Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Progress in the establishment of...
 Progress in promoting women's participation...
 Progress in incorporating gender...
 Progress in incorporating women...
 Progress in incorporating gender...
 Monitoring and evaluation of women's...
 Back Cover

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Women, food systems and agriculture
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00085456/00003
 Material Information
Title: Women, food systems and agriculture
Physical Description: Book
Publisher: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Human Resources, Institutions, and Agrarian Reform Division. Women in Agricultural Production and Rural Development Service.
Publication Date: 1990
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: sobekcm - UF00085456_00003
System ID: UF00085456:00003

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
    Progress in the establishment of national machinery and focal points for integrating women in agricultural and rural development
        Page 4
        Page 5
    Progress in promoting women's participation in groups and organizations
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Progress in incorporating gender issues into national food and agricultural development policies and strategies
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
    Progress in incorporating women as participants in and beneficiaries of agricultural and rural development programmes and projects
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
    Progress in incorporating gender issues in agricultural research
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    Monitoring and evaluation of women's participation in and benefits from agricultural development policies, programmes and projects
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

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Women, Food Systems and Agriculture





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This document was originally prepared as the
FAO contribution to the United Nations 1989
World Survey on the Role of Women in Development
(ST/CSDHA/6 Sales No. E.89.IV.2), Chapter III,
pp. 75-128. Due to the importance of the subject
it is now reproduced separately in order to give
it a wider circulation among different sectors
of interested readers.



INTROIDUCTION ....... ...................................... 1
A. Progress in the establishment of national machinery and
focal points for integrating women in agricultural and
rural development .......................................
B. Progress in promoting women's participation in groups and
organizations ........................................... 6
C. Progress in incorporating gender issues into national
food and agricultural development policies and
strategies ............................... ............... .
D. Progress in incorporating women as participants in and
beneficiaries of agricultural and rural development
programmes and projects ................................. 26
E. Progress in incorporating gender issues in agricultural
research ................................................ 37
F. Monitoring and evaluation of women's participation in
and benefits from agricultural development policies,
programmes and projects .......... ..... .................. 40
G. Conclusions .............................................. 43


The great challenge facing agriculture today is the urgent need to
increase production while reversing environmental degradation and the
depletion of natural resources. This need is particularly acute in Africa
where it is estimated that food production must grow by at least 4 per cent
during the next generation if food security is to be achieved. In those areas
where land shortage is beginning to emerge due to a rapidly growing population
and where agricultural resources have already been depleted, the challenge is

In order to meet this challenge, several trends are merging in agriculture
that will inevitably have an impact on rural women in all parts of the world,
but particularly in Africa where women constitute the majority of food
producers. These trends, some of which are related to structural adjustment
policies, include increased market orientation in pricing and distribution of
agricultural inputs and outputs; modernization of technology and intensive use
of high-yielding varieties, fertilizers, pesticides and agricultural machinery;
increased emphasis on conservation and environmental protection; and changes
in land rights.

While the effect of these trends on rural women will vary according to
their socio-economic strata, agro-ecological environment and other factors,
the overall impact on women as well as on men is that they will benefit from
enhanced land and labour productivity. The experience of past decades has
shown that agricultural technology and inputs tend to flow overwhelmingly to
men. The growth in land values that results from land shortage and increased
land productivity may also have the effect of eroding women's rights to land,
unless measures are taken to prevent this happening. The growth of the
private sector in agriculture tends to favour cash crops, a sector dominated
by men over food production for own consumption in which women play the
predominant role. There has been, however, a growing recognition of the
importance of women's economic role in agriculture and rural development and,
in particular, in food production.

Another trend that is being observed in some parts of the world is the
displacement of women from agricultural production due to mechanization, while
in other parts, particularly in Africa, women's role in agriculture is growing
as men are turning to other types of work or migrating in large numbers to
urban areas. At the same time, however, structural adjustment has resulted in
increased attention to economic development in the urban industrial sectors to
the detriment of the agricultural sector.

The period 1985-1988, which is covered in the 1989 World Survey, witnessed
a major shift in focus away from the preoccupation with women-specific issues
and programmes in the field of food systems and agricultural development that
had characterized the period covered in the original World Survey, to a new


concern to put women in the mainstream in all spheres from macro-level policy
and planning to micro-level project activities.

Putting women in the mainstream refers, on the macro-level, to integrating
women into policies and programmes as a whole, and on the micro-level, to
integrating women into all project activities. In particular, there is a
growing concern to support women in their roles as agricultural producers by
substantial activities in contrast to developing small-scale, non-sustainable
and insignificant projects and activities often separate from primary
development projects or programmes for women.

Part two on "Women in agriculture", of the original World Survey reflected
the issues of the late 1970s and early 1980s. These were as follows: (a) to
document for a wide variety of countries the multiple roles of rural women in
agricultural production, processing, marketing and consumption as well as their
roles in the domestic and social spheres; (b) to analyse the impact, more
frequently negative than positive, of development policies and interventions
on women themselves and on their ability to provide for their families; and
(c) to assess women's needs for increasing production and income and improving
family living standards. The main purpose was to raise awareness among
decision makers, planners and development practitioners of the critical
importance of women's contribution to food and agricultural production and to
call for equity in targeting women as well as men as participants in and
beneficiaries of development policies and programmes. However, although
numerous researchers had demonstrated that the involvement of women in
agricultural development led to increases in agricultural productivity and
efficiency 1/, 2/ and some attempts were made to target production and
post-harvest projects to women, the overriding concern of projects in this
period, as in the 1960s, remained one of welfare and home economics programmes
for rural women, mainly through women-specific projects or women's components
in multi-purpose projects.

As the original World Survey showed, in 1984, no country had yet
incorporated issues relating to women farmers' needs and potential into its
overall national agricultural planning. In most regions there had been a
proliferation of very small agricultural projects for women that lacked the
financial resources and expertise to make them sustainable and that were
generally not integrated into on-going rural development and other
agricultural programmes.

Although to a large extent the cut-off point between the two survey
periods is artificial and most important changes and trends are in any case
part of a long-term process spanning both periods, certain trends in concep-
tualization of the issues, goals and priorities have emerged since 1985, in
some measure stimulated by the impetus and new directions given at the World
Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations
Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, held at Nairobi, from
15 to 26 July 1989. First, the overriding attention of most third world
countries to macro-economic stabilization, structural adjustment policies
and ensuring food supplies to the cities, while saving foreign exchange for
productive investment, has led to an increasing recognition of women's
economic roles in agriculture and particularly of their major roles as food
producers, processors and traders. Whereas the earlier emphasis on equity and
poverty tended to make the women's issue a distributional question which was

- 3 -

only addressed to the extent that rural women could exert political or social
pressure on the power elite, the new economic priorities involve the question
of rational allocation of national capital and human resources to maximize
production and productivity. 3/

Secondly, there is increasing recognition of the need to integrate women
into mainstream agricultural development, although the extent to which this is
being put into effect is still modest. This is essential if the full potential
of the whole agricultural labour force, both male and female, is to be fully
used to maximize output.

Thirdly, the new focus on women's economic roles and the need to consider
the constraints on their participation in and benefits from mainstream
development projects raise questions about the sex- and age-linked division
of labour in agricultural activity and about men's and women's differential
access to and control of productive resources (land, labour, capital, credit,
water, inputs, tools etc.). This has stimulated a shift in focus from women
to gender relations that permits a broader analysis of the differences and
complementarity of men's and women's socio-economic roles.

While the term women tends to treat them as a homogenous category, the
concept of gender involves the disaggregation of women's roles and responsibil-
ities by socio-economic class, agro-ecological environment and farming system,
culture and ethnic group, and for each of these categories, by age, marital
status and stage in the household cycle. Furthermore, gender promotes a
consideration of the interrelations between farm and household unit and its
place in the wider labour market and rural community.

Fourthly, in recent years there has been increased recognition of the need
to consider the effect of the socio-economic environment on rural women. There
are two main areas of analysis. The first concerns rural women's economic
roles and the extent to which their choice of crop, live-stock or forestry
enterprises and their output and productivity are affected by macro-economic
and social policies such as price and trade policies, the organization of
agricultural delivery and marketing systems, land tenure and inheritance laws.
The second area concerns the impact of structural adjustment policies on rural
women. While this also impinges on their agricultural roles, the main focus
is primarily on welfare-assessing and devising measures to alleviate the
poverty that these policies entail for the poorest households, a large
proportion of which are female-headed.

Fifthly, there is a growing concern with regard to the sustainability
of development programmes and their benefits. The integration of women in
development is one of the measures adopted by the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as part of the "social acceptability"
dimension of its policy of sustainable development, together with institutional
changes brought by land and credit reform, people's participation, agricultural
extension/training, and rural and non-farm employment. Increased attention
is also being given to the important role that women play in aspects of
sustainable development such as land and water conservation and the use of
environmental resources. In this context, there is a growing use of the
farming systems approach that aims to give a sound understanding of the

perceptions and problems of farm households and communities and the equitable
distribution of profits in the framework of a stable and sustainable
productive system.

These general underlying issues run throughout the main body of this
chapter and, in appropriate places, are treated in more depth.

Given the wide scope of the issue of women, food systems and agriculture,
this chapter is limited to examining the progress made in the period 1985-1988
in certain areas. The chapter focuses on the following: (a) national
machinery and focal points for integrating women in agricultural development;
(b) women's participation in groups and organizations; (c) the incorporation
of gender issues into national agricultural policies with particular concern
for statistical data collection, structural adjustment, agrarian reform and
legal status, agricultural employment, environment and population; (d) women
as participants in and beneficiaries of agricultural and rural development
programmes and projects, with a particular concern for co-operatives, credit
and marketing services, extension and training and nutrition; (e) incorpo-
ration of gender issues in agricultural research; and (f) monitoring and

For certain important areas, including livestock production, micro-
enterprises and irrigation, the information and data are still being studied
in order to assess the progress made in relation to women.

A. Progress in the establishment of national machinery and focal points
for integrating women in agricultural and rural development

In line with the recommendations of the World Plan of Action adopted by
the World Conference of the International Women's Year, held at Mexico City,
from 19 June to 2 July 1975, 4/ and the Programme of Action for the Second
Half of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace,
adopted by the World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women:
Equality, Development and Peace, held at Copenhagen, from 14 to 30 July 1980, 5/
almost all countries have established at least one governmental body
responsible for the promotion of women's interests. As of 1987, these had
usually taken the following forms: (a) full-fledged ministries or under-
secretaries of state for women's affairs (21 countries); (b) units located
in or affiliated with ministries dealing with labour and social affairs
(35 countries), legal affairs (2 countries), youth, culture and sports
(4 countries); (c) units located in or affiliated with ministries of
agriculture or economic planning (11 countries); (d) advisory consultative
bodies such as women's bureaux, national councils, national commissions
(21 countries); and (e) women's wings or units affiliated to the national
ruling party (22 countries).

The major accomplishments of these various units of machinery in the area
of agriculture and rural development have been to promote awareness of women's
issuess at a national policy level; to stimulate research and data collection
on rural women's agricultural and other roles and needs for policy-making and
planning; to act as a clearing-house for disseminating information on rural
women; and to promote new legislation for women or to serve as a watchdog to
protect women's interests during the formulation of legislation on land rights
and inheritance, employment conditions and wage rates.


With the exception of the national machinery located in or affiliated with
ministries of agriculture, however, attempts by most national machinery to
implement food and agricultural development programmes and projects for rural
women have generally met with, at best, very modest success. The main reasons
are insufficient human and financial resources, the lack of a country-wide
network of regional or local branches and, especially, an almost complete
dearth of technical expertise. This lack of expertise results in low status
among other governmental agencies and reinforces the isolation of separate
women's units from the programmes and field activities of the sectoral
ministries. The result has been for such national machinery to design and
implement a series of small income-generating projects mainly in crafts,
vegetable gardens and small livestock production that are seen as the "main
activities" for rural women. They fail to address women's need for assistance
with their primary agricultural responsibilities in food and cash-crop
production. This approach has generally failed to provide women with a
regular, sustainable and significant income and, furthermore, has tended to
reinforce the stereotyped view that rural women's needs have been best served
by tiered institutional machinery. National women's machinery plays a
catalytic role in sensitizing relevant ministries and other governmental
institutions to gender issues and in influencing policy-making and the
planning, monitoring and evaluation of activities for rural women. However,
programming and implementation of agricultural projects are most effectively
carried out by ministries of agriculture assisted and monitored by special
women's units or focal points. Examples of countries with sufficient levels
of machinery are Colombia, India, Malawi and Mexico.

A proviso should be added that if the focal points in the ministries of
agriculture are attached to specialized services, such as extension or home
economics units, they tend to remain isolated from the main policy and planning
activities of the ministries. As a result of the peripheral institutional
setting of the focal points, there is again a failure to highlight the actual
and potential role of rural women, and to exclude them from mainstream rural
and agricultural development.

Since the 1985 Nairobi World Conference, international agencies and
bilateral donors have undertaken numerous activities to improve communication
and interaction between women's units and line ministries. Of particular note
is a meeting organized by FAO in October 1985 at Helsinki in co-operation with
the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women
(INSTRAW) of the United Nations to compare the experiences of bilateral and
multilateral donors in the use and utility of checklists and guidelines for
promoting gender issues in the work of the agricultural ministries. The
report of the meeting recommended the organization of advisory services for
women's machinery regarding existing policies, mandates and agreements; the
mobilization of political support for women's units at the highest levels of
national government; advocacy strategies addressing women's concerns in terms
of achieving sectoral goals rather than welfare objectives. The importance of
adopting empowerment rather than welfare strategies for rural women was also

As a follow-up to this meeting, a regional training session, organized in
co-operation with FAO and INSTRAW and convened by the Centre on Integrated
Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP), was held in Bangladesh in
1986 for representatives of national women's units and line ministries. Its

aim was to initiate national level activity using prototype guidelines and
checklists to ensure women's inclusion in rural and agricultural development
programmes. Support has been given by FAO to national machinery in Brazil,
Costa Rica and Peru to draft national plans for rural women.

In a further effort to strengthen the capacity of national machinery and
focal points for designing agricultural projects for women, international
training workshops have been held on the formulation and design of projects to
support women in food production projects. Three such workshops were held in
1986: in Sierra Leone for West Africa, in Zimbabwe for East and Southern
Africa, and in Panama for Latin America and the Caribbean. 6/

Three major weaknesses need addressing in the immediate future. First,
there is a critical need to review and evaluate systematically the effective-
ness of existing machinery in reaching rural women. Secondly, given the
growing recognition that the main functions of national machinery should be to
contribute to policy formulation and to co-ordinate and monitor development
activities, the improvement of staffing and infrastructure, including the
establishment of documentation centres and research programmes, becomes a
prerequisite. Thirdly, there is an urgent need for units of national machinery
to build up their technical capacity in agriculture-related fields, in order
to improve their ability and expertise essential for effective collaboration
with professionals in the agricultural ministries.

B. Progress in promoting women's participation in groups
and organizations

A parallel phenomenon to,-the establishment of governmental national
machinery and focal points for women is the growth of non-governmental women's
groups and organizations concerned with promoting women's participation in
agricultural development. The experience of recent years has shown that
women's groups and organizations have an important role to play in the
following: (a) increasing rural women's visibility at local and international
levels; (b) representing and safeguarding women's traditional and legal rights
(e.g. access to land.or participation in the decision-making process at
village and project levels); (c) increasing women's ability to control their
earned income; (d) increasing women's access to agricultural services and
resources such as extension services, training, inputs, credit and technology;
and (e) influencing policy-making and legislation at the national level.

The Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women 7/
recognized the importance of women's organizations, co-operatives, trade
unions and professional associations for the attainment of national development
goals. They recommended that programmes should be formulated and implemented
to provide these groups with access to credit and other financial assistance
and to training and extension services; and that supportive ties should be
created and maintained with women's grass-roots organizations, such as
self-help community development and mutual aid societies and non-governmental
organizations committed to the cause of women, in order to facilitate the
integration of women into mainstream development. 7/

The Second Progress Report on the World Conference on Agrarian Reform
and Rural Development Programme of Action including the Role of Women in

- 7 -

Rural Development recognized that: "A promising feature in rural development
has been the growth of women's organizations, in response to women's needs to
avoid exploitation, gain control of resources, gain access to services and
government programmes, and initiate viable economic activities." 8/

Women's groups and organizations take many forms within and between
regions and countries. The Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era
(DAWN) network has categorized these groups as (a) traditional, service-
oriented women's organizations that are of long-standing in many countries;
(b) organizations affiliated to a political party; (c) worker-based
organizations; (d) groups and organizations set up with external funding as
part of a project (e.g. income-generating or credit co-operative); (e) grass-
roots organizations, sometimes related to a project; and (f) research
organizations. 9/

The relative effectiveness of women's groups and of women's participation
in mixed-gender groups depends on a number of factors, including the cultural
and economic situation, the type of group or organization involved and the
country or even the area within a country. In many countries of Africa and
Asia, it has been found that women do not benefit equally with men in mixed-
gender co-operatives or associations, nor are they able to participate in
decision-making and policy directions on an equal footing. 8/ However, more
study is necessary to determine whether the creation of separate women's
co-operatives or associations is an effective solution or whether there are
other ways of improving women's participation in and benefit from mixed-gender
groups and organizations.

There is evidence that groups arising out of and organized at the
grass-roots are more effective in the provision of services and in mobilization
than those set up by an external agency for a particular project. One of the
areas in which women's groups and associations have played an important and
effective role is in raising awareness of gender issues and bringing women's
voices to the attention of national and international bodies concerned with
development. Strong women's groups at both the grass-roots and national
levels have proven effective as pressure groups to promote the integration of
gender issues into mainstream development activities and the participation of
women in decision-making. However, women's groups tend to suffer, on all
levels, from a lack of training in management skills, financial resources and
skilled human resources. 9/, 10/

A number of trends in the development and evolution of women's groups and
organizations can be identified. First, influenced by the United Nations
Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace and the World Plan of
Action, some of the traditional service-oriented organizations have begun to
shift from a social-welfare orientation to a development one, from a family-
centred approach to a women-centred one. In addition, there is a growing
tendency for informal grass-roots women's groups to institutionalize and
develop more solid administrative and management structures as they grow
in size and strength. Finally, more Governments and intergovernmental
agencies are recognizing the actual .and potential role of women's groups and
organizations in promoting agricultural and rural development. Consequently,
efforts are increasing to support and relate to these organizations, as well

- 8 -

as to undertake studies to identify existing groups and organizations, and to
analyse their successes and weaknesses in order to strengthen their
effectiveness. II/, 12/

Many sub-Saharan countries of Africa have a long tradition of women's
groups (e.g. Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe) that
have become the focus for the delivery of agricultural services, from extension
to credit inputs and technology. In certain sub-Saharan countries, national
women's organizations are increasingly moving into rural areas by the
establishment of women's branches. Such organizations usually focus on
increasing rural women's political participation, as in Mozambique, United
Republic of Tanzania and Zambia. Recently, they have also assisted in
developing income-generating activities for women and co-operatives. In some
countries, traditional women's organizations have been gathered into national
associations, as in Togo, in order to strengthen the lines of communication
and support between village and country levels. In others, as in Sierra Leone
and Zimbabwe, national associations or mechanisms have been established to
promote and co-ordinate efforts of non-governmental organizations working with
women and to promote communication with governmental bodies. 8/, 13/

In Africa, one line of advance in organization for economic and social
empowerment has been by the transformation of traditional, informal self-help
groups into more formalized institutions, sometimes under the guidance of the
official women's unit, to assume control over economic resources. In some
countries, such organizations have directly benefited not only women
participants, but also the community at large, by increasing the wealth of
women in the community, by providing employment and independent incomes to
women, by offering credit from pooled resources at low interest and by
decreasing intermediary intervention in marketing and credit. For example,
women's informal savings and loan associations have helped women to mobilize
capital for credit collectively, by providing a mechanism both for saving and
borrowing, as in Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone, among others. Governments
have begun to use such associations to introduce women's development projects;
thus, for example, Zimbabwe's traditional savings clubs are being expanded to
enter into income-generating activities. Women's groups for the delivery of
extension services have been used successfully in Zimbabwe. 8/

In many countries of Asia, there has been a mushrooming of non-
governmental organizations for the mobilization of rural women for socio-
economic development. In India, many of the non-governmental organizations,
which range from research centres, professional groups and trade unions of
women in the unorganized sector to organizations of tribal women, have an
acute awareness of the causes and conditions of poverty. While they often
have a core of middle-class activists, they work with poor grass-roots women
and involve themselves directly in issues such as access to water, energy,
technology and income-producing activities. Similar trends can be seen in
Bangladesh, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand and, to a lesser extent,
in Indonesia and Pakistan. 10/, 11/, 14/

The organization of rural women, especially the landless, in parts of
Bangladesh has been accelerated by non-governmental organization projects.
These groups have become the focus for the delivery of agricultural extension
and training, credit and irrigation on the part of non-governmental organiza-
tions, but not yet on the part of government services. In Asia, there

- 0

are also some successful examples of women's trade unions in rural areas, such
as the Self-Employed Women's Associations in India, that organize and protect
women working in the informal sector and in dairying, in particular. In
Bangladesh, the Nijera Kori Kaj (do-it-yourself) network of organizations and
the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee have specifically targeted poor
rural women to raise their consciousness regarding the causes of their poverty
and to organize them for collective action for its alleviation. 8/, 15/

In many parts of Asia, women's informal savings and loan associations
have proven effective in providing credit for women (e.g. in India, Indonesia,
Malaysia and Republic of Korea). In India, it was found that delivery of
extension services to women could be done more effectively through women's
groups than through the traditional methodology of the Training and Visit
system. 8/, 16/

In Latin America, where there is a tradition of effective organization
and politization of the poor and the powerless, rural women have also been
able to form organizations that defend and promote their rights. In Honduras,
the Honduran Federation of Peasant Women is a strong champion of women's
demands and of their incorporation into mainstream development. In Nicaragua,
the Association of Nicaraguan women has increased its membership and supported
the inclusion of peasant women in the agrarian reform programme and in the
co-operatives. In Brazil, the Association of Rural Workers in many states
plays an important role in rural unions and in 1985 it held a National Congress
of Rural Women. Similarly, in Colombia, a National Association of Peasant and
Indigenous Women held its second National Congress in 1986. 8/, 17/ One of
the central demands of all these women's organizations is the inclusion of
women in agrarian reform programmes and their ability to hold ownership
titles. 18/

National women's organizations in Bolivia, Cuba and Peru have expanded
their efforts to secure equal rights for women to rural women, by increasing
their political participation. They have also become involved in promoting
income-generating activities and co-operatives for women. 8/, 19/ In Colombia,
there has been a concrete effort through a development project funded by the
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to organize rural women in groups that
can act as pressure groups demanding that mainstream agricultural services and
resources be oriented towards women as well as towards men. 20/ In Chile,
there are successful experiences of women's non-governmental organizations
assisting peasant women to organize themselves for marketing their produce and
to improve their living conditions by educational and self-help activities. 21/

C. Progress in incorporating gender issues into national food and -
agricultural development policies and strategies

1. Gender-sensitive agricultural development policies,
strategies and programmes

Despite the growing government awareness of the need for strategies and
programmes to improve rural women's activities, only a few countries have
initiated significant nation-wide policies and programmes that specifically
target rural women for participation and benefits.

- 10 -

Although some national development plans of the post-1980 period include
reference to policies and programmes for women, the majority (including
Bolivia, Ecuador and most of the Near East countries) are still heavily
oriented to women's reproductive and family role, while ignoring women's role
in the work place or the economy. Several countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon,
Central African Republic, Costa Rica, C6te d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras,
Kenya, Pakistan, Thailand, Togo and Zimbabwe) have made provision in their
development plans for necessary infrastructural support, such as rural water
supply, and for home and labour-saving technologies for women. Some also
promote income-generating projects, training and the organization of self-help
groups for women. A few countries (including Colombia, Senegal and Togo) have
adopted national plans of action for women that give importance to reducing
the burden of women's work, providing training on food production and improving
their living conditions. 8/ Thailand, for example, has a 20-year Women's
Development Plan (1982-2001) that pays specific attention to women in
agriculture. 11/

A few countries have indeed gone further in envisioning how women might
influence and be influenced by their planned socio-economic programmes.
India's Seventh Five-Year Plan (1985-1990), Indonesia's new development plan
(REPELITA IV), Thailand's Fifth National Economic and Social Development Plan
(1982-1986) and Bangladesh's Second Five-Year Plan (1980-1985) provide
examples of this trend. Kenya is one example in the African region of a
country where steps have been taken to ensure that the participation of women
in national development is strengthened by various activities and institutional

Malawi is another country that has given considerable attention to
ensuring that women and gender issues are incorporated at policy level. As
the result of a Workshop on Improving Agricultural Extension and Training
Policies for Rural Women, held in Malawi, in October 1988, the Ministry of
Agriculture issued up-dated policy guidelines that pay particular attention to
including women farmers as beneficiaries of extension and training services
and messages. 22/

In Latin America, too, Governments have shown greater concern with
women's economic roles. However, in all regions, even where Governments have
sought to strengthen these roles, a drawback has been the traditional attitudes
of men regarding changes in women's roles and the lack of self-identity and
autonomy on the part of women that have prevented them from taking advantage
of policies to strengthen their economic roles. Strategies seeking to address
women's needs and a transformation of their economic and social roles must,
therefore, contend not only with economic but also with attitudinal factors
that resist or inhibit such changes. 8/

2. Statistical data collection on women for policy
and planning purposes

A major obstacle to incorporating gender issues into food and agricultural
development policies and strategies has been the lack of comprehensive,
reliable and unbiased statistics on the nature and role of women's contribu-
tions to food and agricultural production. 23/

- 11

It is now increasingly recognized that the dearth of specific data on
women's participation in agriculture leads to their invisibility, and
impedes the monitoring and evaluation of agricultural and rural development
programmes. 24/ A workshop on Improving Statistics on Women in Agriculture
found that the paucity of sex-differentiated statistics often leaves unanswered
questions as to the percentage of women in the agricultural labour force,
their activities, how they are distributed among the landholding groups
classified by size of holding and how many function as heads of rural
households that are landless. 25/

In the agricultural sector, women's labour is likely to be enumerated
only if women work for wages. If, as is often the case, women are doing
unpaid labour on family holdings, their labour will likely be statistically
"invisible". 24/ In some regions and countries, this has led to the definition
of women as non-farmers and has justified their virtual exclusion from
agricultural services and resources. This has been true for sub-Saharan
Africa (Benin, Mauritania, Niger and Sudan) and Asia (Bangladesh and Pakistan)
as well as for many North African, Near East and Latin American countries. 26/
Moreover, lack of statistics on women farmers cultivating and managing their
own land may create the erroneous impression that women's agricultural
activities are confined to family labour. However, as studies conducted
in Africa show, many societies have a large percentage of women who are
cultivators in their own right either because of a high incidence of female-
headed households in rural areas, such as in Botswana, Lesotho, Sierra Leone
and Zambia, or because there is a traditional demarcation of agricultural
activities between men and women farmers, usually on the basis of food and
non-food crops, as in Cameroon, Ghana and Malawi. 25/

Another set of scarce statistics, essential for increasing the share of
women beneficiaries in agricultural development programmes and for effective
monitoring of such programmes, includes percentages of (a) women agricultural
extension workers; (b) women heads of farming households who are recipients of
agricultural training and credit facilities; and (c) women farmers who are
members of producers' or marketing co-operatives. In most countries available
data on membership of co-operatives and other organizations concerned with
agricultural development are undifferentiated by sex. Since co-operatives and
similarly oriented associations can be important vehicles for rural development
and for delivery of many crucial services to women in agriculture, it is
necessary to know whether rural women have fair access to these and, if not,
what are the constraints they face. 25/

Methodological problems in data collection were identified and it was
found that in some Asian countries social and cultural norms and customary
practices undermine recognition of women's economic and decision-making roles,
and restrict the enumerators access to rural women, resulting in under-
enumeration of women's contribution to production, processing and domestic
activities such as the collection of fuel, water and wild foods. While it is
difficult to change these deeply rooted norms and customs, the reliability of
data collection could be improved by clarifying the concepts and definitions
used by statisticians and ensuring their consistency with those held by the
rural people, employing trained female enumerators to interview women in
societies where they are partially or completely secluded, and improving the
training of male and female enumerators in interviewing techniques and
communication. 27/

Another common methodological problem stems from the short reference
period of most censuses and surveys, which may result in failure to record
women's economic activities if these are seasonal and fall outside the
reference period. Some countries have solved this problem by shifting the
reference period from a week to a longer period. 27/ Women are more likely to
be counted as part of the agricultural labour force when they are asked what
work they did in the past month, year or cropping season. 24/

Comparisons of population censuses with agricultural censuses shows
marked disparities in counting women's work in agriculture. Agricultural
censuses usually identify a much higher percentage of women farm workers due
to differences in definition and procedure. The agricultural censuses are
more likely to include a broader definition of farm activities and to be
conducted during a busy season. 24/

This problem of the lack of reliable statistics on women has been
recognized on the international level and a number of initiatives have been
taken since 1984 to resolve it. A subprogramme of the system-wide medium-term
plan for women in development has as its objectives the development of
reliable, comprehensive and unbiased statistics and indicators on the
situation of women. Within this framework, FAO, in its Plan of Action for
Integration of Women in Development, gives attention to increased data
collection regarding women in agriculture, especially by the disaggregation of
statistics by sex and by male- and female-headed households. Although this
plan is intended to cover the period 1990-1995, it builds on work already
carried out in this area, including efforts to develop socio-economic
indicators on women and gender issues. 29/, 30/

The progress that has been made to date, at country level, consists, in
many cases, of the availability of in-depth village studies that show that
women cultivate their own plots, make agricultural decisions and investments
and market their produce. 15/, 27/ In some cases, national surveys have also
shown the very high participation of women in agriculture. For example, a
national survey in the Dominican Republic showed that 84 per cent of the women
participated in the family farming system in contrast to the rate of female
participation in the rural economy given by the 1981 Census as 21 per cent. 31/

Women farmers can be made more visible when special efforts are made to
synthesize the findings from such micro-studies, to delineate their policy
implications and to bring them to the attention of agricultural planners and
policy makers. Since the Nairobi World Conference, a number of such special
efforts have taken place at the national and provincial level to involve the
active participation of agricultural planners and policy makers in the
interpretation of findings and in the preparation of the resulting policy

For example, a successful effort was undertaken in Zambia by the
Population Council at the invitation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water
Development and the National Commission for Development Planning. The analysis
of sex-disaggregated agricultural data for male and female-headed households
(both de facto and de jure) collected by the 1980 Population Census showed
that the percentage of female-headed rural households was over one-third in 16
districts and about 50 per cent in two districts. This helped to highlight

- 1p '.)

- 13 -

Zambian women as farm managers and underlined the need to reach them with
agricultural services and resources. 26/ A policy document was published and
has had considerable impact. It has been used widely in agricultural
planning, in the design of agricultural programmes, and has stimulated a
sub-Saharan Conference on The Policy Implications of the Roles of Women in
Agriculture. A similar successful effort was undertaken in Burkina Faso. 32/

In Costa Rica, women in one district were re-interviewed in the
population census of 1983 and compared to the assessment of their economic
inactivity in the 1973 population census. The results showed that one fourth
of the women classified as inactive had actually worked for pay during the
reference week and almost three-fifths had worked seasonally during the coffee
harvest. In fact, more than two fifths of the women previously classified
as inactive reported working for six months of the year or more. 33/ The
availability of these data in mainstream official statistics has helped to
change the image of rural women and has made it possible to formulate policy
and programmatic recommendations to the Government and to donors for reaching
women farmers with services and resources not in the name of equity, but in
order to increase agricultural productivity. 34/

A recent report to the Council of Ministers of the Economic Commission
for Africa on measures to be taken for the improvement of agricultural
statistics on women in Africa recognizes the need to make policy makers aware
of the necessity of these statistics and recommends a regional pilot project
and technical assistance, where needed, to obtain them. 35/

While much remains to be done to improve the collections of statistical
data on women in agriculture and to disaggregate data by sex, progress is
being made. Recent research and studies have made efforts to collect and
disaggregate this data. 24/, 36/, 37/

The question has been raised as to how much information on women's
participation in agriculture is necessary before action can be taken. The
expressed need for additional data may be used to postpone immediate solutions
to women's needs 37/, 38/ or to prevent the distribution of resources to
women. 24/

Studies have shown that women farmers in sub-Saharan countries are less
likely to be under-counted than women elsewhere. Fairly good data on women's
contributions to agriculture do exist in Africa. Part of the problem for
neglecting to take these contributions into consideration in development
policies and programmes may lie elsewhere. The question has been raised
whether women farmers in Africa are under-counted or just ignored. The labour
of women farmers may be statistically visible but their lack of access to
resources, credit and training appears not to be. It has been suggested that
the real issue may be one of control of the resources. Dixon has argued:

"The reluctance to 'see' women farmers comes not from their
invisibility, but from a reluctance to share scarce resources with
them. ... Including women in labor force statistics in proportion
to the amount of work they actually do is an essential first step in
making female farmers visible to planners and policy makers. But it
is only a first step, necessary but not sufficient. The challenge

- 141

of the future is to see that women as food producers receive their
fair share of recognition not only in the full panoply of economic
and demographic statistics intended to count workers and value their
labor, but in the institutional/political systems that provide
access to resources that will raise agricultural productivity and
the returns of women's work". 39/

3. Impact of structural adjustment policies and measures
on rural women

Although stabilization and structural adjustment programmes have
attracted considerable attention, most have focused on macro-economic effects
that were assumed to be class and gender neutral. However, the 1987 study by
UNICEF, entitled "Adjustment with a human face", has sensitized international
opinion to their negative social impact, particularly on the welfare of the
poor. Specific attention was given to the differential impact on women and
children as particularly vulnerable sub-groups
within the poor. Although many of the data and analyses at present available
do not differentiate between the impact of the recession and that of adjustment
policies, the disturbing growth in poverty in affected countries during the
1980s has led to calls for compensatory measures to alleviate hardship during
the transitional period of adjustment programmes. However, while these aspects
will continue to receive major consideration, attention has recently shifted
to another area of priority concern: how to ensure that the rural poor fully
participate in and benefit from the future long-run growth process. This is
now being examined in detail in a number of important studies by various
international agencies and research institutions, including the major
initiative by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
and the African Development Bank on the Social Dimensions of Adjustment (SDA)
project in sub-Saharan Africa. There is increasing concern to take account of
gender issues in this new research.

Some of the main issues and constraints on rural women's productive roles
will be discussed with reference to the four solutions proposed by Addison and
Demery 40/ for raising primary incomes (derived from productive activities) by
the adjustment process. These can be summarized as follows: (a) increasing
access to productive assets such as land, irrigation and production inputs;
(b) increasing the rates of return on assets held by the poor by dismantling
market distortions, raising output prices or lowering input prices;
(c) increasing access of the poor with few assets to employment by
improvements in the operation of the labour market; and (d) protecting the
human capital of the poor by guaranteeing their access to health and education
services by a restructuring of public sector resource allocations. In cases
where it is impossible to help the poor increase their primary incomes, for
example, mothers and children outside the labour force or the poor who are
locked into low-productivity activities, it will be essential to envisage a
programme of targeted income or consumption transfers.

The possibility of increasing women's access to productive assets will
depend on the extent to which household members pool resources and labour and
share or divide the income. In cases where land owned by male and female
household members is pooled and cultivated by the household unit, problems of
access would probably only emerge in cases of divorce, the husband's death or
if the wife had insufficient say in decisions on the utilization of the land

- 15 -

and its produce. In many Islamic countries, women are de facto prevented from
taking up their inheritance by brothers or other male relatives. These
problems might be intensified if adjustment-induced growth substantially
increases the value of the land and therefore men's desire to retain control
of it.

More stark cases are likely to arise in Africa where married women
frequently have rights to cultivate plots on their own account. Since the
allocation of land held under usufruct rights is controlled by senior males in
the lineage, it is very likely that adjustment-induced shifts into more
profitable cash crops will result either in men taking over female-cultivated
land thus leaving women with little or no land or women being allocated less
productive, more distant plots. This phenomenon was observed in a number of
countries following the introduction of irrigation 41/ and could be expected
to recur as a result of production incentives. The shift to male-controlled
cash crops entails a reduction in female-controlled food crops. Since men are
less inclined than women to spend cash income on food, this is likely to lead
to a decline in family food supplies and nutritional status. 42/ If land is
in short supply, the current problem of female-household heads' access to land
is likely to become even more intractable under conditions of agricultural
growth induced by adjustment programmes that increase land values.

In all cases, women's lack of firm land title restricts their access to
credit, a prerequisite for increasing their assets. Women's access to
production inputs is also dependent on their access to credit and is further
constrained by institutional and social biases against women attending extension
and training courses, operating mechanized farm equipment, and dealing with
input supply and marketing personnel and procedures. Female-headed households
are particularly disadvantaged in this respect. It is very likely that with
the complete or partial withdrawal of the public sector from these services as
part of many adjustment packages, increased privatization will afford greater
access to these services by women, unless this is constrained by a social
tradition of male dominance in commercial activities. 43/ These problems
would exist with or without adjustment programmes; however, a strong case can
be made for simultaneously introducing measures to resolve them as part of
such packages.

By favouring exports and efficient import substitution, adjustment
policies could also provide the opportunity for rural women to engage in
small-scale non-farm production, processing and marketing in the informal and
rural industrial sectors. The extent to which women can take advantage of
such opportunities will depend on their access to and control of their own and
household capital resources and to credit markets. Provision should therefore
be made to ensure them this access.

The possibility of increasing the rates of return on assets depends on
several factors. First, the extent to which women producers will be able to
switch from subsistence food crops to cash crops will depend not only on the
traditional sexual division of labour by crop and other cultural factors, but
also on their ability to mobilize inputs such as fertilizer, labour, credit
and extension advice. If women have a customary obligation to produce certain
food crops for consumption and there is little or no flexibility to substitute
these with other own-produced or purchased foods, women may be unable to
switch from food crops to higher value crops and may have insufficient time to

- 16 -

produce both unless labour-saving technologies are simultaneously made
available through the adjustment package. 44/

Secondly, in societies where women have an obligation to perform certain
cultural operations on male-controlled cash crops in addition to work on
household food crops, an increase in cash-crop production by men in response
to market signals could result in an unacceptably high labour input by women
increasing their exhaustion and negatively affecting their time and energy
available to prepare food for the family, particularly the children, and to
breast-feed infants. Alternatively, if female labour is in short supply and
cannot be easily replaced by male labour, the household/male heads may be
unable to take advantage of the market incentives in adjustment programmes.
Only in societies where there is considerable flexibility in the sexual
division of labour will households be able to make rational decisions on the
efficient allocation of labour to maximize the comparative advantage of each
household member.

Thirdly, women's willingness to shift to higher price cash crops will
depend on the extent to which they benefit from the increased income either by
controlling income from the sale of their own cash crops or by significant
participation in household decision-making. If they gain little direct
benefit, they may well refuse to contribute the extra labour required.

Fourthly, a shift from food to cash crops by women could result in an
inadequate or unbalanced diet, unless suitable food substitutes are available
for purchase in the local market at reasonable, stable prices and household
decision-making mechanisms do not constrain their purchase. Given the
difficulties of ensuring these conditions in many countries, there may be a
case for adjustment policies favouring production of food crops for consumption
and export rather than of non-food export crops.

Fifthly, adjustment related reduction in public expenditure on health,
education and rural infrastructure (e.g. water supplies) that specifically
affects women will also in part determine the amount of time and energy they
have available for agricultural production.

Increasing access of the poor to employment is vital to avoid hardship
among the landless labouring class due to the higher food prices which are
often the result of adjustment policies. There is evidence, for example for
Mexico, of a significant rise in the number of women entering paid agricultural
work as families attempt to compensate for the crisis-induced sharp contraction
in the rural wage rate and price increases in staple foods and other basic
necessities. 45/

On the positive side, measures designed to expand agricultural output
could lead to increases in employment provided labour-displacing mechanization
is discouraged. However, the extent to which women benefit from such increased
employment opportunities will depend on the gender division of labour. On the
negative side, women seem to be more exposed to exploitation than men. It was
noted in the Mexico study, for example, that the living conditions of both day
and migrant labourers were deplorable, that they often do not receive the
legal minimum wage or social benefits and that they are not allowed to form
unions. Seasonal migration deprives them and their children of access to

- 17 -

services in health, nutrition, housing and education, while also disrupting
the family.

Human capital formation has been relatively neglected so far since heavy
cuts in social expenditure, particularly in rural areas, have adversely
affected health, nutrition and education. There is evidence that women and
girls usually suffer more than men and boys, respectively. 42/, 46/

4. Agrarian reform and settlement policies

The lack of access to land remains a major obstacle to the full participa-
tion of women in rural development. In the absence of major policy changes on
agrarian reform, developments in recent years have been mostly an accentuation
of trends. 8/ There is a continued persistence of large inequalities, little
progress in providing access to land and an increase in landlessness. Some
countries have continued their land settlement programmes (Indonesia,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand); some have tightened the
implementation of tenancy reforms (Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the majority
of Latin American countries); others have shifted towards socialization of
land through co-operatives, collective and state farms (the Congo, Cuba,
Ethiopia, Mozambique and Nicaragua); yet others have shifted towards
privatization of land or land registration by family units (Botswana, China,
Kenya, Liberia, Malawi and Uganda); and others have adapted existing communal
tenure to modify the relations between tribal chiefs and the State (the Gambia
and Lesotho).

In general, women have not been subjects of the agrarian reforms and the
majority of agrarian reforms have not resulted in significant numbers of
female beneficiaries. 8/, 18/ However, in no case has the impact of agrarian
reform been gender neutral, although it has varied according to region and
class position of rural women. The type of agrarian reform policies and
programmes in different countries has varied in the degree to which women have
been excluded either legally or by de facto measures.

In many agrarian reforms, only heads of household can be beneficiaries.
The "head of family/household" concept discriminates against women and
undermines married women's rights to a joint share. Throughout Latin America,
social custom dictates that if both a man and a woman reside in a household,
the man is considered its head. 18/,19/ In Ethiopia, there is no discrimina-
tion by sex in the law, but in practice, the rights are bestowed on heads of
household, in spite of a variety of former land inheritance patterns. In the
Republic of Tanzania, all rights were given to men when village land was
allocated. There is no legislative provision for widows, separated or
divorced women to remain on the land. 47/

In the settlement process of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka,
land leases are made out in the name of the male head of the household, which
in many cases violates the local traditions. 1l/,47/ In Asia, most women have
lost out in terms of land ownership in the new scheme of settlements since the
law is contrary to the traditional law regarding ownership. The policy of one
certificate of ownership for a household in the privatization schemes has
meant an erosion of women's traditional rights over land and its produce. _1/
In the Sudan, where the Government required land registration before starting
the delivery of agricultural services and formation of co-operatives, women

- 18 -

deferred the title of property to their husbands. 48/ One of the men's new
rights in the settlements in Burkina Faso, Kenya and the Republic of Tanzania
is to sell or rent out land without the wives' consent. 47/

In many settlement schemes, women have lost control over resources and
income. In some cases, such as Burkina Faso and Kenya, the amount of land
allocated to the household plot was smaller than women's traditional food
fields that allowed them to sell small surpluses. In Burkina Faso women even
lost the personal use of the field produce. 47/ In Sri Lanka, women have no
control over the produce and lose the right to own land after the death of
their husbands. 11/

In the resettlement process, women have a greater work-load than before.
In Indonesia, the low productivity of lands given to transmigrants makes it
necessary for male settlers to migrate for long periods, thus leaving women in
de facto control of agriculture; but agricultural credit, inputs and extension
services are geared towards the male transmigrant. Women can no longer
supplement the family income by trading, which means losing control over an
important source of cash income. 49/ In collectives and producer co-operatives
(Cuba, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea and Peru) women take on work and,
in addition, they work on the household plots and their domestic tasks, with
negative effects on their health and agricultural productivity. 19/, 47/, 49/

In China, the new policies of "Responsibility systems and domestic
sidelines" offer incentives to producers by contracting particular agricultural
tasks to a group, household or individual and encouraging sidelines such as
production from private plots, livestock raising and handicrafts. While this
raises productivity and incomes, it can be a set-back for women, leading to
women working in a private domestic context cut off from the collective
decision-making. 47/

The present situation regarding land tenure and some of the current
policies on agrarian reform are shaping a new trend towards the "feminization"
of agriculture. With growing male migration and the increase of female-headed
households, women are becoming de facto agriculturalists. Both male
out-migration and men opting for non-farm occupations have contributed to
impoverished conditions and lack of agricultural services. This is the case
in Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua and many Caribbean countries, 8/ Burkina
Faso, 50/ and other sub-Saharan countries, 51/ including Zambia 52/, 53/ and
Thailand. 54/ (Blanc-Szanton 1986). Summing up the situation for women, the
factors hindering their direct access to the benefits of agrarian reforms
and agricultural inputs include legal measures that favour male heads of
household, the fluctuation of women's participation in agricultural work, and
ideological resistance to accept women as landworkers in addition to their
role as housewives.

Although the general picture of benefits for women from the process of
agrarian reform is bleak, there have been some real gains for women, especially
where agrarian reform has replaced the feudal system or where women have
traditionally had a subordinate role in family production. 47/ Women have
benefited from schemes where the participation of rural women is a well-defined
national policy objective as in China, Cuba and Nicaragua. In these cases the
specific needs of women have been given greater consideration in the agrarian
reform programmes. 19/

- 10 -

In recent years, women's organizations in China, Cuba, Malaysia,
Nicaragua and Thailand have worked to gain access to land and resources, to
overcome existing barriers or to protect women's rights regarding access and
inheritance. 11/, 19/ In India, in response to pressure from women's groups,
the Sixth Five-Year Plan recommended that the Government provide joint land
titles in all development activities involving transfer of assets.

There are some experiments in Ghana and Kenya where women pool their
contributions over time and buy land collectively and/or farms and for a
variety of entrepreneurial activities. 55/, 56/ In Bangladesh groups of
landless women, with loans from the Grameen Bank and the assistance of
non-governmental organizations, undertake collective farm and non-farm
activities to buy or lease small pieces of land. 57/

Finally, there is now a greater awareness of the inadequacy of data
regarding women's access to land and rural services. As a consequence of the
FAO Workshop on the Improvement of Statistics on Women in Agriculture a
document with guidelines for data collection and monitoring has been prepared
that takes into consideration agrarian reform and access to land. Action is
being taken by many countries to disaggregate the data'and to define research
projects on specific population groups as women heads of household and.
landless. 25/, 30/

5. Legal status

As is the case with agrarian reform measures, other legal reforms usually
have not ensured women's rights even in countries where women predominate in
the agricultural labour force, although the need to improve women's legal
status has long been widely recognized. Reforms should guarantee women's
constitutional and legal rights in terms of access to land and other means of
production and should ensure that women will control the products of their
labour and their income, as well as the benefits from agricultural inputs,
research, training, credits and other infrastructural facilities. Moreover,
even where legal barriers to women's advancement have been removed by modern
constitutions and legal reforms, women still suffer from discrimination that
is part of the tradition and custom of most societies.

The Latin America region seems to have progressed substantially on legal
rights, both in terms of explicit legal provisions, and on more widely
accepted customs of equal treatment. Almost all countries of Latin America
have signed and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (adopted by the General Assembly of the United
Nations in resolution 34/180 of 18 December 1979), Colombia, as of 1987, has
drafted legislation to provide for remuneration for part-time work and
maternity leave. Ecuador is considering legislation to eliminate discrimina-
tion and to change labour and trade laws in favour of women. In Nicaragua,
both parents have equal obligations to children and housework. 8/ In Brazil,
the Constitution that came into effect in 1988 eliminates discriminatory
measures against women with respect to social security benefits, retirement
and land ownership. By the efforts of the Women's Rights National Council,
significant advances have also been achieved in legislation on rural work,
particularly in regard to women's rights in fisheries and landownership. 17/

- 20 -

A recent review of the constitutional, civil, labour, agricultural and
banking regulations in four Latin American and Caribbean countries, however,
found that, while constitutions guarantee equal political rights, they do not
expressly guarantee equality between spouses or equal wages; discrimination
exists in civil law, especially in regard to a married woman's ability to act,
to dispose of her income, or to establish her domicile without the consent of
her husband; protectionist features of labour legislation often discriminate
against women, or discourage employers from hiring them; agrarian reform
legislation usually grants land rights to "family heads", which in some civil
codes is only the husband; laws governing inheritance may discriminate against
women; common law marriages, very frequent in Latin America and the Caribbean,
are not covered by inheritance laws; and banking regulations make it very
difficult for women to obtain credit. 58/

In Asia, despite equal legal status, there is still a large gap between
the de facto and de jure status of women. However, in Bangladesh, India and
Sri Lanka, a number of-laws have recently been enacted, regulating inheritance,
marriage, employment, maternity benefits and equal wages for women plantation
workers. In Africa, customary law still prevails in many countries, and
rights that exist for women under civil law often go unrecognized. In many
countries of the Near East, women still have no rights to act in their own
legal capacity, being dependent upon their fathers, brothers or husbands, who
have legal responsibility for them. The lack of legal capacity prevents women
from acting independently in matters of property acquisition or transfer,
applications for credit and all the other legal transactions where the
customary or legally responsible male's approval is needed. 8/

In regard to the issue of equal pay for equal work, practice again does
not meet the legal standards. Women's agricultural wages invariably fall
short of the wages paid to men. In Sri Lanka, the average daily wages for
female workers in the unorganized sector for the main crops are from
one-quarter to one-third less than those for men. The same applies to most
countries of Africa and Asia. In the Sudan, women are often paid less than
half the rate of men for work on certain crops. 8/

The main problems with legislation on women's rights remain lack of
enforcement of them and lack of knowledge about them. In several countries in
Asia and Latin America during the last few years, women's organizations have
started legal services for women that may, in the long-run, improve the
situation. In China, since 1983, more than 95 per cent of Women's Federations
at the county level have set up advisory agencies to provide legal services
for women, with quite effective results. 8/

6. Agricultural employment policies

The "invisibility" of women's employment in agriculture, or more precisely
their statistical underestimation, already discussed in the original World
Survey, still exists in the late 1980s. Only a little over one third of the
active labour force in agriculture is estimated to be constituted by females,
mainly because of the widespread tendency to register farm women as housewives
(see table). No significant change is reported over past statistics and a
slight decline is projected. Many countries have made little progress in data
collection in regard to women's employment in agriculture.

- 21

Economically active population in 1985 in agriculture, and the share
of women by major regions

Economically active Share of
population in agriculture females
Region (Thousands) (Percentage)

Africa 129 210 42.3
Near East 33 657 28.1
Latin America 40 506 11.9
Far East 324 916 28.4
Asian centrally planned countries 463 341 46.0
Other developing countries 1 448 40.5

Total developing countries 993 069 37.7
Total world 1 053 002 38.1

Source: World-Wide Estimates and Projections of the Agricultural and
Non-Agricultural Population Segments, 1950-2025 (Rome, Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations, 1986).

Statistical underestimation partly explains the continuing lack of
concreteness in national policies vis-a-vis women's employment in
agriculture. In this respect, the International Seminar on Women in
Agriculture and Rural Development in Asia held in 1986, laid particular
emphasis on the need to teach policy makers to analyse options and take
decisions that ensure equitable participation of women in agriculture. 27/

There is a growing awareness of the importance of policy-making to focus
on the actual reality of women's employment. It was found in the Near East
that not only had past levels of female labour participation in agriculture in
the region been systematically underestimated, but also that actual levels
were rapidly growing. The most striking increases were reported in Egypt and
the Syrian Arab Republic where male migration generates a demand for women as
wage labourers, mainly coming from landless households. 59/ These trends will
have implications for policy. 59/ In the Sudan, policy makers have become
aware of the need to enforce wage equality and to protect female subsistence
farmers and herders from the adverse effects of mechanization on their
employment. 60/

Concerns were already raised in the 1984 Survey on how to protect women
from the negative effects of technological innovations and farm mechanization.
Concomitantly, there was a growing concern that women share in the benefits of
increased agricultural productivity brought about by improved technologies.
Mechanized technologies tend to become direct competitors and to replace
female unskilled labour, although the impact on women varies from country to
country and within countries, depending on social class. In Latin America,
the effects of new technology and export crop expansion have been strongest in
displacing women from permanent agricultural employment into seasonal,

- 22 -

statistically unreported, employment. 61/ This trend in Latin America should
alert policy makers in the other continents, where the phenomenon has not yet
acquired the same momentum, to the situation of the weakest sections of the
female labour force in agriculture: the seasonal and temporary workers.

In Asia, studies on the impact of technological innovations on women's
agricultural employment show that the women from the poorest and the landless
households are more negatively affected. In Indonesia, for example, the
majority of women in rice farming are landless wage labourers who depend on
manual tasks of winnowing, threshing and hand-pounding of rice for their
livelihood. Mechanized rice processing has benefited the wealthier villagers
and urban traders and displaced the poorer women. Similarly, in the
Philippines, mechanization of threshing activities has marginalized landless
women. In India, the Green Revolution has increased the number of agricultural
workers, both male and female, due to higher yields and need for more weeding.
However, it is men who are employed when the use of new technology is involved.
Landless women and those with little land find their workload increased but
not their real wages. Women from better-off families frequently withdraw from
the labour force. 11/

In Africa, where food production is women's responsibility, technological
change has not had as great an impact on displacing or marginalizing women in
agricultural work. In contrast, the high levels of male out-migration has
increased the amount of women's work. 37/, 38/, 62/

However, progress has been made in some areas only, such as the intro-
duction of appropriate tools and technologies, especially those for irrigation
and processing, to improve productivity and working conditions of rural women.
In China for instance, manual rice transplanters, fertilizer applications,
water pumps and grain-drying equipment have been introduced, all of which save
women's labour but do not displace women in agricultural work. 63/

The impact of irrigated agriculture usually extends beyond increased crop
production and includes access to water for domestic use and livestock
rearing, including processing of livestock products. 64/ However, irrigation,
with its high labour requirements, often results in an excessive work-load for
women. An example from the Republic of Korea reported that farm women worked
from 11.2 to 13.8 hours per day, which was approximately 16 per cent more than
male workers. 25/

Apart from crop and livestock production, post-harvest activities and
food processing continue to employ large sections of the female labour force
in most countries. For instance, in the Sudan women are heavily involved in
processing milk and other livestock products such as wool and leather. 65/ In
Bangladesh, processing of milk and livestock products now offers the main
source of employment for landless women, as women's traditional activities,
such as rice processing, are increasingly mechanized and utilize capital-
intensive techniques and male labour. It was estimated that between 3.5 and
5 million workdays per year would be needed to compensate for displaced
Bangladeshi female workers. 66/ Although landless women are major target
groups for government policy, no clear position has been taken in regard to
automatic versus traditional rice processing.

- 23 -

Another major employment source for women is processing and marketing of
fish. In Ghana for instance, smoking, salting, drying and marketing of fish
is a typical female activity. It is estimated that women process and distri-
bute from 60 to 90 per cent of both farm and marine produce in the country and
that they are also beginning to be involved in industrial fisheries. 67/
Contrary to commonly held beliefs that fishing is a specifically male
occupation, women are heavily involved in fishing, particularly in West Africa,
in shallow waters, diving and using traps and baskets. Economic development
efforts aimed at women have traditionally focused on other sectors; as a
consequence, their involvement in the fish catch is decreasing. In some Asian
countries (e.g. Bangladesh, China, Philippines), women's involvement in
aquaculture (fish farming) is considerable in all stages, including pond
construction (China). For example, it was estimated that over 20,000 women in
the Philippines and over 40,000 in Thailand are involved in aquaculture which,
in addition to employment in fish handling and selling, represents a contribu-
tion to total female employment, up to now relatively neglected in national
policy making. 68/

7. Environmental policies and programmes

Environmental resources are critical to rural women in their roles as food
producers and providers of basic household needs. Environmental degradation
and natural disasters, such as drought, floods, hurricanes, erosion,
desertification, deforestation and inappropriate land use, have pushed
great numbers of poor women into marginal environments where critically low
levels of water supplies, shortages of fuel, over-utilization of grazing and
arable lands, and population density have deprived them of their livelihood.
Moreover, the environmental impact of policies, programmes and projects has
often had negative effects on women's health and on their sources of employment
and income. This is now widely recognized among policymakers at both
international and national levels. 7/, 69/, 70/, 71/

An initial assessment of the differential impact of crisis by gender
in Africa shows that women have been especially hard hit by drought and
desertification. They have been left to cultivate food crops on the less
fertile land and frequently have to compensate for declining yields by
cultivating much larger areas of marginal land. The increased work-load has
negative effects on time available for collecting fuel and water to meet their
families' basic needs. 72/ Comparison of the results of studies by the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Ghana, India, Indonesia, Mozambique
and Peru also shows that rural women suffer the major burden of environmental
distress; they work longer hours to produce enough food and income to support
their families as well as to collect the fuel and water needed, with less
family labour due to male migration. 73/

Deforestation and desertification critically affect women's access to
energy, particularly fuelwood for cooking. As forests and scrubland become
depleted, and as increasing numbers of people compete for diminishing
resources, women find it more and more difficult and time consuming to collect
enough fuelwood in the time available, to them. Women adopt a number of
strategies to deal with this; an increasingly common one is to prepare food
less often. In some parts of West Africa and many areas of the Andes, cooked
meals have been reduced to one every other day, resulting in a drop in the
level of nutrition. Another solution has been to supplement or replace

- 24 -

fuelwood supplies with agricultural residues such as cassava stalks and dung.
Some 800 million people now rely on residues for at least part of their energy
needs. If agricultural wastes are burnt for energy, the soil is deprived of
their fertilizing effect and of humus. 69/

It is now recognized, contrary to previous assumptions, that the
collection of fuelwood in rural areas is not a major cause of deforestation.
The main causes are large-scale lumbering, agricultural expansion, over-use of
existing agricultural land, burning forests to encourage fodder growth and
over-grazing. Rapid urban growth also puts pressure on land. The implications
for projects and programmes are that attempts to address the environmental
issue only through women's activities as fuel gatherers and cooks are unlikely
to have much impact. 74/

Resource depletion affects more than fuelwood collection for cooking
purposes. Forests are also a source of fodder for women's livestock. In
Nepal, the shortage of trees has made it nearly impossible for women to gather
fodder, and in parts of Burkina Faso and Mali, domestic animals have had to be
given up for lack of fodder, thus depriving women of a source of income and
the family of another item of food. 69/

Many of women's income-earning activities depend on adequate supplies of
fuel and biomass. Some of the energy-intensive small industries are food
processing, beer brewing, fish smoking, pottery and brickmaking. Forests also
supply other food products and raw materials both for use in the household and
as a source of income. 69/, 73/

The depletion and degradation of water supplies and particularly of
potable water likewise has a critical effect on rural women as they are the
ones primarily responsible for household water supply.

The International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (1981-1990)
(General Assembly resolution 35/18) has drawn attention to the important role
that women play in the provision of water supply and to the impact on women of
the depletion and degradation of water resources, as well as the impact of
water supply and sanitation policies programmes and projects on women. Women
have had little part, however, in the planning or implementation of water
supply schemes in programmes and projects. It is now recognized that this is
a major cause of the high rate of failure of water supply and sanitation
schemes. The role of women as water managers is critical to the
sustainability of water supply and sanitation programmes. 71/

As a result of this growing recognition of the critical relationship
between the environment and rural women in their roles as food producers and
providers for their families, a number of policy trends can be noted especially
in the areas of forestry and energy supply.

In forestry there has been a move away from reforestation programmes that
are dominated by the concept of forestry as the commercial exploitation of
timber and that are designed and implemented by foresters with little
understanding of local situations and needs, including the traditional
agricultural system. Such programmes often involved policing of forests and
restricting the local population's access to forest land. 71/ Recent shifts
in forestry policy are directed to enabling the rural poor to obtain the

fullest benefits from forest and tree resources by direct participation in
their management and use. Approaches used to achieve this are agro-forestry
and social or community forestry.

Agro-forestry has proved to be a promising approach by its integration of
agriculture with forestry in order to produce outputs for sale, food and
fuelwood. Initially, however, women often lost out in these projects when
gender roles and the differential impact on men and women were not taken into
account. More recently, forestry programmes have begun to emphasize gender
issues as important for their success. A similar development can be seen in
the social or community forestry approach which involves the participation of
rural people. 69/, 73/

Attention to women's requirements for energy resources has frequently
been narrowly focused on fuel saving. Because cooking of meals and food
processing are the most fuel-consuming domestic tasks, fuel-saving improved
cooking stoves have received widespread attention as one way of decreasing
energy demand and, thereby, the stress on forest resources. However, the
improved stoves have turned out to be less promising than expected and actual
fuel savings under field conditions are often not significantly greater than
those obtained by cooking on traditional stoves or open fires. 71/, 75/

Planners are now beginning to recognize that women's roles and needs in
relation to energy resources must be viewed in a broader context. Improved
stove programmes are being re-evaluated and new approaches tried that place
improved stoves in a wider context of household fuel planning and cooking
efficiency. 73/, 75/, 76/ Moreover, it is increasingly recognized that
energy concepts and projects must be integrated into rural development

As a consequence of the recognition of the crucial role of women in
community energy planning, the need for training extension workers in
promoting and disseminating information on household energy conservation and
the need for educational institutions to develop awareness among their
students has also been acknowledged. A regional African workshop recognized
rural household energy conservation as one of the areas lacking in most
existing home economics training programmes. 77/ Another regional workshop
discussed energy issues and technologies in household energy conservation and
proposed curricular and training modules on energy for use by home economists
involved in rural development. 78/ The trend towards using an ecosystems
approach that considers household-environment relationships is reflected in
the development of training materials. 79/ Likewise, training materials are
being developed that aim to promote women's optimal involvement in water
supply/sanitation programmes and projects. The training packages prepared
by INSTRAW and ILO for the use of development aid workers and women's
organizations in training/orientation seminars are examples. These modules
were field-tested during a series of national seminars organized in Ethiopia,
Kenya, Somalia and the Sudan between November 1987 and February 1988.

8. Population policies and programmes

Population change is closely linked with food security, agricultural and
environmental issues. The growing recognition of the interrelationship of
population factors, such as migration and family size and composition, with


- 26 -

agricultural development has led specialized United Nations and bilateral
agencies to take steps to promote systematic research on the relationship
between demographic factors, women's roles and agricultural development. The
1984 International Conference on Population, urged all United Nations
specialized agencies to include population questions among their priorities.

The increasing imbalances between growing population and limited natural
resources has been identified as one of the factors of food security problems
in Africa. 81/ Rapid population growth has also been cited as triggering
over-grazing and over-exploitation of tree resources, thus contributing to
deforestation and environmental degradation. 82/ Moreover, attention is
being given to the linkages between population and water resources use and
conservation and to the need to plan for population change in programmes
directed at improving systems of water supply for agricultural and domestic
use. 83/

Another reason for the increased attention to demographic aspects and the
role of women arises from the growing concern about the food security situation
of the developing countries. As food production has not kept pace with
population growth, it is being recognized that solutions to this problem must
address both the supply side (i.e. by increasing agricultural output) and the
demand side (i.e. by effective national population policies) of the equation.
One approach to addressing both these sides is by recognizing the important
contribution of women to agricultural production and rural development and by
designing programmes aimed at maximizing their productive capacity. When such
programmes also succeed in improving women's physical and social status,
family well-being and reducing the infant mortality rate, this will ultimately
contribute to reducing population growth. This effect would occur sooner, and
be more pronounced, if specific population components were attached to the
rural development projects in which women participate. 84/

There appears to be a shift from a previously narrower approach of
introducing population concepts in rural women's programmes. This approach
concentrated on influencing rural women to have smaller families by teaching
them how population factors, such as family size, affect their income,
available food supplies, and the health and education of their families.
While population education remains important, it is increasingly placed in a
broader context of improving women's agricultural productivity and access to
the benefits of development programmes. In this respect, increasing attention
is being placed on the interaction of population factors and agricultural
employment and productivity. 85/, 86/

D. Progress in incorporating women as participants in
and beneficiaries of agricultural and rural development programmes
and projects

1. Overall trends

The overall trend in recent years has been to integrate women as
participants in and beneficiaries of mainstream agricultural and rural
development programmes and projects. This marks a move away from previous
policies of developing projects directed exclusively at women.

As mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, mainstream programmes
and projects refer to major development activities and, in particular, to
large-scale, sustainable projects that support agricultural development.

There is considerable evidence that "mainstream projects that ensure
women's participation in proportion to their roles and responsibilities within
the project's baseline situation are more likely to achieve their immediate
purposes and their broader socio-economic goals than are projects that do
not". 87/ It should be further noted that women-only projects that are
usually very limited in scope and represent a very small proportion of
agricultural development expenditure usually have little effect.

A review of agricultural projects funded by one donor showed that
projects that delivered resources to women according to their role in the
farming system were much more likely to succeed than projects in which
women did not receive resources. Furthermore, gender analysis in the
baseline situation did not automatically guarantee that female farmers would
participate, even when there were no formal barriers to their participation.
Even if a mainstream project was concerned with activities that were primarily
women's responsibility, women's participation was low unless delivery systems
explicitly earmarked resources or services to women. 87/

The evaluation indicated that gender-sensitive mainstream projects were
the most effective way of reaching large numbers of women and ensuring them of
significant benefits. Women-only projects tended to have a minimal develop-
mental effect, largely due to their small budgets, low government priority and
lack of appropriate technical skills by project management staff, especially
if they were not located in ministries of agriculture. The main achievements
had been in delivering training rather than in raising production or generating
income. Finally, women's components in larger projects could be effective due
to their access to greater resources and use of common technical staff, but if
those projects concentrated on women's domestic rather than on their economic
roles and had tiny budgets and little technical expertise, they could be
isolated from the main project and represented only tokenism. 37/, 87/, 88/

A number of evaluation exercises undertaken by international and
bilateral agencies to determine the efficacy of existing programmes in
reaching and benefiting women have shown, however, gaps between women in
development policy and practice in the context of agricultural projects. This
was the result, for example, of a Dutch study on the effects of bilateral
co-operation in agriculture and the position of women in developing countries.

An evaluation exercise of FAO regular programme and field projects
that were coded as to whether or not women were explicitly targeted as
beneficiaries, revealed that approximately one third of all programmes and
projects include women as beneficiaries. Evaluation of International Fund for
Agricultural Development (IFAD) projects has shown that the share of projects
identifying women as explicit beneficiaries has increased from 50 per cent in
1985 to 85 per cent in 1987. 90/

Technology transfer is one area that has been identified as requiring
programmes and projects directed to women. A proposed FAO project entitled

- P7 -

- 28 -

"Increasing rural women's food productivity through improved agricultural
technology transfer and adoption in Africa" aims, for example, to increase
agricultural productivity by identification, dissemination and institutional-
ization of improved agricultural technology transfer that will benefit women
farmers and thus enable them to be integrated into the mainstream of
agricultural and rural development programmes. Marketing and management
skills have also been identified as an area in which women could benefit from
projects or project components directed exclusively to them. Thus, the
Lesotho project, entitled "Women's integrated agricultural project through
community action" succeeded in developing marketing outlets that ensure
considerable income for the project's poultry component. In Zimbabwe, the
project entitled "Strengthening women's role and work in rural development"
includes a comprehensive course in bookkeeping and management for women's
groups, as this has often been identified as a weak point in income-earning
activities for women. This project also includes a credit scheme for women's
groups utilizing a credit fund designed jointly by the project and the
Agricultural Finance Corporation.

Other projects with a specific concern for women are directed to
integrating gender issues on the policy level. An example in Latin America
is a regional project entitled "Consultoria para integrar la temitica de las
mujeres en la agriculture y el desarrollo rural" that is developing a plan of
action to incorporate gender issues into graduate level courses for
development planners.

Many projects directed towards women aim at increasing their income-
earning capacity. However, it is now recognized that many attempts in the
past resulted in small-scale, non-sustainable and insignificant income-
generating projects with low levels of remuneration for rural women. There is
a need to study and implement methods of providing substantial, sustainable
income for women. Attention is being focused especially on small-scale
agricultural enterprises. 29/, 31/

It has been found that small-scale rural agro-industries satisfy the
local demand for goods more efficiently and offer opportunities for off-farm
income-earning activities for rural populations without the heavy servicing
normally associated with those sited in urban centres. Women play a dominant
role in both production and post-harvest processing of crops by small-scale
and largely unsophisticated agro-industries, particularly in supplying the
basic staple foods of local communities by processing indigenous raw
materials. Small agro-industries provide additional income to rural families,
thus increasing the purchasing power and better access to better nutrition and
living standards. A fruit-and-vegetable canning project in Lesotho is a good
example of how high-quality exportable processed food can be beneficially
meshed with the local situation and provide attractive remuneration to rural
small-scale farmers, particularly women.

Fisheries is an area in which progress has been made in increasing
women's participation in and benefits from programmes and projects. A number
of studies have shown the important role of women in fisheries activities and
have identified their needs. Women often play a major role in small-scale
fisheries either directly or in support of men's activities or in the
post-harvest marketing or processing of fish. It is also recognized that
women can have an important role to play in aquaculture. Consequently,

- 29 -

efforts are being made to ensure that women and gender issues are integrated
in fisheries programmes and projects. 68/, 91/ The Bay of Bengal Programme in
Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand is an example of the
successful integration of women and gender issues into a mainstream programme
that was originally conceived as primarily technical in nature. 92/, 93/

Progress can also be noted in incorporating women as participants in and
beneficiaries of forestry programmes and projects. This has taken forms that
range from the mobilization of women for the planting of trees to the
involvement of women in comprehensive agro-forestry and community forestry
programmes. Women have been involved in the efforts undertaken in many
countries for the mass mobilization of people for tree-planting and support to
forest development as, for example, in India through the Tree Grower
Associations, in the windbreak planting in Niger and in annual tree-planting
festival celebrations in Guatemala, Pakistan and Senegal. 8/ Spontaneous
people's movements, such as the Chipko Movement in India, which have a very
high participation of women, have played a role in the protection of forests
and have influenced government forestry programmes to take account of the
needs of the local populations. Another programme with a high participation
of women is the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya. Kenyan women, through the
National Council of Women in Kenya, have played a major role in many forestry
schemes, involving tree planting, nurseries and growing and distributing
seedlings to women's groups. 69/

In Nepal where clusters of villages are being encouraged to manage their
local forests, efforts are being made to promote the participation of women.
Other successful experiences of women's participation in and benefiting from
forestry programmes in recent years can be found in an agro-forestry training
programme for women in Zimbabwe, a forestry community development project in
the Peruvian sierra, agroforestry projects in Indonesia, Jamaica, the Republic
of Korea, Senegal, the Sudan and Thailand. 69/, 94/

A new programme on community forestry that gives particular attention to
women's forest-related roles and needs has been launched. Building on the
Forestry for Local Community Development Programme (1979-1986), which
successfully raised awareness of the need for self-help forestry, the new
programme called Forests, Trees and People will identify and develop
effective ways of supporting people in their efforts to grow, manage and
utilize trees and forests. 84/

2. Access to co-operatives, credit and marketing services

Women farmers often find themselves cut off from the benefits of
agricultural and rural development programmes and projects because of their
lack of access to membership in co-operatives. Even if women are not
officially barred from co-operatives, they are generally excluded because
membership is based on land ownership or a head-of-household criterion that is
frequently reserved for men.

The relative number of women involved in co-operatives has risen, but
remains far below that of male participation; and when women do belong to
co-operatives, they are allowed very little part in administration or
decision-making. Women's low participation is related to their lack of free
time caused by the unavailability of services to reduce domestic work and

- 30 -

child-care. Under present circumstances, women who decide to join
co-operatives are taking on responsibilities that may expand their working

Some progress has been made in widening women's participation in
co-operatives, however. Viet Nam is one country where women figure prominently
in membership as well as in office-bearing of local and agricultural
co-operatives. Several Governments, in the last few years, have devised
specific policies to improve female participation. Cuba and Nicaragua
explicitly favour the incorporation of women in co-operatives. Not only do
female heads of household qualify as co-operative members, but also wives and
daughters. Notwithstanding this open policy, in Nicaragua women still
represent only 6 per cent of the total membership. In Kenya, the Co-operative
Act is currently being revised to remove the barriers that have hitherto
prevented women's full participation. In India, the co-operative laws and
by-laws in some states now make provision for .the nomination of one or two
women on the management committees. In Sri Lanka, the National Co-operative
Council has created women's advisory committees to promote the participation
of women. In Malaysia, the Farmers' Organization Authority has set up a
"Women's Participation Unit" to encourage women's membership. Some other
countries have followed a different line, opting for special women's
co-operatives, as in Bangladesh, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe among others.
In Bangladesh, government support has resulted in a rapid increase in the
number of women in credit and marketing co-operatives, with more than 8,000
groups in all. 8/ In Mali, a Women's Promotion Division was created within
the National Co-operatives Board in order to both encourage the participation
of women in the national co-operative movement and to support women's
co-operatives. 95/

Women's lack of access to credit is part of a larger problem of the
inadequate credit to small farmers in the developing world. Women, however,
face specific obstacles in obtaining credit. This problem has become more
acute as women become increasingly responsible for overall farm management,
especially in circumstances of male migration. Although women may be better
credit risks than men (generally having superior repayment rates), banks and
other formal lending institutions are reluctant to make loans to them since
they are generally small and inexperienced borrowers and are often unable to
meet collateral requirements such as property ownership. 96/ Other factors
that limit women's access to credit are the orientation of extension
programmes mainly to men; women's lack of knowledge of institutional credit;
widespread illiteracy and incapability to meet the application procedures;
and, in general, the non-involvement of women in development projects.
Women's lack of access to farmers' associations and co-operatives is another
important factor in their lack of access to credit, since membership in such
organizations provides both loans and information on credit.

The few countries for which some data are available suggest that the
share of women in agricultural credit is around 10 per cent or less (e.g.
Cameroon and India). In Jamaica, women account for 5 per cent of the
Agricultural Credit Bank's loans. 8/ Women's access to credit has continued
to be limited even in African countries where women are the major food
producers. An analysis of credit schemes in Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone,
Zambia and Zimbabwe found that, by and large, women have received less than

- 31 -

10 per cent of the credit directed to small-holders and 1 per cent of the
total credit to agriculture. 96/

As a result, women must often rely on informal services of credit from
friends and relatives, money-lenders, pawnbrokers and wholesale traders in all
regions, often on exploitative terms. A common source of finance for women is
from informal savings and loan associations that are found especially in
Africa and Asia, in countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra
Leone, Togo, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Republic of Korea. 8/

Several Governments are now seeking means to provide women with greater
access to credit. In Bangladesh, the innovative Women's Entrepreneurship
Development Project provides credit through the agricultural bank to help
women start their own businesses. The now famous credit programme is through
the Grameen Bank that specializes in loans to the landless poor; in 1983,
women comprised one third of its total borrowers. Likewise in Kenya, recent
revisions of the Co-operative Act are designed to provide women with access to
credit facilities offered by growers' co-operatives, while the Kenya Women's
Finance Trust, established in 1983; guarantees women's bank loans. The
African Agricultural Credit Association links women with title deeds to banks;
thus, more than 11 million shillings* have so far been loaned to women for
agricultural projects. In Malawi, in 1985, women constituted 19 per cent of
the borrowers in the Ministry of Agriculture's credit schemes and, due to
their excellent repayment rate, it is planned to widen credit coverage by the
implementation of policy changes focusing on eliminating barriers and assuring
women's full participation in co-operatives, training and extension. The
Malawi experience is considered a lesson in the effectiveness of introducing
national level policy measures rather than relying solely on women's institu-
tions to carry out separate women's programmes. 8/, 96/ In Zambia, formal
credit to women has been provided largely by specific projects, such as the
SIDA-financed "Women's participation in rural development" and the partially
FAO-administered "Lima national fertilizer programme". 96/ IFAD is now
providing valuable assistance to rural women in 107 developing countries by
credit projects or credit components of projects especially designed for them.

As regards marketing, women all over the world are highly active as
traders, hawkers, street vendors and marketers. Especially in Africa and the
Caribbean, women are highly visible in all stages of food marketing. In West
African marketing systems (especially Ghana and Nigeria), women are the
central participants at all levels of distribution for most of the major
commodities. In other regions, they dominate trade in certain crops, or at
specific levels of trade. In Zimbabwe, for example, women are primarily
responsible for. production of fruits and vegetables in the Shona-speaking
area, and in Burkina Faso, women are heavily involved in small-scale grain
trade in the western part of the country. Even in areas of Africa where women
are in seclusion, they may play crucial roles in local trade and marketing
systems. 97/

*ShK 16.30 = $US 1 (rate in December 1986).

- 32 -

Despite their predominant role in marketing in many countries, very
little has been done to help women in their marketing activities, either by
way of improved transportation or better market facilities. Even in countries
where women traditionally have an important role in wholesale trading of
certain goods (as in West Africa), illiteracy or restrictions on women's
independent legal capacity prevent them from meeting the procedural
requirements of formal service institutions. Only in a few instances have
women had access to training in marketing, accounting and management.

Nevertheless, progress has been made in analysing women's needs in the
area of marketing, and in identifying ways and means of meeting these needs.
As with other aspects of agricultural development, information on marketing
(production, sales and access to extension and inputs) will have to be
collected and disaggregated by gender, and strategies for assuring participa-
tion in credit, training and other programmes will have to be integrated into
project design and implementation. 37/, 98/ Market infrastructure will need
to be improved taking into consideration the special needs of women such as
child care. Transportation needs to be improved, especially that involved in
the movement of produce from rural to urban markets and must be made
accessible to women. Women's agricultural produce should be targeted for
credit and micro-enterprise programmes and regulatory policies directed
towards traders should take into account the needs of women, particularly in
the informal sector. 97/

3. Access to agricultural extension and training

Within the past few years, several Governments have been making efforts
to redesign their extension services in order to improve their capacity to
reach women farmers. These attempts are based on the recognition that
agricultural extension services suffer from a number of weaknesses in their
programmes for rural women, including:

(a) A focus on a few "progressive" farmers, to the relative neglect of
many resource-poor farm families, women as heads of rural households, and
landless households;

(b) Misconceptions about and prejudices against women's actual and ideal
roles, with the result that they are often excluded from the target audience
of agricultural extension education programmes;

(c) Attempts by separate women's units staffed by people without
agricultural backgrounds to implement technical agricultural projects and the
accompanying misperception that only female extensionists can work with women;

(d) A gender bias among extension workers (in Africa, approximately
95 per cent of the agricultural extension workers are men);

(e) The lack of development and inadequate transfer of technologies that
involve multi-directional communication between rural women, researchers and
exta.ision workers;

(f) Inappropriate extension methodology for working with rural women;

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(g) An extension policy that does not specifically identify women as an
integral part of the target audience. 94/

There is also a recognition that mechanisms must be established to
provide links between groups of women and sources of assistance as rural women
very often do not have enough information on existing services. Moreover,
extension and training should, in addition to imparting technical knowledge
and assistance, promote women's empowerment by increasing their decision-
making capacities and ability to participate in organization. 99/

The basic approaches being used to improve the situation include
increasing the number of female extension workers and women trained in
agriculture; redesigning the curricula of agricultural training institutes and
re-orienting the content of extension services for women away from their home
economics bias in order to provide them with appropriate extension advice
based on their actual roles; and training male extensionists to work directly
with women farmers. 94/, 98/, 100/, 101/

Several countries have increased their efforts to provide adequate
agricultural education and training for women and women trainers. Women's
attendance at agricultural training institutions has increased in countries
such as Burundi, Cameroon, China, Guinea, Kenya and Zimbabwe. In China, in
1985 alone, nearly 20 million rural women participated in various training
activities all over the country on a wide range of technical subjects. In
India, a plan for training women in agriculture has been formulated as part of
the National Agricultural Extension system that is now implemented in 15 out
of the total 22 states. 8/ In some countries, women are now able to receive
the same agricultural education as men, as at the Faculty of Agriculture,
University of Swaziland. 102/

Some countries have made progress in reaching women farmers by women
extensionists. In Asia, India has a policy of appointing women agricultural
extension officers. However, substantial numbers of women extension staff
exist only in Indonesia and the Philippines where approximately 50 per cent of
the extension personnel are women, and in Thailand where 25 per cent of all
extension workers are women. Information gathered from 46 African countries
showed that only 3-4 per cent of trained government workers providing
agricultural advice to rural people were women. 103/ However, there are
some exceptions, as in the North-Western Province of Cameroon where women
constitute one third of the extension agents. 8/ In Latin America and the
Caribbean, the average number of female extensionists is 14 per cent. 104/ In
Paraguay, eight regional centres for rural development have been established
to provide services for women. However, in most countries, most of the
extension services provided for women are still in the field of home economics,
especially in the Near Eastern countries; seven of the latter have established
special sections for rural women, staffed by female extension workers. 8/ In
Swaziland, women farmers are serviced by a Home Economics Unit within the
Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, "whose activities are not directly
related to increasing productivity in food production but to nutrition, food
processing and preservation and child care". 105/

In Bangladesh, efforts have been made to transmit agricultural messages
to women farmers by the 404 female block supervisors who belong to the Female
Extension Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture. However, it has been estimated

- 34

that 13,800 female block supervisors would be required to meet existing
needs. The women extension workers in Bangladesh are expected to provide not
only advice on crop production, livestock and fisheries, but also on
nutrition, home economics, family planning, sanitation and health, with the
result that their knowledge is spread too thinly over too many subjects. In
addition, they are handicapped by not being able to use motorcycles for
transportation and by being located at the district level so that it is
impossible for them to reach women farmers located away from the immediate
perimeter of the district. 106/ Moreover, studies undertaken by FAO in five
African countries have shown that women extension workers encounter a number
of structural difficulties partly due to their multiple roles that complicate
their field placement. 107/

In order to overcome the shortage of women extension workers, several
countries (Burkina Faso, Malawi and Yemen) have introduced other strategies,
including the use of male extensionists to reach women farmers. A key element
in this approach is to train male extensionists to first appreciate, and then
to deal appropriately with women's agricultural extension needs. In Kenya,
the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has decided that male
agricultural extension staff should also -be equipped with basic information on
home economics, extension and other programmes relevant to women. 8/ In
Malawi, the Ministry of Agriculture published a circular entitled "Reaching
female farmers through male extension workers" that provides an explanation of
women farmers' needs as well as a method of improving delivery of extension
services to women. 101/

Another approach utilized for reaching women farmers through male
extension workers is to provide extension through women's groups that are more
easily perceived as appropriate clients. In Benin, Ghana and Guinea, women's
extension groups have been organized for the introduction of improved
technologies for fish processing and conservation. India is trying pilot
schemes using female "information brokers" to organize women into groups to
meet male extension officers regularly. Similar work is being done by
Cameroon's Ministry of Women's Affairs. In Bangladesh and Indonesia, various
government projects are sponsoring women's group organizations for training in
agricultural production. In Indonesia, more than 3,500 women's groups have
been established as part of the farmer extension system. 8/

Even given an enlightened approach to agricultural extension, women will
only benefit from extension programmes if valid recommendations are available
for the crops and activities of their concern. These recommendations are
often not available, since agricultural research has mainly focused on export
or cash crops, sophisticated farm mechanization, pest control, fertilizer use
and other aspects of intensive, input-oriented cultivation. Livestock and
forestry research have followed the same pattern, placing attention on
intensive cattle raising and exotic trees, while small animals and indigenous
trees (usually cared for by women) have been neglected. For women to be
adequately served by agricultural extension, the extension message must be
made more relevant to their needs: relevant to the crops they produce, the
livestock they raise, and the farming systems and time-allocation contexts
within which they work. Recently, however, some progress has been made in
incorporating gender issues into agricultural training. At the international
level, a significant and promising training initiative, the Interorganizational
Top Management Training Seminar on Women and Development, was undertaken by

35 -

UNDP, UNICEF, United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and World
Food Programme in December 1986. The Seminar was successful in sensitiz-
ing the top management to the importance of reaching women farmers by the
re-orientation of policies and programmes and the development of appropriate
strategies, in order to achieve food security, agricultural growth and poverty
alleviation. 108/

The increased awareness of the importance of gender issues in agriculture
has also begun to permeate agricultural training institutions that offer
specialized development-oriented agricultural courses to policy makers,
managers and field personnel. The first efforts led to the development of
special courses for women including courses for female extension workers and
the inclusion of a separate short Women in Development (WID) component in
agricultural courses. Recently, however, the focus on women specifically
is beginning to be replaced by a focus on gender and comparisons between
women and men in terms of production, agricultural services and technical
consequences for the different agricultural subjects and indicators. 36/ A
systematic effort has been undertaken by the International Agricultural Centre
in Wageningen where, after a series of training workshops, faculty members
have begun the process of integrating farming systems and gender issues in all
technical agricultural courses offered. 109/ The four training institutes of
the Pan African Institute for Development that cover all sub-Saharan countries
are also planning to integrate gender issues in all agricultural training
programmes and to develop case studies that illustrate the technical
consequences of gender issues.

FAO has alqo increased its efforts to reach rural women in its training
programmes. Emphasis is put on the training of trainers that has a multiplier
effect. From 1979 to 1986, approximately 500,000 people participated in FAO
group training at the field level. The proportion of women trained has
increased from 10 per cent in 1982 to 21 per cent in 1986. 110/ Most of the
training activities were in the agricultural sector (crops and livestock) or
combined agricultural and socio-economic training. Forestry and fisheries,
socio-economic activities and information were also the subject of
training. 65/, 94/

The Workshop on Effectiveness of Agricultural Extension Services in
Reaching Rural Women, held at Harare in 1987, was significant in identifying
women's training needs, 94/ as was the Workshop on Extension and Training
Policy, held in Malawi in 1988. As a result of the latter workshop, the
Ministry of Agriculture updated its policy guidelines on agriculture extension
and training to pay particular attention to the needs of women. 22/

4. Women's nutritional status and interlinkages
with agricultural production

.The interlinkage between women's nutritional status and agricultural
production, activities and programmes assumes that a "greater understanding
and awareness of the specific roles of women would lead to a more successful
design and implementation of programmes intended to improve nutritional
conditions in the household". 111/

- 36 -

Within the United Nations system, the Administrative Committee on
Co-ordination/Sub-Committee on Nutrition (ACC/SCN) has been considering two
related but different perspectives: women in nutrition and nutrition of
women, as these are related to the following: (a) women's child care
responsibilities; (b) women's role in household food security; (c) women's
role in adjustment to macro-economic and environmental shocks; and (d) shifts
in population distribution and household structure. 111/

Women, especially poor rural women, are under tremendous stress
throughout their life cycle because of the conflicting time and energy demands
of their reproductive roles and their work in agricultural production and
economic activities. "Although women play a major role in food production,
generating household income, buying, marketing and processing foods, they
suffer from inadequate nutritional intake. There is a need to improve their
access to food and to reduce the nutritional cost of their role conflicts".

Full participation of women in economic development programmes is still
hampered by the constraints of time and energy that women constantly face,
especially in the poorest sector of rural areas. New programmes, for example,
require an initial investment of their time, energy or income, thus threatening
their health or the economic security of their families. 112/ Their own
malnutrition and their demanding household and mothering responsibilities
prevent them from benefiting fully from new technology, market opportunities
or even social services. Women's efficiency in production of goods and
services for household consumption could be increased if development
programmes included improvement of women's health and nutrition.

One of the important issues considered by the ACC/SCN was the effects on
nutrition resulting from shifts in agricultural production practices, from
food crops for own consumption to crops for sale. It was recognized that the
nutritional impact of cash cropping was context specific. There are, however,
some general trends: the shift has brought increased incomes to the farmers;
it has had little effect on local food prices; and it has resulted in
increasing food consumption and has had only a slightly positive effect, if
any at all, on children's nutritional status. 113/ Other studies, however,
have indicated that there is a decline in women's nutritional status in
certain cash-cropping areas. 1/, 114/ The ACC/SCN agreed that more studies
and information were needed on the effects of cash cropping on nutritional
status and on energy expenditure in various types of production systems.
Recommendations were made on developing methods for introducing nutritional
considerations into the design of agricultural development projects. 113/

A study by the Government of the Netherlands on the way in which the role
of women in nutrition and food processing is supported in projects/project
proposals found that, although instructions were given to project designers to
mention separately women's interests and needs in food production, food aid,
nutrition and food security, very little had been done in practice. Attention
tn women is paid only when there are the traditional women's activities, such
as health care and the preparation of meals, and little use is made of local
women's organizations and women researchers. 115/

Significant improvements and positive results, however, can be recorded
in the conceptualization and implementation of projects aimed at alleviating
women's burden, increasing at the same time their technical competence, and

- 37 -

their social and nutritional status. An example is a women's project in Niger
funded by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and associated
with a seven-year integrated rural development project executed by FAO. The
project activities consist of setting up grinding mills, drilling wells,
promoting animal production and building village pharmacies. In addition,
there is intensive training of approximately 1,400 women and girls to improve
their technical skills in vegetable and animal production, management
techniques (by a management committee and revolving funds), and equipment

In Senegal, a UNDP funded project has been operating since 1984 to
strengthen women's and youth groups in the field of crop and animal
production. The project was successful in strengthening the economic and
social status of women and youth groups thus giving them access to land,
credit and political position, and in attracting donors to finance their
equipment such as motor pumps, grinding mills etc. Tomato processing courses
as well as nutritional programmes were given to women's groups.

Under the aegis of both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of
Health in Guyana, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization is currently executing a nutritional education campaign to combat
widespread malnutrition, particularly among women in low-income communities.
The programme is meant to make a sound in-depth investigation on nutritional
problems and to develop a supportive educational strategy in order to promote
a change in diet-related behaviour. At the same time, the project is setting
up an Indigenous Food Industry Information Clearinghouse, the task of which is
to provide suitable information for food producers, manufacturers and
distributors as well as to the general public.

E. Progress in incorporating gender issues in agricultural research

Agricultural research conducted at international agricultural organiza-
tions and by national agricultural research systems, by commodity-focused
groups, at universities and research stations, on the farm and at the field
and household levels has the ultimate goal of benefiting farmers.

While it has been argued that agricultural research is gender-neutral
because scientific principles and findings can be used by either men or women,
there is a growing recognition by some researchers and research institutions
that this may not be the case. As technologies are seen to be embedded in and
to carry social values, institutional forms and culture, so too technologies
may not be gender-neutral. If men and women do things differently or do
different things, then any particular technology will affect the roles of men
and women differently. 116/ Women may form distinct user and beneficiary
groups often with distinctly different roles, responsibilities and priorities
as compared to men. Consequently, incentive structures may differ due to
women's differential work responsibilities and to their access to and control
of productive resources. Therefore, acceptable technologies for women farmers
may be distinct from those acceptable to men. The focus of international
research on high-yielding seed varieties, for example, reflects the belief
that technology is neutral and that it can be used by all farmers when, in
fact, this is not,the case. For example, in Cameroon, rather that simple

- 38 -

quantity of yield, women required.multiple varieties that provided stability
of yield, and had certain storage and processing qualities. 117/

Attention should therefore be directed towards the user and the transfer
of technology. Incorporation of gender issues becomes vital at the technology
transfer stage. All too often an introduced technology has had an unintended
negative impact on women farmers. New technologies may increase women's
workload, decrease the range of production of food crops, cause changes in the
division of labour between men and women or benefit male farmers more than
female farmers. The introduction of a new technology such as an ox-drawn
plough may decrease men's workload in land preparation while increasing
women's labour because the amount of land to be weeded and the crop to be
processed has increased. Improvements in a traditional food crop may cause
a switch in production from female to male producers as the food crop becomes
a cash crop, for example, irrigated rice varieties replacing swamp rice
varieties, with the technological information and package being transferred
only to men.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Inter-
Center Seminar on Women and Agricultural Technology (1985) focused on the
various agricultural research centres' mandates and affirmed the relevance of
gender issues to research. Analysis indicated that while some of the centres
have begun incorporating gender issues into their programmes, others have
given little or no attention specifically to women as users of technology.
Livestock research organizations in particular have not conducted research for
women or on animals women tend to own. The general trend in livestock
research is to concentrate on cattle and assume male ownership of animals;
women livestock owners of small ruminants and poultry are left with little
information and technology. Research networks formed for scientific
interactions, for example, the African Research Network on Agricultural
By-Products, often concentrate on experimental design and discussion of
research station trials while neglecting the researcher-to-farmer linkages.
Many of these agricultural research networks ignore women as users of

Several of the international centres have either regional or world-wide
mandates for improvement of particularly important food crops such as beans,
cassava, wheat and maize often grown by women. When women were identified as
a potential user group in the bean-breeding programmes of the International
Center for Tropical Agriculture, they were included in the on-farm research
that included breeding varieties with traits desired by women. Women often
identify several desirable traits in beans depending on eventual use of the
crop, for example, subsistence production as compared with market production.
The International Potato Centre also uses the approach of working from women's
preferences in the kitchen to their laboratory research on potato varietal

The West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) found that the
modernization of rice farming by the mechanization of irrigation, introduction
of new varieties and use of chemicals, tends to benefit men more than women as
the workloads of men are reduced while women's are increased. WARDA has
therefore begun to identify areas of research needed by women farmers such as
development of lighter tools or tools that can be used in traditional rice

- 39 -

production systems. The International Rice Research Institute proposes to
develop rice technologies most appropriate to women's needs, in terms of both
welfare and production goals.

Other centres and research have focused only on women's roles in family
nutrition and reproduction or continue to conduct gender-blind or gender-
insensitive research. There are few examples of agricultural technology
development that includes gender as a factor, despite the need to increase
women's access to improved technology, which could lessen the time demands of
their multiple tasks and responsibilities. The labour constraints faced by
women, and therefore labour-saving technological options, need to be included
in the development of technological packages.

The dissemination of research technologies requires linkages between many
research centres and institutions through extension agents and on down to
research at the farmer level. There is a growing trend towards a farming
system research and extension (FSR/E) emphasis in some institutions. FSR/E
focuses on the farm as a whole, not just on specific crops or animals. The
objective of the FSR/E approach is to develop methods that are appropriate to
the production and consumption goals of rural households in specific micro-
environments. The early FSR/E focus on the household as a controlling unit of
the farming system obscured the differences between individuals within the
household. It was assumed that the household functioned as a single unit of
production and consumption and that a consensus existed between household
members on how to allocate resources and benefits, and that all household
members' interests were identical. 118/ In recent years, it has been
recognized that relationships within the household are as diverse and dynamic
as the relationships between households. 119/ This has led to an analysis
known as "intrahousehold gender analysis" that determines who does what, why
and with what resources. Since analysis of the household explicitly considers
the roles of different household members, women's work is recognized and
addressed in the development of new technologies. Most importantly for
agricultural research, gender analysis determines who is included in on-farm
research and who might be penalized. Some of this research is beginning to
lead to selection criteria for crops that consider labour and processing
requirements, marketability and food preferences. 36/

The significance of gender analysis extends beyond its importance in
designing technologies appropriate for women's working conditions and
production activities. It is basic to understanding production relationships
within households and who will benefit from increased agricultural production.
There is a growing recognition in FSR/E that overlooking women's roles in farm
production and decision-making in the household can have negative effects on
productivity and family welfare. Questions remain as to how much detail is
required in socio-economic studies within the FSR/E framework in order to
achieve results. Rapid reconnaissance survey methodologies may be sufficient
for economic analysis in areas where there is a good understanding of the
human organization. 120/

Technology transfer, or extension, becomes a problem if extension agents
fail to contact all groups of farmers, including women. Unless women farmers
are reached, the technical packages or solutions to specific problems related
to food crop production may never be developed. 100/, 104/ Furthermore, both

- 40 -

male and female extensionists need to be better integrated into the research

Strong research programmes are still lacking on food crops and animals
that are usually grown or raised by women, especially indigenous local crops,
poultry and small ruminants. Some countries are beginning to increase applied
research on women's crops. In Cameroon, research programmes have been
introduced for basic food crops such as roots, tubers and sorghum; in Gabon
they have focused on cassava; and in Mauritius on potatoes and maize. However,
many researchers and institutions continue to demand a strict disciplinary
focus that may limit work on problems of particular relevance to women farmers.
In fact there has been a strong record of solid achievement in developing new
production technology for the food crops in developing countries but most of
these developments have been with dwarf varieties of rice and wheat. The
capacity to produce improved varieties for other crops and to quickly increase
the knowledge for livestock activities is limited. 121/ Additionally, the
area of labour-saving technology for women is one where more research is
required. It is important for researchers to integrate women's concerns in
agricultural production into their research programmes in order to maximize
the benefits from their research. Failure to do so has repeatedly led to the
failure of the new technologies to be adopted. Such research does not assist
limited-resource farmers, including women, to improve their living conditions.

F. Monitoring and evaluation of women's participation in
and benefits from agricultural development policies,
programmes and projects

Monitoring and evaluation are essential to ensure that women and gender
issues are incorporated into agricultural development policies, programmes and
projects. Monitoring and evaluation take place on many levels: international,
national and local. The past few years have seen increased attention
particularly in examining the impact of projects on women and to developing
procedures and mechanisms to monitor women's participation in and benefits
from projects. Attention has also been focused on monitoring the integration
of women and gender issues in the policies, programmes and projects of
international development agencies.

Appropriate checklists and guidelines have been developed as management
tools and mechanisms giving criteria, indicators and parameters to measure the
achievements made in specific areas of concern on women's issues. They are
used from the formulation stage of policies, programmes and projects,
throughout the implementation phase and up to the final evaluation and
appraisal. This section will examine separately these two interrelated topics.

1. Monitoring and evaluation

The past few years have seen increased attention to examining the actual
and final impact of projects on women and to developing procedures and
mechanisms to monitor women's participation in and benefits from projects.
Attention has also been focused on monitoring the integration of women and
gender issues into the policies, programmes and projects of international
development agencies. 87/

- 41 -

The importance of monitoring and evaluation was recognized in the Nairobi
Forward-looking Strategies, which devoted paragraphs 317-321 to recommendations
for establishing mechanisms and procedures within the United Nations system to
monitor the implementation of the Strategies. The proposed system-wide
medium-term plan for women and development for 1990-1995, 28/ is intended to
integrate the Strategies into the plans and programmes of the organizations of
the United Nations system concerned. It sets forth the objectives and
programmes that could serve as the basis for each organization to develop its
own medium-term plan, including strategies for monitoring and evaluation.

As the United Nations agency primarily responsible for food and agricul-
ture, FAO formulated a Plan of Action for Integration of Women in Development
(1990-1995) that included monitoring and evaluation procedures. This Plan
envisages the introduction of a monitoring system in the field programme to
measure to what extent gender issues have been considered at each stage of
the project cycle: identification, formulation and implementation. 29/
Monitoring and evaluation exercises can be strengthened by the establishment
of women in development focal points in the various technical departments of
FAO and in other United Nations agencies as well. As was noted earlier (see
section A), WID focal points are also being used at the national level to
promote and monitor the integration of gender issues in the policies,
programmes and projects of government ministries.

It has also been recognized that monitoring and evaluation procedures
must be built into the review of on-going projects so that changes can be made
in the course of project implementation in order to increase benefits to women
and reduce negative impacts. In 1988, a gender code was introduced into the
FAO Regular Programme planning and evaluation system, allowing biennial
assessment and reporting to governmental bodies, in particular in terms of
programme impact on female beneficiaries.

The importance of considering monitoring and evaluation activities and
components from the very beginning of project formulation was emphasized at
the FAO "Intercountry workshop on formulation and design of projects to
support women's activities in food production", held at Harare in 1986.
Attention was focused particularly on the need for both formative evaluation
that offers continual feedback during the implementation process and summative
evaluation of the overall impact and achievements of the project. 6/

The "Monitoring and evaluation system" sections of the FAO Guidelines for
Designing Development Projects to Benefit the Rural Poor lays out the proper
sequencing of project interventions and focuses on the relationships between
inputs, outputs and objectives. Women as a priority target group are given
attention during the seven steps of this on-going process, from the pre-design
planning to the continual reviews, modification and training. 122/

Some field projects have been formulated and implemented with a built-in
specific component on the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of such
development projects on women. A regional FAO/UNDP project in Africa,
entitled "Increasing rural women's food productivity through improved
agricultural technology transfer and adoption in Africa", is a significant
example. Another project in Asia, entitled "Promotion of rural women's
agriculture-based economic activities through integrated credit and marketing

- 42 -

support", has developed, in addition to technical activities, a data base and
management information system in the framework of the monitoring and
evaluation operations. In Nepal, the FAO guidelines are applied at district
level and focus on the design of mechanisms to ensure the integration of
women's concerns in agricultural planning.

Participatory monitoring and evaluation (PME) is a methodology that is
being increasingly used and that has significant implications for rural
women. It is a system for learning from experience, developed primarily for
use by the participants in and beneficiaries of projects. Unlike traditional
monitoring and evaluation systems that are initiated from the top and carried
out by professionals, PME is carried out by the people the project is intended
to help. Facilitators usually assist the groups to analyse and interpret the
progress and impact of the project. This learning process can enable the
participants to develop their analytical capacity and ability to manage and
direct their affairs on an on-going basis leading to good programme planning
and implementation at the grass-roots level. 123/, 124/

The involvement of rural women in participatory monitoring and evaluation
can be hampered by the local traditions and customs that institutionalize
discrimination against women. However, this methodology can also play a
significant role in breaking down prejudices that discriminate against women.
It can help to assess the social impact of projects and programmes and to
measure change of attitudes, awareness and participation. The assessment.of
social impact is one area in which more effective methodologies must be
developed in the monitoring and evaluation of women's participation in and
benefit from development programmes and projects. 99/

2. Checklists and guidelines

Checklists and guidelines continue to be used as a mechanism for
monitoring and evaluation. The meeting co-sponsored by FAO and INSTRAW at
Helsinki, Finland, in 1985, entitled "Evaluating bilateral and multilateral
experiences in the development and use of women in development guidelines/
checklists: implications for national use in formulating agricultural
projects for women", analysed some important lessons learnt that should
be translated into operational strategy. The meeting recommended:
(a) incorporating economic analysis and arguments in the methodology rather
than focusing on equity or welfare objectives; (b) the use of an integrated
approach and systematic training on the use of WID guidelines; (c) budgetary
provision to fund WID consultants to ensure adequate coverage to women's
issues in project proposals; (d) review of WID approaches in long-term work
plans and the inclusion of measurement of cross-sectoral changes; and
(e) systematic involvement of local women's groups. 85/

Most multilateral and bilateral agencies have developed and use women in
development checklists and guidelines. In addition, specific guidelines are
being developed for particular areas. For example, within FAO, specific
guidelines have been developed for several technical divisions/services such
as animal production and in particular dairy-training activities, land and
water, apiculture, and policy and planning service. The Fisheries Department
developed a comprehensive pamphlet entitled "Women in fishing communities
guidelines" in 1988. Systematic evaluation of the impact of new technologies
and of economic and social structures on the role of women is a built-in

- 43 -

procedure. 91/ The Forestry Department, in its programme for community
forestry, has set up methods and approaches to reach the poorest segment of
the population, especially women. Data on direct beneficiaries of programmes
are disaggregated by gender. 69/ Although considerable time has been spent on
the development and dissemination of checklists, it has been found that these
are not always used systematically. They should be understood as part of the
normal work process and not as an end in themselves.

In 1987, UNDP developed a set of guidelines entitled "Women in
development: policy and procedures". They were distributed to all UNDP
financed programmes and projects with a project review form and the use of
them is mandatory. Provision is made both for introducing modifications in
projects and for proposing strategies for the future. 125/

G. Conclusions

National and international agencies and development assistance programmes
must take gender issues into account if they are to succeed in ameliorating
rural conditions, increasing agricultural support and stimulating sustainable
overall development. Sensitivity to such issues is particularly important in
the context of structural adjustment policies to cope with the debt crisis of
the 1980s. Pre-existing inequalities and failure to take women's distinctive
contribution to all forms of rural production into account can result in such
policies bearing even more heavily upon women than upon men. Women may also
be overlooked in programmes in agricultural subsectors promoted by adjustment

Women's right to participate in all forms of development, and to control
their activities within them is already enshrined in the constitution or legal
instruments of most countries. The specific rights of rural women are
outlined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women, in article 14.

"Article 14

"2. States parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate
discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a
basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and
benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to
such women the right: (g) to have access to agricultural credit and
loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal
treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as in land
resettlement schemes."

Women should be in a position to encourage those Governments that have
ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women to implement it and those Governments that have not yet ratified
it, to do so in the interests of women and so to the benefit of their country
as a whole.

Land reform and agrarian programmes that treat all citizens equally are
necessary to facilitate women's practical assumption of their existing de jure
rights. However, these policies will succeed in increasing productivity only
if they are accompanied by training and technology to help women to take

- 44 -

advantage of them. Women must also have access to productive resources, for
example, to credit, to equal pay for equal work, to extension services, and to
assistance with marketing and the formation of co-operatives. Operational
projects and research programmes should be designed to take account of this,
as well as of women's broader social roles as care givers and providers for
families. The rapidly increasing number of female-headed households demand
particular attention to ensure that their special needs are met.

National machinery for the advancement of women must focus on the benefits
of integrating women into rural and agricultural development. To do this
properly, such bodies will need the technical expertise to formulate,
co-ordinate and monitor policies and to provide the documentation, data,
trained staff and administrative infrastructure necessary to execute them
effectively. However, their initial task may be to ensure that Governments
understand the fundamental importance of integrating women into the main
stream of national food and development strategies. In the past, the
marginalization of women's interests and diversion of their skills has
sometimes led to women's projects that, however well-intended, have been too
small or ill-supported to be sustainable or to make effective contributions to
general development or even to long-term advancement of women themselves.

Current strategies should include three major aims: forms of rural
socio-economic development in which responsibilities and benefits are
equitably shared between women and men; strategies to redress the effects of
adjustment policies that may have had a particularly negative effect upon
women; and measures that will enhance women's ability to take advantage of new
opportunities arising from adjustment policies. Encouraging the involvement
of women in decision-making at every level will accelerate their participation
in these processes. However, their right to a say in planning and policies
that affect them, as half the population, should not be confined to formal
or official decision-making bodies. The independence and economic self-
sufficiency of rural women should be fostered by their increased membership in
voluntary associations, co-operatives and non-governmental organizations.

Research, data and both qualitative and quantitative studies are
necessary to provide a full evaluation of women's current contribution to
rural development, especially where this takes specific forms. Balanced
assessments of women's role and potential must also underlie conservation and
environmental policies. These policies should be directed towards promoting
women's productivity at the same time as improving their health and raising
their incomes. Women's physical and social well-being are linked not only to
domestic and national food security, but also to their ability to take up
opportunities for education, employment, income generation and decision-making.
Such opportunities represent ways in which women can achieve de facto equality
and ameliorate conditions for their families and themselves. Moreover, there
is a strong positive correlation between higher rates of literacy, employment
and income and lower rates of fertility. Effective family planning programmes
would do much to alleviate the burdens of rural women, improve their health,
and release their skills and energies for all forms of social and economic

- 45 -


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- 46 -

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- 48-

- 49 -

54/ M. Cristina Blanc-Szanton and others, "The North-East rainfed
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- 52 -

96/ Food and Agriculture Organization, Analysis of Credit Schemes
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- 53 -

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54 -

122/ Food and Agriculture Organization, Guidelines for Designing
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