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Proceedings of the African and Asian
Inter-regional Workshop on Strategies
for Improving the Employment Conditions of Rural Women,
Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, 20-25 August 1984
International Labour Office
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- short-term hgh-ee aaisor~ mssions.
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that strategyg es arnd naorna doe~e oome- pans Srn d :de as a pr onr oet\e e pro~noson of eRcmpoyment and
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adopted by the Confeerece wi rea m c:: 'sore o3 W P tec0- ass star-e a:n rresea ac~ ies dur g mte
Ths publcation Is the outcome of a \'EP po ec'
Proceedings of the African and Asian
Inter-regional Workshop on Strategies
for Improving the Employment Conditions of Rural Women,
Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, 20-25 August 1984
International Labour Office Geneva
Copyright International Labour Organisation 1985
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First published 1985
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Printed in Switzerland
As part of its continuing effort to encourage debate, discussion and formulation
of alternative strategies and actions for promoting employment and income earning
opportunities for rural women, the International Labour Office (ILO) organised an
African and Asian Inter-regional Workshop on Strategies for Improving the Employment
Conditions of Rural Women, in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, from
20-25 August 1984. The Workshop was co-sponsored by the Centre on Integrated Rural
Development in Africa (CIRDAFRICA) and funded by the Danish International Development
The purpose of the Workshop was to exchange information and views on successful
and innovative projects for rural women, to draw lessons from successful experiences,
and to strengthen ongoing projects and stimulate the initiation of new ones.
The lessons from the field give priority to a number of strategies. Firstly,
effective participation the freedom to organise is key to rural development.
Without organisation poor rural women would not get their rightful share of the
productive resources or participate in the decisions that affect their lives.
Secondly, development and training of cadres/catalysts is essential since they play a
critical role in sustaining people's initiatives. Thirdly, non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) and other intermediaries need to be strengthened as they are
often better equipped than governments to introduce innovative strategies and actions.
Women's issues are central and not peripheral to development. The struggle for
equality is not a struggle between women and men it is a struggle to change social
structures and attitudes.
Dharam Ghai, Ibrahim Kaduma,
Rural Employment Policies Branch, Centre for Integrated Rural
Employment and Development Department, Development for Africa
International Labour Office
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CHAPTER 1 OBJECTIVE AND BACKGROUND 1
CHAPTER 2 MAJOR ISSUES, CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTED FOLLOW-UP ACTIONS 6
CHAPTER 3 WOMEN'S PROJECTS AND PROGRAMMES 13
CHAPTER 4 ACCESS TO AND CONTROL OVER RESOURCES : LAND/FOREST 23
CHAPTER 5 CREDIT AND MARKETING 30
CHAPTER 6 ORGANISATION, CONSCIENTISATION AND PARTICIPATION 36
CHAPTER 7 APPROACHES TO TECHNICAL CO-OPERATION 41
CHAPTER 8 STRATEGIES FOR ACTION: REPORTS OF WORKING GROUPS 44
I List of Participants 59
II Agenda 66
III Documents prepared for the Workshop 68
IV Inaugural Address by the Chief Minister of the Government of 70
V A Report on the Field Trip 80
- ix -
We would like to acknowledge our debt to the Government of the United Republic
of Tanzania for being the host and to DANIDA for funding the Workshop and the overall
project. We are grateful to the Honourable Seif Sharif Hamad, Chief Minister of
Zanzibar, and Mr Henning Kjeldgard, Ambassador of Denmark to the United Republic of
Tanzania, who despite their busy schedules found time to address the Workshop.
We would like to thank H.E. Gertrude Mongella, the Chairperson, B. H. Sethi and
Felicitas Balena, the Vice Chairpersons and Vina Mazumdar, the Chief Reporter of the
We are grateful to Milcah A. Achola, Iqbal Ahmed, Misrak Elias, Sarala Gopalan,
Noeleen Heyzer, Hameeda Hossain, Ayehsa Imam, Anita Kelles-Viitanen,
Marjorie Mbilinyi, Margo Russell, Alasebu G. Selassie and Filomina Steady who worked
as reporters on various panels and for working group sessions.
Rounaq Jahan was the consultant for the organisation of the Workshop and she
prepared this report. We are indebted to her.
The documents and the reports of the Workshop were typed, during various stages,
by Annie Degraeve, Evelyn Ralph, Barbara Jouve, Rose Lugendo and Cheryl Wright, who
also in other ways contributed to the organisation of the Workshop. We acknowledge
our debt to them. We would also like to thank Anne-Marie Causanillas and Mark Disman
who dealt with the financial administration of the Workshop.
Finally, the staff of CIRDAFRICA and the ILO Office in Dar es Salaam provided
much of the logistic support for the Workshop; we are grateful to all of them.
Dharam Ghai I. Kaduma
1.1 Objective and Background
The Arusha Workshop provided a timely forum for a stimulating debate on
alternative strategies to improve rural women's employment conditions in Africa and
Asia. The participants, both women and men, came from different nationalities and
backgrounds, yet they shared a common concern about rural development and women. They
were acutely aware of the processes that were pauperising and marginalising a large
section of the rural population, particularly women; at the same time, they were
familiar with a number of strategies and initiatives that were being taken in
different countries to address the issue of rural poverty and underdevelopment. The
knowledge of the approaching end of the United Nations Decade for Women in 1985 when
a stock-taking of accomplishments and problems of the last decade should take place -
was also present in the participants' consciousness; so was the awareness that women's
problems which had been created over centuries could not be solved in just one decade,
that long and short term strategies for action for the next few decades would have to
be worked out carefully, yet with a sense of urgency. The venue of the Workshop the
United Republic of Tanzania, where debates about rural development strategies are a
critical national concern highlighted the significance of the topics under
discussion; and the divergent experiences of the participants high level government
officials with planning responsibilities, representatives from Employers' and Workers'
organizations, researchers and grass-roots activists, representatives of
inter-governmental, non-governmental and donor agencies added a richness to the
The major objectives of the Arusha Workshop, which was conceived as a dialogue
between policy makers, grass-roots activists and representatives of non-government and
other organizations, were the following:
to evaluate what has been learned and accomplished after a decade's work
with rural women;
to suggest lessons and strategies for actions from field level experiences;
to encourage more effective and follow-up policies, programmes and projects
for rural development with poor women.
The Workshop was co-sponsored by the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Africa
(CIRDAFRICA). It was part of an inter-regional ILO project funded by the Danish
International Development Agencyi (DANIDA) on the "Identification of Successful
Projects for Improving the Employment Conditions of Rural Women". The project grew
out of a common concern among women researchers in Africa and Asia to move away from
pure research identifying why rural development has not helped women to documenting
initiatives which are working in some way to improve the economic and social
conditions of poor rural women.
The criteria for determining "success" of any initiative were laid down as:
improvement of women's material conditions of life along with an increase
in their economic and social independence and autonomy;
enhancement of their access to productive resources and their access to and
control over household income;
full participation in the initiatives at all levels, especially in the
decision making process together with enhancement of their confidence and
capacity to demonstrate :he value of women's work; and
potentiality of the initiative for sustainability and replicability.
From 1982, the ILO project helped researchers and activists to identify and
document nearly 50 cases in Africa and Asia as "successful". They demonstrated ways
in which initiatives supportive of rural women can contribute to rural and national
development. As a result, the project was able to draw a few "lessons" about what
constitutes "successful" projects, what are the forces that promote and support such
initiatives, and what kind of follow-up actions are required. In the Arusha Workshop,
a number of such "lessons" were presented in the context of concrete case studies to
facilitate debate, discussion and formulation of strategies for action. Since the
primary theme was "strategies to improve the employment conditions of rural women",
the various panels of the Workshop focused on a few selected strategies, viz.
promoting special projects and programmes for women (Panel 1), giving women access to
and control over resources (Panels 2 and 3)and organising and conscientising women for
participation (Panel 4). Following analysis and debate of the major issues in the
panel sessions, three working groups were set up to suggest follow-up strategies for
This report of the Workshop is organised in eight chapters. Chapter 1 describes
the objective and background of the Workshop and reports on the inaugural and
introductory sessions. Chapter 2 summarises the major issues and strategies for
action discussed in the plenary and the working group sessions. The suggestions for
follow-up include not only those specifically identified by the participants but also
those that emerged naturally from the discussions. Chapters 3 to 7 report on the
different panels of the Workshop. Each chapter briefly notes the panel presentations,
followed by general discussion. There were five panels, viz. Women's Projects and
Programmes (Chapter 3), Access to and Control over Resources: Land/Forest (Chapter
4), Credit and Marketing (Chapter 5), Organisation, Conscientisation and
Participation (Chapter 6) and Approaches to Technical Co-operation (Chapter 7).
Chapter 8 reports on the strategies for action suggested by the three working groups.
The Annex contains a brief note on the field trip, the agenda and documentation for
the Workshop as well as the list of participants. The full text of the inaugural
address by the Chief Minister of Zanzibar, the Honourable Sief Shariff Hamad, which
the participants felt was a significant statement on strategies to improve the
employment conditions of rural women, is also annexed.
1.2 The Introductory Sessions
The Workshop participants were welcomed by Ibrahim M. Kaduma (Director,
CIRDAFRICA), Dharam Ghai (Chief of the Rural Employment Policies Branch of the ILO)
and Henning Kjeldgaard (Ambassador of Denmark to the United Republic of Tanzania).
The Workshop was then addressed and inaugurated by the Honourable Sief Shariff Hamad
(Chief Minister, Zanzibar). He stressed that genuine rural development is possible
only when employment conditions of rural women are improved and this can be done by
integrating and giving preferential treatment to women's concerns in all rural
development plans. John Seal (Director, ILO Office in Dar-es-Salaam) proposed a vote
The Honourable Gertrude Mongella (Minister of State in the Prime Minister's
Office of the United Republic of Tanzania) was elected Chairperson of the Workshop.
B.M. Sethi (Employers' representative) and Felicitas Balefa (Workers' representative)
were elected as Vice-chairpersons and Vina Mazumdar was elected as Chief Reporter. A
statement was read out on behalf of Shimwaayi Muntemba, the Project Co-ordinator of
the ILO project on Identification of Successful Projects for Improving the Employment
Conditions of Rural Women, who for medical reasons had been unable to travel to
Arusha; she wished the Workshop every success. Then some introductory information on
the ILO's programmes on rural development, women's programmes and the Workshop was
presented by Dharam Ghai (ILO) and Martha Loutfi (ILO).
- 4 -
Dharam Ghai touched on ILO's approach to its work on rural development and rural
women workers. Since its inception, the ILO has been preoccupied with questions of
social justice. This concern has found concrete expression in measures to promote the
status and well-being of workers throughout the world. Over the years a body of
labour standards has been developed covering a wide range of issues of concern to
workers. These standards have had a significant impact on national labour legislation.
The ILO has also developed practical programmes of assistance in a number of
fields such as training, industrial relations, workers' education, co-operatives,
social security, conditions of work and employment promotion. In the early years the
bulk of the efforts went into programmes for workers ,in the organised sectors. Since
the initiation of the World EmploymentiProgramme in 1969 and, more particularly, since
the World Employment Conference |in 1976, the ILO has been devoting increasing
attention to rural development and workers in informal and unorganised sectors. Its
approach to rural development has been characterized by a focus on poverty and
disadvantaged groups; the need to develop programmes and measures to increase incomes
and material welfare through promotion of remunerative employment and enhancing the
access of the rural poor to productive assets and skills; and promotion of rural
workers' organizations and their effective participation in rural development
programmes. In addition to the areas outlined above, the ILO has carried out work on
characteristics and dynamics of rural poverty, employment and income distribution, the
impact of different agrarian systems[ the impact of state policies on migration,
labour markets in rural areas and participatory organizations of the rural poor.
With respect to rural women workers, the programme has comprised a set of
inter-related activities in research, workshops and seminars, pilot field projects and
advisory services. The approach! has been to focus on critical but neglected
questions, to build up a knowledge base for launching of practical programmes and to
encourage involvement of researchers and NGO's in grass-roots action with women's
groups. The Arusha Workshop and the preceding activities under the project are part
of the continuing efforts to promote the overall objectives an equitable,
self-reliant and participatory pattern of development which includes women as well as
Martha Loutfi explained that thel origin of the ILO's project on Identification
of Successful Projects for Improving the Employment Conditions of Rural Woden lay in
the belief that positive, often isolated steps were being taken especially by rural
women themselves, in spite of the negative impact on them of many development projects
and policies. In their effort rural women may need allies in the structures and
sympathetic officials need more knowledge of the people's needs and priorities. The
principle of this ILO effort has been to facilitate learning from the field and from
each other. Inspiration for the project came from African and Asian activists, as did
the criteria for success and guidance for the project. It has generally been found
that cross-fertilisation, at various levels, is an effective method of encouraging
more appropriate initiatives and extending knowledge, inspiration and courage, for
which the ILO plays a catalytic role.
One could see as much failure as success in the cases documented under the
project (granted difficulties with indicators and perspectives of evaluators). They
represent as many questions as answers and no formulae but they show, within general
processes of change, some constructive elements and signs of encouragement on which
one can build.
Some general lessons emerged from the reports prepared for the Workshop. One
must take account of the overall context constrained national economies,
inequalities in societies and deep-seated barriers to greater power and influence of
women. One should start where people are, e.g. supporting women workers in what they
are doing or choose to take up to meet their own and their families' needs.
Certainly, access to assets (especially land), credit and markets are important, but
an organisational base is at the heart of success and sustainability, and is most
effective when of the people's own choosing to pursue goals they set for themselves.
Yet supportive infrastructures (governmental, academic, etc.) are often very
important. Other issues which emerged include improving the channels of information
between the grass-roots and higher levels, expansion (or replication), the
relationship of people's organizations to government and the legal status of women
(including property laws).
The project and the Workshop represented guarded optimism that the many
setbacks for rural women have been part of a process of learning and strengthening
that lays the ground for more relevant, constructive initiatives by those who, like
the participants in the Arusha Workshop, are in a position to contribute in some way
to the struggle of the poor, and especially women, against poverty and oppression.
MAJOR ISSUES, CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTED FOLLOW-UP ACTIONS
There were lively debates on a number of issues in the Arusha Workshop. This
chapter attempts to highlight only the major ones. The remaining chapters describe in
detail all the issues raised, conclusions drawn and strategies suggested.
Debates centred around several! strategies that have been promoted in recent
years to improve rural women's working and living conditions and give them, in
general, a greater role in developmental decisions that affect their lives. These
were strategies of (1) special projects/programmes for women; (2) special structures
for women, including national machineries; (3) giving women access to and control over
resources, and (4) organising and conscientising women for participation.
2.1 Women's Projects/Programmes
In the last decade special projects/programmes for women, particularly
income-generating projects, have .been promoted as a vehicle to improve their
employment and working conditions. The Workshop debated the problems as well as the
potentials of this particular strategy.
The problems of adopting a "project approach to development" in general and
women's projects in particular, are many. The "project approach" is often reformist
in character and does not plan fori or contribute to structural. changes. It is
generally top heavy in administration and has limited multiplier effect. In many
instances, women's projects and programmes marginalise women's concerns instead of
integrating them in mainstream development. They are often designed as hobbies -
part-time activities Ito give women !supplementary income and ignore women's main
economic activities and their critical need for full-time employment and income to
sustain themselves and their families. They generally maintain and replicate the
existing sexual division of labour and do not give women skills and knowledge to
adapt, change and advance with changes in technology and labour markets.
In spite of the above limitations of the "project approach" and especially of
women's projects as they are generally designed, a consensus (with certain
qualifications) emerged at the Workshop to continue a strategy of special projects and
programmes for women in the next few decades. It was argued that the "project
approach" was necessary because most national development plans and programmes are
broken down in the form of projects and projects are one way of demonstrating what can
be done to field level bureaucrats and implementers who may otherwise either lack the
initiative to launch a programme or resist it. In addition, projects/programmes can
provide poor women with opportunities to handle resources, manipulate power and make
decisions opportunities which many of them would not have in the absence of these
projects. The importance of this experience in tackling the issues of
underdevelopment and dependency was emphasised.
However, the orientation of women's income-generating projects should be changed
from welfare to development. They should be based on women's main economic activities
and should be economically viable and profitable.
The promotion of special projects and programmes for women does not imply a lack
of commitment to an integrated approach of development. Indeed, the importance of
well articulated national policies and specific objectives on women's participation in
development and their reflection in national development plan documents was stressed.
But it was felt that to redress the historical inequalities between men and women,
preferential policies and policies of positive discrimination in favour of women are
called for.' The simultaneous pursuit of integrated and separate approaches to
development has to be understood and appreciated in this context.
For more effective projects and programmes a number of strategies were
suggested, most notably the following.
S the two-pronged approach of promoting women's participation in integrated
projects and having separate projects for women should be used as a major
S in the planning stages of all national projects, roles for women should be
carved and target population and beneficiaries should be disaggregated by
sex. Specific proportions of resources (finance, facilities, personnel) of
mainstream development projects and their preferential allocation have to
be made available to women's programmes and projects;
S safeguards should be built into all project plans to prevent women
suffering negative effects;
S projects should be self-sustaining and economically viable and should give
women income, upgraded skills and participation in project decisions.
2.2 National Machineries
The strategy of creating special structures for women, particularly national
machineries, was another major topic of debate. Again, the problems, limitations and
future role of national machineries were discussed.
Similar to special projects and programmes, national machineries too can be
limiting. In many cases they havel been marginalised in the power structures and in
many others they have not effectively mobilised women's issues and interests,
particularly at the grass-roots level. However, it was felt that in spite of these
problems national machineries have made important contributions in creating awareness
of women's issues and in the next few decades, instead of being dismantled these
machineries should be strengthened and made more effective by the allocation of
adequate resources, the establishment of a grass-roots base and the acquisition of a
mandate to affect the programmes and plans of other ministries.
Several suggestions with regard to role, function and scope of national
machineries were made, viz;
national machineries should play a co-ordinating and catalytic role in
influencing mainstream development policies and programmes;
for effectiveness in influencing policy, national machineries should be
located in the most powerful structure in the government, i.e. President's
or Prime Minister's offices or Ministries of Finance and Economic Planning',
special women's units or departments in the sectoral ministries should be
created where they do not exist and strengthened where they already exist
to enable effective integration of women in the ministries' plans and
S the national machineries should call for annual reports from central
government ministries and agencies and state/regional governments for
review of achievements concerning women and should undertake publication
and dissemination of the information;
national machineries should be active in mobilizing the contributions and
capacities of women's organizations, especially at the grass-roots level,
as well as those of other structures and individuals, such as NGO's, trade
unions, universities and national and local development structures.
2.3 Access to and Control over Resources
Discussions on the strategy of giving women access to and control over resources
mostly focused on issues which are critical but have not yet received priority
attention of policy makers.
Land was identified as a significant productive resource over which women have
little control. This, in turn, limits women's access to other resources, viz. credit,
seeds, fertilisers, irrigation, training in agricultural extension, etc. The role of
law in determining access to land was emphasised. In many cases women do not have
legal rights to own land and even in situations where they have the legal right,
customary law, family traditions, inheritance systems and their acceptance of
subordination often prevent women from exercising that right. Often there are
contradictions within the laws between different forms of ownership (communal,
corporate, individual, state) as well as between different systems of rights under
uncoded customary, coded scriptural and statutory secular laws. In addition, land
reforms and land settlement schemes have often neglected women.
Although the issue of women's rights to land had been discussed in many
international forums, including the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural
Development (WCARRD), the deliberations of these bodies and the decisions taken have
not been adequately disseminated or implemented. Noting the complexities and
contradictions of the existing laws, it was suggested that a priority area of action
is research to identify contradictions in laws relating to ownership of land, family
laws (including customs), constitutional guarantees of women's rights and laws for the
protection of workers. CIRDAFRICA was urged to organise a study and a seminar on the
above theme to provide some documentation for the World Conference on Women in Nairobi
The access of poor women to forest (on which they depend heavily for fuel,
fodder and food) is eroding fast in many places and this is another critical area of
concern. Afforestation policies, including social forestry, have tended to ignore the
needs and views of women and to encourage plantations which provide quick financial
returns for commercial interests. Since it is the poor rural women who have to bear
the brunt of adjustments to fuel, fodder and food scarcity, a number of strategies
were suggested to give women access to forest, including the following:
women's groups should be involved in social forestry projects and due
consideration should be given to their preference in the choice of species
for plantation; and
women should be trained at local and national levels in technology relating
to forestry and they should be recruited in forestry departments.
Credit is yet another significant resource to which women have little access.
Poor rural women suffer from a number of handicaps, i.e. illiteracy, lack of time,
lack of collateral, need for consumption loans, etc., which few credit schemes
address. Although their rate of repayment is generally high and in many countries
their savings are mobilised by major banks and small savings societies, women are
still suspect in terms of their credit worthiness and they face discrimination.
However, in recent years two innovative methods of extending credit to rural
women have been introduced in several countries. The first is providing credit
through mobile credit officers, sensitive to women's needs, often without collateral;
and the second is organising poor women to form their own financial institutions in
which they participate both as beneficiaries and as decision makers. The importance
of strengthening and expanding such schemes was emphasised. Two specific actions were
women's development banks with mobile credit officers should be established
at the national and local levels to provide credit, skill training in
productive activities, marketing and other supportive services to women's
participatory credit institutions should be organised at local levels to
support and disseminate the services that may be developed by institutions
like the women's development banks.
SMarketing is another major problem of women producers. More and more women need
to produce for the market, yet they lack knowledge of input market, pricing,
accounting, quality control, product markets, etc. They have little holding power and
cannot afford delayed payments for their products. Dependence on intermediaries for
selling their products has made many rural women producers easy victims of
The formation of local producers' organizations to protect their interests was
suggested as a strategy. Another strategy is development of infrastructural services,
i.e. roads, transport, storage facilities, raw materials banks, production units to
improve techniques and quality of production, marketing information and training, etc.
- 11 -
2.4 Organisation, Conscientisation and Participation
Organisation based on grass-roots initiatives and control was identified as the
most effective strategy to give women access to and control over resources and to
promote their participation in development. It is important for women workers'
organizations to develop an awareness of existing exploitative and oppressive
structures and relations in order to be able to devise strategies for long-term
structural changes. The role of catalysts in sustaining organizations and
conscientisation was highlighted and the importance of training catalysts/cadres was
A number of strategies were suggested to promote the role of participatory
organizations and training of cadres/catalysts, most notably the following:
organizations should ensure that rural women share equitably in the fruits
of their labour and in national resources, and should demand that
governments give substance to the rural development rhetoric contained in
official plans and policies;
organizations must enable people to identify their own needs and priorities
as well as their own solutions to problems. They must ensure participation
by all members and leadership should be collective;
there should be a continuous process of conscientisation its purpose is
the development of the critical social awareness that power is ultimately
with the people themselves; it is a process in which people from their own
reflection achieve a deepening awareness both of the social reality which
shapes their lives and of their capacity to transform that reality;
concrete and local issues should be points of entry for conscientisation
and organisation. Often this could be a means through which rural women
(and men) could come to a realisation of the wider national and
international structures which condition their lives;
for more effective organizations, cadres/catalysts should be carefully and
systematically mobilised and trained. Although the best form of training
is through involvement in concrete action, cadres can also benefit from
formal and informal courses, more particularly from cross fertilisation of
experiences. The ILO was urged to organise national,, but preferably
regional or inter-regional, courses for potential cadres; and
funds should be provided not only for training but also for the
institutional support oficadres.
The role and responsibility of trade unions in supporting rural women's
organizations was stressed. Trade unions were urged to demonstrate their commitment
to women's issues by facilitating the formation of strong women's committees in trade
unions or strong women's trade unions. The role of some employers' organizations and
companies in rural development, including their work with catalysts, NGO's and
universities was noted.
The extensive debates in the Workshop on the roles of national policies,
structures, programmes, projects,; laws, resource distribution, skill development and
organisation did not imply the workshop's insensitivity to the role of ideology,
values and culture, of patriarchy and socialisation processes, in determining women's
employment and working conditions. The ideological and cultural forces that limit the
implementation of laws and of well-intentioned, well-designed policies and programmes
were stressed. Patriarchy creates resistance to change and constrains the vision of
the future. Women's organizations have a critical role to play in raising the
consciousness of women with regard to the persistent burden of patriarchy.
WOMEN'S PROJECTS AND PROGRAMMES
3.1 Panel Presentation
In Panel 1, Women's Projects and Programmes, case studies were presented by
Filomina Steady (Sierra Leone) and Sarala Gopalan (India). Terry Kantai (Kenya) and
Rounaq Jahan (Bangladesh) were discussants (many others "contributed" these were the
Filomina Steady presented an account of two "successful" projects in
Sierra Leone. The first, co-sponsored by the Federal Republic of Germany and the
Government of Sierra Leone, involved the introduction of a new fish-smoking technology
using imported materials in the fishing village of Tombo as part of a community
project to improve artisanal fishing. The project was planned for six years and has a
budget of 12.11 million Deutschmarks and 900,000 leones.
The project has enabled village women, traditionally processors of fish for sale
to professional market women, to increase their efficiency and to control the price at
which they sell fish because of improved storage facilities. Some have become boat
owners with control over their own fish supply (otherwise bought from men).
Although the project is successful by several criteria, it raises a number of
problems: it demands scarce foreign exchange to maintain its imported technology,
e.g. oven parts, petrol driven boats; it leads to indebtedness as people borrow to
acquire the new technology; it is top heavy in its expensive (foreign) administration
of experts and it is profit-seeking. In short, it creates the dependency that
development ought to overcome. The benefits to the men and women of Tombo are no way
near the benefits to the foreign executing agency, the foreign suppliers of vehicles
and materials and the foreign staff.
The second is a self-help project. The Gloucester Development Association
Project, founded in 1977, aims to foster development in the village through improved
farming methods and the provision of market stalls for sale of produce, supported by
day care centres, bulk buying of food supplies, adult education, etc. Although it
operates on a modest budget of 500 leones its achievements are significant,
self-sustaining and replicable.
The major lessons drawn from the two projects are the following.
1- 14 -
The success of a project should not be measured by the size of its budget.
High profile expensive projects that are dependent on imported technology
and expatriate staff are 'generally not self-sustaining;
utilisation of local resources in human as well as physical and fiscal
terms better ensures replicability of projects; and
access to resources and services are critical to the success of projects.
Acceptance of a project is easier if it demonstrates a capacity to improve
income earning opportunities and provides intervention in other areas such
as provision of water and better public health and sanitation measures.
Rural women's economic problems are problems of underdevelopment and
dependency. There is a danger that projects may deal with symptoms rather than
causes. Since projects are usually reformist in character rather than promoting
structural change, their contribution to improving women's status is normally
In her presentation of a case study of a successful programme of employment and
income generation for women in Kerala, India, the Trivandrum Experiment, Sarala
Gopalan highlighted the successful linkage between the government's policies for
poverty eradication and the women's welfare organizations. The programme's catalyst
was a female government official posted in Trivandrum as a district collector. She
was faced by an imponderable demand from a large number of literate and educated
unemployed women for jobs.
She offered them an alternatively incentive of credit through nationalised banks
to set themselves up in petty trades or production for the market. Negotiations
initiated with the nationalised banks elicited a positive response; the banks who were
not utilising the 1 per cent of their advances earmarked for the weaker sections of
the community were given an opportunity to do so. Since the banks had no machinery
for ensuring repayment and it seemed to be a bottle-neck, government functionaries and
block development officers (who were normally concerned with nutrition or extension
work) were given this responsibility. These officers supervised the repayment of
loans on a regular weekly basis and the banks were satisfied with the repayment of the
Loans were taken for a variety of schemes. Self-employment, however, proved
difficult for many. So it was decided to involve the Mahila Samajams (welfare
oriented women's organizations started under the Community Development Programme of
- 15 -
the 1950's) in the organisation of production and marketing. The establishment of
women's industrial co-operatives earlier had failed because there had been a lack of
links with the market, follow-up, sufficient inputs and detailed planning.
Project implementation became more effective as the Mahila Samajams were
involved in production and marketing and a special post was created within the
government in 1975 to supervise production, to monitor credit flow by liaising with
banks and to assist the organizations in procurement of raw material, etc.
Although the district collector who initiated this project was transferred, she
kept in touch and requested her successors to provide some support. Even with
declining support from the Collector's Office, the scheme was sustained because the
Mahila Samajams were able to build rapport with the banks to help procure loans.
Linkages were also built with a number of other developmental organizations, such as
the State Marketing Corporation, the Central Social Welfare Board, the Khadi Board,
etc., to promote more employment programmes for women. Mahila Samajams were
encouraged to form a District Level Federation to establish showrooms, organise
training programmes and provide bridge finance.
Amongst the initial schemes, loans were successfully utilised for purchase of
sewing machines, bicycles for fish vendors and for a dairy project (which proved to be
most successful). Fish-net-making, food processing, garment-making and handicrafts
were the major varieties of income generating activities.
In highlighting the success of this experiment it was noted that:
the role of the catalyst was important in helping women to understand the
market and in providing the necessary linkage for women's need for skills,
markets and capital;
women's organizations with proper motivation could change their orientation
from welfare to development and become an important instrument for
even general government programmes such as a directive to banks with regard
to DRI (differential rate of interest) and special attention to
disadvantaged sections, could be interpreted to suit the specific needs of
schemes for women's development;
- 16 -
initial problems and Itemporary setbacks are necessary parts of a
programme's, development, and successful strategies can be built on the
basis of lessons learned from failures; and"
the success of an enterprise depends very much on the quality of leadership
which could provide a proper direction. The democratisation of
organisation of work at a very early stage could affect the enterprise
Rounaq Jahan discussantt) observed that the two case studies identified three
common factors as necessary elements of a successful project/programme.
The role of dynamic individual leadership and field staff in initiating and
sustaining projects/programmes. This raises the issue of mobilisation and
training of development cadres who must be committed but need not
necessarily be highly educated;
the need for a flexibility of approach which enables a project/programme to
learn from actual experience, to recognize participants' needs and to adapt
project/programme goals and direction to the changing needs of
the judicious use of existing structures and networks such as the
government machineries and women's formal (e.g. India) and informal (e.g.
Sierra Leone) organizations and, when necessary, change in traditional
orientation to suit the development strategy of a specific
The issue of long-term continuity of projects and programmes was 'raised,
particularly in cases started by outside intervention.
The problems inherent in the "project approach" to development are evident in
the dependency syndrome it tends to create. Concentration of resources in a single
project is limiting in its financial and multiplier effect. Often "showpiece"
projects and programmes are developed to the detriment of other projects and
programmes. Moreover, unless a project or a programme is linked to a major government
or national policy there is no spill over effect.
Macro policies and special projects/programmes for women often work at cross
purposes the various development policies pursued by a state may result in loss of
- 17 -
employment and income earning opportunities for a far greater number of women than
would women's special projects and programmes.
Do women's projects and special structures marginalise women? It was suggested
that the promotion of women's projects and special structures had been adopted as a
short term strategy to better integrate women's needs, interests and rights into
development policies more effectively, but, to bring this about, the role and function
of these projects and structures should be carefully delineated. Women's projects and
special structures should not be substituted for a comprehensive development approach
which could be incorporated into national policies and national structures. Projects
should provide an indication of the possibility of work on a wider scale and special
structures should act as catalysts and monitor the effect of development policies and
programmes on women in all areas.
To be successful, projects and programmes must take account of women's present
roles and status, but caution should be exercised in order that the existing sexual
division of labour is not perpetuated. Projects should build on the skills and
knowledge women already possess, but forward planning is necessary to anticipate
future changes in the labour market and to prevent the now familiar trend towards the
replacement of women's work or its relegation to low returns with every technological
innovation and change.
A project/programme has to recognize the needs of the individual as well as the
family and should plan for areas of both family co-operation and conflict.
Self-reliance at the grass-roots level is a necessary and welcome strategy but
it should not be used as a substitute for rural development projects undertaken by
governments. At the local level, people can be most effectively organised around
local issues that are relevant for their day-to-day existence but the linkage between
local, national and international issues must be made. The effect of national
policies and international interests on the grassroots should not be ignored.
Terry Kantai discussantt) argued that the problem lies not with the concept of
project but with the planning approach. Should one design projects specifically for
women or for the total life of the community? Women's projects which had failed had
mostly adopted a top-down approach without paying due regard to people's situations,
priorities and motivation. Access to information had often been a critical factor in
stimulating grass-roots action.
- 18 -
Women work within an ideological/political structure which must be understood if
women are to share power. They must take into account existing power structures, such
as the governments, banks, etc., and establish relationships with other significant
groups and organizations. Women must understand the process of commercialization that
is changing their lives.
At present, rural women are dependent on a few unstable channels to establish
linkages with resources and power structures. These channels need to be strengthened
and stabilized for information, encouragement, the making of contacts, training in
new skills. In short, responsive, committed and intelligent support, which could help
rural women to use and manage the power machineries and the monetised society, must be
given. Rural women already contribute to and manage family resources although their
legal status needs critical examination but they must now enter the process of
planning and they must learn the necessary techniques.
The general discussion following the panel presentation focused on the issues
involving women's projects/programmesi and special structures as well as the broader
concerns of women's participation in development.
There was a lively debate on the "project approach" to development. It was
suggested by many that the "project approach" to development should continue to be
used as a major strategy. It was made clear that the term "project approach" refers
not merely to separate women's projects but also to other development projects. All
development plans and programmes are broken down and undertaken in the form of
projects. The reasons given in support of adopting a strategy of promoting women's
projects were the following:
women are invisible in mainstream development plans and this is one way to
break the barriers;
the projects provide examples of what can be undertaken to field level
bureaucrats and implementers who often lack the initiative and creativity
for launching programmes on their own;
the projects serve as a way of breaking resistance at lower decision making
and implementation levels and of changing attitudes in order to bring about
a realisation that women have as much right to development assistance as
projects can provide productive employment opportunities for women.
- 19 -
Projects can also play a critical role in bringing about fundamental changes in
attitudes and in providing women with opportunities for exercising power and making
decisions. The importance of this experience of manipulating power in tackling the
issues of underdevelopment and dependency was stressed. It was pointed out that
projects should be regarded as a means to an end rather than an end in themselves.
It was also argued that some projects do address themselves to questions of
underdevelopment and dependency; they can be rooted in women's lives and contribute to
It was stressed that women's income generating projects, when designed as
additional activities to rural women's existing farming and household
responsibilities, put additional demands on the women's time and efforts. To overcome
this, projects should be designed on the basis of women's main economic activities,
e.g. coffee, cotton projects, etc. The advantage of this approach in increasing the
return to women's labour from their main economic activity was emphasised.
It is also important to change the orientation of women's economic projects from
welfare to development. The present tendency to look at projects as ways of
"assisting women" perpetuate dependency. It was suggested that projects be designed
and implemented with a view to fostering self-reliance and growth through economically
viable and profitable projects. Careful analysis of marketing opportunities,
effective organisation, management development and skills training is needed.
It was noted that the proliferation of different organizations and agencies
working separately to "assist women" and getting recognition had resulted in wasted
energy. It was therefore suggested that all activities should be co-ordinated and
that organizations and agencies should work together for optimum use of existing
Finally, the importance of women's projects as vehicles of development was
stressed. The following were cited as necessary conditions to promote women's equal
the need for change in traditional attitudes including women's perception
change in the socialisation process; and
need for change in legal and educational structures for the effective
involvement of women in development.
- 20 -
It was pointed out that it is difficult to achieve the above when women are
discriminated against in mainstream development activities. Women's projects can
provide opportunities for women to take the first steps in learning the tools,
techniques and skills of politics, administration and management, in developing their
self-confidence, incitating a power base and in earning much needed income.
In the discussions, several points were raised regarding the main theme of the
Workshop, i.e. improving the employment conditions of rural women and regarding
women's effective participation in development.
Reservations were expressed over the use of the term "integration of women in
development", which makes it appear as if women are not participating. It was pointed
out that the major problem is that the contributions women make to the economy are not
quantified or given a monetary value. Suggestions were made on how to measure the
value of women's work, create different opportunities for women and avoid projects
which exploit women.
The real issue is not that women are not participating but the fact that they do
so under difficult conditions. It wasi suggested that policies and programmes be made
alleviate women's burdens and increase returns for their labour; and
benefit women through preferential and positive discriminatory policies, as
is being done in some countries for selected disadvantaged groups.
It was argued that improving the employment conditions of women is key to
raising their status.i Use of appropriate and better technology at home and in work
can alleviate the burden of women and relieve them from long, arduous hours spent in
fetching water and fuel, cooking and storing food and in various farming activities.
Training in productive and appropriate skills and knowledge, e.g. land utilisation,
land conservation, food storage, food preservation, agricultural extension,
management, etc., will improve returns to women's labour. Rural women's productivity
and income can also be improved by literacy programmes, since illiteracy contributes
to their receiving low returns for their labour.
The importance and advantage of government policies which recognize the
disadvantaged position of women was highlighted through the example of the Tanzanian
Government's policy of positive discrimination for women. A special quota of seats is
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reserved for women in Parliament on the argument that without correcting the
imbalances created by historical and traditional factors, effective and equal
participation of women cannot take place.
The importance of using the existing power structures to improve women's working
conditions was also pointed out.
The policy implications of looking at women as factors of development rather
than as isolated entities was stressed. A case in point is the problem of food
shortages and women's role as main food producers in Africa. There, a strategy of
improving women's productivity would result in improved food production.
A different view which was expressed was that the central issue was development,
and not special privileges for either men or women. To achieve a classless society,
there should be integrated development for society as a whole.
Summing up the discussions, the Chairperson felt that the following issues
needed careful consideration:
Women come together in projects because they need more income to support
their families. Projects should be more multipurpose and responsive to the
different needs and possibilities of rural women. While taking adequate
account of the historical background of the group, projects should help
women get gain new knowledge and skills and improve their productivity and
income. Unfortunately, however, most women's projects promote hobbies and
part-time activities instead of focusing on women's major economic
activities. Women are the main producers of food. Why are they not
thought of when governments plan for increased food production? Why are
not projects for cotton or coffee thought of as women's projects?
Are all the problems of rural women to be solved through a project
approach? What are the additional methods necessary to improve the balance
between resources, infrastructure and marketing? How should the low
returns of most projects be improved? How can projects be sustained and
The issue of women's legal status needs examination, particularly in
relation to property rights. How can women's legal rights be guaranteed
both in theory and in practice?
How can the linkage between national economic policies, programmes and
plans and rural women's projects be developed and strengthened? How can
projects be made integral pa ts of long-term processes of development?
- It is the labour of rural women that supports most African societies. One
should not talk of helping them but how can their rightful role in
determining the direction of development be ensured? What should be the
role of national machineries in this process?
Dynamic leadership plays al critical role how can such leadership be
ACCESS TO AND CONTROL OVER RESOURCES : LAND/FOREST
4.1 Panel Presentation
In Panel 2, Access to and Control over Resources: Land/Forest, case studies were
presented by Marjorie Mbilinyi (Tanzania) and Vina Mazumdar (India). Ruvimbo Chimedza
(Zimbabwe) and Noeleen Heyzer (Malaysia) were discussants.
The presentation by Marjorie Mbilinyi highlighted key issues and contradictions
from seven case studies (by a team of researchers) in Tanzania where the question of
access to land has to be understood within the framework of state ownership. There
are marked differences in terms of availability of land ranging from abundance to
scarcity. The real issue is putting the land to work. This raises related questions
of who has access to and control over- labour, organisation of labour, means of
production and benefits from increased production.
The differentiation between groups with consequent effect on households'
relations, within the village and within co-operatives, affects women's access to
means of production as well as benefits from production.
Decisions affecting land use are influenced by the valuation of cash crops over
food crops and the increasing pressure to produce for the market. But often women are
not interested in producing more if they have to continue producing as petty commodity
producers and seasonal or full-time labourers. Moreover, in many cases the whole
village is being pauperised, even the rich peasants are losing, and the whole village
has to go out to find work.
This dire need for cash has opened up new avenues for income generation by
women, such as beer brewing but this has also resulted in men relinquishing their
family responsibilities. Moreover, as mechanisation is introduced and profits
increase in women's enterprises, there is a tendency for men to take them over.
Women have a high degree of consciousness; they resist threats to their access
to resources and increasing labour burdens and they organise themselves. They are
also using the mechanisms of co-operatives to promote collective ownership and lessen
their labour burdens through the communal ownership and use of machines.
One contradiction that has to be addressed is the problem of power relations
within co-operatives and the need to democratise some of these organizations. This
would promote participatory decision making and the dignity of the human being. Women
members do not have basic information on the workings and finances and do not feel
that they own the co-operatives' assets.
The power machineries of the government, the banks and the donor agencies tend
to support large scale private and state enterprises rather than small, grass-roots
co-operatives. This has increased their isolation and vulnerability, especially in
the case of women's co-operatives.
It is important to work on !dev loping alternative possibilities for women to
organise themselves and to generate new sources of power.
Vina Mazumdar reported on a project involving landless, totally assetless women
agricultural labourers from forest and hilly areas of India. Deforestation has forced
these people into seasonal labour in other districts. Both men and women are
migrating but there is a differential impact of seasonal migration on women and men.
Women meet with physical hardship, infant mortality, reduced life expectancy and
sexual oppression by contractors and employers.
A labour camp for women was organised in West Bengal by the State Government to
inform women of their rights and to discover and understand their priorities. Women
addressed the problems of deforestation and seasonal migration and stressed the urgent
need to identify and formulate action. It was also evident that women were ready to
organise but they needed assistance.
As a result of this camp a project was started, supported by the ILO. It sought
to give women full time wage income 'not simply supplementary income. In one area
women were given access to six hectares of wasteland and they started sericulture on
it. There were three organizations with 900 members. Women themselves suggested
other activities for the project, i.e. production of plates out of forest leaves with
the help of small machines.
The State Government of West Bengal was amazed to find that the project was
fulfilling three of its major policy objectives, i.e. local employment generation and
prevention of deforestation and of soil erosion. The State Government consequently
provided some wage support for the project.
The success of the project is immediately visible in the growth of trees that
women have planted. The survival rate (98 per cent) of tree saplings has far
surpassed that of the Forest Department (40 per cent). To the amazement of the
i ~l i
- 25 -
sericulture experts, trees have also grown faster as women are tending and watering
the plants carefully. The original six hectares were soon expanded to nine hectares
for sericulture production. A secondary product of the project is fuel and fodder.
Manufacturing of plates and bowls has also been started with the help of simple
machines but there have been difficulties in transport and marketing the plates. Yet
there is great excitement among women in learning a mechanical skill which perhaps is
due to their learning a new skill and getting collective ownership of an asset, i.e.
the machine. Literacy classes have also been started.
The project had both an economic and social impact. It gave poor women not only
much needed income but a source of livelihood. More important, it gave them
confidence and fostered solidarity across villages and organizations. Personhood is
understood for the first time and social barriers, maintained by centuries of caste
and class ideologies, are breaking down. Tribals and untouchables who previously
never mixed are now meeting and socialising together. High caste women who never
worked in the forest before are now going out to work because of the income it
brings. There is very little resistance from the families with regard to women going
out to work, again because of the economic necessity of the income they generate,
which benefits their families.
The project has succeeded in transforming the status of poor women because for
the first time it gave these women:
a sense of collective strength;
access to development resources; and
ownership of major assets of production, e.g. land, machines, etc.
Collective ownership is given not to families but to women's groups. Women had
previously worked on the family farms but that work always remained invisible; but now
the production of sericulture on land owned by women's groups can no longer be ignored
or remain invisible. Women of this region participated in peasants movements in the
19th Century and also more recently (in the mid 1970's) but each time after the end
of the movement partriarchy restored and extended its hold, keeping women out of
leadership positions and socialising them to internalise women's subordination as the
natural order of things. As a result of developing their own separate organizations
and leadership, and identifying their issues, these women are now gradually becoming
able to challenge patriarchal values which the political system, despite
constitutional acceptance of sex equality, failed to dislodge in four decades.
The collective organisation of women has generated a new source of power. With
that women can not only demand rights of access and control, more importantly they can
now combat patriarchy and the resistance to change of existing structures.
Ruvimbo Chimedza argued that the question of land can not be discussed in
isolation; control over choices, control over means of production, control over
proceeds are all related issues. Ownership of land per se is not sufficient unless
there is also access to other means of production, such as labour, seeds, fertilisers
and water. Women may have access to land essentially as labourers but they may not
have control over the proceeds of land. Historical development, cultural values and
agrarian systems are also to be taken into consideration. However, in general, lack
of land is a problem in Asia whereas in Africa there is lack of availability of inputs.
Different types of ownership have different effects. Traditional rules relating
to communal land in most instances had protected women's right of access but there is
evidence that with a shift to new laws governing land, including that of private land
ownership, women's traditional rights were often lost. How to protect communal land
ownership is a critical issue in the African context.
The impact of land reforms and resettlement schemes on women's access to land
must be looked into more carefully. In resettlement schemes, often only single women
and widows are given! land ownership.) Marital status of women also affects their
access to and control over land. In addition, the multi-nationals' control over land
are changing the picture. How that affects women must also be analysed.
Noeleen Heyzer discussantt) observed that access to and control over resources
is a necessary part of women's struggle. The nature of how inequalities are
maintained and reproduced should be made clear and strategies to break these vicious
circles have to be worked out.
Women's lives are structured differently from men's. They are more oppressed by
increased work burden and hierarchical situations. Since conditions of women's work
are also influenced by larger systems that produce inequalities, attention should be
given to them. Macro issues, such as general developmental policies and the
international division of labour are critical elements affecting women's access to and
control over resources. Resources are both tangible and intangible (e.g. solidarity,
networks, knowledge and rights).
A lot can be done for women by projects but they must be placed in the larger
context of social change. Inequalities in structures and processes should be removed.
- 27 -
In the general discussion following the panel presentation, law and access to
power were identified as major factors determining access to land. Customary law can
neutralise statutory law and vice versa. For example, in Zimbabwe the new
constitutional reforms establish women's right of land ownership but in practice
customary law, which regards women as perpetual minors, limits the exercise of this
right. In Kenya, despite new egalitarian laws among the Luo, customary laws of
inheritance favour males. Women's assets and income are seen as belonging to men and
wives' income is taxed at their husbands' marginal rate. On the other hand, in
Lesotho under customary law a widow could inherit land but under a 1979 law a land
committee is given the right to give land to a male child or, otherwise, the whole
family decides on the heir (with the widow having little chance). In many other
instances, statutory laws, particularly private land ownership, have eroded women's
traditional rights to land, particularly communal land.
It is also important to understand how a woman's rights to land can be
constrained by her marital status. For instance, in Nigeria, under the new land-use
decree everybody has access to land but it is difficult for divorced women to obtain a
Certificate of Occupancy. Polygamy poses special problems which the new laws seldom
comprehend. Some south-east Asian countries (e.g. Malaysia, Indonesia) legally confer
joint ownership to husband and wife but the latter has little control over the
former's decisions. A new government policy in India states that joint titles for
husband and wife shall be provided for land being redistributed by the state under
land reform, but in practice this is yet to be implemented in most places.
There are contradictions within legal systems between different forms of
ownership (communal, corporate, private) and between different systems of rights
uncodedd customary, coded scriptural, statutory secular, etc.). New state laws
governing the distribution of land and forest often contradict the rights of women
guaranteed under customary or family laws or the rights of workers guaranteed under
The critical importance of giving women access to land was brought forward with
an illustration from China. In the pre-revolutionary days, many peasant women could
not own land in their own names. After independence, Chinese women received the right
to own land in their own names and when land was transferred to co-operatives, they
got full membership. This resulted in women playing a significant role in production
brigades and it fostered agricultural production. Now land has been distributed to
families so that the more productive will obtain more benefits and women are playing
an important role in the rural responsibility system. In China, women's problems and
projects are fully integrated with national problems and policies.
Access to power was also viewed as critical in ensuring access to resources,
particularly land. Women need to have Isocio-economic power in order to act and access
to political and bureaucratic power and decision making bodies is necessary in order
to improve their conditions. Resistance should always be expected from groups with
vested interests and women must combat it. They should not be deceived in the name of
peace in the family and in the society True peace will come only after women share
Other less obvious avenues of power, such as the power of traditions, need to be
recognized. Power can also be identified in sensitive individuals (men and women)
within bureaucracies. Women can harness much support from such people in power to
obtain assets for rural women. Because of such support in Kenya, 1721 rural women's
groups had obtained commercial plots which would never have reached them otherwise.
The issue is more one of management of :power rather than only of having women in power
positions such women may not always be ready to or capable of assisting women.
Power and assets are inter-related. While access to power is one way of
ensuring women access to resources, control over resources in its turn empowers women.
Summing up the discussions, the Chairperson observed that land is a critical
issue. If women do not own and control land, access to other inputs for production
will not help them. Moreover, access to other resources, i.e. credit, fertilisers,
training, etc., are often determined by access to and control over land. Women in
Africa had fought fori independence! frm colonialism to obtain better access to land
but are now being deprived of that access.
A complicated set of factors determine women's access to and control over land.
In many cases laws deny women equal rights but even where the laws are not
discriminatory they seem to have failed to protect women's rights to own and use
land. Family traditions, inheritance systems and women's own acceptance of
subordination stand in the way. Women labour on the land but they give power and
control to the men.
Access to power structure is a strategy to give women access to resources but
rather than depending too much on individual women in power positions, it is more
important to build alliances across sectors with different levels of bureaucracy, and
with political parties, academics, media and organizations, particularly woren's
groups at grass-roots levels and above. Women should not just concentrate on to
women's issues but deal with the underlying principles of society. For example,
provision of clean water would help not only women but the whole community.
There are many women who had quite by accident proved themselves to be
extraordinarily dynamic leaders. It is important for them to undergo training in how
to transfer their human leadership skills to others, to train a new generation of
CREDIT AND MARKETING
5.1 Panel Presentation
In Panel 3, Credit and i Marketing, case studies were presented by
Jaya Arunachalam (India) and Margo Russell (Swaziland). Hameeda Hossain (Bangladesh)
and Patricia Bwerinofa (Zimbabwe) were discussants.
Jaya Arunachalam of the Working Women's Forum (WWF) in Madras, India, reported
on the role of organising unorganised women workers (the majority of whom could be
classified as heads of households) into unions for improving their access to credit,
markets and alternative employment for better bargaining power. The women are victims
of harsh working conditions, unemployment and lack of legal protection because of
ineffective laws and male alcoholism leading to family neglect and oppression.
A "women intensive" strategy was evolved in which factors that came in the way
of development, such as class, caste and gender were taken into consideration. The
women were organised into unions to fight against discrimination and for better wages
through better credit and marketing organisation.
The WWF is a people-based organisation and it has evolved a number of activities
according to suggestions that have come from the participating women. The WWF has
acted as a catalyst with its team of organizers who have been oriented to the
requirements of these poor women and have formed the bridge between the women and
other institutions. The Forumj thus promotes Ithe creation of self-managed,
self-organised groups of women workers.
The WWF has adopted multiple strategies to combat different situations. Where
money lenders are the real exploiters, it has promoted credit as the strategy and has
succeeded in de-linking the women from money lenders. When the enemy are the
middlemen and contractors, who usurp a large part of women's earnings by cutting
bigger profit margins for themselves, marketing is the strategy. When child labour
exploitation is the problem, family planning is propagated as the strategy. In
Dindigul, the problem was of unequal and low wages. A strategy of promoting
alternative employment was adopted there to enforce equal and minimum wages for the
women workers. At Narsapur, a study made by ILO revealed exploitation of women
lacemakers by exporters who were making large profits for themselves. With the ILO's
help, production centres were organised for the lacemakers, a marketing cooperative
was established and the Ministry of Commerce was pressurised to help the Forum with
- 31 -
The WWF's experience indicates that women workers are disadvantaged both ways -
some are over employed but for low returns, others are under-employed at
discriminatory wages. A lack of mobility, imposed by caste taboos (as in the case of
Narsapur lace workers) is another problem resulting in lack of options or bargaining
power for the women. Diversification of product through simple technology was
considered a better strategy for the less productive women.
SThe WWF believes in two principles:
self management of workers that for their economic struggle it is
necessary for workers to have their own organizations;
S the need for separate women's organizations, particularly for the most
disadvantaged group of women's workers, so long as the inequality between
men and women remains.
Margo Russell presented the experience of women handicraft and petty commodity
traders in Swaziland. Market women in Africa, as elsewhere, are subject to external
pressures and fluctuations but their responses do not always display the strict
economic rationale of market behaviour. In southern Sudan, when a settlement of
expatriates was suddenly introduced, women from nearby villages started bringing food
products to this new community of buyers but they maintained a preference for certain
favoured customers instead of adopting the principle of maximisation of profits and
minimisation of costs.
Since handicrafts often do not have a local demand, careful and innovative
exploration of markets is a necessity. The case study of successful marketing that
was presented was one of a group of Swazi women traders who took women's handicrafts
from Swaziland to sell in South Africa, mainly to White buyers. The handicrafts were
primarily made from materials that the women gathered free. The skills were
traditional but the items were non-traditional, adapted to the requirements of the
South African market. For Black buyers, on the other hand, the women procured
products made from purchased materials, as they were in demand.
Successful women traders needed kin connections in South Africa to extend their
trading operations. They also brought back second-hand goods, e.g. garments which
they sometimes obtained as barter, in exchange for the Swazi products to resell in
Swaziland at a profit. Some of these women traders have been earning good money. The
Swazi women producers do not perceive the women traders as exploiters or middlemen and
appreciate their role as it has expanded the market for their own products. (The
women traders in the Manzini market, for example, have to compete with big
capitalists.) It is an example of accomodation by a few entrepreneurs to a segregated
and restricted market.
Most women's projects neglect marketing and financial management. The
harnessing of markets has to be done very carefully and intelligently; it is essential
consumer behaviour and consumer tastes;
S the nature of the product; whether it is a necessity or a luxury item will
determine its turnover;
whether it is an item in short supply as against demand and is based on the
availability and continuous flow of raw materials;
S the marketing channels and accessibility to them;
the capacity to hold on to production when markets are seasonal; and
the flexibility in operations according to changing conditions.
The great risk that women's ventures run, however, when they are very
successful, is that they attract big! capitalists who may take over the business.
There is often a dilemma between high-risk high project enterprise and low-risk
low-wage jobs and there is a tendency for women's groups and economically weaker
sections to opt for the latter. Some women choose risk and become enterpreneurs while
others choose wages and become proletariat.
Hameeda Hossain discussantt) pointed out the practical problems that made credit
and marketing a difficult world for rural women to enter. Firstly,
they are ignorant of the characteristics of the market and of its competitiveness.
Secondly, the physical and social distance between 'producers and buyers have made
women easy victims of a plethora of middlemen.
The commercial system does not protect the producers. It is a great challenge
for women to produce and enter into the handicrafts markets, yet they have to do this
as a means of survival. It is, therefore, essential to help women survive in this
competitive situation. The organision of producers is necessary to penetrate the
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market but supportive structures are equally essential for the organizations. Karika
- a marketing federation of handicraft producers in Bangladesh offers two types of
opening new markets; and
providing support to producers by procuring raw materials and improving
Other important strategies that need to be adopted are;
S organised pressure on the public sector and import policies to protect
establishment of production units to improve techniques and quality of
establishment of rural warehouses and raw materials banks;
innovative strategies for market management to increase women's bargaining
innovative credit and banking policies to reach poor craftswomen.
The efforts of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh to provide group loans (60 per
cent of these loans have gone to rural women) has made a distinct impact by making
women conscious and confident of their economic roles and has raised their status in
the eyes of the community. Since in most countries it is no longer possible for women
to return to subsistence production, they must learn to deal with markets.
Patricia Bwerinofa discussantt) referred to the fact that the development
process cannot take place without attention being paid to credit and marketing.
Commercialisation and competition called for flexibility in approach and maximum use
of existing structures. Access to credit is critical but it is a complex problem.
There are different sources (institutional, informal) of credit and demand for credit
is generally greater than its supply. Procedures for getting credit (i.e. filling
complicated forms) are too complex for poor women and often the availability of credit
is not timely.
Credit schemes for the poor are generally costly and have a bad reputation.
Savings and credit are often not linked and this creates problems of sustainability
for credit schemes. An emphasis on Irepayment of credit is critical for banks as
failure to repay would discourage further lending. The issue of government subsidies
to underwrite loans for small projects has to be carefully weighed.
Supportive structures for marketing, i.e. improved infrastructure, are
absolutely essential but it is equally important to provide women's groups with
training in costing, planning and managing their enterprises. Dependence on local raw
materials should be a preferred strategy and market surveys and market research are
necessary before women's projects are started.
The general discussion following the panel presentation was about the deliberate
action programmes that would be required for improving the accessibility of women to
credit, markets and better organisation. The importance of supportive systems and the
building up of strong infrastructure for credit and marketing was emphasised.
It was pointed out that careful feasibility studies, carried out both formally
and informally, should be made available to women and women's groups for strengthening
their economic activities and reducing the rate of failure of women's economic
ventures. Women often lack information about credit, input market and product
market. They also have little knowledge about what is fair pricing. A strong
delivery system for dissemination of information, particularly relevant and "timely"
information is essential. Yet much can be learned from non-formal credit systems used
by women and they may need institutional support.
The building up of effective catalytic agents, both organizations and persons,
is necessary to establish different linkages for viable projects. It was argued that
the ideology of marketing for poor women who are struggling for survival and
subsistence is different from that for others who are marketing for accumulation.
Poor women are the labour reserve and they often do not have no choice but to become
It is therefore important to have buffer organizations to counter exploitation
of the economically weaker sections by intervention in marketing, credit and raw
material supply by the government and other agencies so as to give the primary
producers a better deal. The structures that do exist, e.g. marketing boards, should
function more efficiently so that the poor do not have to resort to middlemen.
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Within the groups it is necessary to give training to leaders and build up a
second and third line leadership to reduce dependency on single leaders. With greater
participatory methods within the groups, it would be possible to establish a system
and reduce dependency. The system should be self-reliant and self-generative with a
minimum of subsidies from government which has a tendency to breed corruption and
A strong network for savings and credit should be built up and the possibility
of establishing national development banks for women could be considered. Some
countries are already experimenting with innovative schemes of providing credit to the
poor without collateral and of using mobile credit officers sensitive to women's
needs. These have resulted in significant increases in women's access to credit. In
a few other countries, poor women's groups have organised their own financing
institutions. These initiatives need to be strengthened and expanded.
ORGANISATION, CONSCIENTISATION AND PARTICIPATION
6.1 Panel Presentation
In Panel 4, organisation, conscientisation and participation, case studies were
presented by Edel Guiza (Philippines) and Aster B. Selassie (Ethiopia). Ayesha Imam
(Nigeria) was a discussant.
In her presentation on PROCESS, an NGO in the Philippines, Edel Guiza observed
that PROCESS used consciousness-raising as a strategy to stimulate changes in
structures and relationships between the rural poor and the local elites and it aimed
at overcoming previous negative experiences of the rural poor with development
agents. The participatory approach was used to enable the rural poor to be conversant
with issues affecting them and to |develop strategies for dealing with these. Field
community organizers were selected from among the local people, conscientised and then
sent to organise others.
Through PROCESS the rural| poor were made to realise their individual
powerlessness and the value of collective strength. Their organisation helped them
gain visibility, access to land, social forestry and credit and savings for collective
schemes and to push for laws restricting commercial fishing boats from coastal
waters. They explored and achieved success in securing organic fertilisers to reduce
dependency on imported fertilizers. Skills were imparted in problem solving,
management and accounting to increase people's capacity to deal with problems that
PROCESS developed a number of strategies for influence and action. It.
drew upon sympathetic allies within the government bureaucracy;
managed to develop a critical collaboration with the government on the basis
of the organisation's needs without jeopardising its interests;
developed a collective leadership,
S provided a system of financial accountability;
mobilised students, particularly law students to disseminate information on
legal rights and legal protection;
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promoted alternative technology and alternative resources to counter the
oppression and exploitation of existing technologies, laws and resource
built networks with other groups which shared a focus on common issues and
policies to evolve a common strategy; and
used participatory evaluation methods.
Evaluations were previously made by planners but now the people rather than
external evaluators and planners do the job.
It collaborated with other groups, e.g. human rights groups, arranging for
intensive sharing and exchange visits for purpose of cross-fertilisation.
As a result of working with poor people, PROCESS has drawn a number of lessons.
the need for continuous conscientisation to counter the growing strength of
the power dlite;
access to timely information and basic knowledge of issues which are
necessary elements of participatory involvement;
the importance of establishing national and international links to create
the political space necessary for organizations to survive;
S effective use of law as a resource for poor people, organising for legal
reforms and imparting legal education which are necessary strategies for
empowering people; and
S clear reasons for the existence of the organisation and public
accountability of governments has to be established.
Aster B. Selassie presented the case of the Revolutionary Ethiopian Women's
Association (REWA) which has now over 5 million members, 21,000 basic associations,
541 district associations, 110 provincial associations and 15 regional and one
REWA aims to create the necessary conditions to enable women to become
producers, mothers and citizens on an equal footing with men. To make this goal a
reality, REWA has a general assembly which meets every two years during which
elections from base associations to all other levels take place and during which time
the national plan for REWA is approved.
All women above 15 years of |age are automatically members of REWA. To enable
its members to develop, REWA encourages women to take advantage of literacy campaigns
for the illiterate, to attend political education classes and to be involved in
productive activities. There is no discrimination against women in the allotment of
land. The base associations have a meeting once every two months when women discuss
and decide on development activities and family life, and are given political
REWA believes that projects for women should be a training ground for new
skills. They should be labour-intensive and employment-creating, use
locally-available raw materials and enable women to earn income. They should be
interesting to the women, beneficial to society, and integrated into national
A successful water project by REWA which is serving about 50,000 people was
cited; women are managing, maintaining and keeping accounts of the project.
Ayesha Imam discussantt) felt that the need for participation was now generally
accepted. Most of the successfuli cases presented at the Workshop resulted from the
women themselves identifying their needs and objectives.
Conscientisation requires critical analysis. Participation, to be real, must be
at all stages. Even if initiated by leaders, a collective organisation must move
towards increasing group effort and group responsibility. The role of the external
agent must be one of a facilitator only and not that of a leader; but if people take a
wrong direction the facilitator must guide them by means of explanation. Facilitators
should also help create awareness of national and international links, of problems and
of people's struggles against them.
In the general discussion following the panel presentation a number of issues
were raised. It was pointed out that in most countries rural women are increasingly
compelled to produce for the market, whether as commodity producers or as seasonal or
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full-time labourers. Families, whole communities and the entire people of many
nations are being pauperised and marginalised as expendable people. At the same time,
international and other financial institutions have a growing influence on the
development strategies of many governments.
The need to examine the impact of these developments on rural women was
stressed. It was pointed out that sometimes grass-roots organizations were
manipulated by local, national and even international elites to enhance their control
over poor rural women and men.
There is also the need to distinguish among different forms of exploitative and
oppressive relations. There is a difference between the large transnational
corporations which net big profits from women workers and the small business women
selling handicrafts door to door in exchange for second-hand cloth. Small business
women and men are being squeezed out of the market and represent potential allies for
the rural poor. In most countries the majority of women represent a labour reserve.
Links between the urban and rural poor women need to be built up.
The strategy of working with existing structures in the villages was also
questioned since in many cases they are oppressive of women. Formal leaders can not
be ignored but they are not necessarily those in whom the people trust or for whom
they have respect.
The role of catalysts or cadres in organising people and promoting a process of
conscientisation was highlighted. It was pointed out that though local catalysts
could provide the most effective leadership, in certain situations, external catalysts
might be necessary but whether local or external, catalysts must identify other
potential cadres. Leadership is not only spontaneous, it can also be developed
through training and consciousness-raising.
The training and conscientisation of cadres requires priority attention as a
necessary element of development, strategy. In this context, the risks a cadre takes
while organising poor people was mentioned. In many countries, the environment is not
conducive for organising poor women. Careful strategies of organisation and cadre
development should be worked out to combat such situations.
The form of organising women in integrated or separate structures was
debated. It was argued that integration was the ultimate objective. In many
countries and situations women can be organised in integrated structures but in many
others women can best be organised and conscientised only in separate women's
Mediating organizations and institutions, e.g.' NGO's, universities, etc. can
play a critical role in conscientising and organising women. Links and networks
amongst these intermediary institutions! should be built and strengthened.
Finally, it was emphasised that! the right of rural women to decide their own
priorities, to make their own mistakes and to learn from them must be honoured.
Outsiders can give support and point out alternatives but the final decision rests
with the rural women themselves. Organisation and conscientisation would help develop
critical awareness and enable rural poor women to identify their needs and rights and
find a solution to their own problems.
APPROACHES TO TECHNICAL CO-OPERATION
Martha Loutfi in her presentation on Approaches to Technical Co-operation
emphasised the fundamental characteristics of ILO's technical cooperation concerning
rural women, that is:
primary attention to an organisational basis which is necessary for the
people's needs and priorities to be articulated and for the people to
develop and manage their own projects and thus to become self-reliant;
S making use of local expertise as well as use of local resources to meet
local needs (or where local resources are not available, sought from nearby
areas or countries);
supporting intermediaries who work on a basis of collaboration and
reciprocity with the rural poor with people who are willing to go and stay
in the villages;
assessing the viability of activities considered before introducing new
activities, by making market surveys and carrying out participatory
evaluations of existing projects and situations; and
promotion of dialogue, exchange and collective analysis among the people.
A few examples were taken up. Reference was made to the presentation on West
Bengal, India, in Panel 2 (see Chapter 4) which started with a labour camp for 34
participants and has led to a major wasteland development programme through women's
organizations. This evolution which could not have been foreseen, shows how much
there is to be learned from rural women. In Senegal animatrices were involved in
activating co-operatives of fish processors as well as palm oil producers to gain
access to local technologies, with the expectation that the method of work of
animatrices could be made more responsive and participatory.
In Somalia three years ago, during drought followed by floods, refugee women
were encouraged to take up activities in which they could use their own skills and
local materials to produce priority goods for distribution. Six hundred women were
engaged in mat-making. This evolved into an integrated project with male and female
participants engaged in poultry raising, soap making, vegetable growing and other
gainful activities. The very dependent situation of those refugees may now turn into
their ability to manage their own situations as some of them have joined with local
staff to create their own organisation ("Haqabtir" "to satisfy a need") to take over
the project activities and expand their effort in favour of disadvantaged groups in
Key elements of technical ico-operation from the ILO's perspective are the
donor support being committed before a detailed spelling out of inputs and
equipment, expertise, activity and specific outputs, etc. (however, with
clear objectives and means of action);
S additional flexibility "of funding with some fund allocation not being
specified at all (an "aidi fund") so that quick responses according to
emerging needs at the grass-roots become possible; and
acceptance of the reality that development, especially among poor women, is
a slow process and needs' time to reach its goals.
Without these key elements, neither participation nor workability of the
projects is possible. Projects should preferably also be intercountry or
interregional to serve a valuable cross-fertilisation purpose and to encourage new
Finally, the value of participatory research and meetings should be emphasised -
it is too easily undervalued not only by donors and international agencies but also by
governments. Research is often the best way to start action although it cannot
necessarily always be predicted (let alone assured) in advance. This became apparent
in the case of lacemakers of Narsapur in India (where about 4,000 women workers are
now organised through the National Union of Working Women) as well as with women
plantation workers in Sri Lanka (where research led to discussions among women trade
union members, recommendations to the r union leadership, plantation level committees
and a co-ordinating committee whose leaders helped sister workers in Malaysia).
Research on rural fuel, work and linkages with family nutrition is leading to action
in five countries in three continents.
Meetings should be considered essential at the grass-root level but they are
also valuable at the national, Iregional and inter-rregional level for advancing
thinking, strategies and action. And some action is, of course, an expected result of
any researcher going ito a village: e.g. taking findings back, discussing and helping
people to formulate their own schemes.
- 43 -
In the discussion that followed the best ways and approaches to improve working
conditions of the deprived part of the population were raised. It was questioned
whether it could be done best by projects or by organising, whether people's movements
should be built first and whether organizers and leaders were needed or whether
collective leadership to avoid dependence was possible.
The value of research per se was questioned. It was pointed out that research
can be dominating, patronising and colonial too. It is the type of research that
matters as well as who is participating in it and who has access to it. The need for
critical and participatory research was emphasised.
It was also questioned whether people in all cases could come out with project
proposals without first being exposed to more information.
: CHAPTER 8
STRATEGIES FOR ACTION: REPORTS OF WORKING GROUPS
Following the panel presentations the Workshop identified three major problem
areas and divided itself into three Working groups, viz. (1) Women's Access to and
Control over Resources, (2) Organisation, Conscientisation and Participation, and (3)
Women's Projects, Programmes and the Role of National Machineries. The working groups
were primarily concerned with suggesting strategies for action. Each working group
briefly identified the major issues and then suggested a number of strategies as
follow-up. In light of the discussions held and points of views expressed in both the
working groups and the plenary, the 'following suggestions were made:
8.1 WOMEN'S ACCESS TO AND CONTROL OVER RESOURCES (WORKING GROUP 1)
The working group discussed six major topics, viz. land, forest, food,
co-operatives, credit and savings and marketing.
The group noted that while generalisations were difficult, examples presented by
the group's expertise indicated a negative trend on women's access to and control over
land. Traditional laws and customs with regard to communal land had generally
protected women's right of access if not ownership of land but there is evidence
that with a shift to new laws including that of private land ownership, women's
traditional rights have sometimes been lost even when other laws extended property
rights to women.
There are often contradictions within legal systems, e.g. between new laws and
prevailing common law, affecting women adversely and on many occasions even when laws
exist to protect the rights of women, they are not necessarily implemented.
The group noted with concern that the policy debate on this issue and the
decisions made by governments in the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural
Development (WCARRD) to remove all legal disabilities for women's ownership of land
are not known to rural women. If women were made aware that their rights to land were
a global issue, this very information could encourage them to mobilise despite
centuries of conditioning to passivity and inferiority.
; i j
The group, however, recognized that the issue of access to and control over
agricultural land in Africa and Asia has become increasingly complex with coexistence
- 45 -
of different forms of ownership (communal, corporate e.g. joint family ownership in
Asian countries, corporate firms' ownership of plantations in both regions, individual
and State), differing systems of rights under uncoded customary (local, community,
tribal), coded scriptural (Islamic, Hindu, Jewish, etc.) and statutory-secular laws
(Land Acts, Tenancy Acts, Marriage and Inheritance Acts, Labour and Small Farmers'
Protection Acts, etc.); and uneven relationships between rights of use, alienation and
Noting that variations in availability of land (from acute scarcity to
non-utilisation of land) and competing policy goals maximisationn of agricultural
productivity, better distribution of wealth) preclude any uniform policy prescription,
the group made the following suggestions:
1. The Programme of Action ("The Peasants' Charter") of the World Conference on
Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD) should be implemented and women
should be given equal rights to own land and control its products, not just
rights to work on it.
2. Decisions regarding women's rights to land taken at international and national
levels should be disseminated to rural women through women's organizations, the
media, and national and regional institutions for rural development, including
CIRDAFRICA and CIRDAP.
3. Communal land rights should be protected since privatization exposes women to
landlessness which entails vulnerability to exploitation and destitution.
4. Research should be undertaken to identify contradictions in laws relating to
ownership of land, family laws (including customs that prevail in practice),
constitutional guarantees of women's rights and laws for the protection of
5. CIRDAFRICA should organise a study/seminar on the above theme drawing on
available information to provide some documentation for the Nairobi World
Conference on Women, 1985.
6. Women's wings should be created in CIRDAFRICA and CIRDAP and their national
counterparts to promote two-way flow of information from governments to
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Recognising that forest policy is far more than a technical issue to be left to
experts and that poor rural women often depend heavily on forest product (fuel,
fodder, food and other products for commercial purposes) for the survival of their
families, the group noted with concern that poor rural women's capacity for survival
and earning have been negatively affe ted by deforestation and by the substitution of
plants which no longer provide for women's food, fuel and fodder needs but are
required by major industries (papers, pharmaceuticals, industrial construction, etc.).
Afforestation policies, including social forestry, have tended to ignore the
needs and views of women and to encourage plantations which provide quick financial
returns for commercial interests. iRural women have not been considered as having any
role in forest policy either at the national or at local levels and have sometimes
been driven to organise protests by physical action (eg. the Chipko Movement in
India). However, some case studies of landless women's attempts to develop
sericulture and fuel fodder plantations on unused land to provide employment for
themselves indicate that they have also contributed to improving ecological balance
and transforming non-productive land to productive assets. These developments should
feature in forest policy discussions.
Considering that poor rural women have had to bear the brunt of adjustments to
fuel, fodder and food scarcity, the group suggested the following strategies
1. Women's roles in forest policy should be articulated through representation and
2. Women's groups should be involved in social forestry projects and due
consideration should be given to their preference in the choice of species for
3. Women should be trained at local and national level in technology relating to
forestry (nursery techniques, seed selection, etc.) and they should be recruited
in forestry departments.
4. Greater investment should be made in technical innovation in the area of
alternative fuels and the dissemination of such information to rural women.
5. In regions of land scarcity, poor women's groups should be encouraged to use
marginal or unused land for reafforestation.
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Women are the major producers of food, particularly in Africa, yet most of them
work under extremely harsh conditions with poor tools and low levels of inputs in
terms of new knowledge of production techniques, seeds, fertilisers, irrigation, etc.
The international development community is already concerned with the growing food
crisis in many parts of Africa. Some of the issues that link this crisis to the
neglect of women as primary producers of food have been identified in the
recommendations of the Government Consultation on the Role of Women in Food Production
and Food Security (Harare, 10-13 July 1984). The group recognized that pricing and
wage policies have differential impacts on food production, women's status and
nutrition of families. Where women are the main producers and sellers of food
production, higher prices of food crops would undoubtedly help to increase production
and the women's income, but where a large section of the rural poor are landless and
thus purchasers of food, as in many parts of Asia, high food prices would lead to
increased malnutrition among women and children in particular.
Recognising women's critical role in food production and noting inadequacies of
data and statistics, the group suggested the following;
1. Women should be given access not only to land but also to better tools, seeds,
fertilisers, agricultural extension services and newer appropriate technologies
to improve their skills, knowledge, productivity and returns.
2. Careful field research should be undertaken in regions and sectors where there
is a declining trend in food production. Women's role in cash crop production
needs to be better understood with a view to making policies more relevant to
their needs. Attention should also be paid to the implications of food aid for
both food production and for women's status and the nutrition of their families.
3. Official statistics on food production, particularly on the subsistence sector
should be improved with a sex breakdown of producers and wage workers.
4. Incentives for increased food production should be provided by price and wage
policies; at the same time due attention should be paid to the food security
needs of the poor.
- 48 -
The group noted the emergence of co-operatives as important channels of access
to credit and other inputs to improve productivity and income. However, the picture
of women's participation in such co-operatives is not very clear. In many instances
women participate more readily in all women's co-operatives but are marginalised in
integrated organizations. Although there has been a distinct increase in the
formation of women's co-operatives during the last decade case studies presented at
the Workshop and other studies reported two trends, viz: (i) concentration of
decision-making power in the hands of a few leaders with the majority of members
remaining ignorant of the most basic information on co-operative functioning, and (ii)
failure of many co-operatives because of the members' lack of information, managerial
and accounting skills that are necessary to meet the complex laws governing
In some cases, through co-operatives, poor rural women have successfully
obtained access to land and credit, while in others they have been dominated and
exploited by more articulate members (generally men).
Recognising the potential role of co-operatives in improving rural women's
income earning opportunities, the group suggested the following strategies:
1. Laws governing co-operatives should be simplified to enable women who are
illiterate or have low levels of education to participate more effectively.
2. Training in co-operative organisation should be given to rural women both at
institutions (e.g. co-operative colleges) and through mobile training teams.
3. Community workers should organise rural women into informal groups to teach them
the principles of co-operative functioning preliminary to their formal
registration as co-operatives
4. Federations of women's co-operatives should be organised to improve their access
to credit and marketing information and resources and their linkages to larger
development programmes and institutions.
8.1.3 Credit and Savings
Recognising that poor rural women do not have working capital or collateral to
obtain loans, the group noted the emergence of two innovative methods of extending
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credit to rural women in the last decade. The first is providing credit through
mobile credit officers, sensitive to women's needs, often without collateral and the
second is by organising poor women to form their own financial institutions in which
they participate both as beneficiaries and as decision-makers. Apart from providing
credit, these institutions, being aware of women's handicaps (illiteracy, lack of
time, lack of collateral, their need for consumption loans during crisis period, etc.)
also provide supportive services (management training, marketing services, child care,
health care, bulk purchase of raw materials, legal services, etc.). The success of
these ventures has encouraged some of the states in India to establish Women's
Development Corporations to provide credit and allied services for poor women's
There has been a trend in many countries towards mobilising women's savings
through major banks and small savings societies. There is no study, however, to
indicate whether these savings have been channelled to improve women's economic
Noting that financial institutions, by and large, have neglected women's need
for credit and do not have sensitive cadres or a system to provide the package of
services to poor women, with the exception of the few specialised cases mentioned
above, the group suggested the following:
1. Women's Development Banks with mobile credit officers could be established at
the national and local level to provide credit, productivity training, marketing
and other supportive services to women's groups.
2. Participatory credit institutions should be organised at local level to support
and disseminate the services that may be developed by institutions like Women's
Development Banks promoted by the government.
3. Information on Women's World Banking, an association of women bankers, which
underwrites loans to women's groups through conventional banks, should be widely
4. Studies should be undertaken on the extent of women's savings deposited in
financing institutions and the extent to which they are invested in women's
8.1.6 Marketing i
Successful marketing rests lon\ adequate information and infrastructure for
co-ordinating demand and supply. Intervention by experts with knowledge of distant
markets or by governments with expectations of high demand for women's products, such
as handicrafts, have sometimes resulted in over production and falling prices. Rural
women producers have little holding power and cannot afford delayed payments for their
products. Dependence on government structures like Marketing Boards or other
intermediaries for selling their products at distant markets have sometimes reduced
them to penury. Inadequate communication and lack of transport services from rural to
urban areas provide a tremendous obstacle to extending markets.
Noting that the absence of markets and dependence on outside traders lead to
exploitation of poor women producers, the following strategies were suggested by the
1. Organizations should be formed by local producers to protect their interests.
2. Infrastructural services, i.e. road, transport, storage facilities, marketing
information and training, should be developed.
3. Government marketing organizations should introduce procedures for prompt
payment to small producers.
8.2 ORGANISATION, CONSCIENTISATION AND PARTICIPATION (WORKING GROUP 2)
The discussions of the working group centred around two major issues:
The roles of organizations in promoting people's participation and
conscientisation and in bringing about political, economic and social
The roles of catalysts, governments, trade unions and donors in relation to
organisation, conscientisation.and participation.
The group stressed that organisation with grass-roots initiative and control is
crucial for people's participation and conscientisation. It is important for women's
- 51 -
organizations to develop an awareness of existing exploitative and oppressive
structures and relations to be able to devise strategies for long term structural
A basic issue is the right of freedom of association. The forms of
effective/feasible organisation depend upon the situation. These might be;
non-governmental organizations, local community groups, trade unions, co-operatives
and so on.
Organizations' strategies should ensure that rural women share equitably in the
fruits of their labour and in national resources, as well as demanding that
governments give substance to the rural development rhetoric contained in official
plans and policies. Organizations must also ensure participation by all members at
all levels. For accountability, continuity, and to avoid instituting new forms of
elitism, leadership should be collective. It must reach and articulate the needs of
rural people and must include an effective and systematic development of critical
The crucial point, however, is the definition of "participation". Very often
"participatory" projects are means whereby the state shifts its responsibility for the
provision of social services or infrastructure on to the people (particularly women)
so that, for instance, it is not state resources but people's unpaid labour that
maintains schools or provides water. On the other hand, projects may enable people
to reduce the expropriation of surplus (e.g. by controlling labour conditions or
marketing directly) and, thus, retain direct control over resources and their use.
Organizations must enable people to identify their own needs and priorities and
the solutions to them. People should be allowed to make their own mistakes and learn
from their own experiences. At the same time there is the problem that not all
demands are of equal significance; thus there is a need for conscientisation.
Participatory organizations are developed through a continuous process of
conscientisation or consciousness-raising. The purpose of conscientisation is the
development of the critical social awareness that power is ultimately with the people
themselves. Furthermore, a careful analysis of the situation is required to establish
the socio-economic realities and feasible strategies for change (such as in which
contexts women's issues may be subordinated to other interests). By
"conscientisation" is meant a process whereby people from their own reflection achieve
a deepening awareness both of the social reality which shapes their lives and of their
capacity to transform that reality.
- 52 -
To promote the growth of participatory organizations, the group suggested the
1. The ILO should call upon member countries and governments to ensure that rural
women are able to exercise their right of freedom of association to improve
their employment and living conditions. Member governments who have not yet
ratified the Rural Workers' Organisations Convention, 1975 (No. 141), should be
strongly urged to do so.
2. Concrete and local issues should be points of entry for conscientisation and
organisation. Often this could be a means through which rural women (and men)
could come to a realisation of the wider national and international structures
which condition their lives.
3. Existing organizations supportive of rural women's struggles for equal rights
should be used and strengthened.
4. Links and networks between and among people's organizations should be
established through various form s of communication to broaden the impact on
8.2.2 The Role of Catalysts, Governments, Trade Unions and Donors in Relation to
Organisation, Conscientisation and Participation
The group agreed that local cadres/catalysts, i.e. those who are indigenous to
and resident in the community, could provide the most effective leadership. None the
less, the perspectives of local catalysts may be broadened by exposure to training and
interaction with outside groups. In cases where people are submerged in the
difficulties of their local situation, external catalysts may be required to stimulate
the process of conscientisation. The focus of the external catalyst must be on
identifying and developing local leadership and organisation.
Cadres, both internal and external, require two basic qualities: a correct
political awareness (an understanding of the socio-economic system, a recognition of
the need for change and of feasible strategies for doing so, a commitment to women's
equality), and skill in interpersonal relationships (a love of people,
approachability, willingness to listen, non-patronising attitude, etc.).
- 53 -
Depending on local situations, cadres could be voluntary or paid (albeit at very
low rates). They could be individual or members of organizations. Institutions may
also act as catalysts.
The group recognized the need to identify and conscientise potential cadres.
Experience has shown that leadership is not only spontaneous but that it is possible
to develop it through training and conscientisation.
Again, from experience, it was pointed out that the development of cadres, of
local leadership, must be careful not to lead into a new form of elitism. Cadres must
be accountable to the people and to their organizations. They must be able both to
pressurise governments and to know when certain government policies should be
resisted. The task of a cadre is not to run projects but to enable an organisation to
be self-sustaining and to bring about structural change where necessary.
The group identified the following strategies for effective catalystic action:
1. Catalysts or cadres must first carefully study the situation, the socio-economic
structure, the needs, and the surrounding environment, as far as possible with
members of the community.
2. They must make contacts in the community, establishing a relationship by living
and working with the people and speaking their language.
3. They should work at identifying potential catalysts who can provide good
leadership. Formal leaders cannot be ignored but they are not necessarily those
in whom the community trust or for whom they have respect.
4. When beginning a process of consciousness-raising and education, the cadres must
always be careful to validate it with the community. They must stimulate the
process of organisation within the community but should not create a dependence
5. Cadres should be carefully and systematically trained. Although the best form
of training is through involvement in people's struggles, cadres can also
benefit from formal and informal courses, more particularly from
cross-fertilisation of experiences. The ILO was urged to organise national but
preferably regional or inter-regional courses for potential cadres.
- '54 -
6. Funds should be provided not only for training but also for the institutional
support of cadres.
The roles played by governments vary from state to state. From the case studies
presented at the Workshop, it was evident that the most successful projects were those
run by non-governmental organizations. Government bureaucracies are inherently
hierarchical which this militates against both participation by the local communities
and flexibility of response. However, it was reported that in some countries the
government not only calls for, but implements policies and actions to improve women's
and rural communities' development
Noting the actual and potential role of governments, the group suggested.
1. Sympathetic individuals in governments should be identified for support.
2. Grass-roots organisation and national machinery for women should be promoted as
a two pronged approach. The national machinery should not block women's
initiatives for self-organisation; instead they should provide conditions
conducive to the promotion! of grass-roots organizations and it should be
accountable to them.
Recognising the role of trade unions in providing support for women's
organizations, and in giving professional status to women's work and greater
bargaining power for their demands, the group urged the trade unions to demonstrate
their commitment to women's issues by encouraging the formation of strong women's
committees in trade unions or strong women's trade unions.
The group expressed the caution that too often aid has been used for ideological
purposes (to provide showpieces), and has been tied to conditions such that most of
it, in fact, never !leaves the donor (in equipment payments, consultancy fees,
It was also pointed out that the aid process has its own biases as between small
and large groups as well as between small and large projects. There is, thus, a need
- 55 -
to organise the beneficiary groups in such a manner and for such programmes that the
support of donors can be attracted.
Agreeing that aid needs to be more flexible and more responsive to small groups
which are locally initiated as well as supportive of larger programmes, ways were
discussed in which this may be effected. One suggestion was that donor agencies
should make much more use of local researchers and/or activists in finding out what
projects/organisations/resources already exist so that they can evaluate where direct
support of local projects and initiatives would be most significant.
8.3 WOMEN'S PROJECTS, PROGRAMMES AND ROLE OF NATIONAL MACHINERIES (WORKING GROUP 3)
The working group focused its deliberations on the following issues:
Nature of projects and programmes to meet the needs of women and ways of
planning and implementation of effective projects for women consistent with
national, regional and local priorities and other emerging women's needs
and priorities; and
national machineries which should be set up and/or strengthened to ensure
the effective integration of women's needs and interests in the national
planning and implementation of government programmes and policies.
8.3.1 Projects and Programmes
Recognising the importance of well articulated national policies and specific
objectives for women's participation in development and noting that women should form
an integral part of all mainstream development programmes and projects, the group
stressed that special and specific projects and programmes for women in social and
economic spheres should be made part of the national priority. Additionally, women's
projects have to be framed in the national and international context rather than in
Highlighting the bottlenecks in the areas of data, dissemination, project
planning and implementation, the group suggested the following strategies:
1. Since data and statistics on women are weak, all data should be disaggregated by
sex and more complete data should be collected. In particular, for project and
programme planning, monitoring and evaluation, the target population and
beneficiaries should be distinguished by sex.
- 56 -
2. Alternative methods of collecting information through qualitative and in-depth
research should be developed to facilitate awareness and understanding, and
problems should! be tackled in a pragmatic manner. Universities and research
institutions could be involved for this purpose.
3. Such data and information should be disseminated widely both inside and outside
4. In determining national priorities, it is essential to involve grass-roots
organizations of women and to decentralise the planning process. The
involvement of conscientised women and men in the planning machinery is an
5. The two-pronged approach of promoting women's participation in integrated
projects and having separate projects for women should be used as a major
6. In the planning stages of all national projects from the grass-roots level to
the regional and national levels, roles for women should be carved. Areas for
consideration and action should be identified to ensure the effective
participation of women.
7. Specific minimum proportions of resources (finance, facilities, personnel) of
mainstream development projects and their preferential allocation have to be
made to women's programmes and projects.
8. In all projects, safeguards Ishould be built in the project plans to prevent
women suffering from negative effects.
9. Implementation of projects requires conscientisation, creating awareness and
developing skills, including:
a) creating the awareness of the needs of women within the project target area;
b) conscientisation of government and non-government agents to women's issues
so that they do not exert negative influences;
c) minimising the negative impact of certain cultural and religious influences
through developing awareness, the dissemination of information through mass
media and the dissemination of other innovative items such as songs,
audio-visual material and special publications; and
- 57 -
d) development of appropriate skills by organising training programmes in
project management, finance, credit, marketing, etc. for the project team,
beneficiaries, governmental and non-governmental officials and other
concerned persons. The use of innovative training methods was emphasised.
10. Mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation with the full participation of
beneficiaries and the participation of other intermediaries should be built into
11. Collaboration and coordination of agencies (intermediaries) including NGO's,
women's organizations and government agencies should be promoted which can be
supportive of the project at all levels for improved effectiveness.
8.3.2 The Role of National Machineries
The working group recognized the existence of national machineries in the
different countries with varying compositions, functions and targets. Noting that
they have made important contributions and exerted considerable influences in creating
awareness of women's issues, it was stressed that national machineries could be
greatly strengthened and made more effective by the allocation of adequate resources,
the establishment of a grass-roots base to which they should be accountable and a
mandate to affect the programmes and plans of other ministries.
The following strategies were suggested:
1. The role of national machineries for women should be made clear; the group
identified it as primarily that of co-ordination and promotion and of acting as
a catalyst in influencing mainstream development policy and programmes.
2. Considering the implications of power relations and status, the national
machinery should have very high status and be located in the most powerful
structure in the government for effectiveness in influencing policy. Since
women's issues cut across many ministries, the national machinery in a powerful
central location is in a better position to influence other ministries. For
example, Presidents' offices, Prime Ministers' offices, Ministries of Finance
and Economic Planning were identified as powerful structures.
Where a national machinery is composed of representatives of various agencies,
the composition of members should include high level government officials,
influential representatives of organizations such as NGOs, committed women and
academics, trade unions, etc.
3. The national machineries should have adequate resources finance, personnel,
facilities to meet their mandate effectively. The officers of the national
machineries should be both men and women who have demonstrated a commitment to
women's issues and who have an understanding of the workings of the governmental
and non-governmental structures as well as the professional competence to do
their work effectively.
4. For effective co-ordination and influence, special women's units or departments
in sectoral ministries should be created where they do not exist, and
strengthened where they already exist, to enable effective integration of women
in the ministries' plans and programmes. These units should also make periodic
(at least annual) reviews on the progress of implementation of the plans and
programmes for women under the ministries.
5. The national machineries should call for annual reports from central government
ministries and agencies i and state/regional governments for review of
achievements concerning women and undertake publication and dissemination of the
6. In order to co-ordinate projects and programmes for women under different
departments and ministries there should be co-ordination cells at the local,
district, regional and national levels comprising representatives of the
different departments and ministries. Information on coordination activities
has to be fed to the national machinery for incorporation into the national
7. National machineries should be active in mobilising the contributions and
capacities of women's organizations, especially at the grass-roots level, as
well as those of other structures and individuals such as NGOs, trade unions,
donor agencies, universities and national and local development structures.
8. National machineries should use the media and other communication techniques for
disseminating information on women's issues and mobilising support and pressure
for influencing government policy and public opinion.
9. Advantage should also be; taken of the potential in regional and other
international networks for solidarity and for increasing the power of national
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
AFRICAN AND ASIAN INTER-REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON STRATEGIES FOR
IMPROVING EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS OF RURAL WOMEN
Arusha, Tanzania : 20-25 August 1984
Ms. Gemma Adu-Bobie,
Expert in Training for Women,
ILO/Skill Development for Self-
Reliance Project (SDSR),
PO Box 60598,
Ms. Milcah Amolo Achola,
University of Nairobi,
PO Box 44368,
Ms. Olufunmilayo Aina,
Alternate Member of Nigeria Employers,
Consultative Association Governing Council
c/o N.E.C.A. Secretariat,
11 Commercial Avenue,
Ms. Jaya Arunachalam,
Working Women's Forum India,
55 Bheemasena Garden Road,
Ms Felicitas Balena,
Provincial Secretary & Women's Head,
South Cotabato Federation of Free Farmers (SCFFF),
Ms. Sanaa E. Basyouni,
Director, Women's Development Department,
Environmental Social & Co-operative
Reconstruction and Agricultural Development
Insurance Building (B), Dokki Square,
Mr. Ahmed S. Bokhari,
Director-General (Plan Co-ordination)
Ministry of Local Government and
House No. 28,
Street No. 4 Sector F/7-1,
Ms. Jette Bukh,
Asiatisk Plads 2,
DK 1448 COPENHAGEN,
Ms. Patricia Sarah Bwerinofa,
13 Northwood Rise,
Ms. Ruvimbo Chimedza,
Department of Land Management,
University of Zimbabwe,
PO Box 8583,
Mr. Elmi Ahmed Duale,
WHO Programme Coordinator for
Tanzania and Seychelles,
PO Box 9292,
DAR ES SALAAM,
United Republic of Tanzania.
Ms. Misrak Elias,
Consultant and Coordinator,
Development Planning & Women Programme,
Eastern and Southern African Management Institute,
PO Box 3030,
United Republic of Tanzania.
- 61 -
Ms. Turid Eriksen,
Norwegian Agency for International
PO Box 2646,
DAR ES SALAAM,
United Republic of Tanzania.
Ms. Sarala Gopalan,
Revenue and Housing Department,
Government of Kerala,
Ms. Edel Guiza,
250 A Sunrize Street,
Ms. Noeleen Heyzer,
Co-ordinator, Women's Programme,
Asian and Pacific Development Centre,
PO Box 2224,
Ms. Hameeda Hossain,
7c New Bailey Road,
Ms. Ayesha Imam,
Department of Sociology,
Ahmadu Bello University,
Ms. Daljit Jaijee,
Director, (Land Reforms) Planning Commission,
Government of India,
Ms. Jianwei Jiang,
Bureau of Foreign Affairs,
Ministry of Labour and Personnel,
- 62 -
Ms. Terry Kantai,
Programme Officer, Information, Education
National Council for Population and Development,
PO Box 30520,
Mr. Charles Lane,
PO Box 6141,
United Republic of Tanzania.
Mr. Justin Maeda,
Adviser on Rural Development,
Office of the President,
DAR ES SALAAM,
United Republic of Tanzania.
Ms. Veronic Nanelo Manelo,
Ministry of Labour,
C. Postal 281,
Ms. Vina Mazumdar,
Director, Centre for Women's
8-43 Panchsheel Enclave,
NEW DELHI 1100017,
Ms. Marjorie Mbilinyi,
Institute of Development Studies,
University of Dar es Salaam,
PO Box 35185,
DAR ES SALAAM,
United Republic of Tanzania.
Ms. Magdalene Mkocha,
Production Officer, National Agricultural
and Food Corporation,
Mbarali Rice Farm,
PO Box 96,
United Republic of Tanzania.
H.E. Gertrude I. Mongella,
Minister of State,
Prime Minister's Office,
DAR ES SALAAM,
United Republic of Tanzania.
- 63 -
Ms. Elizabeth Mputa,
Ministry of Community Development and Women's Affairs,
Ms. Dorothy Chiyoosha Muntemba,
Coordinator, Women's Programmes,
National Commission for Development Planning,
PO Box 50268,
Ms. Anna Nkebukwa,
University of Dar es Salaam,
PO Box 35092,
DAR ES SALAAM,
United Republic of Tanzania.
Mr. Barack Emmanuel Oduor-Otieno,
Ministry of Labour,
Division of Manpower Planning and Development,
PO Box 40326,
Ms. Bukola Kofoworoua Oni,
Head, Home Economics Division,
Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development
and Water Resources,
Mr. Mbera Orwoba,
Planning Officer I,
Division of Manpower Planning and Development (DMPD),
Ministry of Labour,
PO Box 61761,
Ms. Margo Russell,
University of Swaziland (SSRU),
PO Box 1367,
Ms. Aster Berhane Selassie,
Head of Planning and Evaluation,
Revolutionary Ethiopian Women's Association (REWA),
PO Box 213,
Ms. Alasebu G. Selassie,
PO Box 6061,
Mr. B.M. Sethi,
All India Organisation of Employers,
Tan Sen Marg,
NEW DELHI 110001,
Ms. Filomina Steady.
International Women's Research and|
922 University Bay Drive,
MADISON Wisconsin 53705,
Ms. J.K. Temane,
Principal Labour Officer,
Ministry of Labour,
Ms. Fleur de Lys Torres,
Director, Social Services Staff,
National Economic and Development Authority,
Amber Avenue Pasig,
Ms. Jose van Hussen,
International Women's Affairs,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
PO Box 20061,
2500 EB THE HAGUE,
Mr Dharam Ghai
Chief, Rural Employment Policies B anch
Mr J.B. Seal Jr.
Director, ILO Office
DAR ES SALAAM
Ms Martha F. Loutfi
- 65 -
Ms Rounaq Jahan
Mr Iqbal Ahmed
Expert Development Planning
ILO/Southern African Team for
Employment Promotion (SATEP)
Ms Evy Messell
Ms Anita Kelles-Viitanen
Ms D. Burch
ILO Associate Expert
PO Box 4775
Ms Anne-Marie Causanillas
Ms Annie Degraeve
CIRDAFRICA: PO Box 6115, ARUSHA, United Republic of Tanzania
Mr I.M. Kaduma
Mr A. Abubakar
Mr N. Mussa Nda
Senior Programmes Officer
Mr B.K. Temane
AFRICAN AND ASIAN INTERREGIONAL WORKSHOP ON STRATEGIES FOR
IMPROVING EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS OF RURAL WOMEN
Arusha, Tanzania : 20-25 August 1984
Monday, 20 August 1984
Welcoming Addresses :
Vote of Thanks I:
I.M. Kaduma, Director, CIRDAFRICA
Dharam Ghai, Chief, Rural Employment
Policies Branch, ILO Geneva
Henning Kjeldgaard, Ambassador of
Sief Shariff Hamad, Chief Minister,
John Seal, Director, ILO Office,
Election of Office Bearers
Introduction to Workshop:.
Martha Loutfi, Co-ordinator,
Programme on Rural Women, ILO
Panel 1: Women's Projects and Programmes: Case Studies
Presentations: Filomina Steady (SIERRA LEONE) Executive Director, International
Women's Research & Consulting Institute, Wisconsin
Sarala Gopalan (INDIA) Secretary, Revenue & Housing, Govt. of
Kerala Secretariat, Trivandrum
Discussants : Terry Kantai (KENYA) Office of Vice President, Ministry of Home
Rounaq Jahan (BANGLADESH) Professor, Dept. of Political
Science, Dhaka University
Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Panel 2. Access to and Control over Resources: Land/Forest
Marjorie Mbilinyi (TANZANIA) Professor, Institute of Development
Studies, University of Dar-es-Salaam
Vina Mazumdar (INDIA) Director, Centre for Women's Development
- 67 -
Studies, New Delhi
Discussants : Ruvimbo Chimedza (ZIMBABWE) Department of Land Management,
University of Zimbabwe
Noeleen Heyzer (MALAYSIA) Asian and Pacific Development Centre,
Panel 3i Credit and Marketing
Presentations: Jaya Arunachalam (INDIA) President, The Working Women's Forum,
Margo Russell (UK/SWAZILAND) Social Science Research Unit,
University of Swaziland, Kwaluseni
Discussants : Hameeda Hossain (BANGLADESH) Executive Secretary, KARIKA
Patricia Bwerinofa (ZIMBABWE) Ministry of Local Government and
Panel 4. Organisation, Conscientisation and Participation
Presentations: Edel Guiza (PHILIPPINES) PROCESS, Manila
Asler B. Selassie (ETHIOPIA) Revolutionary Ethiopia Women's
Discussant : Ayesha Imam (NIGERIA) AAWORD representative
Approaches to Technical Co-operation
Wednesday, 22 August 1984
09.00-12.30 Working Group Meetings
14.30-18.00 Working Group Meetings
Thursday, 23 August 1984
Friday, 24 August 1984
09.00-12.30 Working Group Meetings
14.30-18.00 Presentation of Working Group Reports
Saturday, 25 August 1984
Presentation of Draft Report
Addresses: Dharam Ghai, ILO
I. Kaduma, CIRDAFRICA
DOCUMENTS PREPARED FOR THE WORKSHOP*
GENERAL Rural development with women: elements of success, by Madhuri Bose,
Martha Loutfi and Shimwaayi Muntemba
Identification of successful projects for improving the employment
conditions of rural women: Summaries of the African, Asian and
Pacific cases, ILO 1984
Panel 1 Women's work in rural cash food systems: The Tombo and Gloucester
development projects in Sierra Leone, by Filomina Chioma Steady
i 1 1 1
The Trivandrum experiment, by Sarala Gopalan
Irrigated gardens, Molepolole, Botswana: A case study by William Duggan
Panel 2 Co-operation or exploitation? experiences of women's initiatives in
Tanzania, ed. by Marjorie Mbilinyi. iln particular see the Chapter on
"The politics of co-operative organisation in Isange Village"
Role and participation of women in the 'Chipko' movement in the
Uttarkhand region in Uttar Pradesh, India, by Kumud Sharma, Balaji
Pandey and Kusum Nautiyal
Panel 3 Improving working Iconditions for rural women through creation of
alternative employment options: A case study of the working women's
forum, Dindugal dairy women's project and Adiramapattinam
Fisher-Women's Project, by Nandini Azad and Research Team
The production and marketing of Women's handicrafts in Swaziland, by
Savings clubs: The! mobilization of rural finances in Zimbabwe, by
The role of women in production and marketing. A study of their
linkages and development through co-operatives as seen in the case of.
(1) The Bangladesh Hasta Shilpa Samabaya Federation Ltd (2) The
Munshirhat Mahila Samabaya Samity, by Hameeda Hossain
Panel 4 An experience in the improvements and employment conditions of rural
women lin Ethiopia: Twolcase studies, by Alasebu G. Selassie
Other Background Papers
1. Initiatives for improving employment conditions of rural women:
Illustrations and lessons from the field, by Shimwaayi Muntemba
2. Women workers in rural areas, their struggle to organise, by
Zubeida Ahmad i
3. Toward strategies for improving the employment conditions of rural women, by
4. Women workers in rural development. A programme of the ILO, by Zubeida Ahmad
and Martha Loutfi
5. Etude de quelques associations des femmes rurales du centre-sud de Cameroun, par
Frangois Essomba Balla
6. The cases of the Shah Kot training and income-generating and the Sungli
income-generating projects for women, Pakistan, by Systems Limited
7. A study of two co-operatives for female ex-combatants, by Patricia S. Bwerinofa
8. Successful rural women's projects by Mumbwa Case, Zambia, by
Dorothy Chiyoosha Muntemba Stjernstedt
*These discussion papers were prepared in limited quantities. Edited versions are
being prepared for an anthology.
INAUGURAL ADDRESS BY THE CHIEF MINISTER, ZANZIBAR,
GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA,
H.E. NDUGU SEIF SHARIF HAMAD
AT THE OPENING OF THE INTER-REGIONAL AFRICAN AND ASIAN
WORKSHOP ON STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING THE EMPLOYMENT
CONDITIONS OF RURAL WOMEN
ARUSHA, UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA, 20-25 AUGUST 1984
Mr. Chairman, honourable guests, distinguished participants, ladies and
May I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to you, Mr. Chairman,
and to the organizers of the Workshop for this invitation extended to me. This is a
great honour and I appreciate it very much. I would also like, on behalf of the
Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, to welcome all the distinguished
delegates to our country generally, and to Arusha in particular.
For some of you, this may be the first time you have come to Tanzania and
Arusha, while for others, this may be one of the many visits you have made to our
country. However, to all of you, I wish to express my sincere hope that you will find
your stay in Arusha both fruitful and enjoyable, and I sincerely hope that your visit
will not end only in Arusha. Instead, I hope that you will stay a bit longer so that
you may explore the countryside where the majority of the women are, as well as visit
the scenic beauty of our game parks. Indeed, although your programme includes a field
trip to villages in and around Arusha,; it might provide you with a better insight into
what is happening in Tanzania if you were able to visit other areas as well.
Furthermore, I would like to thank the International Labour Organisation for
their initiative towards this Workshop, and also for involving CIRDAFRICA in this most
important subject. I know that Ithis is part of the ILO's continuing effort to
encourage debate, discussion and formulation of potential strategies and actions for
promoting employment and income-earning opportunities of poor rural women. For only
through frank discussions and exchange of our respective experiences can we, in the
Third World, make strides ahead. Indeed, it is gratifying to note that over the last
two years the ILO has identified as many as 50 successful initiatives in Asia and
- 71 -
Africa on the subject, a few of which will be presented at this Workshop as cases for
review by the participants. We, in Tanzania, look forward with great anticipation to
drawing lessons from those experiences.
In this connection also, I should like to use this opportunity to commend the
Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) for funding both the ILO programme
that has led to the identification of these experiences, as and this Workshop. I
sincerely hope that DANIDA will use this experience to look into the possibilities of
supporting follow-up actions by CIRDAFRICA on the Workshop's findings.
I am aware that this Workshop has brought together participants from nine
African countries and five Asian countries comprising high level government officials
concerned with planning for rural development, representatives from employers' and
workers' organizations, persons who have documented and analysed selected case
studies, activists with experience of working with grass-root organizations, and
representatives of intergovernmental, non-governmental and donor agencies interested
in working with rural women. I am told also that it is the first inter-regional
workshop of its kind.
The gathering as it is, a very strong contingent of distinguished people, is
capable of seeking appropriate strategies and actions for promoting employment and
income-earning opportunities of our poor rural women. This is indeed a crucial
question on which, I hope, you will have enough time to delve in depth. To this end,
I would like to use the opportunity you have given me to share with you my own
thoughts on the subject albeit very generally.
I do believe that most of you in this Workshop have good experience of the
working conditions of poor rural women in your respective countries. Most probably
the conditions are more or less the same, and if it is so, this will provide you with
a common forum that will, in some way, facilitate your discussion. Definitely you
will get an opportunity to evaluate what you have experienced and accomplished. At
the same time you will have a basis on which to formulate guide-lines and strategies
that could aim at improving the existing working conditions of our rural women. Mr.
Chairman, it is my sincere wish that this Workshop will prove a success.
When we are intending to seek solutions to improve employment conditions of the
rural women, it is logical that we should at least try to analyse their present
situation. To date in most African and Asian countries the poor rural women work not
by choice but by necessity for the survival of their families. Their working
conditions are not favourable. Their working days are long, and they use simple tools
such as the hand hoe and the matched. On top of all this, they have to care for large
families and work outside the modern sector, they have less access than men to
benefits of development. They bear the brunt of poverty and are often fully engaged
in the fight for survival.
If we compare the rural woman with the urban one, it is evident that the latter
is in a better position because many of her domestic needs can be obtained within her
premises or purchased in the nearby market. But that is not the case for the rural
But at the same time, it should not be forgotten that these conditions of our
rural women have a historical origin. First, in most societies of Africa and Asia,
the activities closest to home belonged to the women, while those far from home such
as trading, herding and others belonged to men. With this division of labour between
the sexes, the belief that a "woman's place is in the kitchen" is still dominant.
Secondly, although over 80 per cent of the food production of the household was being
done by women, men were considered to be more honourable while women were treated as
underlings, and their contribution was given little recognition. Thirdly, social
beliefs in some societies hinder women's engagement in other production roles besides
that of child bearing. Therefore, it is the duty of our respective governments to
educate the masses on the negative impact of such retrogressive beliefs. Beliefs
which hinder the development of our people, and especially those which deny women the
rights to engage in productive activities, should be globally discouraged.
Mr. Chairman, and participants, I think we all agree that women have a major
role to play in development. Women today constitute about one-half of the world's
population and it is believed tha they also constitute one- third of the world's
economically active population. Statistics show that at least 46 per cent of women of
working age are in the labour force, and of this an estimated 65 per cent are to be
found in the developing countries. In Tanzania for instance, it is statistically
known that nearly 51 per cent of the population are female. Thus, considering our
population of nearly 20 million people, and considering thefact that about 85 per cent
of our people are in the rural areas, it means that we are dealing with a population
of 8.7 million people lor about 4.4 million of people who can effectively participate
in productive activities. This is a large number of people who can have a great
impact on the prosperity of the economy if their energies are properly harnessed.
The question is, thus, what considerations do we need to give towards this group
in order to make it more productive in the economic and social development of the
country? I hope you will agree wit me that these hard working, shrewd and productive
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women can be both agents as well as beneficiaries of development. As such they are
resources upon which development planners should draw. Some of the pressing problems
emanate from the fact that our planners do not plan on fully engaging women in
productive roles, besides the mothering one. I believe the solution of many basic
problems, including the world food insufficiency, depends to a large extent on
improving the productivity of all workers, including that of women. It should be
remembered that women's ability to perform their domestic and mothering tasks is
determined to an important degree by their broader role in socio-economic activities.
For instance, if women are more efficient and spend more time producing efficiently,
then it is reasonable to expect a reduction in child labour.
One can even venture to assume that population explosion, due to a high growth
rate which affects most developing countries, could be relatively reduced if women
were more engaged in productive ventures. Therefore, women should not be merely
considered as part of the development problem but they should be taken as a means of
solving the problem.
Mr. Chairman, there is no doubt that women, especially low income rural women,
are possibly the most under-rated development resource of the Third World. Though
they have long been recognized as reproducers of mankind, they have steadfastly been
ignored as producers of wealth. The economic roles that the rural women engage
themselves in vary from country to country, yet such roles will always include some of
the following: food production, food processing, food storage and food preservation.
In addition, water and fuel carrying, house repair, care of livestock and poultry and
home production of other household goods and services are economic undertakings that
are done by women. Indeed often women carry out such activities under very hard
Therefore, when we talk of rural development plans we inherently have to talk of
development of rural women and any rural strategies laid down for rural development
must give preference to women. It is only by improving employment conditions of the
rural women that we can hope for genuine rural development.
Mr. Chairman, I am convinced that the present employment situation of the rural
women in Africa and Asia forces them to give a relatively smaller contribution towards
our countries' development. There is still every chance of increasing that
contribution if we are determined to do so. May I therefore take this opportunity to
make a call to all African and Asian countries to acknowledge effectively the presence
of, and make use of, the entire women's labour force in their rural development
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Mr. Chairman, I: have briefly tried to point out the employment conditions of
rural women in developing countries. Today, the world over, talks of women's rights
are heard. Workshops and seminars are always being conducted on this issue but most
of us, when we talk of women's rights, tend to focus on wage employment, political
leadership and decision-making for women. We pay less heed to liberating the rural
women from the chores of labour resulting from their dedication to duty. At present,
most of the rural women in Africa and Asia are left in labour-intensive sectors
characterized by low productivity and low returns. I believe that the improved
employment conditions of the rural women are a stepping stone towards the whole
question of women's rights, as most women are found in the rural areas.
The questions which your Workshop has set out to answer, therefore, are very
important and crucial if our womenfolk in the societies of the Third World are truly
to break from this most agonising situation and cope with the modern needs of our
communities in which the yearning for economic and social development is urgently real
for everyone. Indeed, human equality cannot be attained if one sex is perpetually at
the receiving end.
In order to uplift their status and well being, there is an urgent need to
evolve programmes that reduce the burden of the woman in her role as mother as well as
in her other responsibilities of fetching water, carrying firewood, cooking and
washing. While it may prove difficult to ensure that men share equally in most of
these responsibilities, it is certainly easy to evolve devices that can help the women
ease their load in a number of these chores.At this juncture, may I take this
opportunity to mention a few areas, that need to be considered in planning strategies
to help the employment conditions of ural women. First and foremost, we must try to
develop appropriate technology tiat will at least enable them to sustain their
families. The existing farm implements need to be improved so that they will require
less labour and, at the same time, will be able to increase the output. These
innovations must be suitable to the climatic conditions of the respective areas.
Attention must be given to research that will yield a wider and more efficient range
of farm implements, such as the plough, the planter, the harrow, the in-row
cultivators and the cart.
There is also a need to think of more effective methods of controlling weeds.
The present system of hand weeding is very tiresome and as a result the women
sometimes choose to abandon their farms. We do not need sophisticated weeding
machines but at least we can afford hand weeding machines and weed killers. What a
disappointment it is to a poor rural oman who, on top of her task of child-carrying,
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has managed to cultivate her plot and is then forced to abandon it because of weeds.
Mr. Chairman, such occasions happen and during my visits to rural areas of Tanzania I
have personally witnessed abandoned plots. I have no doubt that this case also
applies to many other countries of Africa and Asia.
That being the case, it is obvious that if we intend to make a breakthrough in
dealing with some of our problems we have to think of ways and means of training rural
women in modern farming. The best way to train them, considering their level of
education, is to show them by practical example. There is a necessity to organise
research centres in rural areas where women will learn the proper use of fertilisers
and better choice of seed appropriate to the kind of soil and other geographical
conditions of the respective areas. Together with this is the question of land
conservation and land utilisation. The rural women who cultivate form the bulk of the
rural peasants. Hence, they must be trained to make better use of land so as to
preserve the fertility of the soil and must also be trained to use minimum area of
land to get maximum production. In short the improved technology in agriculture must
help our rural women to produce more using less labour than they put in now.
Mr. Chairman, in spite of the fact that our women cultivate under very hard
conditions, they sometimes harvest more than they expect to get. When this occurs,
though not very often, there is a need for them to save their produce for future use.
In many rural areas women have traditional methods of preservation of food. There is
a real necessity to encourage them not only to continue with such methods but also to
learn new and more appropriate methods of food preservation. I hope, Mr. Chairman,
your Workshop will find a means of assisting the rural women with adequate technology
that will help them in devising methods of improved crop preservation. Another
laborious task that the rural women face is grinding grain. Most of them still use
the grinding stone. This job can be more tiresome than cultivating itself, so there
is a need to find a means of easing them of this task. Rural electrification
programmes will help in establishing grinding mills and minimising the use of wood
Mr. Chairman, agriculture is not the only occupation of the rural women. Most
of them, if not all, engage in local handicrafts. Their income generating activities
require specialised skills and sometimes years of apprenticeship. At present, most of
the crafts done by women are labour intensive and of very low productivity. Many
societies tend to divide crafts for men and crafts for women. Personally, I tend to
think that there is no logic in this division of labour because a specific craft may
be done by men in one region and handled by women in the other. My conviction is that
women can do any of the jobs that are done by men provided they get the opportunity
and the training.
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Mr. Chairman, the time has come to think of improving local handicrafts so as to
improve the employment conditions and income of our women. This goal can be achieved
by introducing appropriate technologies for these crafts. However, before any
programmes are designed it is necessary to investigate the existing possibilities open
to our rural women, based on traditional or easily acquired skills and also to study
the present day demands of these products in local and if possible extended markets.
We should try to improve the already existing skills by extending the range of crafts
that are based on such skills. For example, a woman skilled in pottery can be trained
to use her skill to make plates, tiles and bricks which will give her greater
earning. Handicrafts are a means of increasing income for our women but we must
select those which provide gainful employment.
In helping rural women to improve their employment conditions and promote their
income earning opportunities, special attention should be given to co-operatives.
Because, apart from the fact that co-operatives protect the income of members and
increase employment opportunities, they also endeavour to raise the living standards
of the people, including those of poor rural women. :I personally believe that under
the circumstances that face many a developing country, where capital is rare to find,
co-operative societies can become key factor in rural development. Rural
co-operative societies, organised to supply farm inputs and those that engage in
production and marketing of crops are surely a boost to agriculture. A higher form of
co-operative will engage in agro-industries in rural areas. What is more, there is a
need to run co-operatives that deal with small enterprises, such as those specialising
in cottage industries.
All said, Mr. Chairman, I believe that the key role in development of our rural
women should be played by women themselves. Our main concern here is to think of
policies and activities which are fundamental to the inculcation of positive attitudes
in our minds. Such policies should serve as catalysts in the process of development
in rural areas.
I understand that the International Labour Organisation has been playing an
active role in establishing and developing co-operatives that are organised on the
lines of self help. Indeed, it is my hope that this commitment will continue and will
be consolidated. The ILO needs a pat on the back for this commendable service it
renders for the good of the people of the developing countries.
I hope that it is every government's intention to improve the employment
conditions of rural women by formulating new and practical strategies. Such
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strategies should aim at decreasing the problems facing women in their everyday
activities while at the same time increasing their productivity so as to raise their
earning capacity. To achieve that, it is indeed important that women should be able
to formulate and manage their own projects. That being the case, there is a need to
give rural women training that will help them increase their ability in project
planning, project implementation and project assessment.
I suppose we all agree that our rural women work tirelessly. Hence, there is a need
for our governments to make deliberate efforts to help them in their endeavours by
providing them with some essential services. In order to help the working mothers, a
conducive atmosphere should be created by establishing day care centres. Such
centres, if well run, would enable rural women to discharge their responsibilities
effectively as mothers as well as workers.
It should be borne in mind that the health of most rural women is not very
sound. Ill health is one of the main stumbling blocks towards positive contribution
to development. Therefore, while there is a need to increase health centres
especially in the rural areas where most of the economically active population is
found, the greater need is for rural women to be equipped with preventive techniques
to combat the most prevailing diseases in their respective localities. I am sure this
Workshop will also look into other services which are essential to the improvement of
employment conditions of rural women.
Mr Chairman and dear delegates, many Tanzanian women and their counterparts
elsewhere in Asia and Africa, are anxiously waiting for the results of this Workshop.
The proposals for technological innovations that will be discussed in this Workshop
will definitely will be directed towards improving the working conditions of poor
Such technological innovations must ensure women's development and economic
self-sufficiency. The programmes and policies that may henceforth ensue should be
economically viable. The skills to be introduced must be viable and directly useful
to the women's daily lives. What is more, programmes and policies must be based on a
clear knowledge of the fact of the women's lives and not idealised concepts. In
addition to that, programmes and policies should seek to strengthen women's existing
skills and to enable them to make full use of raw materials and resources that are
readily available to them. Yet, what is more important is the fact that women in
rural areas themselves should participate in all aspects of policy determination, as
well as in programme and project formulation and implementation.
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Finally, a small caution, care should be taken to foresee the likely
consequences that the introduced innovations might have on all aspects of women's
lives, especially their impact on the social and economic status of women, their
health and the well being of their families.
Mr. Chairman, our women are ready to start schemes that would make them
economically equal partners to men. What they need is a little encouragement and
help. While enterprises that can be allocated to rural women are usually of small
scale, their impact on the overall economy cannot be under-rated. Women are capable
of taking responsibility for themselves and for their families. The improvement of
their employment conditions will raise their status, increase their income generating
capacity, strengthen their voice in decision-making and enhance their ability to act
on their own behalf.
I realise, of course, that some of the proposals I am making might seem far
fetched to some but probably it is equally true that in the long run they are the only
way out. Indeed, we have to plan now for what we want to achieve in the year 2000 and
beyond. It is on this basis that in Tanzania we have a long-term goal to make water
accessible to all our rural communities, to build day care centres and distribute
electricity to as many rural areas 'as possible; to build rural clinics, to improve the
techniques of agricultural production through the use of the ox plough and where
possible the tractor, and to plant forests for firewood and timber around the
villages. For it is only through the development of these infrastructures that we can
begin the march towards the liberation of womenfolk. At present the women in the
rural areas are the ones suffering the most from traditional rigidities. It is, thus,
essential that the governments should begin to pay greater and greater attention to
the alleviation of their sufferings.
An educationist once said that, "when you educate a man you educate an
individual but when you educate a woman you educate the home". By the same token, the
Third World cannot succeed to emerge from its present underdevelopment if it fails to
provide for the woman. The majority of the women who need this assistance live and
work in the rural areas. I personally consider your concern for the welfare of these
rural women a most welcome and timely development. I sincerely hope that our
respective governments as well as, the agencies endowed with resources will take the
outcome of your deliberations seriously.
Mr. Chairman and distinguished participants, it is hardly necessary for me to
remind this distinguished audience that this year, 1984, is near the end of the United
Nations Decade for Women. As already alluded to earlier, the majority of women, like
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the rest of the population of the Third World, isto be found in the rural areas. It
is, thus, most opportune that you are meeting here to reflect on their plight. I
sincerely hope, therefore, that your Workshop will also delve into the question of the
achievements we have made for women generally and for rural women in particular during
the past decade.
Once again I take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the
organizers of this Workshop for the invitation. I would also like to thank the
participants for being very attentive throughout my speech.
Finally, on this note, it is my honour and privilege to declare this most
important Workshop officially open.
A REPORT ON THE FIELD TRIP
The Workshop participants went on a day's field trip to visit three women's
projects in Akheri, Singisi and Usa villages. The projects were in many ways typical
of women's projects and illustrated some of the problems discussed at the Workshop.
The projects encouraged women in activities which suffered from lack of raw materials,
equipment and market.i Only one project focused on women's agricultural work, while
the rest promoted non-marketable skills and activities. A brief report on the three
projects in the three villages follows.
1. Christian Women's Association Project in Akheri Village
Akheri Village was registered as a development village in 1976. The village has
an area of 1299 square kilometres. The village comprises 450 families and has a
population of 11,597 people, of whom 7,521 are over 18 years of age. The major
economic activities are cash crop (coffee), food crops (banana, maize and beans) and
livestock (cattle-525, goats-44, sheep-306, pigs-10, chickens-1,200). The village has
a primary school, a maize mill machine, a village shop, a water pipe, electricity,
telephone and a co-operative centre for buying coffee from villagers and selling
The Christian Women's Association was formed in 1983, with assistance from the
church who provided 10,000 shillings as capital. The association has 70 members and
has the following activities;
(a) Tailoring Project'. this project has three small sewing machines donated by the
Danish Volunteer Training Centre. More machines are promised by the Centre.
(b) Tie and Dye Project;
(c) Knitting Project.
Members meet twice a week. Every Monday they work in the six acre farm owned by
the church and Tuesdays are reserved for the above three projects. They are assisted
by a Danish Volunteer who acts as an instructor. Products are sold within the village
and revenue generated is given to the church for meeting various parish activities.
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All the activities are, thus, part of women's volunteer community services. The
Association members identified two major problems, i.e. they have no building of their
own and have to use the church building and, more importantly, they are unable to
acquire the materials required for the projects especially threads and colours for the
tie and dye project.
2. Singisi Women Association in Singisi Village
Singisi Women Association was formed in 1974 and it has 120 members out of which
four are men. The present membership fee is 100 shillings. The Association was
formed with the aim of giving skills to school leavers (standard seven) who are not
selected for further education. The Association has three projects:
(a) Pottery Project for making pots and ceramic cups. They use both the traditional
method and simple machines donated by the Small Industrial Development
Organisation (SIDO) and the Danish Volunteer Training Centre. The Centre has
also provided a volunteer to assist in the project.
(b) Farm Project-. the Association has a 12 acre farm, 14 acres reserved for bean and
4 acres for cattle fodder.
(c) Dairy Cattle Project* the Association has ordered two high grade cows, the shed
is already completed and fodder will be available from the four acres for cattle
fodder. The Association also has a co-operative shop.
All members work in the farm project twice a week. A few trained members work
in the pottery project and are paid an allowance calculated according to the amount of
pots and cups made by each individual. After meeting all project costs the surplus is
shared by members but this was only done in 1983. For all other years the surplus was
used for expanding the Association's activities.
The Association members identified two major problems, i.e. lack of necessary
materials and chemicals for the pottery project and lack of equipment for some of the
The Association had a tailoring and knitting project and had trained some
members but unfortunately all machines were stolen and now the Association is looking
for donors to assist them.
3. Usa River Tailoring Association
This Association was formed n 1981 by 11 members who contributed 500 shillings
each. The Danish Volunteer Centre has donated sewing machines. They make dresses of
all designs and uniforms for both adults and children.
They sell their products to tourist shops, Regional Trading Company and other
retailers. The Association is, however, facing marketing problems. They have dresses
worth 40,000 shillings which they have not been able to sell. The sewing machines of
this project was also stolen but the project was successful in again obtaining
donations of machines.
Other ILO publications
Rural development and women in Africa
Rural development in Africa is inconceivable without the active participation of women. Women already provide a
major part of the labour power and are involved in all sectors. Yet their interests and needs are not always taken into
account, nor is the most effective use made of their capabilities.
Women are often caught between their responsibilities, the resources available to them and their limited freedom to
undertake new activities. The case studies summarised in this volume reveal some of the dilemmas faced by African
wm in rual areas in food prooggging in Ghana and Siorra Leone, in acc@s to land in the Ivory Co0a and Sonegal,
in marketing in Nigeria and South Africa, and in income-generating activities all over the region.
Such was the background to the debates at the Seminar on Rural Development and Women in Africa, attended by
representatives of African governments, employers' and workers' organizations, international agencies, donors and
researchers. The discussions covered key issues in rural development, such as food production and processing,
commercialization and migration. A key conclusion reached was that development strategies should be reconsidered
in terms of women's roles in rural production and distribution. Priority should be given to equitable access by women to
land as well as to credit, extension services, inputs and technologies. At the same time, the right of women to organise
should be recognized, respected and facilitated. Governments and international agencies, as well as researchers,
planners and field workers, will find much food for thought in this volume.
Rural development and women in Asia
Prevailing models of development tend to work to the detriment of poor rural women, denying them due recognition as
producers. The commercialization of agriculture, forests, dairying and fisheries tends to displace female labour and may
reduce women's access to food, fuel and other necessities. If women are encouraged to take on, for performance in
their homes, work put out through contractors, the arrangement may help them to support their families, but it usually
means that labour, welfare and tax laws will be evaded and that the wages paid will be extremely low. To improve the
situation of poor rural women workers, grass-root, self-reliant participatory organizations are important. A re-
examination of approaches to rural development, taking account of the expressed perceptions of rural women workers,
could begin to reverse the pauperisation process.
These are among the conclusions reached by representatives of Asian governments and workers' and employers'
organizations, donor governments, international agencies and experts who met in April 1981 to discuss rural
development and women in Asia.
This monograph is a report on the discussions that took place at that meeting on commercial agriculture, non-farm
activities, organizations and migration, and sets out the conclusions reached on priorities. It contains much that is of
relevance for policy-makers, planners, trade unions, organizations and researchers in Asia and in the developing
countries in general.
Rural women: Unequal partners in development, by Martha F. Loutfi
The World Employment Conference in 1976 drew attention to the need for special measures to relieve the work burden
and provide new opportunities for poor rural women in the Third World. This monograph discusses woman's roles as
worker, manager and child-bearer, and indicates a framework for constructive official policies. Government and other
programmes which presume the existence of integral, male-headed households and ignore the impact on individuals
can unwittingly be seriously detrimental to women. In addition, the high proportion of female-headed households
among the poor calls for innovative approaches: an "attack on poverty" cannot succeed if it fails to take account of the
special characteristics and problems of those who are poor. Emphasising the delivery of services from above, without
the full participation of the "target group", inevitably results in the inefficient mismatch of needs and assistance.
There is a considerable range of constructive policies open to governments no matter what the system. But the form will
be more appropriate, supportive interventions better adapted, and policies more effective, the greater is the participation
of the women concerned.
Working women in socialist countries: The fertility connection
Many centrally planned socialist countries are characterized by low birth rates and high female labour force participation
rates. In addition, these countries have generous social programmes, including several which are particularly helpful for
working women, such as extended paid maternity leave, free creches, additional leave for taking care of a sick child, and
so on. The experiences of socialist countries are relevant for those countries in the developing world which are
concerned to bring about greater equ ai, i.-r men and women in the labour market, higher labour force participation for
women and lower fertility rates. In addition, the countries of Eastern Europe and Cuba are themselves attempting to
move even further toward complete equality between men and women, to refine their population policies and, in
particular, to raise birth rates. This volume brings together, for the first time in English, important new case studies on
the effect of female labour force participation and demographic and labour policies on fertility in Bulgaria, Cuba,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.
In August 1984 naau:na* pLane's and representatives of employers and
workers'orgamsamons. grass-roots organsaions. intend nal oga ns
and donor agencies from a2 over Africa and Asia met in A"-sha. Un:ed Republic
of Tanzania, in order to reflect on some of the currert or issues of ural de-
velopment. Recogrnsing that women are the backbone of ag' tua: producon
as well as majr providers ?f their famines' bai needs. the pa",',pants
concentrated on strategies hkely to enhance women's p"cd.:e oles and
thereby stulate ral and naonal deveopme
Drawing on analyses of action which had been -suxess,: in improvig
the employment ccndimons of "rua: womer. the partmicpans were nxermed that
"women's projects" should not be marginaL wefare-oriented and isolated. but
rather should contribute to sugthenmg women's productive and develop-
mental roles. and should enable women to gain experience in rgaaising
and managing resources. 1: was suggested that atoorna macheries should
play a co-ordinatnng and ata:ytc le th respect to a minis es.
and development policies and prograces However ral women's access to
land and other means of productir, and he right fcr won:er. c :rga-ise yeelyin
order to pursue the goals they set for themselves are fundamental to success.