, labour, credit, access to information, over-
work and poor health remain unchanged.
34 B. KELLER
The LIMA programme
The Zambian Government initiated the LIMA programme in the late 1970s.
LIMA was one of several efforts to diversify the economy away from its lop-
sided dependence on the mining and export of copper. Because of periodic
droughts, a high rate of rural-to-urban migration, artificially low producer
prices for cash crops, and a general lack of commitment to rural develop-
ment, the level of the country's maize production stagnated. A few large-
scale commercial farmers and some emergent farmers, particularly in the
Southern Province, supplied the cities with maize. The majority of farmers
were subsistence cultivators who produced no surplus for sale.
LIMA, then, was intended to improve this situation by providing a tech-
nical package to subsistence farmers. A farmer wishing to participate in
LIMA could obtain a small loan through a government credit agency for
inputs of hybrid maize seed and fertilizer. Agricultural extension workers
were trained to help farmers in measuring their LIMA fields, plant and apply
the correct amount of fertilizer, and so on. The LIMA model was taken up by
several of the major donor countries contributing to Zambia's rural develop-
ment and became an important part of the Integrated Rural Development
Programmes (IRDP) in most provinces.
At the time that LIMA was introduced, there was little recognition of the
fact that women's role in agricultural production was significant. The LIMA
message went out through the established channels from men, to men. In
peasant households of married couples, a new LIMA field intended for the
production of surplus for market became the husband's field, even though his
wife's labour was used and was indeed critical in improved household farm-
ing. The assumption that all members of a household would benefit equally
as a result of cash returns from maize production was taken for granted. As
the heads of households, married men in Zambia have the right to make deci-
sions about the disposal of cash income.
Many women found that their efforts on their husbands' LIMA fields
brought them only a few metres of cloth after the crop was marketed. One
study has suggested that the nutritional status of women and children is actu-
ally worse in areas where there has been a significant shift away from subsis-
tence to increased maize production. If women's attention is diverted from
food production, or if their limited time is divided between food and cash
crops, they are obviously not going to benefit from LIMA.
For most single women, even this has not been an issue since they have
largely been excluded from LIMA cultivation. One recent survey of LIMA
participants in the Northwestern Province, for example, concluded that the
DEVELOPMENT FOR RURAL ZAMBIAN WOMEN 35
programme was biased against single women, primarily because they had
inadequate household labour to work on LIMA as well as subsistence fields
(Oppen et al., 1983). Only 8 percent of the LIMA farmers surveyed were
single women, though they constituted 21 percent of the larger population.
Some wives (25 percent of LIMA cultivators) did manage to participate, but
were disadvantaged in comparison with their husbands since they were
responsible for subsistence production as well. The large majority of peasant
farmers in the area surveyed did not participate in LIMA. Many women told
interviewers that LIMA was a "men-only" programme and noted that they
had never been approached about the programme by male agricultural exten-
In the Northern Province, unlike other provinces where small loan
facilities are necessary, a donor-sponsored LIMA-type programme provides
free seed and fertilizer for one season to all adults who wish to begin maize
production. Here, in villages where all able-bodied adults-men and women
- have been offered an equal opportunity to grow a LIMA plot, women's
participation has been significant. Roughly 40 percent of first-year partici-
pants have been women (NORAD, 1982). In subsequent years, when partici-
pants are expected to purchase their own inputs, women typically drop out.
Although no systematic study has been carried out to ascertain why this is so,
it is likely that married women are co-opted into working on their husbands'
rather than on their own fields. Regardless of the reason, however, after the
first year almost all the cash income resulting from this agricultural pro-
gramme accrues to men.
In the Eastern Province, LIMA has long been a part of the activities of
the nation's oldest Integrated Rural Development Programme. Until
recently, all attention to "women's development" centred on women's clubs
which carried out home economics activities almost exclusively. During the
past two years, however, women's clubs have been encouraged to abandon
their sewing and to take up LIMA, in order to generate a small income. This
was not a policy decision of IRDP staff, but reflected the thinking of women
extension expatriate volunteers working with IRDP. Special credit facilities
for the clubs, now converted to LIMA groups, were made available and
extension staff mobilized to assist them. Although not all women have the
time to join clubs, for those who do, such a cooperative activity with other
women is an acceptable way of doing something for oneself, with less chance
of the result being commandeered by one's husband.
LIMA groups were very successful initially, with members receiving
group loans and cultivating individually. Then the World-Bank-initiated
Training and Visits (T & V) project arrived in Zambia, with the Eastern Prov-
ince as the pilot area. In the T & V model, each agricultural extension officer
working at the grass-roots level identifies seven or eight contact farmers and
visits them once a fortnight, delivering whatever extension message is rele-
vant for that particular time of the year. None of the extension workers iden-
tified female contact farmers and the existing women's LIMA groups found
themselves excluded from receiving extension advice. Although this situation
may in the future be rectified locally by persuading extension staff to include
female farmers in their highly structured schedule, the T & V model itself is
yet another example of a technically efficient approach to agricultural
development that excludes women.
However well-intentioned agricultural development programmes such as
LIMA and T & V might be, they improve the economic status of only a pro-
portionately few rural Zambian women. The rural peasantry is not a
homogeneous population. Female-headed households constitute a large per-
centage of rural households and are largely excluded from development pro-
grammes which assume that all households are headed by men. In married-
couple households, titles to land and access to loans and extension services
are monopolized by husbands, even though it is their wives who are to be
found in the fields when the extension worker comes to call. Gender inequal-
ity is increased, rather than lessened, when women's labour is used for cash-
crop production at the same time as they are held responsible for food pro-
The existing gender inequality has not been challenged by recent agricul-
tural development programmes such as LIMA. Where women do not have
equal access to land, labour, credit and information, they will be unable to
produce more, either for their families or for the nation. Those who are will-
ing to try do not necessarily gain as a result, if they are overworked beyond
endurance as a consequence.
Women's contribution to agricultural production is only now being rec-
ognized. To assume that women are in a position to produce more-whether
in food or cash crops without changing both structures and attitudes, will
The international agencies that have played an advocacy role in integrat-
ing women in development have so far taken the easy way out. Reluctant to
challenge existing structures and attitudes, they create special, small-scale
projects for women. In Zambia, for example, a few UN-agency-supported
DEVELOPMENT FOR RURAL ZAMBIAN WOMEN
women's clubs have been given loans for cash-crop production. Because they
are special and heavily subsidized projects, a few individual women do
benefit. Most of these are the already slightly better-off rural women who
have the time and energy to generate income. Most rural women in Zambia
do not. The appropriate technology to allow women to conserve their time
and energies is not yet available. Rural health facilities, although much
improved in the past 20 years, are still inadequate. All rural farmers are ham-
pered by an inadequate rural infrastructure, such as roads, transport and
marketing services. These issues must be addressed as well as the need to
change structures and attitudes that continue to deprive women of the oppor-
tunity to make a meaningful contribution to rural development.
Zambian rural women are, in fact, already integrated in development,
but unequally. They work so that their families may eat and their labour is
used for cash-crop production. The nation honours them as mothers but not
as producers. True integration, on the basis of equality, will have been
accomplished only when the impact on women of specific development pro-
grammes is assessed and when their interests are singled out, rather than
being subsumed within the rural peasantry generally. While the Decade
for Women has been successful in opening the debate on these issues, a
concerted effort to challenge existing inequalities must continue long after
the Decade's end.
ALLEN, J.M.S. Baseline survey report (1980-82): Chief Mubanga's area. Mpika, Integrated
1984 Rural Development Project/Chinsali District Council.
CLIFFE, L. Labour migration and peasant differentiation: Zambian experiences. In
1979 Development in Zambia, ed. B. Turok. London, ZED Press.
COLSON, E. Marriage and the family among the Plateau Tonga of Northern Rhodesia. Man-
1958 chester, Manchester University Press.
KELLER, B. The integration of Zambian women in development. Lusaka, NORAD.
MUNTEMBA, S.M. Women as food producers and suppliers in the twentieth century: the case
1982 of Zambia. In Development dialogue (Uppsala). Issue 1/2.
NORAD (NORWEGIAN AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT). An evaluation of a
1982 village agricultural programme Northern Province, Zambia. Lusaka/Oslo.
OPPEN, H.J.V., SHULA, E.C.W. & ALFF, U. 1983 LIMA survey: final report. Frankfurt
1983 (FRG), GTZ.
ROGERS, B. The domestication of women: discrimination in developing societies. London,
Working with fisherwomen in Bangladesh
P. Natpracha and B. Williams
The Bay of Bengal Programme (BOBP), an FAO project funded by the
Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA), aims at improving
the working and living conditions of fisherfolk engaged in small-scale fishing.
Of necessity this means some focus on women in the fishing villages who,
although they do not go to sea, are heavily engaged in fish marketing and who
must cope with family living in a stressful environment of extreme poverty.
In late 1981 a BOBP pilot project, Fisherwomen's Activities (FWA),
was initiated in the small village of Juldia-Shamirpur, 20 km south of Chit-
tagong. The purpose of the project was to experiment with and discover ways
of assisting the mostly illiterate, poor fisherwomen to organize into groups in
order to work together to improve their living conditions and to build com-
The FWA project was based on the assumption that development that
leads to self-reliance must be based on a participatory approach. This means
- activities should be planned with the people involved. Ideas for activities
should emerge from discussions with participants;
- the working relations of project personnel and the target group must be
that of equal partners in development;
- the basic attitude of project personnel must be respect for and trust in the
The specific objectives of the project were to assist the fisherwomen in
identifying and implementing income-earning activities and to strengthen
their ability to improve family health, nutrition and sanitation.
What were the responses of the women to the participatory approach?
Were there positive signs of improvements in their living conditions? What
were the problems that had to be overcome? And, what is essential to ensure
a continuity of the gains achieved in such a small-scale project once its imple-
menting agency withdraws? Here is a frank appraisal by the BOBP
sociologist who guided the project.
Ms Patchanee Natpracha is a sociologist with the Bay of Bengal Programme who worked on
this project. Ms Betty Williams is a writer on development issues.
40 P. NATPRACHA AND B. WILLIAMS
The women of Juldia-Shamirpur and their families
The project conducted a study on the conditions of life of the marine fisher-
folk of Juldia-Shamirpur. This initially consisted of interviews and a review of
available data. Once the project was under way, the daily living activities of
eight selected families from different socio-economic levels were observed
over a period of one year. This provided a better understanding of fisherfolk,
their beliefs, customs, behaviour, feelings and attitudes.
The 114 marine fisherfolk households in the target group are Hindu and
live in a small pocket in the village amid Muslim merchants and cultivators.
About 67.5 percent are very poor with no assets but the hut they live in.
Income is earned by working as labourers on fishing boats and by marketing
At the time of the survey 62 people were engaged in small-scale fish mar-
keting; of these 43 were female, 21 being widows. Fish marketing is strenuous
work. It means waiting by the landing for fishing boats to arrive, bargaining
for the purchase of a batch of fish which is then carried on the head to be sold
in local markets or in nearby towns, going door-to-door. Fish-marketing
women in Juldia-Shamirpur have a particularly hard lot since recently the
boats have stopped landing near the village and instead dock at Chittagong.
This means that the marketing woman travels, by ferry, bus and rickshaw, 20
km to the landing centre to await boats that arrive at 02.00 and 14.00 hours.
She sleeps on the sidewalk by the dock several nights a week.
Indebtedness and high rates of interest are a particularly crushing bur-
den for these people. If they have had a profitless day, fish-sellers must bor-
row to buy more fish; during the lean fishing season when there are no coolie
jobs on boats and little fish to sell, people borrow to feed their families. Rates
charged by money-lenders or shopkeepers can be as high as 2 percent a day.
At the time of survey, 62 percent of the fishing families were in debt and 35
percent were free of debt but had no savings.
It will come as no surprise that anthropometric measurements of 95 chil-
dren under the age of five in Juldia-Shamirpur revealed that only 6 percent of
the children had a normal nutritional status while 23 percent suffered from
severe malnutrition (third degree) and the rest were afflicted with some level
of undernourishment. This is one of the lowest nutritional situations in
Forty people, representing a cross-section of different economic
statuses, were interviewed to gain their insights. One striking finding was that
everyone felt the situation in the village had deteriorated in recent years.
Almost all of the evidence given for this worsening was economic people
WORKING WITH FISHERWOMEN IN BANGLADESH 41
could not afford even two meals a day, the loss of the village landing centre,
fewer job opportunities, and so on. This may be partly a result of population
pressures on limited resources. But another factor may be the modernization
of the larger community and fishing technology; the village's poor fisherfolk
have no assets to make them competitive and their traditional fishing and
marketing practices push them further to the fringes of society.
Structure of the project
The structure of the project was simple. Two female field-workers, based in
Chittagong but travelling to the village every other day, maintained overall
guidance of various aspects of project activities. Although well-educated,
these two young women required field-work training and on-the-job learning
in the participatory method of working with rural women.
To begin working together, net making was identified as a possible
income-earning activity. Women of the community were invited to a meeting
to discuss the idea. After a lengthy debate, some 30 women agreed to give it
a trial, and were invited to form small groups of five to six members. Each
group had a coordinator selected from its members, called a link worker, who
was usually a younger woman who had time to devote to the work. Each link
worker was paid a small monthly wage of from Tk100 to 250 (approximately
Tk25 = US$1.00), depending on her performance, for her part-time efforts.
By May 1985, 178 fisherwomen were organized into 13 groups with nine link
workers. It is estimated that eventually each link worker will be able to
handle two FWA groups of 15 members each.
There also emerged voluntary leaders in each group who took on respon-
sibilities, such as teaching primary health care lessons, for which they
received a token wage. As a few link workers moved into jobs in a newly
opened garment factory, voluntary leaders took their places. The link work-
ers and voluntary leaders, all of whom received some training and developed
leadership skills, are now a valuable human resource in the village.
Finally, a guiding principle of the project was to use local expertise for
necessary inputs such as training. Thirteen agencies or organizations assisted
in some phase of this pilot project. Of particular importance was the training
of field-workers and/or link and voluntary workers provided by the
Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC); the Grameen Bank
on its credit programme; CONCERN, an Irish-funded voluntary organiza-
tion on preventative health care; and the Institute of Nutrition and Food Sci-
ences of Dhaka University on health and nutrition.
42 P. NATPRACHA AND B. WILLIAMS
Activities of FWA groups
The project's surveys revealed that debt was the most endless, defeating ob-
stacle in the lives of fisherwomen. Breaking the cycle of dependency on usuri-
ous money-lenders was the bottom line for helping women gain a bit of con-
trol over their lives. Thus the project made available small, interest-free loans
of from Tk50 to 300 for group members to invest in income-earning
activities. In addition to repaying the loans, individuals were encouraged to
put aside 10 percent of their profits as savings, as a fund for investment in
other economic activities and to meet emergency expenditures.
Although the women knew in general how to make nets, they were not
proficient and hence they were given training in the practical skills of making
a type of drift net for which demand exceeds supply in their area. Soon, in
many huts, families could be seen gathered in a corner fabricating nets.
Along with making nets, the fisherwomen chose to invest in activities
they already practised when and if they had the means: raising chickens for
eggs and meat, ducks for eggs, goats for meat, drying and marketing fish.
Before they were granted loans for these activities, discussions were held to
help the fisherwomen think through problems they might face and how to
overcome them, what profit was anticipated and how the loan would be
All of these activities were profitable. One hundred and sixty-four FWA
members engaged in net making. By June 1985, 392 nets had been con-
structed and the net makers had earned a total of Tk63 918 (US$2 567).
Although loans were made on good faith with no fixed repayment schedule,
by April 1985, 62 percent of the total amount loaned had been repaid, and
everyone had repaid some amount. Moreover, the majority of FWA mem-
bers had managed to save about Tkl00 each. The total savings was Tkl6 350.
Two of the project's activities did not succeed. Two types of fruit trees,
guava and coconut, were distributed to 75 members for planting, but most of
these were eaten by cattle. The other activity and significantly, the only
one not suggested by the women was the renting and stocking of a fish
pond. Inexperience, inadequate management skills and a lack of involvement
of the fishermen were the probable causes of this failure.
With income-earning activities well established and a growing respect
and confidence having developed among field-workers, link workers and
group members, the fisherwomen began discussing other aspects of their liv-
ing conditions, particularly health. After receiving training from CON-
CERN, link and volunteer workers spent three to eight months training FWA
groups on 16 aspects of preventative health care, from environmental
hygiene to prenatal care.
WORKING WITH FISHERWOMEN IN BANGLADESH 43
Later, in early 1984, the project arranged for the Institute of Nutrition
and Food Sciences of Dhaka University to send a team of five people to train
both project personnel and village women in health and nutrition. Training
included cooking sessions which introduced a wild plant of high nutritional
value that grows abundantly around the village, but which was not normally
eaten. However, it was discovered that very few women who participated in
the sessions applied their new knowledge about nutrition in their meal prep-
aration or were using the wild plant. Changing lifelong cooking and eating
habits requires the long-term reinforcement of new practices. Consequently,
link workers and FWA members continue to cook together and discuss
difficulties that prevent them from practising new skills.
Finally, because the village is so crowded and the huts so small, there was
an urgent need for a community hall where FWA groups could meet, where
field-workers could have office space, and where twine and nets could be
stored. When a Muslim merchant, a highly respected village leader, donated
land, BOBP supplied the funds for the construction of a community hall. The
fisherwomen now hope it can be used as a day-care centre, if personnel can
be trained to run it.
What can be learned from the FWA pilot project?
There are certain experiences gained from this short-term pilot project deal-
ing with poor fisherwomen in a small village in Bangladesh that may have a
The participatory approach creates more self-reliance. When the proj-
ect was initiated, the two, inexperienced, field-workers tended to function
like welfare officers and the fisherwomen looked on the project as a hand-out
programme. A trusting atmosphere in which field-workers and participants
worked together as equal partners was only possible after:
- understanding of the conditions and beliefs of fisherfolk was gained
through direct observation while working with them, rather than relying only
on socio-economic data that were initially collected about the community;
- there was a joint discussion about each proposed activity and members
understood that it was only a trial which they could choose or not to partici-
- project personnel were trained to listen to the fisherwomen and learn
from them, as well as to help them think through their experiences, identify
problems and measures to overcome them.
44 P. NATPRACHA AND B. WILLIAMS
When the fisherwomen realized they were being consulted, that their
ideas and skills were considered important, they gradually began showing
more self-reliance and attitudes became more positive. Creating competency
in coping with problems, rather than dependency, should be the aim of all
SProject activities must meet the basic needs of participants. When the
condition of participants is extreme poverty, the focal point for working with
them and helping them learn improved management must be income-earning
activities or any activity that brings more food into the household. Also, one
favourable feature of this project is that its activities hardly increased the
work-load of the already overburdened women, but rather could be shared
with husbands and children, for example, in making nets and animal rearing.
Creditforpoor women is essential. The fisherwomen were bound hand
and foot to usurious money-lenders for survival. The small loans of the proj-
ect make all the difference in breaking this negative link. Without the credit
feature, the project would have been difficult if not impossible. Moreover,
despite their poverty, the women proved conscientious in repaying project
Local expertise must be used and strengthened. The employment of
young women from the village as project facilitators not only heightened the
participatory atmosphere of the FWA project but built valuable leadership
skills within the community. Enlisting the help of agencies working in the
area was important because they knew the situation better than outside con-
sultants and their partnership might be essential in the future.
Projects must be placed in the wider development context. When the
FWA project was started, it was expected that the Marine Fisheries Depart-
ment would absorb the work after BOBP was phased out. However, the
department lacked the organizational infrastructure to support the project
and policy-makers focused on improving fishing technology rather than on
ameliorating the living conditions of fisherfolk. Aid agencies that launch pilot
projects should work from the start to ensure there will be a support structure
to carry on the work; there should be a continual policy dialogue among
responsible government and aid agency officials about the developmental
concepts underlying a project and the resources needed to continue and
expand the work of the project if its approaches have proved successful.
There is an important link between human development and technology
transfer that is often neglected. It is essential that aid agencies help country
policy-makers to understand the need and priority for human development
for technological input to be accepted and used to the greatest extent. Aid
agencies themselves often fail to see the importance of this link.
WORKING WITH FISHERWOMEN IN BANGLADESH 45
A reasonable time frame must be allowed for a project to succeed.
A pilot project aimed at human resource development should be given a
time frame adequate enough to allow the building of the competency of
participants and some success in community improvement. A project that
tests approaches and then terminates may simply appear exploitative
to participants. If the initial sponsor cannot continue the project, it should
ensure that other support agencies will take on its responsibility.
Transfer of the pilot project
As BOBP support for the pilot project was to terminate in June 1985, consid-
erable time was spent by project personnel in identifying a local agency to
continue the work, building on already-trained personnel and the existing
structure, and expanding FWA activities to nearby villages. Finally, Nijera
Kori (NK), a popular organization noted for community work that
emphasizes human development, visited the village, talked with FWA mem-
bers, and agreed to continue supervision of the work.
The second necessary input affordable credit for the fisherwomen -
will be supplied by the Grameen Bank which is opening a branch very near
the village. This bank is one of Bangladesh's major achievements in rural
development because it grants low-interest, small loans to poor people to
invest in income-earning activities.
Thus, the continuation of this small venture in improving living condi-
tions for fisherfolk families seems almost assured.
Rural women's activities in marketing:
a hog-raising project in the Philippines
I am Simeona Azores. I am already 56 years old but healthy and energetic. I
am a high school dropout. I have six children and all are already married.
Since I became a widow in 1978, I have been doubling my efforts to support
myself and help my married children with my grandchildren who are now
studying in the primary school in the village and in high school. Every day I
perform varied activities from household chores to selling fish, tending ani-
mals and managing a rice farm.
Let me first tell you something about my village. It is about 12 km from
the city of Naga and approximately 27 km from Naga airport. Santo Domingo
is flat and subject to flooding. The village is a one-street community; it is the
only route to and from the barangay.l
The village has about 435 ha of open spaces, unequally divided into 202
ha of rice fields, 5 ha planted to coconut trees and the rest, marshes and
Santo Domingo is the most depressed barangay of the municipality of
Bombon. Probably because of its nearness to the mouth of the Bicol River
and San Miguel Bay, salt water enters the barangay through diversion canals.
Because drainage is poor during the rainy months, there is flooding of the
river. Similarly, the marshes and swamps to the west are good breeding dens
for rodents that attack crops during certain months of the year. There is no
irrigation or drainage system in the locality. However, an irrigation and
drainage system is being constructed under an Integrated Area Development
Programme of the Bicol River Development Programme. This project will
provide facilities sometime in 1985.
Generally, the people of Santo Domingo are poor. There are two classes
of families in the area: 77 percent (105 families) are farm households and 23
From Six case studies of rural women's activities in marketing, submitted by Mrs Angelina
Mufioz, Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Agrarian Reform:.
A village, the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines, previously called barrio.
percent (31 families) are non-farm households. Of the 129 houses, only three
are made of semi-permanent materials the rest are made of light materials
such as bamboo, wood and thatch. Santo Domingo has a population of 987,
with an average of 7.3 members in each family. The average annual income
is P1 375.00 (US$183.33), which is still far below the national average family
income of P3 736.00 (US$498.14).
In 1976 there was not a single individual in Santo Domingo considered an
owner-cultivator. Most people were either tenants or agricultural labourers.
Some of these tenant farmers formerly owned lands but were forced to give
up their rights to the land after several failures in farming caused by flood, ty-
phoon, infestation, drought and loss of their work animal, the carabao (water
buffalo). However, those with strong determination continued working as
tenants until recently when they were able to acquire land through agrarian
The absence of an irrigation system and proper drainage places small farm-
ers in a very poor situation. This is the reason why certain farmers cannot
escape the clutches of poverty. Previously, the government provided credit
assistance to these farmers, but because of the destructive effects of natural
calamities, they were not able to improve their situations and instead
became more deeply in debt for several years. No banking institution, private
or governmental (except the Land Bank of the Philippines later on, under the
Small Farmers Development Programme) would grant a loan to any farmer
in Santo Domingo without the necessary collateral.
Traditionally, some small farmers engage in shingle making once they
have finished their work on the farm. They are paid P6.00 every 100 pieces of
shingle. In this particular activity, most of the family members, especially
women, participate. Another subsidiary income activity is fishing. Males fish
and the wives sell the catch in the market. Our barangay, like many others in
the Philippines, now has the following facilities:
* two three-room school buildings that offer complete elementary education
* a chapel for Catholics
* a deep-well pump on the school campus (a source of drinking water for chil-
dren and nearby families)
* a water system of the municipal government
* a bi-monthly visit by the Rural Health Unit (RHU)
* one upholstery shop, a member of the SFPPG2
2 Small Farmer Peasant Production Group, a common interest group under the Small
Farmer Development Programme.
RURAL WOMEN'S ACTIVITIES IN THE PHILIPPINES 49
one rural women's group with an income-generating project
one blacksmith shop of the SFPPG, TCP/FAO-assisted project3
one furniture shop
five refrigerators, one television and radio transistors in some homes
water-sealed toilets in many houses
seven sari-sari (variety) stores
basketball and volleyball courts
almost all houses furnished with electricity
three hand-tractors, two owned by SFPPG members and one thresher, all
ten members of the land preparation task force who are SFPPG members.
Types of support from government services
There are four ministries and three bureaux of the government in agricul-
ture and agrarian reform, health, and livestock whose personnel fre-
quently visit the barangay of Santo Domingo to render services.
In 1973, most of the farmers of Santo Domingo took the opportunity of
securing loans for rice production under the Masagana 99 programme, phase
I. Unfortunately, when the loans were due, only 15 percent of the farmers
were able to pay because a typhoon had destroyed their crops. It took another
four to five years for the remaining 85 percent to settle their accounts with the
A restructuring of the loans was made only for those who had settled
their outstanding obligations. There are still farmers in Santo Domingo who
have not yet fully paid the production loans of Masagana 99 phase I, which
was the first and the only phase. Today, loans to the farmers of Santo
Domingo are all secured loans, that is, with a requirement for collateral.
Under the present administration of the Ministry of Agrarian Reform,
the certificate of land transfer (CLT) issued to agrarian reform beneficiaries
can be used as collateral in securing production loans. Nevertheless, because
of the fire that hit the provincial capital of Camarines Sur in March 1976, per-
tinent papers and documents relating to the operation of land transfer,
including those of Santo Domingo beneficiaries, were totally destroyed at the
register of deeds office. Accordingly, therefore, for the Camarines Sur
3 This FAO Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) provided for the training of village
blacksmiths and carpenters and assistance in setting up village crafts workshops as a compo-
nent project of the Small Farmer Development Programme.
50 A. MUNOZ
agrarian reform beneficiaries, those documents must be reconstituted before
they can be used to serve any other purpose.
The Small Farmer Peasant Production Group is the only project of the
government that succeeded and thrived in Santo Domingo, as far as I can
remember, as there were many other projects initiated in the community.
None lasted longer than two or three years. At the start of this programme,
sometime in 1976, several people were very enthusiastic about it. A consider-
able number of groups were formed, but only seven groups were organized.
Prospective members were subjected to a series of seminars or workshops on
the different aspects of farming such as crop production, livestock and
poultry production, farm management, farm planning, and budgeting and
record-keeping. I was one of those who participated in the seminar on live-
Unfortunately, the release of the back-up funds for the small farmer proj-
ect was delayed. This greatly damaged the trust of prospective cooperators.
In some cases the groups broke up, but the programme did not stop there.
The group organizers, who were responsible for the development of all
SFPPGs, reorganized and initiated self-help projects such as pugon making,4
shingle making, saline-resistant soil rice variety trials, and hog raising.
In 1979, when the long-awaited funds finally arrived, those who were
already in organized groups were those given priority for financial assistance.
I am one of those who was given the opportunity to become what I am today.
Before I became an experienced hog raiser, I had been a fish vendor for
many years. This was the only work I could do to help my ailing husband. It
was from this activity that I got the idea of raising pigs, because whenever fish
are abundant, the poor quality fish are not sold, but thrown as waste. Almost
everyday I brought home fish scraps for my pigs. Yet I did not become suc-
cessful. With my daughter, I tried poultry raising. Similarly, this died a
natural death. Perhaps I was not born a hog raiser, or perhaps I needed a little
more experience in order to become one, I told myself.
Fortunately, sometime in the early part of 1976, came the organization
of the SFPPG under the Small Farmers Development Programme, with the
Ministry of Agrarian Reform as the lead agency. The beneficiaries and pros-
pective members of the project groups went to a series of seminars or work-
shops on farm planning, budgeting and record-keeping, and livestock and
poultry production, with special emphasis on hog raising, feeds and animal
4 Production of a cooking stove using indigenous village materials, an invention of an
RURAL WOMEN'S ACTIVITIES IN THE PHILIPPINES N1
nutrition. I attended the training because I knew for myself that this was the
only thing I lacked to become a successful hog raiser. The training was satisfy-
ing. It was the first training I had ever attended in my life. Apart from the
course being free, the materials in the training were also free, the meals were
similarly free, plus veterinary drugs and feed supplements for those who
would be starting their projects immediately after the course was over.
With my personal experience in raising swine plus the new knowledge I
learned while training, I started the project with one piglet. This weanling was
of good quality. I purchased it from the contributions given to me by my
daughters in order to start with a nearly ideal foundation stock. In about a
year's time, I already owned a fully productive sow and seven female piglets
ready for rapid production. This sow grew more than I expected. On the sec-
ond farrowing, it weighed approximately 260 kg, the biggest in the entire
municipality and also the biggest swine I ever reared. Directly from her, she
gave me 62 beautiful weanlings from six farrowings before I disposed of her
as a breeder.
At about this time, my loan application with the Land Bank of the Philip-
pines was approved and ready for release. In a few days, the construction of
pigpens according to the bayanihan system was under way.5 While my co-
members in SFPPG were only starting their projects at this point, I was
already expanding. From this bayanihan system, our group saved me much
money because I did not have to hire labour.
With the loan I bought additional pigpens and feed to produce quality
animals. Since my capital was very limited, it was only proper for me to limit
my stock in order not to jeopardize the project. I remembered from my train-
ing that 75 percent of the total project capital goes to animal feed. So to
minimize the cost of production, I mixed my own feed from the ingredients I
usually found in the market. Also, I distributed piglets to interested farmers
and housewives on a 50:50 sharing basis, both on sales and piglets produced.
This arrangement was made with 20 other women and reached as far as 40 km
from my home.
I always remember that marketing is the most important aspect of my
business transactions. Often I have watched middlemen rake profit from
small producers like myself. For some time now, we have no longer trans-
acted business with these middlemen. Instead we go to contract buyers from
Metro Manila or to local direct purchasers whose prices do not seem very far
from current prices in Naga.
5 Mutual assistance by neighbours and friends in the barangay.
52 A. MUNOZ
To attain the maximum selling price, I usually encourage housewives,
farmers and my co-members in SFPPG to join me in the disposal of our hogs
offered at times by the big-time buyers during peak months when the demand
for pork is high. In this way, the price is higher and uniform regardless of the
individual weight of the animals, which is one of the principal bases of pork
From this livelihood project and other related transactions, I was able to
build a house far better than my previous home which was made of light mate-
rials only. I also furnished my home with a wall clock, a radio and small
refrigerator. For me, these are the trophies of my sacrifices a souvenir of
the undertaking made through the help of the project. It is true I made money
from this hog-raising activity, but I have yet to attain my goal, which is to have
a piggery. To me, this is just the beginning of the road to self-reliance. It
means more problems, more obligations and more sacrifices. However, these
sacrifices are necessary and filled with social and economic satisfaction. Here
in our town, some of us think everything is material. We totally disregard cer-
tain social obligations which are necessary to establishing a livelihood for the
improvement of our families. We realize that to have a project is not easy.
Had it not been for the disease outbreak in 1981, I would now be in a bet-
ter situation. The disease outbreak robbed my project of 14 selected wean-
lings valued at P4 200, three prospective breeders costing P4 500 and a preg-
nant gilt amounting to P2 300. With this loss I felt greatly disappointed. It
took me some time to recover this financial loss, but I took this matter as a
challenge to prove my claim to the title of expert hog raiser, as my friends call
Fiji: training women for
Fiji consists of over 800 islands in the South West Pacific, about a hundred of
which are inhabited. The population, according to 1983 estimates, was
677 481, of which 304 575 were indigenous Fijians and 339 456 of Indian ori-
gin, with a further small number of Europeans, Chinese and other Pacific
islanders. The majority of the population, in particular Fijians, still live in the
rural areas with agriculture, both commercial and subsistence, being the main
source of livelihood. Like most other countries in the Pacific, the lack of for-
mal employment opportunities for school-leavers and for women is a fast-
increasing problem. The importance of rural development, especially where
it concerns the creation of self-employment, is beginning to be recognized.
The contribution of women in this cannot be underestimated.
Unlike most Third World countries, Fiji is in the fortunate situation of
not having severe poverty. Many of the people in the rural areas are still living
a semi-subsistence existence. However, while women's contributions to the
subsistence economy are apparent, their participation in monetary activities
is not always recognized. This can, however, be substantial, as when funds
are required from women for provincial councils, school buildings and fees,
and for churches.
In general, these monetary activities are undertaken when the need
arises, and thus are in most cases occasional in nature, relying on natural
resources and traditional skills. However, changes are fast occurring and the
need for cash is becoming a regular, almost daily one. Although women do
manage to earn some cash with their occasional activities, a different set of
rules applies when more regular and planned income-generating activities are
Over the past years a few programmes have been mounted by both gov-
ernment and non-governmental agencies to assist adults and young women in
developing income-generating activities. However, most of these emphasize
Ms Marjan Kroon is an expert working in Fiji in the ILO/UNVFDW project, Adult Educa-
tion and Training for Rural Women.
54 M. KROON
training in vocational skills such as handicrafts, tailoring and catering. Basic
management skills and an awareness of the requirements of a successful
income-generating activity are hardly touched upon, simply because most of
the trainers do not have any formal training in this field nor any personal
experience in business.
A project of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)/Voluntary
Fund for the United Nations Decade for Women (UNVFDW) -Adult Edu-
cation and Training for Rural Women is providing training to Women's
Interests assistants (WIAs) and Multicraft teachers in the basic business
skills needed to assist women in self-employment. WIAs are extension work-
ers serving women's groups. Multicraft teachers are instructors in a basic vo-
cational training programme for young women. The project concentrates
on these two programmes which involve different age groups and therefore
different needs and requirements.
The project works in coordination with the Multicraft Section of the
Ministry of Education, the Women's Interests Section of the Ministry of
Rural Development and the Business Opportunity and Management Advi-
sory Services (BOMAS) of the Ministry of Fijian Affairs.
Women's Interest Programme Ministry of Rural Development
This programme is providing training to women's groups in home economics,
craft development, family education, leadership and income-generating
activities. The courses are short, from one to two weeks, and are conducted
at rural training centres or in village community halls.
Although the Women's Interests Section provides assistance to income-
generating activities as part of its mandate, the attention given to these
activities has been limited for the reasons mentioned above. The ESCAP/
FAO project implemented in 1980 for the Pacific-Promotion and Training
of Rural Women in Income-Raising Group Activities has created aware-
ness in this area. The use of case-studies has proved to be especially effective.
While the programme concentrated on the invaluable information gained by
the women participants through the exchange of experience, it did not pro-
vide WIAs with a sufficient understanding of the business skills needed for
The training programme conducted through the ILO/UNVFDW project
for WIAs in 1984 was designed in stages to develop a broader understanding
of the concept of income-generating activities as well as basic business
methods. Case-studies were used for reference to link theory with practice.
FIJI: TRAINING WOMEN FOR INCOME-GENERATION 33
Each WIA was involved in four workshops in which her role changed from
participant to facilitator to course assistant and, finally, to course conductor
Brief content of the workshops. The first workshop emphasized the concept
of income-generating activities and the use of case-studies with WIAs as the
participants. As an introduction, the various economic activities in which
women are involved were identified in order to place women's contribution
to development in a broader perspective.
Distinctions were made among
- money-saving activities, undertaken solely for household use such as
fishing, sewing and subsistence agriculture;
- fund-raising activities, undertaken when the need or opportunity occurs.
It is felt that in Fiji most women are involved in these occasional activities;
- income-generating activities which are regularly and better planned and
- small businesses which are more formalized and profit-oriented.
It is the difference between the occasional and regular activities that
WIAs needed to recognize. For sustained development, women have to turn
to the more planned and regular income-generating activities; the Women's
Interest Section can have an important role in this. Sessions on business
awareness and requirements, cooperative structure and the use of case-
studies were part of this workshop. Furthermore, WIAs had to collect from
Fiji Development Plan 8 such basic information as population size, its growth
rate, and economic priority programmes of the province in which they
worked. For most of them it was the first time that they had seen a develop-
The second series of workshops was held on a divisional level. In
advance, each WIA had to record two successful income-generating activities
covering areas in which women were traditionally involved. This was to pro-
vide both WIAs and village women participants with a practical understand-
ing of what is involved in establishing and operating a small income-generat-
ing activity within their field of experience. The activities selected were, for
example, the production and selling of masi (flattened mulberry bark), bila
(fermented cassava with sugar and coconut), root crops and vegetables; and
the gathering and selling of shellfish and the marketing of voivoi (pandanus
leaves for weaving) and of handicrafts. In each workshop, four case-studies
formed the basis for discussion. The problems brought forward were used to
develop the training sessions, which included costing, pricing, awareness of
basic business principles and home budgeting. Home budgeting was included
as most of the women felt that besides the need for money, the better use of
available funds within the home was a problem, particularly where it con-
cerned dealing with irregular and emergency expenses (such as school fees
and medical expenses). The divisional workshops were conducted in the ver-
The third workshop was held at the national level for participants from
the four divisions who had promising income-generating proposals. The four
most successful case-studies from previous divisional workshops were dis-
cussed in detail and the information was used for exercises in costing, pricing
and record-keeping. For further technical assistance, resource personnel in
agriculture, tailoring and screen printing were invited. For those participants
looking for an outlet for their products, visits to potential buyers were
arranged. In this workshop, WIAs assisted participants of their own division
and through this became aware of the follow-up required.
The fourth workshop, again at the national level, was for WIAs only.
Each was given an assignment covering part of the subjects taught in earlier
workshops. The project staff was the audience, while the WIAs did the teach-
ing. This, they indicated, was a most valuable exercise as it greatly increased
their confidence for conducting future courses alone. It also provided the proj-
ect staff with an indication of areas of weakness in the training programme
and of the ability of each WIA.
Follow-up. The first round of follow-up visits was done by BOMAS staff
together with a WIA wherever possible. In the future WIAs will conduct the
follow-up themselves and will be responsible for contacting BOMAS or other
departments such as cooperatives and agricultural departments when further
assistance is required. This cooperation with other government departments
and agencies is important if WIAs are to assist women in developing income-
generating activities other than sewing, catering and handicrafts and if
activities are to aim at markets outside the village. But more importantly, it
will strengthen the integration of women into rural economic development
activities and lead to their being included in the normal extension pro-
grammes of various agencies. Briefly, the training programme showed WIAs:
- how to present subject-matter in a way that is interesting and understand-
able to village women (case-studies);
- how to make the training relevant to participants' needs (by linking train-
ing to identified problems);
FIJI: TRAINING WOMEN FOR INCOME-GENERATION
- where technical and management advice may be obtained and the impor-
tance of cooperating with other agencies;
- the importance of follow-up in seeing how far the training is being
implemented and for giving further assistance.
Some problems encountered. Although WIAs were asked to identify
activities undertaken by women's groups, it appeared that the successful
activities were nearly always managed by individuals. This fact needs consid-
eration in the future planning of activities and programmes. Further detailed
studies have to be done before encouraging income-generating activities by
women's groups, particularly when these activities are organized according to
traditional lines and which therefore have objectives that are more socially
than economically oriented.
Getting the right participants for courses is a problem faced by the
Women's Interests Section since selection is done by leaders of women's
organizations and women's groups. Furthermore, participants are not always
fully informed as to course content. Although an information pamphlet was
widely distributed for the divisional workshops, several participants still
arrived with different expectations.
The difference in the level of education, particularly between the
younger and older women, made it difficult at times to keep everyone
Because of transport problems, the eastern division workshop, which
covered the outer islands, had to be held in a training centre in the capital,
Suva. Compared to the other workshops, the participants were noticeably
restrained, giving the impression that the course was of limited interest to
them. Although follow-up visits showed, in fact, that the women had gained
considerably from the workshop, they also indicated that women respond
more to training when it is carried out in their own environment.
Multicraft Programme Ministry of Education
This programme offers basic vocational training to school-leavers for two
years with emphasis, particularly in the rural areas, on the establishment of
self-employment. The 27 centres are attached to junior secondary schools
throughout Fiji. Training is provided in light engineering, building crafts,
agriculture, and home crafts and industry, but not all four disciplines are
available at each centre. For the rural areas the combination of agriculture,
building crafts, and home crafts and industry is the most common one.
58 M. KROON
Although all the disciplines are open to both boys and girls, the home crafts
and industry course (HC & I) is predominantly attended by female students.
Of the existing centres, only ten provide the HC & I course.
The ILO project is particularly involved in improving the HC & I course,
(formerly called home economics) and in introducing adult training as part of
the community outreach of the programme. The aims of the course are:
- to provide basic vocational training for school-leavers in employable skills
in these areas;
- to assist students in setting up home or small-scale industries on an indi-
vidual or group basis;
- to provide daily life-skills training through the use of locally available
materials and equipment in order to improve village, community and family
Recent changes. The first year of the HC & I course emphasizes skill training
to improve daily living, with agriculture, appropriate technologies (relating
to woodwork, the construction of smokeless stoves, the maintenance and
repair of household items), crafts and home economics receiving equal atten-
tion. Only recent changes have introduced agriculture and aspects of wood-
work into the HC & I course, while boys who are enrolled in agriculture and
building crafts are now exposed to subjects such as sewing, food nutrition and
In the second year, self-employment and thus the establishment of
income-generating projects is the main objective. The new second-year
programme has not yet been introduced. In this year, the students will iden-
tify their area of specialization and spend up to 50 percent of the time on this
skill through individual and group projects at the school or in the village.
Basic business and management skills will be an integral part of skills training
and will be related to student projects. Agriculture, crafts and appropriate
technologies will still be given considerable attention. By linking training
with production, students will be given an opportunity to earn money. Each
student will therefore have her own bank passbook. At the end of the course,
the savings will be used to purchase tools, equipment and materials needed
for the woman's income-generating activity.
Although attached to the formal system's junior secondary schools, Mul-
ticraft courses are supposed to constitute a non-formal part of the training
programme. However, the courses are still organized very much according to
school periods, terms and within the school compound, and thus lack a cer-
tain necessary flexibility. This has been the case particularly in the HC & I
FIJI: TRAINING WOMEN FOR INCOME-GENERATION
course where all training has been centre-based. This is changing slowly and
village-level programmes are being introduced in which girl students are
assisted in establishing their home projects and adults are provided with skills
training if needed.
For the programme to be a success, HC & I teachers should be involved
in extension and follow-up activities. To date this has been a very neglected
part of the programme. The close attachment of programme and staff to a for-
mal education system is likely to be a bottle-neck. Coordination with other
departments and agencies is very important, although at the moment it hardly
exists. The project particularly supports cooperation between Women's
Interests, the HC & I programme and BOMAS. In 1984, the female staff
member of BOMAS visited nearly all the HC & I centres, teaching basic busi-
ness skills and business awareness to Multicraft staff and students. When
facilities for the HC & I courses are completed, it is envisaged that WIAs and
HC & I teachers will cooperate in training adults. The HC & I programme
is summarized as follows:
Emphasis: First year Skills development for improved daily living
Second year Skills development for self-employment
Target Group: Early school-leavers of 16-20 years of age
Educational level: Preference Form IV (class 10) leavers
Subjects: Tailoring, food/nutrition, home management, agriculture, appro-
priate technology, creative crafts and basic business skills
Duration: Two years
Some problems: Although the HC & I course provides an alternative for
young women who are unable to find formal employment, up to now few of
the graduates have been successful in establishing income-generating
activities. One of the main reasons is again the lack of business awareness and
management skills of the staff who have been trained as home economics
teachers. Therefore, Multicraft students miss out on an essential skill. Short-
term in-service training courses in basic business and management skills are
being organized for staff through the project.
Until recently, girl students were offered training only in sewing, cater-
ing and handicrafts. It is obvious that with this limited skill development, the
opportunities for establishing workable income-generating activities are
restricted. By introducing agriculture and, where appropriate, fishing to the
HC & I course, female students are exposed to skills which, particularly in
Fiji, will provide opportunities for a wide range of income-generating activi-
60 M. KROON
The Multicraft Programme was developed to cater for Form IV (class 10)
school-leavers. The programme's objectives and curricula are therefore
aimed at a group with a sufficient educational level and maturity. However,
some centres do take younger primary school-leavers, often directly from
school, but these are usually too young and immature to make full use of the
training. Recruiting young women who have been out of school for quite
some time hardly occurs. For the more mature and older young women, the
course may be too long.
For young girl school-leavers to establish and successfully continue their
income-generating activities the support of the community and parents is
extremely important. Too easily the young women are called back for home
duties, not being given time to develop projects which will generate income.
The project is therefore organizing workshops especially for mothers. These
workshops will be similar to those organized with the Women's Interests Sec-
tion on the divisional level in the use of case-studies, but will also include
awareness of the aims of the HC & I course.
It is too early to see how far the Women's Interests Section and the Home
Crafts and Industry courses will successfully develop programmes to assist
young and adult women with income-generation. It is clear that the level of
business skills of WIAs and HC & I teachers will limit the assistance they are
able to provide. Professional advice and support will still be needed in areas
such as identifying new income-generating opportunities, organizing and
managing group activities, and training in specialized vocational skills. Par-
ticularly on the national level, both programmes should ensure that one of
their staff members will receive further training and will be specifically
responsible for backing up field staff with information, training and other
needed assistance. As mentioned before, cooperation with other depart-
ments and agencies on both national and local levels is of crucial importance.
Participatory education for women:
The women squat on the sandy beach and watch as the men pull in a huge net
full of squirming, flapping fish. Carefully the fish are removed from the net
and sorted into piles according to species and size. The women negotiate the
price of fish they want, pile their purchases into head pans and set off to sell
them in the city several kilometres away. In other villages along the coast,
where boats can get into small harbours, larger quantities of fish may be
brought in daily during good weather. Women then smoke the fish before
transporting large quantities to other parts of the country to sell....
Before dawn the women start the trek out to their farms, which may be
several kilometres from the village where they live. On their heads are pans
of food, laundry to be done in the stream, farming utensils. On their backs,
the newest baby. A two-year-old toddles along with a small pan on her head
which she has to steady with her hand. The women and children will spend the
day weeding the rice fields and tending to the vegetables they are growing on
termite hills and small patches amid the rice. A small hut has been built in the
middle of the field where they can take shelter from the torrential rains of the
day. They will work, bent over from the waist, with babies still on their backs,
all day long, weeding by hand among the broadcast rice....
Walking along a village road in the early evening, a long procession of
women and children can be seen carrying home large bundles of tree
branches on their heads. This wood will be used for outdoor cooking fires to
prepare family meals. Different kinds of wood must be found for different
kinds of fires: long-burning, extra-hot, slow-burning, not-very-hot. If the
town is a big one it is sometimes necessary to buy wood as the forest source
may be too far away for a daily trip....
Ms Nancy Minett is a Unesco consultant for Nutrition Teaching/Learning Resources.
62 N. MINETT
Very probably both the fish trader and the gari maker must also collect
firewood and cook the meals.1 In fact, most rural women in developing coun-
tries may regularly participate in any combination of the following roles and
activities: i) as businesswomen: buy, sell, preserve and transport fish; own
and rent fishing boats; hire labour; purchase and sell small goods (such as
matches, tomato paste and vegetable oil); purchase, dye and sell material;
pay school fees; make and sell beer and other drinks; buy, prepare (fry, bake)
and sell food items; and serve as midwives; ii) as farmers: weed and protect
farm crops from predators; grow vegetables for consumption and sale; dry
and store vegetable seeds; care for domestic animals, chickens, ducks; assist
in harvesting crops; assist in preparing crops for storage; prepare palm-oil for
consumption and sale; and gather fruit for consumption and sale; and iii) as
housewives: keep house and grounds clean; bear and breast-feed children;
care for children; cook; pound or grind grain for meals; provide water for the
family; provide wood for the family; make soap for family use and for sale;
catch fresh-water fish for family meals and for sale; provide clothing for the
children; see that they attend school; provide health care for the children; and
wash the family laundry, often at some distance from the household.
A list of the knowledge and skills that women must somehow acquire to
perform these multiple roles includes the following: administration; animal
husbandry; banking; bookkeeping; consumer evaluation of goods; cooking
and preservation of food; familiarity with labour laws and regulations; first
aid; forestry; horticulture; logistics; management; memorization; merchan-
dising; numeracy; parenting; physical strength; planning; and quantity pur-
chasing and food preparation.
This is an impressive and complex variety of technical and commercial
abilities for anyone to acquire; for women in small and often isolated villages,
with no schooling, it is doubly impressive and doubly difficult.
Where, then, are the educational programmes to assist and support
women in acquiring or improving these capabilities? Traditional village com-
ing-of-age instruction may pass on certain of the skills that are important for
the maintenance of family life in the community, but normally it does not
include those competencies demanded for commercial competition. With
1 Gari is a fermented, dehydrated food product made from cassava. It is a primary staple
food in West Africa and an important food item in parts of East and Central Africa. In South
America, a similar product (farinha de mandioca) is widely eaten, especially in Brazil.
The making of gari consists of six major steps from harvesting to sale. These consist of
uprooting cassava tubers at the farm, transporting them to the village, peeling, grating, fer-
menting and de-watering, and toasting. The traditional method of carrying out these steps
is almost totally manual.
PARTICIPATORY EDUCATION FOR WOMEN 0.
almost no formal training available to them, women must either teach them-
selves by trial and error, or learn from each other as best they can the skills
necessary to generate cash to sustain themselves and their families.
The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework of action that will
provide for the full participation of women in the identification of community
educational training needs and in the subsequent design, implementation and
evaluation of programmes that respond to those needs.
More and more emphasis is being placed on the need for improving the
nutritional status of people in the rural areas of developing countries. The
time is overdue to give women, as the providers of food and education, the
recognition and encouragement they deserve. Educational programmes for
rural women, designed with their help, is one way to show recognition and
Statistics show that on average less than 40 percent of eligible girls in
developing countries are enrolled in primary schools. By the time this small
percentage is reduced still further by drop-outs and educational attrition
through secondary and post-secondary schools, the number of educated
women becomes infinitesimal (Unesco, 1983b). Table 1 shows this process.
TABLE 1. Eligible female enrolment in schools (Sub-Saharan Africa)
SNo. of countries with Levels
No. of countries reporting less than 40% enrolled
35 18 primary
34 25 secondary
No. of countries with
lessthan 30% enrolled
33 30 post-secondary
No. of countries with
less than 10% enrolled
18 14 post-secondary
Table 2 shows what the enrolment figures mean in terms of the number
of women likely to complete a post-secondary level of education in agricul-
ture. The figures are similar for other regions of the developing world. They
make pretty dismal reading anywhere.
TABLE 2. Educational attrition of 500 eligible females at primary level
Primary <40 <200
Secondary <40 < 80
Post-secondary <30 < 24
Agriculture <10 < 2.4
These statistics and the fact that the percentage of illiterate women in the
world has not changed in 30 years remaining around 60 percent make it
reasonable to assume that the number of women completing any level of edu-
cation is probably not going to change drastically for at least the next 20 years.
This means that the responsibility of unschooled women for the health and
well-being of a large percentage of the people in any developing country will
continue to be a major one and should therefore be supported with a govern-
ment-level commitment to provide specially designed training programmes
for all women, young and old, rural and urban. It means, in addition, that
women must be accorded better access to development projects of all kinds
in order for them to use their expanded skills to the best advantage so that
they will have increased possibilities for income-producing activities.
Although some of the large agricultural projects that make up a large
part of many country development schemes may have increased the amount
of land under cultivation, they have also increased the work-load of women,
forcing them to spend additional hours weeding and caring for the larger crop
acreages. New technological improvements in farming have been provided
almost exclusively to men, often decreasing the chance for women to under-
take income-generating farming projects and reducing their access to land.
Credit facilities and cash-crop opportunities have also been mostly available
only to men (Unesco, 1983a).
Although these facts are increasingly being recognized, few planners or
developers seem to have been able to design projects that include women and
men on an equal basis. It is not enough to say that women can join a farming
project; that they are not discriminated against. If women have to spend more
time labouring for men, and if programme activities reduce the time they can
spend on the cultivation of vegetables to feed their families, not only can
women not participate, but the nutritional status of family members, particu-
larly of children, will suffer.
PARTICIPATORY EDUCATION FOR WOMEN O3
As more and more women become heads of farm households owing to
the urban migration of men, it becomes more important to provide educa-
tional programmes directed to these issues. It is as important for men to
understand fully the contribution that women make to the economy and com-
munity as it is for women to have opportunities to increase their skills and
knowledge and thereby their contribution.
Women should be included in agricultural training programmes and lit-
eracy classes. While some programmes already do so, much current agricul-
tural training for farmers is provided by specific agricultural development
projects and deals with a particular project from the male farmer's perspec-
tive. Much current "functional" literacy-class curricular material deals with
either men's farming problems and vocabulary or with mainly child-care
topics for women, which, while important, are not enough. Numeracy skills
often are not taught at all to women or men. In addition, literacy classes are
often taught in the local language which may not have a written form. This
works against both women and men in developing new options as there is
rarely any regular, new, relevant material for them to read and their own lan-
guage does not help them to read instructions, for example, on seed packages
or fertilizer sacks. Nor does it help them to communicate with others outside
their own language group. Many literacy programmes have, unhappily,
become almost as institutionalized as the school systems in terms of lesson
materials, topics and the level of information.
Through a process of full community participation, a programme can be
constructed so that some literacy skills, numeracy skills, agricultural and mar-
keting skills can be integrated into one educational/training design. This
pooling of subjects and the coordination between hitherto separate pro-
grammes will help to motivate learners and reduce the drop-out rate of par-
ticipants through a better use of time and energy.
Before a community can be assisted in its programme planning, it is
important that the programme planner and the community be thoroughly
acquainted with one another. This takes time and a willingness on the part of
the programme planner, as an outsider, to explore, to feel at ease with village
life and to understand village dynamics roles, controls, problem-solving
processes, and the balance of power.
In one project, this acquaintance with village life was not thoroughly
developed. In this project, one of the goals was to train traditional midwives
to be health educators in their own communities. The plan was discussed
extensively with the midwives who very much wanted the training. The pos-
sibilities were explained to the chiefs and elders in the several communities
where the women lived. They agreed that it would be a very good idea for the
6b N. MINETT
midwives to have the training as they were considered powerful women in the
community and very important people in the lives of the villagers.
Project planners spent a week with the midwives in a central town, teach-
ing them songs and dramas about health, which were reinforced with cassette
story tapes to stimulate group discussions in their villages. The women were
enthusiastic, finding the training very helpful and the project supportive in
providing needed information about good health practices to the villagers.
Subsequently, planners visited the villages where the women lived and
worked to check their progress. Many village chiefs who had heard the tapes
and been asked to form discussion groups including both men and women
reacted with disbelief. Uniformly, the chiefs refused their help and participa-
tion. Further investigations showed that the village hierarchy had not been
thoroughly understood by the planners. While a midwife is seen as a powerful
member of the community, it is only in her capacity as midwife, leader of
women's society and teacher of girls that she is recognized. She, in her turn,
had never been in a situation where she was expected to lead a mixed discus-
sion group of women and men. Although the project idea was sound, not
enough homework had been done to make implementation successful. Proj-
ect planners had expected and trained for a new role for the midwives outside
the traditional one, and neither community members nor the women them-
selves had been sufficiently prepared to accept this new role. In the end, each
midwife was paired with a male school teacher, whereupon project
implementation proceeded more smoothly.
Once an atmosphere of mutual confidence and respect has been estab-
lished, the planner can meet with people to stimulate discussion and interest
in analysing their situations and community concerns. In most traditional
societies, all women not only midwives are culturally conditioned to
their social and family roles; often they do not have an occasion to make deci-
sions for themselves or otherwise behave in ways that are outside their
accepted roles. To facilitate the development of programmes for women,
therefore, it is first necessary to establish conditions under which they can
begin to see themselves in a different role. A series of meetings with the
women separately should be held to cultivate these new insights.
There are now a number of good training manuals available that give
particular steps to get participants at a workshop or discussion group to work
and plan together (Save the Children, 1978). The planner should have pros-
pective objectives in mind for these first all-female planning sessions as a
result of prior informal conversations. However, the following questions may
be useful in generating ideas. The questions are followed by a phrase in
parentheses that presents the possible outcome of each question discussed.
PARTICIPATORY EDUCATION FOR WOMEN 67
The questions may occur in a different order during the sessions, but most
should be considered in providing the information needed for further plan-
* How do the women define their roles in their own community? (Expanded
perception of themselves)
* What do they have individually and collectively in common with successful
women and successful women's programmes elsewhere? (Identification of
personal and group resources)
* How do the women define the roles of the men in their community?
(Expanded perception of men's roles)
* What are the problems in their community? (Expanded perceptions of
* Which problems are the most important to the women? (Prioritizing)
* Can the problems be resolved within the community? By women alone?
Why? (Understanding the real world)
* What roles can women play to help solve problems? (New perceptions)
* What skills do the women need to help solve problems? What skills do the
women already have? (Identification of possible training needs)
* What role can the men play to help solve the problems? (Female-male
* What skills do the men need to help solve problems? (Identification of pos-
sible training needs)
* Can the skills needed be provided at the village level? By whom? When and
how? (Possible training objectives)
* Will the solution to problems cause other problems? (Anticipating possible
adverse effects of planned actions)
While this series of meetings/workshops is being conducted (by a
woman, if possible) with the women of the village, the same questions can be
posed to the men in a similar series of meetings from their viewpoint. When
all the questions have been discussed by each group, the two groups can be
brought together for a discussion. In the exchange, role plays, dramas and
other techniques can be used to encourage full group participation. From this
point, there should be a full integration of effort and purpose in designing
educational/training programmes for both women and men. Group decisions
should be made as to whom should be included in subsequent programme
It is important to plan so that separate issues or topics be integrated; for
example, agricultural education, literacy, nutrition, animal husbandry, and
68 N. MINETT
child care can be interconnected. Because of the way outside funding often
works, different topics have sometimes been dealt with separately, so that
several kinds of training have been attempted in the same community. The
educational/training programme should be seen holistically; funding agents,
if needed, should be made to understand not only the advantages of coordina-
tion and cooperation, but the determination of the women and men in the
community to have their training wishes respected. Thoughtful and tactful
facilitation on the part of the planner can ensure that, in mixed group ses-
sions, women are given an equal opportunity to speak and to have their opin-
ions respected. Programme goals, design, duration and evaluation proce-
dures can all be delineated by community members in these discussion ses-
Evaluation is a vital part of good programme planning, of course, and
the design of an effective evaluation process is a beneficial learning experi-
ence for everyone. Participants learn how to define clearly their own learning
objectives, and learn how to determine if their objectives are being met. This
helps people to understand what it is they really want to learn and confirms
to them that they have learned it.
The following are some questions that can be used to stimulate discus-
sion in the evaluation of a community-designed educational/training pro-
* What do we want to learn?
* Why do we want to learn it?
* How can we learn it? What are the steps to learning it?
* How long will it take to learn each step?
* How will we know if we have learned each step?
* How will we use what we have learned?
* Will what we have learned help us to deal with top priority community
* Is there more to learn before we can deal with community concerns?
* Did we learn what we set out to learn?
* Do we need to learn more?
* What do we want to learn?
According to the wishes of the group, it may be useful to separate the
men and women once again to develop their own ideas before the two groups
are joined for the development of the actual evaluation design. Evaluation
can, and should, take place throughout the programme by members of the
PARTICIPATORY EDUCATION FOR WOMEN
group. Changes in implementation can be made at any time as long as the
changes direct programme activities more clearly toward programme goals.
In the interests of full participation by women, programme activities
should include equal numbers of women and men. As one of the purposes of
this planning outline is to encourage the participation of women, any change
in the 50-50 representation should be thoroughly discussed by the groups
separately and together before mutually agreed-upon percentages are deter-
mined. This kind of change, however, should be discouraged, as the purpose
of developing full participation will be defeated.
This paper has presented a framework for encouraging women to partici-
pate in educational/training programme design, implementation and evalua-
tion, and for encouraging men to respect and welcome women's ideas and
contributions. The framework may seem time-consuming, but it is necessary
to pay special attention to cultivating the process in order to develop respect
for and confidence in the value of women's thoughts, ideas and skills among
women themselves and in their communities.
INFORMATION COLLECTION AND EXCHANGE. Community health education in developing
1978 countries. Washington, D.C.
SAVE THE CHILDREN. Bridging the gap: a participatory approach to health and nutrition edu-
1978 cation. Westport, CT (USA).
UNESCO. Bibliographic guide to studies on the status of women. Paris.
UNESCO. Equality of educational opportunity for girls and women. Paris.
The practice and perils of projects
for women in the Third World
In 1979 a private voluntary agency set up an income-generation project for
rural women in the western province of Kenya through which a group of 50
women was organized into a cooperative to produce banana-fibre rings for
sale as pot-holders in Nairobi. Two years into the project, the women were
losing K Sh0.50 (US$0.05) for every pot-holder they produced and sold, not
considering the implicit cost of their labour. (The unit cost of the fibre was
K Sh3.00, or US$0.30, and the retail price of the pot-holders was K Sh2.50,
or US$0.25.) Moreover, capital that had been donated to finance and repli-
cate the project through a revolving fund had been depleted. The project,
nonetheless, continued operating.
A new project in a squatter settlement on the outskirts of Lima, Peru,
promises to share with the Kenya effort the same bleak economic future.
Under the project, seven to eight women are receiving group training to pro-
duce skirts and shirts for sale in the local market. The cost of the denim fabric
used to make one shirt, however, is S/1 000 (US$0.45) more than the highest
retail price at which the shirts can be sold (S/7 000). The women, some of
whom have worked at the sewing training centre for as long as two years with-
out pay, are unlikely to ever make a profit on the sale of these clothes.'
Incredibly, these are not two aberrant instances of project behaviour; on
the contrary, they illustrate the fate of a large number of income-generation
projects for poor women in the Third World, who survive financial misfor-
tune only because social or community development goals (i.e. the ideal of
forming a community-based working group) take precedence over or replace
productive concerns when women are involved. A welfare orientation has
prevailed in the execution of projects for low-income women, but this action
contradicts economic-based policies and project blueprints, as well as the
Ms Mayra Buvinic is director of the International Center for Research on Women, 1717
Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 501, Washington, D.C. 20036, USA.
The project observations cited throughout the text are based on the work of the Interna-
tional Center for Research on Women (Washington, D.C.).
economic needs voiced repeatedly by poor women across cultures and situa-
tions (Dixon, 1980; Chen, 1984).
An integrated rural development effort in the Bolivian highlands illus-
trates the discrepancy between blueprints and action at the project level. One
of the project's primary goals was to modernize the herd management and
shearing practices used by Bolivian peasants in order to increase alpaca and
llama wool production. Information collected during project appraisal
revealed that herding and shearing were women's work, and as a result, the
design of the project was revised to include a production-oriented women's
component. In implementation, however, the component was redirected
toward developing women's skills in nutrition, cooking and embroidery. In
the course of the project many supervision teams stressed, with little success,
the need to direct women's activities away from those that supported their
roles as wives and mothers and to concentrate, instead, on the productive
roles and expressed economic needs of women. Project documents revealed
repeated recommendations, which were never executed, that women should
be included in farmer training courses and receive information on modern
veterinary practices (Buvinic and Nieves, 1982).
Why is it that welfare strategies for Third World women persist in project
implementation, even if they are not called for in policy and project
guidelines? This essay analyses the misbehaviourr" of projects for women
that have economic goals and assume welfare features during execution. The
analysis does not attempt to encompass all project experience and, therefore,
does not review successful exceptions to the typical project. It is worth noting
that these successful exceptions, most of them in the area of credit for poor
women, have become more frequent in recent years.
Three explanations for project misbehaviour
The welfare slant in the execution of women's projects is explained, first, by
specific project characteristics that are shared by a majority of interventions
and interfere with the execution of production objectives, but may facilitate
the implementation of social ones. These characteristics, in turn, are the
result of the expertise in the welfare sector of agencies that implement
women's projects and historical asymmetries in the growth of development
and women agencies. Last, the institutional choices, and the more general
preference for welfare action, are influenced by the lower financial and social
costs that are involved in the execution of welfare versus economic-oriented
policies for women in developing countries.
PROJECTS FOR WOMEN IN THE THIRD WORLD 73
The standard project design
The typical women's project that was illustrated in the beginning of this essay
gained popularity in the last decade; it is small-scale, situation-specific, and
uses limited financial and technical resources. It is implemented by women,
many of whom are volunteers with little technical expertise, and benefits
women only. The typical project works with groups of 5-40 women, already
in existence or newly constituted for the project; groups wishing to undertake
economic activities are often legalized as cooperatives. The project involves
substantial group participation and includes awareness-raising through group
discussions, human development training, and/or training in stereotypical
female skills such as sewing, knitting, cooking and gardening. Lastly, the typ-
ical project involves group activities through which women attempt to apply
the skills they have learned for income-generation. Because of the type of
training offered, income-generation is in areas that are time-consuming and
have no income-earning potential. Groups survive the financial failure that
often occurs by replacing economic goals with social ones, and projects fall
back onto a variety of social group actions.
The recent development implementation literature indicates that the
choices that are made in the standard project design regarding the nature of
the task, staff composition, group participation, and the use of volunteer
labour interfere with production objectives and contribute, in project execu-
tion, to their translation into welfare realities.
Misjudging simple and familiar tasks
Successful project execution is more likely when tasks required from project
participants are not too numerous, too complex, or too unfamiliar (Esman
and Uphoff, 1984). In fact, it has been observed that women's projects are
often more successful when women participants are required to perform
familiar tasks (Dixon, 1980). #
Common wisdom judges that stereotypical Western female tasks are
both simple and familiar to women in the Third World and are, therefore,
easily transferable. It is no surprise that they should predominate in the
execution of projects for low-income women. In reality, however, female-
appropriate tasks are not simple nor as familiar to low-income women as
might be assumed. This is one of the most immediate and salient features that
emerges from field observation of women's projects; it was evident in 1980 in
a sewing session for a group of low-income women in San Josd, Costa Rica.
Women in this project were being taught how to measure and translate the
measurements into dress patterns that would be used to cut the fabric. Pat-
tern drawing (as taught) was extremely complex and required drawing skills,
spatial ability, and more than a basic knowledge of mathematics (percentages
and fractions). It was clear that most of the women in the group could not fol-
low the lesson because it was too difficult and unfamiliar.
The first training course for women in the rural development project in
Bolivia cited earlier provides a good illustration of the complexity of tradi-
tionally feminine tasks. A supervision report noted that all went well except
that too many themes were included: for example, nutrition and cooking,
embroidery, sewing, knitting and crochet, paper and paper mache, and
flower making. These tasks were not only diverse but also highly unfamiliar
to highland rural women whose main functions were to herd and shear ani-
mals, manage household finances, and supervise day-to-day household
Underestimating the difficulty of stereotypical female tasks and overes-
timating their transferability induces project misbehaviour; that is, it prompts
project implementers who want successful projects for women to choose wel-
fare rather than productive tasks. It is true that productive tasks are not in-
herently easy, but the difficulty of welfare tasks is underrated, while produc-
tive tasks are often misjudged as being too difficult for poor women.
Participation, volunteer labour and a biased clientele
The time required for group participation and the demands to donate volun-
tary labour in the standard women's design tend to exclude women who have
greater than average demands on their time and/or who are the poorest. Field
observations repeatedly show that in the typical women's project a group of
women composed mostly of housewives and therefore with time available,
themselves choose to participate in projects.
These are not the poorest women. It is highly likely that women who
head households, who tend to be the poorest and have the greatest time con-
straints (because they have both home and market production roles and gen-
erally have fewer family members to help with income-generation tasks), will
exclude themselves from projects that require time for group discussion, par-
ticipation and voluntary labour. These requirements in women's projects
promote the selection of beneficiaries who can afford to undertake social
tasks and will therefore go along with the transformation of productive goals
into welfare activities.
PROJECTS FOR WOMEN IN THE THIRD WORLD 75
Institutions and their legacy
A small, private organization of mostly women volunteers in Costa Rica that
had effectively lobbied for women's legal rights was approached by an inter-
national development agency to design and implement a large, innovative
project that would raise poor women's productivity and income in rural Costa
Rica. It was determined that credit had to be a key component of the project,
but the organization did not have the institutional capacity to manage a size-
able loan and implement a credit programme for poor women. Women vol-
unteers were proficient at teaching traditional female skills (i.e. cooking,
sewing, knitting), but had little experience in dealing with fund disburse-
ments and balance sheets. Understandably, the organization was hesitant to
undertake the project as conceived.
The circumstances are typical of women's projects and help to explain
the redirection of projects to welfare actions in the execution stage: the
women-based institutions chosen to implement women's projects are organi-
zationally capable of executing welfare- but not production-oriented proj-
ects. Since these institutions want to execute successful projects, their most
rational option is to translate production objectives into welfare actions. The
restricted expertise of women's institutions is explained, in part, by the
growth of women's organizations together with development and relief agen-
cies in the period after the Second World War.
The end of war and the reconstruction of Europe that followed brought
about the creation of two parallel worlds in development assistance: on the
one hand, the world of economic growth, represented institutionally by the
World Bank and its affiliates; on the other hand, the world of emergency
relief, with a proliferation of international and national private voluntary
agencies. Poor women and their children became a main target of welfare
programmes operated by international private voluntary agencies. Relief
agencies often relied on and therefore promoted national organizations of
mostly well-to-do women volunteers to implement their programmes, i.e. to
distribute relief to poor women and children. Women's organizations, many
of which had been in existence since the late 1920s, had embraced welfare
aims along with legal rights in their original mandates, and were ready to take
up the assigned task of relief.
Relief objectives influenced women's institutions to organize as effective
mechanisms for distributing services and free goods. Such institutions needed
a large constituency and a large staff to service it. They found that volunteers
could do the job well and cheaply. Mothers' clubs, which were instituted in
this period in developing countries, were instrumental in implementing the
relief efforts asked of women's organizations. Apart from those doing relief
work, however, women's organizations stagnated between 1950 and 1970.
The 1970s witnessed two major events that would have profound reper-
cussions on programmes for poor women in the Third World. These were
changes in the theory and practice of economic development and the United
Nations' designation of a Women's Decade, beginning in 1975 with Interna-
tional Women's Year. Realizing that the transfer of capital and technology
from the industrialized countries had not filtered down to the poor in
developing societies, development agencies established new strategies
designed to improve standards of living among the poor directly. Interna-
tional and national relief agencies soon followed suit and initiated their trans-
formation into private development foundations.
The worlds of relief and economic growth grew less distant; the World
Bank invested heavily in social sectors and took the lead in research on basic
human needs, while private voluntary organizations made their staffs profes-
sional and implemented small-scale programmes in economic development.
These agencies were slow, however, in shifting their orientation from relief to
development in their work with women. In part, this can be attributed to the
institutional legacy from the world of relief.
International Women's Year brought to the world forum the concerns of
women in industrialized and developing countries, assigned legitimacy to
work on women's issues in economic development, and enticed small but crit-
ical budget allocations from international development agencies to under-
take work on the topic. It became appropriate for development agencies to
include in their anti-poverty portfolios projects intended to improve the situ-
ation of poor women in developing countries. Some women's organizations,
in existence since the 1950s or earlier, had also started revising their aims and
were in place to implement the new projects. However, these organizations
had been developed and were organizationally fit to implement relief rather
than productive projects for women. The asymmetry in the growth of women
and development agencies and the motivation that female institutions have to
expand and do what they know how to do best helps to explain the welfare
orientation of.women's projects in the Third World.
The political economy of women's projects
The factors that condition the choice of implementing institutions round up
the explanation of why projects for women "misbehave". Women-based
institutions that carry out development projects for women do not operate in
PROJECTS FOR WOMEN IN THE THIRD WORLD 77
a vacuum but in the context of international and national development agen-
cies. The choice of women-only institutions to implement women's pro-
grammes is, in part, a result of the belief that female staff should work with
female beneficiaries. More importantly, however, it is the result of the
reluctance of technically oriented development agencies either to allocate
significant financial resources to projects for women or to take up the execution
of production-oriented women's projects. Behind this resistance are actual
and perceived costs and benefits to male-based development agencies of
welfare versus productive action for poor women in the Third World.
Female-based institutions are willing to do the job, and do it cheaply.
In a world with finite development resources that are largely controlled
by men, welfare and relief programmes for women in the Third World repre-
sent little or no threat to existing budget and power allocations when com-
pared with projects borne of the productive mould. Why are welfare
strategies perceived as less threatening or costly than production-oriented
Welfare action is supported by funds traditionally set aside for that pur-
pose. Since this action is directed to women in their roles as mothers and child-
rearers, it operates in a sex-segregated environment where by definition there
is no possibility of competition with men for the goods and services offered.
Instead, productive interventions have the potential of pitting women against
men in the project environment. These actions are bound to be perceived as
more costly than welfare actions since they have the potential to create a situ-
ation where poor women will compete with men for scarce development
Productive strategies are less attractive than welfare strategies because
they have the potential to redistribute resources from men to women. In
other words, they carry the risk that action will result in a "zero-sum" situa-
tion where a win for women will be a loss for men owing to either the added
costs of programmes to reduce inequalities or the potential appropriation of
economic resources by women. Because welfare action works only with
women and operates in effectively sex-segregated environments, it is
believed that these actions will be appropriate to women, will not impinge on
men, and most importantly will not take resources away from men.
Welfare programmes are perceived as "positive-sum" situations in which
Action for poor women in the Third World, therefore, is conditional on
an assessment that investments in women will not affect or cut back on
development investments in poor men. The result is that welfare designs for
women are preferred by development experts and practitioners and will pre-
78 M. BUVINIC
vail unless there is a strong and well-documented case for projects resulting
from production-oriented approaches. The perceived costs associated with
the latter perspectives contribute to the misbehaviour of projects for women,
even when there is a desire to implement production designs. A direct con-
sequence of the fear of redistribution is that action for poor women takes
place much more readily when it is supported by funds that have been allo-
cated specifically for women's programmes or from general welfare-oriented
In summary, the consequences of the threat of redistribution are:
* a preference for welfare-oriented programmes in implementation; and
* in anti-poverty programmes, a preference to work with women-only
groups and with specifically female activities. In integrated male- and female-
based programmes, the preference is to work with female heads of household
and women in female-dominated occupations, since in both situations there
is a measure of sex segregation and, therefore, a lack of competition with
Solutions and their risks
The misbehaviour of development projects for low-income women has his-
torical roots in the creation of separate economic development and relief
agencies after the Second World War and is a function of three related fac-
tors: a particular project style that is conducive to the execution of social
rather than production tasks; the expertise of institutions that implement this
project style in welfare matters; and the low budgets needed for social and
financial risks of welfare actions that are perceived as small compared with
production-oriented anti-poverty interventions.
The translation of production objectives into welfare action is in part the
rational response of women-only implementing agencies with a capacity for,
and often a history of, success in the welfare sector. It also stems from these
agencies and their lack of institutional capability to implement productive pro-
grammes, which dates back to their assigned role in the area of relief and their
isolation from the world of economic development. The analysis suggests a
vicious circle between the powerlessness of women-only institutions in
economic matters, their resulting welfare-oriented operational style, and the
increased poverty of women beneficiaries when productive projects for them
experience financial failure and are transformed to welfare action.
The central policy question is how to maintain a specific emphasis on
PROJECTS FOR WOMEN IN THE THIRD WORLD 79
women that tackles both poverty and equity issues in economic development
without setting up separate women's programmes that command a fraction of
development resources and deny women access to development expertise.
The dilemma emerges from the fact that while women-only agencies and
women-specific programmes tend to isolate poor women further from the
economic benefits of projects, the full integration of women's objectives into
mainstream agencies risks the submersion of women's priorities during
implementation, or the possibility that project resources directed to women
will be monopolized by male beneficiaries. In addition, the concern for equity
calls for the growth and professionalization, rather than the disappearance,
of female-only institutions with expertise in economic development.
A solution to this dilemma is to unlock the institutional potential of
female-based and integrated agencies in specialized and complementary
areas. Rational institutional development that considers the strengths and
weaknesses of existing agencies and the risks of misbehaviour and submer-
sion is a necessary element to increase the rate of success of productive
strategies for women.
First, women-only organizations can play a brokerage role. They can get
services to poor women that integrated organizations usually do not or cannot
supply. A typical example of this brokerage role is the use of women-only
organizations to get information on production-oriented services to poor
women in rural areas who otherwise would not receive this information
because they do not participate in production cooperatives. Second, much
like women's colleges, women-only agencies can pave the way for women's
entrance into modern institutions by providing a sex-segregated and "safe"
environment where women can learn, practise, and "catch up" with modern
organizations in the productive sectors. Third, women-only organizations
can perform the essentially political function of making institutions aware of
women's economic roles. Women-only organizations with large member-
ships have political leverage; this should be fully developed and exploited.
They have the potential to influence power-outlining policy strategies to
integrate poor women into national economies. Women-only research
institutions, in turn, can raise the awareness of the fears that productive pro-
grammes for women generate in the existing establishment. Lastly, female-
based agencies can play the critical role of "watch dog" of action on behalf of
women by developing monitoring and evaluation functions.
On the other hand, the weaknesses of women-only agencies limit their
role in the execution of productive programmes for poor women, excepting
those cases where they are needed to allow women the opportunity to recover
lost ground and graduate into the modern economy. A salient example of the
MU M. BUVINIC
catch-up function is the provision of credit. Credit earmarked for women
allows them to compete for funds with other women of like borrowing qualifi-
cations rather than with men who, as a group, are more literate than women
and have less difficulty in meeting collateral requirements.
A number of female-based intermediaries that have emerged in recent
years precisely to draw the bridge between low-income women's demand for
credit and the resources available in the formal financial markets have exhib-
ited high rates of project success (Everett and Savara, 1985). These female-
based agencies have implemented a majority of the successful exceptions to
the typical income-generation project and have a critical role to play in the
execution of women's projects in the Third World. But to function success-
fully, they need sufficient financial resources and easy access to the expertise
and services available through integrated, technically oriented agencies.
Whenever possible, however, integrated institutions should implement
productive programmes for poor women to minimize the likelihood of proj-
ect misbehaviour and the risk of further isolating or marginalizing women
clients from access to development resources by creating peripheral agencies
to address their needs. In integrated agencies, staff education and the crea-
tion of specific staff incentives are needed to implement economic growth
projects for women. Staff education can best be done by presenting data
which show that the integration of women as economic participants contrib-
utes to project success. Staff incentives are required because such projects
may have high perceived costs for implementers. To an objectively difficult
task increasing the productivity and income of poor women they add
institutional and financial constraints and perceived high political costs.
The development of these complementary institutional roles for female-
based and integrated agencies rests on the willingness of national and interna-
tional development agencies to commit significant financial resources in sup-
port of economic-based policies and programmes for women. In the face of
dwindling resources for anti-poverty programmes, it will become increasingly
difficult to convince policy-makers that the long-term development benefits
of productive action for low-income women far outweigh any short-term
financial, social or political costs that may be incurred.
BUVINIC, M. & NIEVES, I. Elements of women's economic integration: project indicators for
1982 the World Bank. Report prepared for the World Bank, Office of the Adviser on
Women in Development. Washington, D.C., International Center for Research
on Women (ICRW). (Mimeo.)
PROJECTS FOR WOMEN IN THE THIRD WORLD 81
CHEN, M.A. A quiet revolution: women in transition in rural Bangladesh. Cambridge,
1984 Massachusetts, Schenkman Publishing Co.
DIXON, R.B. Assessing the impact of development projects on women. Washington, D.C.,
1980 USAID. AID Program Evaluation Discussion Paper No. 8.
ESMAN, M.J. & UPHOFF, N.T. Local organizations. Ithaca, New York, Cornell University
EVERETT, J. & SAVARA, M. Institutional credit as a strategy toward self-reliance for female
1985 petty commodity procedures in India: a critical evaluation. Paper presented at the
Women in Development Conference, Washington, D.C., April 1985.
SAMUEL, P. Managing development programmes: the lessons of success. Boulder, Colorado,
1982 Westview Press.
SUNDAR, P. Women's employment and organisation modes. Econ. and Political Weekly,
1983 XVIII (48): M-171 to M-175.
TENDLER, J. Turning private voluntary organizations into development agencies: questions
1982 for evaluation. Washington, D.C., USAID. AID Program Evaluation Discussion
Paper No. 12.
YOUSSEF, N.H., SEBSTAD, J. & NIEVES, I. Keeping women out: a structural analysis of
1980 women's employment in developing countries. Washington, D.C., International
Center for Research on Women (ICRW). (Mimeo.)
Nepalese women in natural
An important issue that has come increasingly into focus is the role of
Nepalese women in natural resource management.' Women in Nepal are
major users of natural resources, including firewood, water and fodder,
which they are responsible for finding, collecting and transporting for domes-
tic use. Until recently no substantial effort had been undertaken at the
national level to increase women's participation and contribution in resource
management. Yet their involvement is crucial to the success of conservation
and resource management programmes and to the restoration of an overall
ecological balance in Nepal.
Similarly, resource conservation programmes can be more effective with
the involvement of women professionals, especially for the successful dis-
semination of new information and concepts at the grass-roots level. This
article is a brief attempt to describe the present situation of natural resources
and women's use of them in Nepal; the potential role of women in resource
management; and the problems involved in reaching and training women for
professional employment in this field.
Natural resources in Nepal
Ecological imbalance is one of the greatest problems in Nepal today. The
Energy Research Group at Tribhuvan University (1976) reports that 95 per-
cent of the energy consumed in the hills comes from firewood. Similarly, as
stated by Stevens (1979), there has been a depletion of forest resources by
about 25 percent in a single decade (1964-75). At this rate of deforestation,
the remaining accessible forests in the mountains could disappear in the next
Ms Shanta Pandey was a social scientist for the Resource Conservation and Utilization Proj-
ect (RCUP) in Nepal.
1 Natural resource management is used here to refer primarily to forestry.
15 years and those in the terai region (the southern plain) could disappear in
the next 25 years (Stevens, 1979). A primary reason for natural resource
depletion is the need for wood energy, arable land and fodder. When vegeta-
tion is removed, deforestation and increased soil erosion often result.
Nepal loses 20-25 tonnes of the topmost fertile soil for every hectare
every year, which is 20 times the weight of the rice crop produced by the land.
According to a study, 47 percent of the landslides in Nepal are geological in
origin and the remaining 53 percent are man-made. Severe symptoms of
deforestation are already visible in five districts of the 75 districts in Nepal
(Mahotari, Mustang, Okhaldhunga, Sallyan and Sarlahi). To bring forests to
a managed sustaining level, it is estimated that Nepal requires about 1.3 mil-
lion hectares of new forest plantations by the year 2000. Many national and
international organizations have launched various programmes over the last
10-15 years to halt the rapid degradation of Nepal's resources. These pro-
grammes, aimed at improving the utilization of forest resources and forest
resource management techniques, are not expected to cover more than
34 000 hectares by the end of this century (Bhatta, 1984).
The role of women in the use and management of natural resources
"Status of Women in Nepal", a study produced by the US Agency for Inter-
national Development (USAID) and the Centre for Economic Development
and Administration (CEDA), Nepal (1979-81), and various other studies
reveal that women in Nepal play a major role in the use and management of
natural resources. Sixty-six percent of the time devoted by adults to fuelwood
collection is contributed by women (Acharya and Bennett, 1981). In some
areas of Nepal, women spend as many as 11 days a month collecting fuelwood
(Cordovez, 1984). Because women use forest resources so actively, they have
an important role and contribution to make toward better management.
Women in nurseries. More than 50 important nurseries in Gorkha, Mustang,
Myagdi, Sindhupalchok and other districts were visited. Each nursery is
headed by a villager who is known as the "nursery nike".2 Nursery workers
are responsible for filling plastic bags with soil, preparing nursery beds, seed-
ing, watering and planting seedlings. Women workers were described by
2 Nike is "chief" in Nepali.
NEPALESE WOMEN IN NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
nursery managers as being more efficient and productive than men workers,
and yet not a single nursery was headed by a female nike. It was common for
village women to sell seeds to the nursery nikes, which they gathered while
grazing their animals or while collecting firewood and fodder in the forest.
If women were trained and employed as nursery nikes, more women would
be encouraged to visit the nursery, learn about them, collect seedlings for
planting in their yards, and do nursery and plantation work.
Women forest guards. The women of Nepal climb tall trees to fell branches
for fodder and spend much time in the forest collecting wood. However,
there was not a single female forest guard in the areas visited. Though an
unfounded attitude, women are not considered strong enough to guard the
forest. Women trained as forest guards would be able to motivate and help
women forest users to find alternative sources of fuelwood and fodder, prob-
ably better than men guards, especially in those forests most used by women
Female professionals in natural resource management. Based on the con-
tribution of women employed in professions other than natural resources, it
is clear that trained women professionals in Nepal have better access to other
women at the grass-roots level than men professionals. In this regard, women
extension workers are better able to reach and motivate this important user
group and to suggest, advise and provide effective input in planning, imple-
menting and evaluating programmes related to women. The participants of
the National Seminar on the Employment of Female Institute of Forestry
Graduates (1984) have shown interest in employing trained women profes-
sionals in resource management research, surveying, teaching, laboratory
work, extension work, and so on. However, until recently not a single woman
in Nepal was trained in natural resources. The Institute of Forestry (IOF) of
Tribhuvan University in Hetauda has been functioning formally since 1960
without one female student in the programme.3 One woman forest graduate
returned from Dehradun, India, in March 1984, and has been hired as the first
woman forestry officer in Nepal.
In 1982/83, a study was conducted by National Research Associates
(NRA) under contract to the Resource Conservation and Utilization Project
(RCUP), a USAID-funded project, which explored the reasons why women
- even those few who were qualified to apply were not informed, moti-
3 IOF is soon to become the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) at a new
campus, under construction in Pokhara.
86 S. PANDEY
vated or interested in participating in IOF programmes. The NRA IRNR
Female Candidates Survey found that
- many female students, as well as guardians, teachers and local community
leaders feel that Nepalese renewable natural resources are being destroyed;
- the common opinion held by most respondents was that education in
resource management is essential to creating an understanding of the impor-
tance of conserving natural resources;
- an overwhelming majority of the respondents from three geographical
locations (hills, terai and the Kathmandu valley) favoured women pursuing
higher education and having careers involving renewable natural resources;
- the scope for employment of IOF female graduates at the certificate and
diploma levels is limited.
Women at the Institute of Forestry and their problems
Soon after the findings of the NRA study were published, the RCU project
began a concerted effort to inform and help eligible women to enrol in IOF.
Women in Development interns (sponsored by the South East Consortium
for International Development (SECID)/Centre for Women in Develop-
ment, a non-profit US university consortium) helped in disseminating infor-
mation about IOF opportunities to village women. In addition, Peace Corps
volunteers, RCU project employees in the districts, and the personnel of
other agencies that have direct contact with villagers were informally
involved in information dissemination. Radio advertisements were also used
as a means of communication. In June 1983, the first group of seven women
applied for admission. They were all admitted to IOF: six in the certificate
programme and one in the diploma programme. In July 1984, 53 eligible
women applied, 51 for the certificate programme and 2 for the diploma pro-
gramme. Of these, 11 were admitted to the certificate programme and 1 was
admitted to the diploma programme. Hence, IOF presently has a total of 19
The RCU project requested Tribhuvan University to provide incentives
to encourage the enrolment of eligible women candidates in natural resource
management training. The project requested that
10 percent of the total seats be reserved for women at the diploma level as
well as at the certificate level;
NEPALESE WOMEN IN NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 26/
- female students in certificate- and diploma-level programmes be eligible
for a stipend at the rate of NRs2 000 and NRs4 000 for each academic year
- all women students be eligible for a tuition grant;
- all women students be eligible to receive a lump sum of NRs500 in the cer-
tificate programme and NRs1 000 in the diploma programme for purchasing
uniforms and other supplies;
- all women students receive free housing.
While these provisions are presently available, they may be cut back by
Tribhuvan University as the project continues and female students succeed.
The women students at IOF can specialize in any of the three disciplines
of natural resource management offered by the institute. The three disci-
plines are wildlife, soil and water conservation, and forestry. Women stu-
dents are taught the same courses by the same faculty members in the same
classes with men students. Both males and females receive equal treatment as
students, both study the same subjects in the same classroom, and both do the
same field-work (SECID/RCUP, 1984).
A woman with the aim of becoming a natural resource professional must
be prepared for a great challenge in Nepal. First, to be eligible to apply to
IOF, female candidates must have a school-leavers' certificate, or a high
school graduate-level education. To achieve this requires much strength and
family support, especially for women from the hills. Second, female candi-
dates must be bold enough to travel all the way to Hetauda to inquire about
admission procedures and to submit the application. Following this, they
must take the initiative to learn if they have been accepted by the institute and
whether funds are available for them to attend. Unfortunately, very few
women receive the support and encouragement necessary to do these things
from their parents. A more organized and simplified admittance procedure,
such as writing to the institute to receive information and application forms,
and sending the completed application by mail, has yet to be developed.
Thus, even the few women who are qualified have difficulty gaining admit-
tance to IOF.
Another consideration is the poor facilities to accommodate female stu-
dents. Female students have off-campus housing that lacks basic amenities
such as fans, lights and proper drinking water. In Hetauda, the summer tem-
peratures are very high, the drinking water system in the dormitory is very
4 NRsl6.50 = US$1.00.
poor, and many rooms do not get enough natural light for studying. Women
students already at the institute must make sure they continue to receive their
IOF stipend. Their chances of receiving additional financial support from
their parents are slim compared to male students. To compound these
difficulties, the women are unsure of what their future will be. Who will
hire them? How much will they be paid? How well will they be accepted in
their profession? Until now the forestry profession has been dominated by
men, with only one female forestry officer who was trained in India.
The RCU project sponsored a three-day national seminar on the Employ-
ment of Female IOF Graduates, in Kathmandu (16-18 May 1984). Seminar
participants were represented by His Majesty's Government organizations
and national and international agencies involved in natural resource educa-
tion, development and management. The objectives of the seminar were
mainly threefold: to discuss the problems of reaching, informing and recruit-
ing eligible women to IOF; to discuss the problems of successfully training
women in the IOF programme; and, most importantly, to determine the mag-
nitude and nature of job opportunities in Nepal for women trained in natural
resource management. The participants of the seminar were engaged in a
lively discussion of the possible solutions to the problems of the recruitment,
training and employment of women in natural resource management. The
recommendations of the seminar were as follows (IRNR, 1984):
* Disseminate information on IOF recruitment policies and on potential
employment opportunities for females in renewable natural resource (RNR)
* Provide incentives and motivation for women students at IOF.
* Boost morale, raise levels of motivation, and increase self-confidence
among female graduates in RNR professions.
* Create awareness among employing agencies of the potential contributions
of female professionals in RNR.
* Increase coordination between employing agencies regarding female
professionals in RNR.
* Clarify job descriptions and ensure safe and challenging work environ-
ments for female professionals in RNR.
Translating these guidelines into action, however, is still to be done.
NEPALESE WOMEN IN NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
The recent increase in the number of women in natural resource management
training has been attained by the concerted effort of concerned officials,
agencies and the faculty of the Institute of Forestry. It has been a decided
success for Nepal. These efforts have successfully involved women in the
mainstream of national development. However, women's training and
employment in natural resource management is still at the initial stage and
current efforts must be continued.
With training and through extension, Nepalese women have much to
contribute to the solution of Nepal's ecological problems. The recent success
in involving women in natural resource training programmes shows that it is
possible to overcome the difficulties and move toward solving the problems.
With the present trend of action-oriented programmes, it is possible to
mobilize women to participate effectively in natural resource conservation
and management in Nepal.
ACHARYA, M. & BENNETT, L. The status of women in Nepal. Kathmandu, USAID.
BHATTA, D.D. The brown cancer. The Rising Nepal, 22 June.
CORDOVEZ, M. Tree planting problems. The Rising Nepal, 22 June.
NRA. IRNR Female Candidates Survey. Kathmandu, SECID/RCUP.
IRNR. Proceedings of the National Seminar on Employment of Female IOF (IRNR)
1984 Graduates, 16-18 May 1984, Kathmandu. Kathmandu, SECID/RCUP.
STEVENS, M.E. Energy, environment and forestry. Kathmandu, Agricultural Research
An effective method of training
In a little over four years, from August 1979 to November 1983, the project
for the Training of Farmers and Agricultural Labourers in El Salvador
(CAPTA) trained a substantial number of agricultural extension workers
from different public institutions.I
All the activities undertaken were evaluated, thus making it possible to
ascertain the successes achieved and difficulties encountered in each. The
achievements included changes in the participants' attitude toward their
work, in the users and institutions involved, and in participants' knowledge
and skills with regard to the planning, conduct and evaluation of agricultural
extension activities. The difficulties derived from the shortage of resources,
unclear guidelines for work and, in some cases, training that was too general
and not directed to an immediate solution to the problems faced by each
extension worker in his or her specific situation.
This latter observation resulted in consideration being given to a differ-
ent training procedure which would focus on the situation and specific prob-
lems of each extension agency. From this arose a proposal for the in-service
training of extension workers in the CAPTA project.
Once agreed upon with the Agricultural Training Centre (CENCAP),2 and
the Agricultural Technology Centre (CENTA),3 the in-service training of
Mr Carlos Rucks was International Director of the FAO/UNDP project for the Training of
Farmers and Agricultural Labourers in El Salvador from 1979 to 1983. In 1984 he was work-
ing as Rural Development Expert in an FAO/TCP project in Guatemala.
El Proyecto de Capacitaci6n de Productores y Trabajadores Agropecuarios
2 Centro de Capacitaci6n Agropecuaria
SCentro de Tecnologfa Agricola
extension workers was conducted on an experimental basis in four agencies
of the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG) in the central region of El Salvador.
A training plan was worked out for implementation in each agency. One
day a week for eight weeks was to be allocated to training. This plan was
implemented in the MAG agencies of Soyapango and La Libertad from May
to July 1983, and of Quezaltepeque and San Juan Opico in August and Sep-
tember 1983. Forty-three extension workers were trained in this way.
This experiment in the in-service training of extension workers was con-
ducted for the following purposes:
* to develop knowledge and skills in educational planning and methods
among MAG extension workers;
* to design annual work plans for the extension agencies selected, with the
participation of all extension workers;
* to test a proposed methodology for the training of extension workers and
make any adjustments that proved advisable;
* to train CENCAP and CENTA instructors so that they would develop the
knowledge and skills necessary to employ the training method on a wider
* to prepare a methodological document on the in-service training of exten-
The first four purposes were achieved through the training provided in the
four MAG agencies mentioned, and the fifth by means of a report which
described the experiment in detail.4
Content and methods
The main subjects covered in the training were planning and teaching
methods in agricultural extension. In addition, analyses were made of the
institutional coordination and evaluation of extension work. This training, as
an experiment, was different from the more typical training of extension
workers because it was based on the following principles:
4 Field Document No. 14 of the CAPTA project.