Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Technical papers
 Women in development: A framework...
 Women's productivity in agricultural...
 Technology transfer: Implications...
 Small-scale enterprise and...
 Case studies
 Indonesia: East Java family planning,...
 Tanzania: The Arusha planning...
 Kenya: Egerton college
 Dominican Republic: Program for...
 Peru: Banco industrial del Peru...
 India: Gujarat medium irrigation...
 Kenya: Kitui district arid and...
 Back Cover

Group Title: Kumarian Press case studies series
Title: Gender roles in development projects
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00088769/00001
 Material Information
Title: Gender roles in development projects a case book
Series Title: Kumarian Press case studies series
Physical Description: xiii, 326 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Overholt, Catherine, 1942-
Publisher: Kumarian Press
Place of Publication: West Hartford Conn
Publication Date: c1985
Subject: Sex role -- Case studies -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Women -- Economic conditions -- Case studies -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Businesswomen -- Case studies -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Women -- Employment -- Case studies -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Rôle selon le sexe -- Cas, Études de -- Pays en voie de développement   ( rvm )
Femmes -- Conditions économiques -- Cas, Études de -- Pays en voie de développement   ( rvm )
Femmes -- Travail -- Cas, Études de -- Pays en voie de développement   ( rvm )
Femmes d'affaires -- Cas, Études de -- Pays en voie de développement   ( rvm )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
statistics   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographies.
Statement of Responsibility: editors, Catherine Overholt ... et al..
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00088769
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 11261981
lccn - 84023325
isbn - 0931816157 (pbk.) :

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
    Title Page
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
    Technical papers
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Women in development: A framework for project analysis
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
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    Women's productivity in agricultural systems: Considerations for project design
        Page 17
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    Technology transfer: Implications for women
        Page 57
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    Small-scale enterprise and women
        Page 79
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    Case studies
        Page 133
        Page 134
    Indonesia: East Java family planning, nutrition, and income generation project
        Page 135
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    Tanzania: The Arusha planning and village development project
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    Kenya: Egerton college
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    Dominican Republic: Program for development of micro-enterprises
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    Peru: Banco industrial del Peru credit for the development of rural enterprise
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    India: Gujarat medium irrigation project
        Page 283
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    Kenya: Kitui district arid and semi-arid lands project
        Page 309
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    Back Cover
        Page 328
Full Text

Ca ga g
dItSI I.

sO, Yo.7


Gender Roles
in Development Projects

A Case Book

Editors: Catherine Overholt
Mary B. Anderson
Kathleen Cloud
James E. Austin

Copyright 1985 Kumarian Press
29 Bishop Road, West Hartford, Connecticut 06119
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No
part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and
retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publishers.

Printed in the United States of America

Cover design by Marilyn Penrod

First printing 1984

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Main entry under title:
Gender roles in development projects.

Bibliography: p.
1. Sex role-Developing countries-Case studies.
2. Women-Developing countries-Economic condi-
tions-Case studies. 3.Women in business-Devel-
oping countries-Case studies. 4.Women-Employ-
ment-Developing countries-Case studies.
I. Overholt, Catherine.

HQ1075.5.D44G46 1985 305.3 84-23325
ISBN 0-931816-15-7


Acknowledgements .............. .. ............................ ix
Forw ard ................... ................. ............................. x
Preface ........................................................... xii
Women in Development: A Framework for Project Analysis... 3
Catherine Overholt, Mary B. Anderson, Kathleen Cloud, James Austin

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems: Considerations
for Project Design ................ .................... 17
Kathleen Cloud

Technology Transfer: Implications for Women ................ 57
Mary B. Anderson

Small Scale Enterprise and Women.............................. 79
Maryanne Dulansey
James E. Austin

INDONESIA: East Java Family Planning, Nutrition, and
Income Generation Project ................. ....................135
David Pyle

TANZANIA: The Arusha Planning and Village Development
Project ....................................... .......... 163
Liz Wiley

KENYA: Egerton College.............. ..................... 185
Mary B. Anderson

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Program for Development of Micro-
Enterprises ....................... ............... .. ................ 215
Susan Sawyer
Catherine Overholt

PERU: Banco Industrial del Peru ............................... 243
Credit for the Development of Rural Enterprise
Maria Eugenia Arias
John Ickis
Members of the Research Faculty of the Instituto Centroamericano de
Administracio'n (INCAE), Managua, Nicaragua

INDIA: Gujarat Medium Irrigation Project..................... 283
Dr. C. Gopinath
Dr. A. H. Kolaro
Faculty members of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad,

KENYA: Kitui District Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Project..... 309
Mary B. Anderson


On behalf of my colleagues, Mary Anderson, Kathleen Cloud,
and Jim Austin, I would like to express our deep appreciation to all
those who cooperated in this undertaking.
We are particularly grateful to the USAID personnel in field missions
and to host country nationals for their generous cooperation in working
with case writers to assemble and interpret project information for the
development of these case studies. Their cooperation is a clear indication
of their willingness to address these issues seriously. We also extend
our sincere appreciation to the HIID staff for their administrative
assistance and to the staff of USAID WID Office for their encourage-
ment and assistance. We extend a special thanks to Paula Goddard and
Sara Tinsley for their vision in undertaking this project and their
continued guidance and support in seeing it through to completion.
Our hope is that this effort will assist others in the task of incorpor-
ating women into the development process.

Catherine Overholt
Project Director

Cambridge, Massachusetts


People working in the field of development have long been
concerned with how the benefits of development are distributed. Only
recently, however, concern with distributional issues has incorporated
differences in income and economic power between men and women.
Concern with issues of gender, of course, involves more than how
gender affects distribution. Understanding the role played by gender in
development can also make a substantial difference as to whether
growth-oriented projects succeed or fail. Thus, questions of how men
and women define their roles, or have them defined for them,
influences all aspects of the development process.
HIID's response to the need to address these issues in a systematic
manner has three major but linked aims. The first is to learn more
about the role of gender through research and through direct involve-
ment in policy and project work overseas. The second is to develop
training materials and courses that will convey the knowledge acquired
and thus will improve the ability of development planners and practi-
tioners to address the differing ways in which women and men may be
involved in and affected by development. The third is to incorporate an
informed approach to the role of gender directly into HIID's developing-
country projects.
Progress toward the second of these objectives is represented clearly
by this volume which presents the materials developed in the first
phase of a training project undertaken by members of HIID in collabor-
ation with other members of the Harvard Community. Support for
this project came from the Women in Development Office of the
United States Agency for International Development. Efforts to make
gains in meeting the first and third objectives have been furthered by a
grant from the Ford Foundation making it possible for HIID to hire an
Institute Associate with primary responsibility for research, teaching,
and project work in the Women in Development field.
The need to redress the failure to consider systematically and
coherently the different roles of women and men as they engage in
and are affected by development activities requires more than ad hoc
attention. Rather than a band-aid or add-on approach we need to
institutionalize successful initiatives in providing the necessary analyti-
cal and methodological skills for assessing the significance of gender
differences in the development process. One key means is to integrate
these skills into the training of development planners and practitioners.
This volume is a significant step in that critical process.
Dwight H. Perkins
Harvard Institute for
International Development

In 1973, the Congress of the United States, recognizing that
"women in developing countries play a significant role in economic
production, family support and the overall development process,"
required that United States bilateral assistance "be administered so as
to give that particular attention to those programs, projects and
activities which tend to integrate women into the national economies
of foreign countries, thus improving their status and assisting the total
development effort."
In direct response to the Amendment, USAID established the Women
in Development Office.
In 1982, at the request of the Administrator, M. Peter McPherson,
the Agency issued a Policy Paper on women in development which
affirmed the Agency's effort to undertake an effective development
strategy promoting balanced economic development. One of the prem-
ises of A.I.D.'s women in development policy is that gender roles
constitute a key variable in the socio-economic condition of any country
-one that can be decisive in the success or failure of development
plans. Additionally, the policy paper stated that it is critical now for
AID to move beyond its initial activities, taking an active role and
providing leadership to ensure that women have access to the oppor-
tunities and benefits of economic development. The paper also clearly
stated that the responsibility for implementing A.I.D.'s women in
development policy rests with all of A.I.D.'s offices and programs at all
levels of decision-making. Implementation of this policy was under-
stood to be an important qualitative aspect of A.I.D.'s overall program,
one which is crucial to the achievement of the Agency's goals. Thus, it
became paramount to increase the knowledge of gender issues among
USAID personnel.
The Office of Women in Development has been working with the
Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) for the past
several years in the preparation and testing of case studies of AID-
funded projects. To date, two workshops, which employ the cases as a
data base, have been held in order to introduce new analytical and
conceptual skills to senior-level AID staff. An additional four work-
shops are being planned for 1984-1985-two for USAID's Washington
staff and two for overseas personnel.
We expect that the case studies will continue to provide valuable
information, not only to AID personnel, but also to persons from
other donor agencies, to representatives from private voluntary
agencies and universities and to others interested in international
Sara Tinsley
Office of Women in Development


Within the international development community, there is a
growing recognition of the importance of women's role in the develop-
ment process. Major development organizations, such as USAID, have
made institutional commitments to increasing their capability to deal
effectively with the issues surrounding women in development. The
primary vehicles through which most development agencies can have
an effect in this area are projects. Thus, the tasks of project design and
implementation are critical for determining effects.
There now exists sufficient empirical evidence to conclude that
weaknesses in project design and implementation have caused adverse
effects on women, reduced benefits accruing to them, or failed to
capture fully their contributions to projects and to the development
process. Project weaknesses are a reflection of inadequacies in aware-
ness and skills of the staff involved in the preparation and implementa-
tion of a project. These inadequacies are not surprising, for the
distinctive nature of women's roles in development gives rise to a
unique set of project design considerations. Staff require a new set of
conceptual and analytical perspectives and skills in order to deal
explicitly, effectively, and efficiently with women-related issues in the
spectrum of projects in which they become involved. The objectives of
the case studies and technical papers assembled in this book flow from
these training needs.
The training materials developed by the Case Study and Training
Project at the Harvard Institute for International Development are
based on the case method of training. The case study method has been
highly developed and effectively employed by Harvard and other
institutions for training professionals, including those in development
agencies. The materials presented here include seven case studies
based on actual country projects which received USAID funds, and
four technical papers related to substantive issues on the women and
development aspects of project analysis.
The book is organized into two sections. The first section is a
collection of papers which provide background reading in technical
areas and introduce an overall framework for case analysis. The
individual cases follow the technical papers and are intended for use as
vehicles for group discussion.
The case method has a long history as a particularly effective
pedagogical approach to develop problem solving and decision making
skills. It is based on the philosophy that participants must take an
active part in, and assume responsibility for the learning process. The
basic premise is that active intellectual engagement is essential if the
learning experience is to be meaningful.

Case studies are the pedagogical vehicles through which intellectual
involvement is generated. Cases are factual descriptions of actual
situations facing decision makers in organizations. The case studies do
not set forth theories or hypotheses but rather present a slice of the
real world of projects that allow the discussion participants to think
purposefully about issues which are highly relevant to their own
professional work. Thus, the approach is practitioner-oriented and
The cases do not include an analysis or evaluation of a situation but
rather provide the raw material from which participants can engage in
their own analysis and draw their own conclusions. As in the real
world, the case situations do not have one "right answer." There may
be many reasonable alternatives and defensible recommendations. From
the learning perspective, the answer is less important than the problem-
solving skills that are developed in the process of deriving systematically
a logical and sensible set of conclusions and recommendations.
The HIID Case Study and Training Project has developed teaching
notes for each of the case studies which are intended to serve as a
guide for case method instructors. These teaching notes may be
obtained from:

Office of Women and Development
New State
Washington, D.C. 20523

The priority and urgency of integrating women more fully into the
development process dictate that development practitioners and aca-
demics strengthen their analytical approaches to this task. This book is
a step in that direction and we hope that it, in turn, will stimulate
further efforts by our colleagues in the development community.

Catherine Overholt



Women in Development:

A Framework For

Project Analysis

Prepared by Catherine Overholt, Kathleen Cloud, Mary B. Anderson and James E.
Development planning has failed to recognize fully or system-
atically women's contribution to the development process or, in turn,
the effect of this process on them. This failure has limited development
efforts and effects. Economic growth, project efficiency, and social
justice call for a new approach to development which systematically
includes women.
In her seminal work of 1970, Ester Boserup plainly articulated the
state of neglect: "In the vast and ever-growing literature on economic
development, reflections on the particular problems of women are few
and far between."1 Over the last decade, the issues regarding the
integral involvement of women in national development processes
have slowly crept onto the agendas of national and international
development agencies. By 1980, many countries and international
agencies had explicitly incorporated women's issues into their develop-
ment plans and had set up special bureaus, offices, or even ministries
as the organizational focal point of these new concerns. Furthermore,
the barren literature fields observed by Boserup had begun to produce
intellectual harvests. By 1981, articles and books in the women in
development area were appearing at a rapid rate.
Although there has been much activity, development planning efforts
still fail to recognize fully women's actual and potential contribution to
the development process or the effect of the development process on
them. The imperatives for rectifying these inadequacies are based on
both economic and equity concerns. Women are key actors in the
economic system, yet their neglect in development plans has left
untaped a potentially large economic contribution. Women represent
the majority of the population, but they are concentrated at the

Gender Roles in Development Projects

bottom of the ladder in terms of employment, education, income and
status. Both economic growth and social justice call for increased
attention to the integration of women into the development process.
This paper proceeds from the basis that equity and economic growth
are compatible objectives and must be pursued simultaneously.
Projects are among the primary vehicles used by governments and
international agencies to channel resources in the development process.2
One of the barriers to translating research activity about women into
effective and beneficial development programming has been the absence
of an adequate analytical framework for integrating women into
project analysis. Such integration of women is essential for transform-
ing policy concerns into practical realities.4 The purpose of this paper is
to present an analytical framework which will facilitate this process.


What women do will have an impact on most projects whether
or not women are considered explicitly in their design and implemen-
tation. Similarly, most projects will have an effect on women's lives.
The framework we propose can improve the definition of general
project objectives, assess how these relate to women's involvement
with a project, and anticipate the effect of the project on women. The
analysis which we introduce here is not intended to be limited in its
application to projects which are directed only to women. This analysis
is equally applicable, and probably more important, precisely for projects
where women's roles and responsibilities have not been explicitly
noted but are implicitly assumed in project design and implementation.
Development projects are vehicles for generating change. Project
design and implementation, therefore, require an adequate data base.
"Visibility" is the starting point for integrating women into develop-
ment projects and visibility also comes through data. Thus, the corner-
stone of the proposed framework is an adequate data base which
considers what women do and why. The key challenge, however, is
how to organize and present this information so as to facilitate its
translation into project terms. The framework we propose uses four
interrelated components: Activity Profile; Access and Control Profile;
Analysis of Factors Influencing Activities, Access, and Control; and
Project Cycle Analysis.
The first component, the Activity Profile, is based on the concept of
a gender-based division of labor. The Activity Profile will delineate the
economic activities of the population in the project area first by age
and gender and then by ethnicity, social class, or other important

Women in Development

distinguishing characteristics. In addition, it will indicate the amount
of time spent by individuals to accomplish these activities. The second
component, the Access and Control Profile, will identify what resources
individuals can command to carry out their activities and the benefits
which they derive from them.
Analysis of Factors Influencing Activities, Access, and Control focuses
on the underlying factors which determine the gender division of labor
and gender-related control over resources and benefits. These analyses
identify the factors which create differential opportunities or con-
straints for men's and women's participation in and benefits from
projects. Because the work that men and women carry out shifts over
time in response to the processes of change, an understanding of the
underlying trends within the broader economic and cultural environ-
ment must be incorporated into this analysis.
The final component of the analytic framework, Project Cycle
Analysis, consists of examining a project in light of the foregoing basic
data and the trends that are likely to affect it and/or be generated by it.
Together, these four components provide a sufficient basis for design-
ing and implementing projects which can best benefit women and
benefit by women's participation.


To assess the interaction between women and projects, it is
important to know what women do. How one categorizes activities
conceptually is important. We suggest the following categories:

1) Production of Goods and Services

Too often planners have failed to recognize women's roles as
producers. Specific productive activities carried out for all goods and
services by men or women should be identified. It is not sufficient to
identify only female activities. Male activities must also be specified,
because the interrelationships can affect or be affected by the project.
Since general typologies can be very misleading, specific delineation
of activities is needed for each country and project setting. Huntington's
critique of the early Boserup work emphasized the difficulties of
generalizing: ". even if the classification and causal relationships of
Boserup's conceptualization are pertinent to African societies, they do
not hold elsewhere."s The work of Deere and Leon in Andean areas
reinforces the problem with generalization "Boserup's propositions
... hold only for the middle and rich states of the peasantry ."6

Gender Roles in Development Projects

The degree of specificity of the activity listing should depend on the
nature of the project. Those areas most directly associated with a
project should carry the greatest detail. For example, if the project
concerns a new agricultural production technology, then the gender
division of labor for each agricultural productive activity should be
delineated, e.g. land clearance, preparation, seeding, weeding, proces-
sing, etc.

2) Reproduction and Maintenance of the Human Resources

Activities that are carried out to produce and care for the
family members need to be specified according to who does them.
They might include but are not limited to fuel and water collection,
food preparation, birthing, child care, education, health care, and
laundry. These activities are often viewed as noneconomic, generally
carry no pecuniary remuneration, and usually are excluded from the
national income accounts. In fact, these household maintenance tasks
are essential economic functions which ensure the development and
preservation of the human capital for the family and the nation.
Galbraith observed "what is not counted is usually not noticed."7 In
project analyses, not noticing a major activity can lead to defective
project design.
Giving explicit attention to these functions is critical. Women's
project involvement can depend on whether or how a project affects
reproduction and maintenance activities, the production of goods and
services, and/or the interrelationship between these activities. The
scarcest resource for most low-income women is time. The design of
projects which increase time requirements for particular activities
must consider these requirements in relation to the time required for
other necessary activities.
The activities listed in the above categories need to be further
classified to increase their utility for the subsequent project analysis.
Three parameters are suggested for describing the activities:

(a) Gender and Age Denomination identifies whether women,
men, their children, or the elderly carry out an activity; reveals
gender patterns in the work activities; and is the key to identify-
ing subsequent gender effects.
(b) Time Allocation specifies what percentage of time is allocated
to each activity and whether it is seasonal or daily.

Women in Development 7

(c) Activity Locus specifies where the activity is being performed
-in the home, in the family field or shop or in the outside
community; reveals female mobility; and carries implications for
project delivery systems.
Table 1 provides an example of how information on activities can be
Most projects are not targeted to homogeneous population groups.
The gender-based division of labor as well as the access to and control
over resources and benefits are likely to differ, often quite substantially,
according to socio-economic class or ethnic affiliation. Therefore, it is
essential to develop the activity profiles separately for each of the
distinct population groups to whom the project is targeted.


Identifying the gender-specific activities in production, repro-
duction, and maintenance is a necessary, but not sufficient, step in the
data preparation for project design and implementation. The flow of
resources and benefits is a fundamental concept in the analysis of how
projects will affect and be affected by women. Of particular concern is
the access that individuals have to resources for carrying out their
activities and the command they have over the benefits that derive
from these activities. Table 2 illustrates how this information can be
usefully summarized.
Two points are important here. First, it is essential to differentiate
between access and control. Access to resources does not necessary
imply the power to control them. To control a situation is to impose
one's own definition upon the other actors in that situation.8 In other
words, access can be determined by others, but control implies that
one is the determining force.
Second, it is also important to differentiate between access to and
control over the use of resources, on the one hand, and access to and
control over the benefits derived from the mobilization of resources.
Even where women have unrestrained use of resources, they are not
always able to realize the gains from their use. Huntington's obser-
vation on female-dominated African agriculture illustrates this situ-
ation. Men have power and control over the fruits of women's labor
because "tradition gives men a position of authority over women ....
Men get their wealth, their livelihood and their leisure from women's
labor."9 By focusing on both resources and benefits, one obtains an
accurate assessment of the relative power of members of a society or
economy and can utilize this knowledge to analyze the probable
interaction of women with a project and its likely effect on them.

Gender Roles In Development Projects


The factors which determine who does what in any population
subgroup and what access and control individuals will have to resources
and benefits are broad and interrelated. They could be categorized in
numerous ways. We suggest the following:
(a) general economic conditions, such as poverty levels, inflation
rates, income distribution, international terms of trade, infra-
(b) institutional structures, including the nature of government bureau-
cracies and arrangement for the generation and dissemi ation of
knowledge, technology, and skills;
(c) demographic factors;
(d) socio-cultural factors;
(e) community norms, such as familial norms and religious beliefs;
(f) legal parameters;
(g) training and education;
(h) political events, both internal and external.

The reason for specifying these determining factors is to identify
which can facilitate or constrain a project. Some factors, if not most,
will not be amenable to change by a project. Therefore, the task for
project design and implementation is to assess the above factors in
terms of whether and how they will have an effect on or be affected
by a project.
In addition, it is important to identify the exogenous trends or
dynamic forces which are already affecting change on what men and
women actually do. Projects are not implemented and carried out
within the static environment implied by the Activity and Access and
Control Profiles. Dynamic forces-political, social, environmental, or
physical-can either enhance the accomplishment of a project's objec-
tives or seriously impede it.
The consideration of exogeneous trends and dynamic forces, while
always important, is even more so in relation to women. There are a
number of forces affecting women on a world-wide basis. Life-expec-
tancy is rising, particularly for women. Availability of birth control
information and techniques combined with declining infant mortality
rates have the potential to change a fundamental determinant of

Women in Development

women's activities; women may have fewer births and/or raise the
same number or fewer children. Women are taking up productive
activities previously undertaken by men as men migrate to cities or as
women assume responsibilities as heads of their households. Women
are increasingly entering wage labor occupations in order to survive or
to maintain a standard of living. Women are gaining increasing access
to permanent wage labor in some areas.
In many areas, the number of women-headed households is increas-
ing, although there tends to be a cultural lag in acknowledging this
fact. Bangladesh provides an important case in point. The number of
women who were left destitute, widowed, or abandoned after the war
has had a significant effect on the Bangladesh cultural norm that all
women should be under the care and protection of a man. Decreasing
land availability is also challenging the norm that children are an asset.
Children now cannot be absorbed onto family land, but must be
educated in order to earn a living. Costs of education raise the costs of
childrearing significantly. Decreasing land/human ratios also mean
that it is more difficult for a man to support all the dependent female
family members. The trend is towards an abdication of this traditional
responsibility. While these forces have direct and important effects on
women's lives and the activities they perform, they are part of a much
larger dynamic process. The status of women and their involvement in
work external to the household is changing in Bangladesh without
anyone's having designed this process. Project design and implemen-
tation for Bangladesh must take these forces into account in order to
understand the context in which a project will be working and the
forces which will affect it.
While Bangladesh provides an example of broader national trends
that influence projects, there are also a number of international trends
which affect local circumstances. World-wide inflation, international
transfers of labor, the impact of technologies, international tensions
including the Cold War, all change over time and can affect project
outcomes. Events within a project may be better understood when
these larger forces are explicitly noted and considered in project
planning, implementation and evaulation.


The remainder of the analytical framework consists of ex-
amining a project in light of the foregoing basic data. The process is to
ask which activities the project will affect and how the issues of access
and control relate to these activities. The factors which determine who
undertakes particular activities and with what access and control are

Gender Roles in Development Projects

critical because they act as mediators for the project's effects on
women. The analysis will help pinpoint areas of a project which have
to be adjusted in order to achieve the desired outcome.
At the project identification stage, questions which relate to women
as project clientele need to be addressed. This includes defining project
objectives in terms of women, identifying the opportunities and/or
constraints for women's project involvement, and, finally, identifying
possible negative effects on women. In the design stage of the project,
questions related to the impact on women's activities, access and
control of resources and benefits need to be raised. For project
implementation, questions regarding the relationship of women in the
project area to project personnel, organizational structures, operations,
logistics, etc. need to be considered. Finally, data requirements for
evaluating the project's effects on women must be addressed. Specific
questions related to project cycle analysis are detailed in Annex 1.
The activity analysis and the access and control analysis applied to
the project cycle analysis provide the basis for good project develop-
ment. They guide project identification by revealing where women are
and what they are doing. They assist project design by highlighting the
problem areas and their causes. The challenge is to find ways to deal
with the problem areas either by removing them, by-passing them, or
adjusting project expectations within them. Project implementation
has to be considered in the design process and can benefit from the
analytical data, too. It is important to recognize that no standard
project design is possible. Each country's situation is unique and will
require specific responses.


The analytical framework which we have provided here is a
useful device for understanding the roles of men and women in a
society and the external forces which may affect project planning The
analysis is generalizable in every context in that it is relevant to
determine the gender-based division of labor and to understand the
forces which act as constraints on this division or which act to change
In applying any generalized analysis across projects and across
cultures, it is important to bear in mind its precise use and its clear
limits. When activity analysis shows that women are involved in
certain productive tasks in one area and that these tasks have certain
implications for the division of resources and of power in that context,
it is unlikely that even this same division of labor will have exactly the

Women in Development 11

same implications for the division of power in any other culture or
project location. Traditions, customs, and political processes interact
with economic and social activities differently in different settings.
Transference of conclusions and interpretations across projects and
cultures is unlikely to be accurate. Nonetheless, there may be simi-
larities in the mode of analysis which may be applied to understand
these interactions; While the analytical framework suggested here
raises questions that are applicable in all settings insofar as it is
designed to gather critically relevant information for project design,
one must apply it to specific project settings. Good project design
requires actual data on what work women do and in what context,
together with clear specification of the issues of prestige, power,
access and control.
A decade has passed since the Percy Amendment required that U.S.
bilateral assistance programs
"be administered so as to give particular attention to those
programs, projects and activities which tend to integrate
women into the national economies of foreign countries,
thus improving their status and assisting the total develop-
ment effort."10

This legislative mandate requires that women be cast as contributors
and agents of economic development as well as its beneficiaries.
Planners, therefore, must guard against the negative effects of their
projects on women and focus on the need to enhance women's produc-
tivity, raise their income, and promote their access to economically
productive resources as a means to achieving overall national economic


The foregoing framework should be viewed as a flexible
instrument rather than a rigid format for accomplishing this objective.
It does not pretend to be a definitive work, but rather one upon which
others can build. Only in that spirit can we continue to learn together,
and that collective process is essential to the progress we pursue.

Gender Roles in Development Projects


Table 1 Activity Profile
Socioeconomic Activity FA MA FC MC FE ME TIME2 LOCUS3
1. Production of Goods and Services
a. Product/Services
1. Functional Activity
2. Functional Activity
3. Functional Activity
b. Product/Services
1. Functional Activity
2. Functional Activity
3. Functional Activity
2. Reproduction & Maintenance
of Human Resources
a. Product/Services
1. Functional Activity
2. Functional Activity
3. Functional Activity
b. Product/Services
1. Functional Activity
2. Functional Activity
3. Functional Activity
1. Functional Activity
1. Functional Activity
Code:l/ FA = Female Adult; MA = Male Adult; FC = Female Child; MC = Male Child; FE
= Female Elder; ME = Male Elder
21 Percentage of time allocated to each activity; seasonal; daily
3/ Within home; family, field or shop; local community; beyond community

Table 2 Access and Control Profile
Access Control
Resources (M/F) (M/F)
Access Control
Benefits (M/F) (M/F)
Outside Income
Assets Ownership
In-Kind goods
(Food, clothing, shelter, etc.)
Political Power/Prestige

Women in Development

Annex 1

The following sets of questions are the key ones for each of the four main
stages in the project cycle: identification, design, implementation, evaluation.
A. Assessing Women's Needs
1. What needs and opportunities exist for increasing women's productivity
and/or production?
2. What needs and opportunities exist for increasing women's access to and
control of resources?
3. What needs and opportunities exist for increasing women's access to and
control of benefits?
4. How do these needs and opportunities relate to the country's other general
and sectoral development needs and opportunities?
5. Have women been directly consulted in identifying such needs and oppor-
B. Defining General Project Objectives
1. Are project objectives explicit related to women's needs?
2. Do these objectives adequately reflect women's needs?
3. Have women participated in setting those objectives?
4. Have there been any earlier efforts?
5. How has present proposal built on earlier activity?
C. Identifying Possible Negative Effects
1. Might the project reduce women's access to or control of resources and
2. Might it adversely affect women's situation in some other way?
3. What will be the effects on women in the short and longer run?
A. Project Impact on Women's Activities
1. Which of these activities (production, reproduction & maintenance, socio-
political) does the project affect?
2. Is the planned component consistent with the current gender denomination
for the activity?
3. If it plans to change the women's performance of that activity, (i.e., locus of
activity, remunerative mode, technology, mode of activity) is this feasible,
and what positive or negative effects would it have on women?
4. If it does not change it, is this a missed opportunity for women's roles in the
development process?
5. How can the project design be adjusted to increase the above-mentioned
positive effects, and reduce or eliminate the negative ones?
B. Project Impact on Women's Access and Control
1. How will each of the project components affect women's access to and
control of the resources and benefits engaged in and stemming from the
production of goods and services?
2. How will each of the project components affect women's access to and
control of the resources and benefits engaged in and stemming from the
reproduction and maintenance of the human resources?

Gender Roles in Development Projects

3. How will each of the project components affect women's access to and
control of the resources and benefits engaged in and stemming from the
sociopolitical functions?
4. What forces have been set into motion to induce further exploration of
constraints and possible improvements?
5. How can the project design be adjusted to increase women's access to and
control of resources and benefits?

A. Personnel
1. Are project personnel sufficiently aware of and sympathetic toward women's
2. Are women used to deliver the goods or services to women beneficiaries?
3. Do personnel have the necessary skills to provide any special inputs required
by women?
4. What training techniques will be used to develop delivery systems?
5. Are there appropriate opportunities for women to participate in project
management positions?
B. Organizational Structures
1. Does the organizational form enhance women's access to resources?
2. Does the organization have adequate power to obtain resources needed by
women from other organizations?
3. Does the organization have the institutional capability to support and
protect women during the change process?
C. Operations and Logistics
1. Are the organization's delivery channels accessible to women in terms of
personnel, location and timing?
2. Do control procedures exist to ensure dependable delivery of the goods and
3. Are there mechanisms to ensure that the project resources or benefits are
not usurped by males?
D. Finances
1. Do funding mechanisms exist to ensure program continuity?
2. Are funding levels adequate for proposed tasks?
3. Is preferential access to resources by males avoided?
4. Is it possible to trace funds for women from allocation to delivery with a fair
degree of accuracy?
E. Flexibility
1. Does the project have a management information system which will allow it
to detect the effects of the operation on women?
2. Does the organization have enough flexibility to adapt its structures and
operations to meet the changing or new-found situations of women?

A. Data Requirements
1. Does the project's monitoring and evaluation system explicit measure the
project's effects on women?
2. Does it also collect data to update the Activity Analysis and the Women's
Access and Control Analysis?
3. Are women involved in designating the data requirements?

Women in Development

B. Data Collection and Analysis
1. Are the data collected with sufficient frequency so that necessary project
adjustments could be made during the project?
2. Are the data fed back to project personnel and beneficiaries in an understand-
able form and on a timely basis to allow project adjustments?
3. Are women involved in the collection and interpretation of data?
4. Are data analyzed so as to provide guidance to the design of other projects?
5. Are key areas for WID research identified?


1. Ester Boserup, Women's Role in Economic Development (London: George Allen and Unwin
Ltd., 1970).
2. This focus on "projects" rather than processes, institutions, and policies can inhibit
rather than promote development if not managed appropriately. See David C. Korten,
"Community Organization and Rural Development: A Learning Process Approach,"
Public Administration Review 40, (1980), pp. 480-503. Our attention to projects does not
carry a normative judgment on this approach but rather reflects a concern to improve
the existing modalities.
3. The perceptions or biases of "planners" concerning women constitute another barrier.
See Barbara Rogers, The Domestication of Women: Discrimination in Developing Societies (London:
Tavistock Publications, 1980).
4. See Gloria Scott, The Invisible Woman (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1980).
5. Sue Ellen Huntington, "Issues in Women's Role in Economic Development: Critique
and Alternatives," Journal of Marriage and the Family (November 1975), p. 104.
6. C. Deere, and M. Leon de Leal, Women in Andean Agriculture: Peasant Production and Rural
Wage Employment in Columbia and Peru (Geneva: ILO, 1982).
7. Kenneth Galbraith, "The Economics of the American Housewife," Atlantic Monthly
(August 1973,) p. 79.
8. Alan Dawe, "The Two Sociologies," The British Journal of Sociology 21 (1970) p. 207; also
cited in Rogers, op. cit.
9. Huntington, op. cit.
10. U.S. Congress Foreign Assistance Act of 1973, Sections 103-107.


Women's Productivity In

Agricultural Systems:

Considerations For

Project Design

Prepared by Kathleen Cloud

The analytic formulation of this paper is based on work undertaken collaboratively
with Catherine Overholt in 1981-1982 under funding from the Ford Foundation and the
Agricultural Development Council. Our original paper was presented at the 1982
International Agricultural Economics Meetings in Jakarta. For invigorating discussions
and helpful comments on that paper, and its subsequent transformation, I am grateful to
Jim Austin, Mary Anderson, Elsa Chaney, Richard Goldman, Christine Jones, Jane
Knowles, Martha Lewis, Peter Moock, Richard Meyer, Kathleen Staudt, Peter Timmer,
Woods Thomas, Francille Firebaugh, and Abe Weisblatt.


This paper is intended to help development professionals
think systematically about the work that women do in agricultural
systems. Because increasing the productivity of agricultural systems is
a key concern of developing countries and international development
agencies, many development projects are directed to this end. Effective
project design requires identification of the key economic actors and an
understanding of their incentives and constraints. Failure to do so
increases the risk of ineffective project interventions.
Evidence has mounted over the past decade that women are impor-
tant actors in most agricultural production systems, that many respon-
sibilities are gender-specific, and that failure to address women's roles
within a specific system undercuts the degree of project success. In
some cases, such omission may contribute directly to project failure.
Because women are so deeply involved in agricultural production, it is

18 Gender Roles in Development Projects

important to think systematically about factors that affect their func-
tioning not only for equity reasons, but also for the sake of efficiency.
The AID Women and Development policy paper notes that though
there is now sufficient evidence of women's contribution to agriculture:
"there is equal proof that women are often farming without benefit of the
improved inputs and services required for a more productive and remuner-
ative agriculture. The paradox is most obvious in the African setting,
where it is estimated females do 60-80 percent of all agricultural work. Yet
these same females are rarely systematically targeted for training, exten-
sion, research, technology, or improved inputs. It is predictable, then, that
efforts to improve access to resources and thereby to increase productivity
in the agricultural sector will need to be better directed to the female
population, if goals for growth are to be achieved."'

Gender-specific economic analysis of food production and distribu-
tion systems can contribute significantly to improving system per-
formance. Such economic analysis also has strategic value. While many
development professionals are sensitive to cultural differences and
unwilling to be accused of cultural imperialism for proposing change in
the social relationships between the sexes, it is commonly accepted
that development projects can appropriately attempt to intensify
economic change and move it in desired directions. Shifting discussion
of farm women's roles from social to economic terms has the advantage
of permitting rational discussion using commonly accepted analytic
tools and arguments. It pays to deliver resources to women in agricul-
tural systems. This argument is easily understood, and, one hopes,
persuasive. Under the pressure of increasing populations, agricultural
systems throughout the world are changing, for better or worse. As
systems change, it is often possible to use efficiency arguments honestly
for promoting productivity-enhancing changes in inequitable situations.


This paper will provide tools for improving the correspon-
dence between current knowledge of women's roles in agricultural
production and the programming designed to increase agricultural
production. The framework for agricultural projects runs parallel to
that outlined in "Women in Develpment: A Framework for Project
Analysis." The basic elements are
analysis of women's productive activities within the agricultural
identification of factors influencing women's productivity,
application of this knowledge to each stage in the project process.

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems

Each of these elements is addressed in turn by the paper. A discussion
of the major patterns of activities undertaken by rural women is
followed by a discussion of the factors influencing women's productivity
in agricultural systems. Such factors include women's relative size and
strength, their reproductive roles, their access to productive resources
and the incentive structures they face. In the final section, the paper
provides an agriculturally focused adaptation of the project cycle


A. Macro Data on Women's Agricultural Activities

Although there is increasing recognition that women are
involved in the world's agriculture, until recently it has been difficult
to gain a clear picture of where, when, and under what circumstances
women participate in farm work. Although the number of microstudies
documenting the importance of women's roles has risen steadily,
national statistics have tended to undercount women's agricultural
labor due to their definition of economic activity, their sampling
patterns and their interviewing procedures.
As the number of detailed empirical studies of women's roles in local
production systems has grown, there has been increasing pressure for
more accurate estimates of women's contributions to national produc-
tion systems. A number of such efforts has been undertaken. The
latest, largest and most reliable is that of Dixon2, who estimated
female percentages of the agricultural labor force for 82 developing
countries. She used regression analysis on three types of national data
(the 1977 ILO labor force estimates and projections 1950-2000, FAO's
1970 agricultural censuses and national population census data) to
arrive at the most reliable figures for each country. For the 82
countries combined, she found the proportion of women in the agricul-
tural labor force to be 42%; for Sub Saharan Africa the regional
average was 46%; for North Africa and the Middle East 31%; and for
Asia 45%. Latin American data were not adequate for analysis. There
were important differences between countries within each region, and
indeed, within each country. Her comments on the differences between
data sets are useful in considering data collection strategies for project
purposes as well as for understanding patterns of women's participation.
Of the three major sources of agricultural labor force data reviewed ... the
population censuses generally yield the lowest proportions of females in

Gender Roles in Development Projects

the agricultural labor force, whereas the censuses of agriculture conducted
under the sponsorship of FAO yield the highest proportions. As unpaid
family helpers and seasonal workers become progressively incorporated
into definitions of the labor force, the sex composition changes. More
specifically, contrasts between sources confirm that the total farm labor
force is generally larger, and that women (and children) form a higher
proportion of the total, when the definition of economic activity includes:
farm production for subsistence only, as well as production intended in
whole or in part for sale or exchange;
unpaid work by family helpers;
homestead-based crop processing, preparation of crops for storage,
transport to markets, raising small animals and poultry, and cultivating
kitchen gardens, in addition to field-based production and processing.
The proportion of females is also generally higher when:
a low minimum of days or hours of work is specified as a criterion for
inclusion in the labor force,
a longer reference period is defined during which economic activity is to
be assessed, for example, during the preceding cropping season or year
rather than the preceding day or week,
the survey is conducted during the peak season of agricultural activity,
especially if the reference period is brief,
respondents are asked for a secondary activity or occupation as well as
a main activity, and a usual activity as well as a current one
the interviewer probes the specific activities, based on knowledge of the
crops and animals raised, rather than accepting without question the
woman's definition of herself as housewife, or her possible assumption
that farm work refers only to wage-earning employment
the interviewer questions women in the household directly rather than
asking male household members to report women's activities
the work of children between the ages of 10 and 15 is routinely

The picture that emerges from this comparison of macro data sets is
not a complete description of women's agricultural work, but some
inferences can be made. In addition to the substantial number of
women documented in national agricultural labor force data, many
additional women and girls work as unpaid family laborers. Many are
primarily involved in production of the family food supply; many work
intensively in the fields only during the peak labor season; many girls
between 10 and 15 do substantial amounts of agricultural labor,
particularly in North Africa and the Middle East. Finally, many women
consider their work in agricultural production to be subsidiary to other

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems

B. Women's Roles in Agricultural Households

Rural women do play multiple roles in the world's agricultural
systems. They may be mothers, housekeepers, wage laborers, agri-
cultural processors, market women, and entrepreneurs as well as
agricultural producers. Most rural women make constant tradeoffs in
allocating labor time and productive resources among their roles and
obligations. Most farming systems display mixed patterns of women's
agricultural responsibilities, combining production cycles where one
sex is primarily responsible with crops where responsibility is shared.
Women are often responsible for the livestock, vegetables and tree
crops cared for near their dwellings. They are more likely to be
involved in cereal production in hoe cultures and irrigated rice systems
than in extensive plow cultures. Class also influences women's partici-
pation in agricultural production. Studies in Bangladesh, Indonesia,
and Peru all found that women in more affluent farm families devoted
less time to field work and more time to cooking for hired laborers.
Although in low technology systems poor women are likely to do more
field work than more prosperous women, in highly mechanized sys-
tems, many women in prosperous farm households do substantial
amounts of field work.4

1. Agricultural Household Production Models

Few people live alone in rural societies. Agricultural produc-
tion is intrinsically a collaborative endeavor, with the agricultural
household as the most common unit of production and consumption.
Because of this, we suggest that project analysis of women's product-
ive work be undertaken within the household context, taking account
of the activities and demands of household members of all ages. The
agricultural household, as the term is used here, is a kinship-based group
engaged in both production and consumption with corporate owner-
ship of some resources and a degree of joint decision making among
members. Its boundaries are assumed to be permeable and to change
over time, as well as under different macroeconomic conditions. Such a
definition can include monagamous, polygamous, and women-headed
households, as well as compounds or extended families.
Recent economic models of the agricultural household have made
women's productive work much more visible, both because they have
enlarged the definition of farm production and because they have
viewed women's labor time as a rationally allocated productive resource.
As it becomes increasingly clear that the home and the fields compete

22 Gender Roles in Development Projects

for allocations of capital resources and family labor, the definition of
the "products" of the farm enterprise has expanded. Without a defini-
tion of output that includes all the productive uses of household time,
it is impossible to understand correctly the opportunity costs of mem-
ber's time, and the underlying rationality of the tradeoffs they make in
allocating their time and other productive resources among activities.
Fortunately, this research is increasingly convergent in its definition of
the output of the family farm firm. Studies in Nepal, Java and the
Phillipines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Romania, and the United
States have used somewhat different categories for classifying the
goods and services produced by the agricultural household.5 When the
various categories are integrated and rationalized, they include the
agricultural production: the output of crops and livestock for home
consumption or market sale (cereals, vegetables, tree crops, live
stock, dairy products, poultry)
household production: goods and services produced within the house-
hold for home consumption or market sale (food processing and
preparation, provision of household water and cooking fuels,
laundry, cleaning, health care, house building and maintenance)
human capital production: childbearing, child care and the transmission
of skills and knowledge
self-employment in the informal market sector: off-farm activities such as
marketing and personal services
wage-labor: paid employment, whether in agriculture or other sectors

Much of the recent farming system research also addresses inter-
actions of production and consumption behaviors, as well as the trade-
offs between on-farm and off-farm labor. However, this research has
been much slower to explicitly incorporate household and human
capital production in their analysis.7

2. Household Resource Allocation Strategies

Several kinds of models have been developed to understand the
resource allocation choices made by farm households. Small farmers
are no longer viewed as ignorant, tradition bound and resistant to
change. They are now seen to be allocating scarce resources of capital
and labor rationally to achieve the greater benefit (utility) for the
household. In this view they are "efficient by necessity," responsive to

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems

prices, and willing to adopt improved technology when it pays to do so.
The most recent household models also acknowledged that because
farm families consume part of what they produce, production and
consumption behaviors are closely entwined and that distinctions
between the two are not always clear. Much farm household con-
sumption could also be seen as productivity-increasing investments in
the health, education and nutrition of the household's human capital.
Allocative choices are constantly being made about the levels of time
and resource that will be devoted to each area of household activity.
Produce is processed and consumed by the household, or sold, and the
profits used to purchase inputs or to pay school fees. Such choices are
affected by the level of resources the household possesses, the size and
age structure of the household, the availability and cost of technology,
and the prices in local markets as well as the cropping systems possible
in the environment.
Most household models assume that farm households and the people
within them, will do first the things that are necesarry for survival. To
provide their basic needs for food, water, shelter, and clothing, a kind
of "safety first" strategy is used by most small farms in allocating their
resources. Risk reduction strategies are used to assure the household a
supply of the things necessary for survival. Many cropping strategies
are chosen for their reliability rather than for maximum productivity.
If it is necessary to walk long distances to obtain drinking water, or
cooking fuel, hours of labor time may be taken from agricultural and
household production and locked into these essential activities.
A second assumption is that work is organized and resources are
deployed to give the maximum returns compatible with safety. Ben
White, in his study of poor Javanese households, describes it this way:

"If we were to rank the various productive opportunities in order of their
returns to labor we would expect to find that households would,
whenever possible, choose the available combination of activities with the
highest total returns to labor. Thus for example, women will often stop or
reduce their trading or mat-weaving activity during harvest time to take
advantage of the better returns in harvesting. Men may remain at home,
cooking and babysitting to free their wives for the harvest; young children
may herd livestock or cut fodder when there are wage-labor opportunities
for their fathers, or they may cook and babysit while their father cuts
fodder and their mother is planting rice Each household survives on a
basis of extreme 'occupational multiplicity' and a highly flexible division of
labor among household members. Since the returns to labor in most
occupations can barely support an adult, let alone a whole household, the
burden of subsistence is shared by men, women and children together.
Each household's income is derived from a great variety of sources which
constantly change in response to available opportunities according to the
season, the state of the market and even the time of day."8

Gender Roles in Development Projects

Figure 1

4-17 July


---- Social activity
- Nonagricultural work
--- Domestic work
- Agricultural work
-- Livestock work
\ / \,


lov. 13-28 Mar.
-^ A -a\

7 8 910 15 20 25
Fortnight (1=9-22 May 1976)

Figure 1. Mean Total Household Labor Hours Each Fortnight By Category of Work,
Upper Volta.

Source: Norman, D.W., Newman, M.D. and Ouedrago, I., 1981.
Farm and Village Production Systems in the Semi-Arid Tropics
of West Africa: An Interpretive Review of Research, Research
Bulletin No. 4, Vol. 1. Pantancheru, A.P., India (ICRISAT)




= 300-

200- -,"-"

100- \





Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems

Although this description emphasizes the rationality of the house-
hold's labor allocation decisions, it is clear that such choices are also
affected by the power relationships within the household and the
community. Such a description ignores the question of how decisions
are made within the households. Women and men may have different
production priorities. One may wish to invest more resources in
subsistence production while the other favors cash crops, or wishes to
invest more in the nutrition or education of the children. Purchases of
household production technology such as improved stoves may compete
for capital with purchases of agricultural technology. The relative
bargaining power of the two sexes within the household will influence
the allocation of productive resources as much as purely economic
In many systems there are gender-specific responsibilities for produc-
ing certain crops or supplying certain kinds of household income, as
well as responsibilities for making certain kinds of household expen-
ditures. Many rural households utilize both pooled and non-pooled
income streams. Those familiar with American farms will remember
the discretionary power of women's butter and egg money, which
often contributed substantially to the family's well being. In many
developing countries, greater proportions of household income flows
may be separate. According to AID's Women and Development policy
"Research findings for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Carribean, South and
South East Asia indicate a pattern of separate and distinct income
streams and expenditures, where males and females meet financial respon-
sibilities to the family individually with little or no access to each other's
cash or other resources."9
In intervening in such systems it is important that projects address
the reality of the income flows in project households and not undercut
women's income sources, or lessen the base of their bargaining power
in other ways.
The economic convention of assuming a household utility function
in which a household acts in its own best interest given its resources,
its economic environment and its technology, obscures the fact that
what is in the best interests of the household may not be in the best
interests of the particular members. The unpaid family labor of women
or its younger members may increase the income, status and living
standard of the household, yet they may not receive an equitable share
of the benefits. In placing women within the household context,
therefore, we must emphasize that although individuals in households
have shared interests, they also have separate interests, and they may
sometimes have opposing interests. The separate and opposing interests

Gender Roles in Development Projects

of women and men may be either acknowledged and institutionalized
within the community or they may be vigorously denied. In systems
where public norms define women's role as that of economic depen-
dent and restrict them to unpaid labor, women's defense of their own
interests is likely to be subtle and difficult to perceive. Nevertheless, it
can generate profound impacts on the agricultural economy. Consider
the consequence of dependent women's need for sons who will support
them in their old age.
We would caution project analysts that while it is often a useful
assumption that households act in a relatively rational and equitable
manner to maximize benefits to their members, it is also important to
be alert for situations of separate or conflicting interests within the
household that may affect project functioning.

C. Patterns of Women's Participation in Agricultural Production

Possible arrangements of agricultural responsibilities and tasks
are almost limitless. Fortunately for project analysis, there do seem to
be patterns. During the past decade, one of the liveliest fields of
research on women has centered on factors that influence these pat-
terns of rural women's work. Economic rationality, culture, demo-
graphy, colonialism, capitalism, capitalist exploitation, patriarchy, the
physical safety of women and children, and the type of cropping
system have all been cited as influences.
One of the most influential explanations was offered by Boserup in
1970. She noted that in sparsely populated areas such as Africa where
shifting hoe cultivation is the rule, men take part in cultivation,
primarily in land clearing, but women do most of it. Such areas were
contrasted with more densely populated areas of Asia where the
agricultural system is that of extensive plow cultivation. Here, men
perform the farm tasks associated with the plow, and the hand
operations, or some of them, are left for women to perform. In regions
of intensive cultivation of irrigated lands, both men and women must
work in the fields to support a family on small holdings. In linking
population density and the consequent differences in modes of produc-
tion to women's roles within the production system Boserup makes an
implicitly evolutionary argument which identifies population pressure
as the engine that propels agricultural intensification and technical
change. The unfolding of this scenario removes women from control
of land and other productive resources, thus marginalizing them, and
constraining their productivity.

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems 27

"As agriculture becomes less dependent on human muscular power, differ-
ences in productivity between the sexes might be expected to fall. In actual
fact, this is far from the case. Men monopolize the use of new equipment
and modern methods .... In all developing countries, and most industrial-
ized countries women perform simple manual tasks in agriculture while
more efficient types of equipment, operated by animal or mechanical
power, are used primarily by men. Often men apply modern scientific
methods of cultivation to cash crops while wives continue to cultivate food
crops by traditional methods. Thus, in the course of agricultural develop-
ment, men's labor productivity tends to increase while women's remain
more or less static The tendency toward a widening gap is exacerbated
by the fact that it is cash crops men are taught to cultivate because men
can use part of the earnings to invest in improvement of production, while
women producing food crops for the family have no cash income for
improving their farming techniques.10

This thesis has stimulated considerable debate. As more and better
information becomes available, the picture seems more complex, with
a larger number of factors at play. Traditional systems present more
variation, and the dynamics of change are more variable than Boserup's
arguments reflect. Nevertheless, there do seem to be systematic under-
lying regularities, although they are not yet well understood.
Because current generalizations are tentative and have numerous
exceptions, it is important to understand the reality of the specific
systems the project is intended to affect. Five common patterns of
women's agricultural responsibilities are described briefly below.
1. Separate Crops. In this pattern, women and men are responsible
for production and disposal of different crops within the household
production system. Alternatively, women may specialize in certain
crops as well as participating with men in the production of others.
There may be a division between
women's subsistence crops and men's cash crops
women's horticultural crops and men's cereal crops
between two cereal crops such as millet and rice
women's swamp rice and men's irrigated rice
between women's goats and men's cattle.
Alternatively, women may specialize in
vegetable or tree crops
small ruminants
gathering of wild crops
beans, cowpeas and other legumes.
2. Separate Fields. In this pattern, women produce the same crops as
those controlled by men but in different fields. Such crops are usually

Gender Roles in Development Projects

for household consumption, but some may also be marketed. This
pattern is found in West African systems, where women's fields are
usually part of a larger system in which labor of both sexes is also
contributed to the communal fields of the extended household. In
these cases, there may be three interlocking production systems: the
fields of each wife, the husband's field and the joint field of the
extended family.
3. Separate Tasks. In this pattern, some or all of the tasks within a
single cycle are assigned by gender. Common tasks assignments include
the following:
Men prepare the ground; women plant or transplant the crop. This
pattern is particularly prevalent in rice production and in African
hoe culture.
Seed selection and storage is done by women in many systems.
Plowing is done by men in most systems.
Certain types of plant protection may be assigned to women.
Certain kinds of harvesting tasks may be assigned by gender.
Climbing trees to harvest crops is usually done by males.
Post harvest processing and storage of cereals, vegetables, tree
crops and dairy products are often women's tasks.
Care of animals when they are young or sick is often women's
Men and boys often supervise grazing of herds far from home.
Milking is often assigned to one sex or the other. Sometimes this
differs by animal. Among the Malian Tuareg, men milk camels,
women milk goats, both may milk cattle.
4. Shared Tasks. In this pattern, which overlaps with the other
patterns to varying degrees, men and women undertake the same
tasks on the same crops. Some systems are marked by jointness in
most tasks; in other systems, only labor intensive tasks such as
weeding and harvesting are shared.
5. Women-Managed Farms. These are two types, de facto and de jure.
In de facto systems, men work away from the farms for days, weeks or
even years, leaving the women to manage in their absence. In some
situations as in the Indonesian example, men work off-farm but return
each evening. Kenyan and Japanese women manage farms during the
week while their husbands work in the city. In Nepal, absences extend
for several months. In Jamaica, Lesotho, Botswana, Yemen, Zimbabwe
and the Senegal river basin, male migration abroad may last for years.
While in some highly patriarchal systems, farm management and the
investment of remittances may remain in the hands of older men, in

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems

many systems, women become the effective farm managers. Many of
these farms command significant resources but women managers may
lack legal authority to sign credit agreements and commit resources.
De jure women headed households are increasing on a world wide basis.
Such women may be widowed, divorced, abandoned or simply never
married. Such women-headed households may represent as much as
one third of the households in some rural communities. They tend to
be among the poorest farming households, underresourced and suffer-
ing serious labor constraints. Yet there are many who depend on them
for survival.
In patterns of separate crops and separate fields, women are likely to be
responsible for management, labor, and disposal of production. Often
the produce is primarily for household consumption, but there may be
significant surplus for sale. Labor exchange is common in these systems,
paid labor less so. In patterns of separate tasks and shared tasks, women's
labor may be either unpaid family labor or paid wage labor. On family
farms, management of this labor is likely to be a shared household
responsibility. Control of the proceeds is variable and usually complex.
In cases of plantation agriculture or communal farms, management
rests further afield and control of wages may rest either with the
individual worker or the household head. For women-managed production
systems, women are more likely to control proceeds and usually provide
most of the labor, though they may also hire labor or supervise the
labor of younger household males. Most agricultural households display
mixed patterns of responsibility and control, combining production
cycles for which one sex is primarily responsible with those where
responsibility is shared or interlaced.
Systems vary both not only in the tasks they assign by gender, but
also in the flexibility with which the tasks can be shifted. Children may
take over tasks of the parents as they mature, sons replacing mothers
in field work or milking. Seasonal shifts in the labor devoted to
different kinds of production are often linked to the agricultural cycle.
during seasonal labor bottlenecks such as harvesting, every able bodied
person may be drawn into agricultural work while other work is put
aside. Sometimes this means that everyone goes into the fields. In
other systems women work to process the harvest and prepare meals
for field workers. Women's field labor may also be divided by class.
Poorer women may work in the fields for pay while women in more
prosperous households process and cook the food.
Figure 1 provides a particularly striking example of household time
tradeoffs in Upper Volta. During the July peak agricultural labor
period, the average mean hours of domestic labor per fortnight drops
from 200 to 50 and then to 25 as the agricultural labor climbs from

30 Gender Roles in Development Projects

250 to 550 hours. Later, as the agricultural labor hours drop back to
100, the average domestic labor returns to 200, with two sharp dips in
October and November mirroring brief upswings in agricultural labor
demand. Non-agricultural work-time is very low during the agricultural
season and increases during the dry season, while livestock work
continues steadily at a low level straight through the year.
Such a pattern clearly reflects women's transfer of labor time from
household production to agricultural production during periods of
peak labor demand, together with a burst of "catch up" household
production time immediately after each agricultural peak subsides.
Because the data is not disaggregated by sex, the other gender-related
shifts in labor allocation patterns within the household are less visible,
although certainly present.

D. Women's Roles in Management of Agricultural Production

Because increased productivity is related to management
decisions, it is important to understand not only who is doing the
work, but who is making the decisions about cropping patterns, seed
selection, use of purchased inputs, use of family and hired labor and
crop disposal. It is also important to understand who is implementing
the decisions, with what resources and at what level of skill. Unfortun-
ately, the burgeoning literature on farm management and farming
systems has given scant attention to issues of gender influence on
intra-household decision making and resource allocation.
By contrast, anthropological studies have consistently documented
the patterns of women's responsibilities for management of their own
animals and crops as reflected in previous pages. Systematic studies of
male and female influence on management decisions in integrated
systems are increasing in a number of social science literatures. Acharya
and Bennet, in an elegant study of women's time use and decision
making in eight Nepalese villages, concluded that:
"Nepalese women are not just silent workers who take directions from
men; on the contrary, their managerial role in the agricultural production
appears to be commensurate with the level of their labor input into the
family farm enterprise (which is 57% for all villages averaged) In
decisions..., about the disposal of what is produced, and the management
of household assets, we find that in these later types of decisions women's
labor input into subsistence production no longer seems to have a con-
sistently positive effect across communities. Instead what appears to be
more important is the degree to which women in a given community
participate in the market economy and the home production of crafts
for sale Moreover it appears that cultural factors affect both the

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems

structure of female economic participation and female input into the
decision making process there are, however, a number of other factors
acting at the household and individual levels such as the economic status of
the household, the individual woman's age, the availability of child care,
which also affect the structure of female economic participation and decision
making in the household.","

White and Hatusi, in studying decision making in Javanese house-
holds, make' the following observations:

Women are often involved in production decisions, and, in significant
number of cases they are the dominant influence in these decisions. Since
we are dealing with households whose primary source of income is from
agriculture, we find no confirmation of the notion that production decisions
are firmly in the hands of "male farmers." Any researcher who carries out
farm management surveys in rural Java quickly learns that men do not
monopolize the details of production management. Normally, the inter-
viewer sits in the front room and addresses questions to the (male)
"farmer" in implicit endorsement of the general norm that farming is
"men's business." However, detailed questions on fertilizer or labor use,
yields and so on, seem very often to require prior consultation with the
"housewife" (who may be crouching modestly out of sight in the back
room) before they can be answered: "Mak (mother), how much fertilizer
did we use? Where did we get the seed? How many laborers helped in the
planting and how much did you pay them?" and so on. pgs.12

They also note that for some households the involvement of women
on production decisions is a necessity because their husbands are
physically absent. Either the men are working in the fields of others or
in another type of wage labor.

E. Importance of Identifying the Gender Related Responsibilities

Identifying the gender division of responsibility for labor,
management, and disposal of all types of households production is
crucial to project analysis because the segmentation of control and
responsibility has practical effects. Technical assistance given to one
family member does not assure its use in all the household's land-
holdings. Increasing household income will not necessarily make
productivity increasing inputs available for all activities if household
income is not completely pooled. Targeting improved technologies
efficiently demands an understanding of who is likely to use the
technology. When labor is segmented by gender, care must be taken in
project analysis that labor supply estimates reflect this to avoid creating
gender-specific labor bottlenecks.

Gender Roles in Development Projects

F. Developing Activity Profiles of Agricultural Households

Table 1 provides an outline for developing a gender-specific
profile of agricultural household activities. It should be recognized that
although some farming systems projects are beginning to collect
detailed micro-level data, existing data would seldom be sufficient to
complete such a profile. Nonetheless, it is important to know what
information is missing so that a decision can be reached whether to
invest additional resources in gathering data or to proceed with project
design based on certain tentative assumptions regarding the missing
data pieces. Perhaps the major value of an attempt to develop such a
projile at the micro level is to make programers aware of what they are
assuming and somewhat more cautious in proceeding.
Such household level analysis is only useful to the degree that it is
integrated into project level planning and implementation. The particular
aspects of the household production system likely to be affected by the project should
receive the most attention in data collection, and the findings should be explicitly
related to project level analysis throughout the project cycle. For example, if
household level analysis shows seed selection and preservation to be
women's responsibility, then institutional interventions to develop or
disseminate new seeds should take this into account. If household level
analysis shows women to be responsible for production and marketing
of poultry, dairy products or vegetables, interventions in areas should
address this reality.
Such attention does not demand that traditional roles are to be
preserved at any costs. It does demand that the analysis of the costs
and benefits of differing project strategies explicitly attend to gender
roles, as well as to the gender differences in control over resources and
benefits that will be addressed in the following section.


There are a number of factors that influence rural women's
productivity. They can be seen as three overlapping constellations: the
physical factors associated with size, strength and reproduction; the
socio-cultural factors influencing role ascriptions and family incentive
structures and the institutional structures which affect access to
factors of production; and to public incentive structures. Although
institutional factors are most amenable to project intervention, and
will occupy the major share of this discussion, it is useful to begin by
discussing the influence of physical and social factors connected to

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems 33

women's size, strength, and nurturing responsibilities, since so many
discussions not only begin, but end, there.

A. Women's Relative Size and Strength

Women's relatively smaller size and strength are often cited
as reasons for assuming their productivity is lower than men's in farm
labor and off-farm employment. There is a tradition in farming systems
work of weighting women's productivity at .75 or .8 of a man's. Recent
empirical analysis of input-ouput data does not support these weights.
In Kenya, women's overall productivity was found to be as high as
men's in agricultural labor, while in Sri Lanka women's rice trans-
planting, in Upper Volta women's weeding and in West Africa women's
cotton picking were all found to be as productive as men's labor in the
same activity.
In Bangladesh, by contrast, women's productivity was lower than
men's when carrying earth and rocks for road building. It seems likely
that women's and men's productivity differences based on size and
strength vary by task and are greatest for tasks that demand the most
body mass and strength in the upper torso. This view is reflected in a
survey of Peruvian peasant farmers where over 70 percent of the
respondents considered the time of men and women equally productive
in planting, weeding and harvesting by hand, while only 33 percent
felt women to be as productive in hoeing, digging with a pick or
harvesting with a sickle, tasks that do require both tools and greater
strength.13 The problem is of more than passing interest in farming
systems research. Norman recommends more rigorous data collection
and analysis to establish realistic weight ranges for tasks.
"There is difficulty in measuring work by different family members and
reducing it to a common denominator in terms of productivity. Different
approaches to this problem have led to the actif concept in Francaphone
countries, and the male equivalent concept in Anglaphone Africa. The male
equivalent approach is often used in situations where labor flow data is
being collected the system need only reflect differences in productivity
per unit of time of labor. Arbitrary weights by task is rarely done, an
unfortunate fact which could result in spurious conclusions. The weighting
systems employed are critical in determining the validity of the results. Unfortunately, it's
not always clear what weighting system was employed, and why specific weights were
chosen Weights have been used that reflect differences in levels of
consumption rather than in terms of work productivity. It is important to
distinguish between consumption units and work units since such
weighting systems are useful for different purposes Relevant weights
are further complicated by the facts that productivity of individuals of
different sex and age will vary according to the task and its urgency. ..
This is a major problem and makes comparison of studies difficult."14

34 Gender Roles in Development Projects

B. Women and the Production of Human Capital

Women have a clear comparative advantage in the production
of human capital due to their unique capacity to produce new human
beings through pregnancy. Without this capacity societies could not
continue to exist. In many cultures women achieve both power and
status by exercising this capacity, while at the same time carrying out
a great deal of other productive work. After childbirth, women continue
to carry out this productive work while simultaneously attending to
the needs of their children.
Although increasing amounts of child care can be delegated to
others as children grow older, a stream of joint productive work is
characteristic for many women in farm households, particularly during
periods when they are pregnant and nursing. On the one hand,
woman's agricultural or market time may be shortened by the need to
nurse a baby or the need to attend to children while working may
increase the time needed to complete a task. Yet, at the same time,
women are also producing human capital. In the past, such joint
productivity seemed difficult for economists to handle. Now, despite
the methodological problems, economists studying American farm
households are beginning to develop models that reflect joint produc-
tion, arguing:
"For farm households, the possibilities for joint production are much
greater than for wage earning households The wife's household time
may simultaneously be spent preparing dinner and listening to farm market
and weather information. Farm records can be prepared while supervising
children, and farm and household inputs can be purchased on the same trip
to town.15

Much of women's work in agricultural households involves this kind
of double or triple layer of simultaneous productive activities. It is
characteristic of mother-child interactions that they are pulsed, occur-
ring in brief bursts, separated by attention to other tasks on the part
of both mother and child. Such an activity pattern demands both skill
and judgement in coordinating a great variety of different activities.
Mead Cain in his discussion of Asian households notes:

"The particular work activities of females are of shorter duration and are
more integrally linked than those of males. Thus managerial skills must be
applied more frequently and efficiency is best judged overall rather than for
specific activities."16

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems

C. The Issue of Time

Discussions of time and its relationship to women's produc-
tivity are threaded through this paper. We have alluded to short run,
daily allocations of time, medium run seasonal cycles of time use, and
long run effects of major changes in the economic, political or physical


Because labor time is the primary productive resource for
many of the rural poor, we have assumed that both sexes allocate it
rationally, given the constraints they face. Women in most agricultural
systems have different patterns of time use than men, both day by day
and across the seasons. As noted above, women are more often
engaged in joint production, managing two or three activities simul-
taneously, changing activities more often in the course of the day.
Across the world, rural as well as urban women work three to four
hours a day more than men in the same society.17
At least three reasons have been advanced to account for this
difference. Many households and human capital production tasks must
be done repeatedly and consistently in order to sustain life at an
acceptable level. Food processing and cooking, supplying fuel and
water, caring for children and the sick are all activities that must be
done daily no matter what other work is undertaken. These tasks,
assigned overwhelmingly to women in rural societies, consume large
amounts of time, and add to the length of the work day. A second
explanation is that labor-reducing technology is less available to women
in all areas of their production; therefore, women's labor hours are
longer, though their total production may be no greater than that of
men in their households. These two arguments are not mutually
exclusive, and are often assumed to be interactive.
A third argument made by an interesting assortment of Chicago
school economists and feminist scholars, argues that women's joint
production is so valuable to the household that it is economically
rational for women to work longer hours. Feminist scholars cite
distortions in labor markets and incentive structures and women's
constrained options as ways of reconciling the high value of joint
production with women's relative lack of benefits from this value. The
Chicago school argument begs the question of the intra-household
distribution of benefits from women's work, submerging the issue in
the household utility function. Whatever the explanation, the fact

Gender Roles in Development Projects

remains that women in rural households work very long hours,
trading off the value of time used in one activity against the value in
another. Women's time is a scarce resource, and its opportunity costs
must be considered in project interventions.
There are a number of ways that the time constraint can be
addressed in project design. Using the kind of Activity Analysis
suggested in Table 1, it is possible to estimate how time is spent and to
project how proposed changes may effect household time use. If
changes in any part of the system are likely to increase the demand for
women's time, several questions can be asked:
What benefits will women gain from increasing their labor time:
Direct? Indirect? Uncertain?
-What other activities are likely to be displaced by this increased
time use? What effects will this have on the household in general?
What effect on children?
What kinds of technologies might be introduced to relieve the
pressure on women's time? Will they lessen her paid labor time or her
unpaid labor time?
How might such technologies be funded? Credit to households or
to women directly? Higher incomes? For whom? Government provision
of public services such as wells and electricity?
Among the successful strategies to increase the productivity of
women's time have been provision of closer water points, addressing
the fuelwood problem with improved stoves or fuel sources, and
introduction of household or community grain mills. Basic health and
sanitation programs can also release time spent caring for the sick, and
rural electrification can transform rural time use.
Aside from technological innovations, it is often possible to free up
time for training or for regular health care by paying for it, directly or
indirectly. Many poor people can release themselves for a morning, a
day, or even a week, if they can pay someone else to assume their
responsibilities. Many American poverty programs have used this
strategy successfully. In developing countries, maternal/child health
clinics often distribute a family flour allotment on the days the mothers
come for appointments. In Upper Volta a female literacy program
succeeded by purchasing a deisel grinding mill. Three days a week,
lessons were held before the mill was turned on. In other places, mills
have been combined with radio lessons to provide both flour and
literacy in time previously devoted to hand pounding.
One final project intervention is support of child care arrangements
which release the time of both women and girls, as well as assuring
the safety of children. Often, traditional systems rely heavily on girls

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems

for child care. When education becomes available, the opportunity cost
of their time rises sharply. In Tanzania, day care centers were organized
in many villages, to release girls for school. In other places, older
women, or nursing mothers have been informally assigned responsi-
bility while mothers are in the fields. Otherwise, mothers may take
the children along and tend them as they work. Support of appropriate
child care arrangements can contribute significantly to long term gains
in the productivity of both women and girls.


In the long run, women's activities and productivity will be
influenced by the larger forces at work in the environment. Male
migration, changes in technology and increase of production for market
affect both the control and the allocation of household resources.
Demand for women's agricultural labor may increase, decrease, or
change in nature. Shifts in allocation may take place smoothly and
swiftly, or slowly and with great difficulty. Control over resources of
land, labor, capital, tools, and information may shift between the
sexes, as new resources become available. Aside from Boserup's path-
breaking work, until recently there had been little attention paid by
mainstream economists in the relationships between shifts in the
macrocontext and shifts in the gender-related resource allocation patterns
of agricultural households. Recently, however, forward and backward
linkages between the national economy and decisions made within
farm families are receiving more attention. For example, Marc Nerlove
cities the effect of a shift in allocation of resources to human capital
"... demographic changes which accompany agricultural transformation ..
are a crucial element in agricultural supply response... Many demographic
changes have their roots in individual decision of farm people to make
greater investment in human capital in the form of more education and
better nutrition and to have fewer children .As labor markets
improve and there is increased awareness of opportunities outside of the
agricultural sector, such demographic changes alter the nature of agri-
cultural production, leading to the increased use of non-traditional inputs
and to a greater reliance on markets, and thus alter the nature of supply
response to prices and other factors."18

D. Gender Differences in Access to Productive Resources

One way that agricultural development proceeds is by making
resources available for increasing farm productivity. The most common

Gender Roles in Development Projects

productivity-increasing resources are improved seeds, fertilizers, tech-
nology, credit and information. In some cases, land may also be
redistributed or new land brought into production. Infrastructure such
as irrigation systems, roads and rural health programs are often
introduced, and rural industries may be encouraged. Such inputs are
intended to increase the productivity of the entire system by increasing
the productivity of farm households and the individuals within them.
In land-short systems efforts are generally directed toward increasing
productivity per acre through the use of "soft" technologies such as
improved seed, fertilizers and irrigation. In labor-short systems, the
efforts generally focus on increasing productivity per labor hour through
the use of machinery and tools.
Systems differ in the degree of access to productive resources they
permit to various groups. Often, those who control the greatest share
of the current resources gain the largest share of the new. The
heirarchial distribution of social power, income and productive resources
by class has been extensively explored in development literature. There
is a second system of stratification present in many societies, that of
patriarchial social relations between sexes. Mead Cain defines patriarchy
"a set of social relations with a material base which enables men to
dominate women. In Bangladesh, patriarchy describes a distribution of
power and resources within families where power and control of resources
rests with men, and women are powerless and dependent on men. The
material base of patriarchial control are interlocking and include elements
of the kinship system, political system and religion."19

Systems vary greatly in the equity of their relationships. In many
agricultural systems, household resource allocation decisions are rela-
tively equitable. In other systems the strong exploit the weak for their
own advantage. To the extent that class or patriarchial stratification
characterizes an agricultural system, women's access to productivity-
increasing resources will be constrained either by their household's
status, their gender, or both. Since women consistently contribute well
over half the labor hours in rural households, constraints on women's
access to resources systematically depress the productivity of half of
the available rural labor. This seems shortsighted, yet there is sub-
stantial evidence that in many rural systems women have less access to
land, capital, credit, technology, wage markets and training than men
in the same system. Effective project design must identify which of
these barriers to women's access are operative with the project and
find ways to deal with them, either by removing them, passing them
by, or adjusting project expectations to them.

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems

1. Women's Access to Land

Women's access to land is generally greater in systems of low
population density, such as Africa where use rights to land are still in
force. Even in such areas, women may lose access to good land as a
growing population increases pressure on the land. Cleave's African
studies show women walking farther than men to their fields in areas
where increased cash cropping makes land more valuable. Palmer in
Indonesia, Smale in Mauritania and Hanger and Morris in Kenya all
document women's loss of secure access to land when the introduction
of irrigation increased the productivity of the land. Effective loss is
often accompanied by changes in the legal code that register all land in
the name of the head of a household. Such legal changes have been
documented recently in Kenya and Sri Lanka.
The 145 countries attending the 1979 FAO-sponsored World Con-
ference of Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD)
recommended a different course of action. The program of action
recommended that countries:
"Repeal those laws which discriminate against women in respect to rights
of inheritance, ownership and control of property, and promote under-
standing of need for such measures promote ownership and co-
ownership of land to effectively give women with absentee husbands the
legal right to make decisions on the land they manage (Section IV, A i, ii)."

The government of India has incorporated this recommendation into
their sixth Five Year Plan, and AID is exploring with the Indian
government possible arrangements for implementing co-registration
of land title in the resettlement accompanying the Marharashtra
Irrigation Project. Similar discussions are underway between AID and
the participating governments to assure women's access to land (and
water) in the Senegal River Basin Development.20

2. Women's Access to Capital, Credit and Agricultural Technologies

Women's lack of access to cash assets, which results from
their role as unpaid family laborers and subsistence producers, when
combined with constraints on their access to paid labor markets, limits
their ability to invest in productivity-enhancing agricultural inputs.
Compounding this problem is the reality that where women are
responsible for separate crops, separate fields, or management of the
total farm enterprise, it is often difficult for them to belong to the
government sponsored cooperatives and water users associations which
control distribution of new seeds, production packages, water and

Gender Roles in Development Projects

credit. Not only is women's access to credit constrained by their lack of
access to membership in farmers' associations and cooperatives, but
their lack of secure title to property often cuts them off from other
sources of credit. Henn cites this lack of access to capital as a major
constraint on African women's use of agricultural inputs. Since African
women are major agricultural producers, such a pattern is a serious
constraint to increasing African food production.
Despite all these difficulties, women farmers often do surprisingly
well with the resources they have. In one of the few empirical
investigations of the relative productivity of men and women farmers,
Moock did intensive input-output analysis of maize farms in a Kenyan
district where 40% of the farm managers were women. He found
women equally productive per hectare despite the fact that the women
had less capital and used fewer purchased inputs. They substituted
additional labor for other inputs and maintained productivity per
hectare, though not per hour. However, in a nearby area with a higher
level of government services (all directed to men), women's relative
productivity was falling behind men's. Additional time could no longer
compensate for improved technologies.21
A complicating factor is that packages for improving productivity of
"women's crops" often simply do not exist because such crops have
low priority in government research and extension. It is noteworthy
that when AID asked a panel of international experts to specify
agricultural research priorities in areas that would be of great benefit
to the world's poor, the top priority crops were small ruminants (sheep
and goats), millet/sorghum and beans and cowpeas. All of these
neglected crops are women's crops in much of the developing world.
Collaborative research involving American and developing country
institutions is now going forward on all these crops, with specific
attention to women's roles in their production.
Among projects targeted specifically to "women's crops", there have
been a number of successful vegetable production projects. The
Gambian Ministry of Agriculture set up a project to train 30 women in
production of onion crops for export. Fertilizer and seed were provided
and the government purchased the crop at an agreed price. Within two
years the project grew to involve 900 women in 32 different projects,
providing women with income and opportunities to join cooperatives.22
In Jamaica, USAID financed a women's vegetable production component
as part of a larger integrated rural development project. Here, the
intention was to improve the nutritional balance in the family food
supply of poor hill farmers. The gardens were designed to produce
year round with low labor inputs. Thirty young women high school
graduates were trained as extension agents, and of these 20 were

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems

employed by the larger project. The gardens are rapidly spreading and
visitors from a number of Carribean countries have been trained there
to develop similar projects.23
Common problems with agricultural projects for women are inade-
quate attention to crop preservation, and lack of markets for sale of
excess production. Both of these problems have been successfully
addressed in the Indian Project Flood, where women have been success-
fully integrated into the cooperatives that produce milk for sale in the
city. Because women traditionally cared for the cows, they were
involved in the decisions of villages to join the cooperatives. They have
received training about animal care and nutrition, and generally they
receive payment for the milk because they are the ones responsible for
the care and feeding of the animals.24

3. Women's Access to Household Technology

If women's lack of capital and credit is a serious constraint to
use of improved agricultural technology, it is an even more serious
constraint to use of improved household technology. In developing
countries, low levels of household technology for the provision of
water, domestic fuel and the milling of grain are particular problems.
Projects for provision of domestic water sources and social forestry are
often justified because they release women's time for more productive
activities. In labor-short African agricultural systems, when labor-
saving household technology such as cooperative grinding mills have
been introduced, women use them most intensely during peak agri-
cultural periods, investing the saved time into cooking an evening meal
after their field work or additional time in the fields. By contrast, in
labor-surplus situations such as Indonesia, when mechanical milling
replaced hand pounding by paid labor, the effect was to deprive poor
women of a crucial source of income. Once again, it is important to
understand the specific system before intervening.

4. Women's Access to Rural Labor Markets

In land-short situations, women's participation in rural labor
markets may be necessary for family survival. In other cases, women
may need wage labor to meet certain obligations or to purchase
productivity increasing inputs. Studies of such markets show distinct
male and female segments. Many tasks are assigned by gender, women's
wages are generally lower, and their unemployment rates are higher.
Binswanger, in citing ICRASAT's village studies in India, says:

Gender Roles in Development Projects

"Males would hardly desire to participate in female submarkets; male
wages .. are roughly 80% higher than female wages, and male possibilities
of employment are much higher The segmentation clearly works in
favor of the males and at the expense of the females Low wages are
attributed by males and females to the lack of physical strength and
stamina of women. One need only see the loads carried by them, and the
discipline of their paddy transplanting lines to realize that the large observed
wage differentials can hardly be explained this way."25

Projects can and should be designed to provide employment at fair
wages for women as well as men in areas such as forestry, seed
multiplication facilities, professional and paraprofessional service
delivery, agroindustries and other rural enterprises.
In some circumstances, women have also worked to improve their
own employment opportunities. Many Kenyan women have organized
themselves into self-help groups that exchange labor with one another,
and also hire out as a group one or two days a week. They often use
their wages as capital for group enterprises. In 1950, a small group of
Sri Lankan women organized themselves into the Women's Trans-
planting Society. Every year since then, women in the group travel to
paddy growing areas to transplant rice for 2-3 months, moving from
farm to farm. Because they assure steady reliable work, they have
been able to bargain for an agreed wage, nutritious free meals, free
transport and separate lodging for the group. "By organizing themselves
S. .the women are able to work with security in areas distant from
their homes, to command reasonable working conditions, and to earn
important income."26

5. Women's Access to Education and Training

A major factor influencing women's productivity is the extent
to which they have access to education and training. There is general
agreement that education increases productivity and a substantial
literature exists documenting the positive effects of women's education
on human capital development27, paid labor force participation28 and
agricultural production.29 A recent comprehensive Indian study found
that formal education of farm wives enhances the productivity of all
farm inputs, including a husband's time in farm production.30
Yet, according to UNESCO (1977), women compose less than one-
third of the primary school students in the low income nations of
every region except Latin America. According to Safilious-Rothschild:
"Rural women have consistently lower literacy than rural men, but also
lower literacy than urban women ... Educational wastage is higher in rural
areas and for girl students ... Although girl students show greater rates of

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems 43

educational wastage than boys, their wastage is more often due to repetition
of grades .. girls attrition from primary school seems, therefore, to be less
due to a failure to be promoted than to withdrawing from school for non-
scholastic reasons. The obstacles to rural women's access to elementary
education can be grouped in the following categories: 1) competing house-
hold and childcare tasks and responsibilities; 2) competing involvement in
productive economic activities; 3) parents', and especially fathers' parents'
limited financial and educational resources; 5) shortage of schools; 6)
shortage of women elementary school teachers combined with male teachers'
negative attitudes; 7) dropping out of school because of pregnancy or

Remedies that have been suggested include rearranging the school
schedule to accommodate cropping cycles, policies and programs to
decrease the excessive time spent by rural women in household and
agricultural work, development of day care and rotating childcare
arrangements to free girls' time for school, the increased training of
women as teachers and assistant teachers, and increasing the number
of paid professional and paraprofessional women in rural programs to
establish the economic and social status pay-off of girls education.
Such efforts to increase the number of rural women with a primary
education must be supplemented by systematic efforts to increase the
number of women receiving higher education. According to AID's
policy paper:
"Women who combine the skills provided by modern education with an
understanding of traditional values and local realities affecting women
contribute a great deal to successful development programming. Thus, AID
must take measures to provide access for women to training programs and
higher education, especially in management and administration of the
sectors in most countries it is the functional ministries that bear
primary responsibility for integrating women into their programs and for
insuring the relevance of their program to the particular needs of women
and girls."32

This concern with the integration of professionally trained women
into all aspects of agricultural institutions is particularly relevant to
institution-building projects that include participant training. Care
must be taken that women are actively recruited and supported in a
training for a range of professional roles in agriculture in order to
assure that the needs of women in agricultural households will be
adequately addressed by agricultural institutions.

E. Access to and Control Over the Benefits of Production: The
Problem of Incentive Structures
Much of women's productive work is unpaid. Women subsidize
the world's economies through unpaid household and human capital

44 Gender Roles in Development Projects

production. Farm women also undertake significant amounts of agri-
cultural labor without pay. What benefits do they receive from this
work? How can their labor be accounted for in terms of women's
economic rationality? Two explanations are possible. One is that
women are altruists. They derive their utility from the satisfaction of
others, from seeing their families healthy, well cared for and well fed.
The other explanation is that women have little choice. Societies are
arranged in such a way that women's independent access to productive
resources, to labor markets, to information, to political and legal rights
are seriously constrained. Society permits them only limited control of
their own reproductive capabilities. The obligations of childbearing and
child raising are thrust upon them and they must labor within house-
holds to assure their children's survival as well as their own.
It is reasonable to assume that both explanations contain some
truth, though their weight certainly varies between societies. In modern
American society, where reproductive control is widespread, women
devote significant amounts of unpaid time to the care of families,
apparently because they derive altruistic satisfaction from doing so.
Their access to labor markets and productive resources is great enough
so that most North American women also have independent cash
incomes. Nevertheless, there are significant gender differences in
access to the highest paying work and resources for the most productive
investments, which makes women's relatively greater contribution to
household production economically rational, at least while their children
are young. In most rural societies in the developing world, womenrs
alternatives are more sharply constrained and the benefits they receive
more limited.
Whatever the range of available incentives, it is safe to say that
people will exert more effort, will become more productive in an
activity, if they can see benefits flowing from their increased effort.
These benefits may be in cash, in kind, in power, respect, or in the
satisfaction of seeing others well cared for. Benefits may also include
relief from difficult or unpleasant tasks or from feelings of guilt.
Recent research documents that in societies where women participate
in the market economy in some way, where women have direct access
to cash, their power is greater in intra-household decision making, and
the status of women is higher in the communities.33 The incidence of
wife beating also seems to be lower in such societies.34 These are all
benefits, over and above the value of the cash, yet linked to cash
income. Therefore, in analyzing agricultural systems for possible project
intervention, it is useful to think about intra-household income flows.
which productive work is paid? unpaid?
who receives the pay? all the family workers individually or the
head of household for the whole family?

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems 45

who controls disposal of the different household products?
who receives cash from the sales? the producer? someone else?
Intra-household disbursement patterns are also important. Women's
income may all flow to purchase the household's basic needs, to food
and clothing, although her husband may have disposable income to use
for productive inputs as well as for consumer goods such as transistor
radios and beer. Where this is the case, the targeting of additional
income specifically to women may be necessary. Simply "raising family
incomes" will not serve.
Project Flood presents one successful way to channel income directly
to women. Women's producers are paid directly by the co-op. Although
this income is channeled back into the family budget, the report notes
that the contribution women make enhances their importance. The
same effect was described by Cerna in Rumania:
"The organizational and economic structure of the producer co-op has had
a particular impact by institutionalizing women's participation and
paying them directly for farm work The previous pattern of the
individual family farm prevented a wife's distinct contribution to its welfare
from being measured: this favored and strengthened the position of the
family head who was the owner of the fruit of the family's toil. Now, on
the contrary, each cooperative farm member's output of work and corre-
sponding forms of payment are computed on an individual basis, whatever
a person's family status may be This is a tremendous change which
enhances the partnership status of the wife, favors more independent
behavior of women and creates conditions which will promote, in the long
run, their equal status within the house."35
Such payment structures have also been used with success in an
AID PVO resettlement project in Senegal where membership in the
productive cooperative is by individual rather than by household.
In contrary cases where women are not paid directly for their work,
productivity often suffers, especially in systems with little pooled
income. Women with high levels of responsibility for the provision of
the family's basic needs and little access to cash are forced to substitute
their labor, and that of the children they create, for the productivity-
increasing inputs they cannot afford.

F. Developing Profiles of Gender Access to, and Control over,
Resources and Benefits

Table 2 provides an outline for developing a gender-specific
profile of access to and control over resources and benefits. Such a
profile by its very nature has both efficiency and equity implications.
The kind and degree of women's access to productive resources con-
ditions the productivity of their labor, as do the incentive structures

Gender Roles in Development Projects

they face. The degree of control they exercise over resources and
benefits affect their ability to increase production and their ability to
increase production and their ability to bargain to protect their own
interests. Because each of these factors has implications for project
design and implementation, developing such a profile is a useful
exercise in clarifying assumptions. It also permits a clearer picture of
possible areas of project intervention.


Factors that influence women's productivity have been identi-
fied in the previous section to include women's differential access to
land, capital, credit, agricultural and household technologies, education
and training as well as to rural labor markets. Programmers should try
to identify the nature and seriousness of the barriers to women's
access to such productive resources and relieve them wherever possible.
We have also noted the importance of identifying distortions in the
incentive structures facing women not only for reasons of equity, but
also because they influence the kinds of activities women undertake
and the levels of productivity they can attain. Such analyses provide
focal points for project interventions.
Straightforward economic analysis, when disaggregated by sex, often
provides convincing efficiency arguments for removing institutional
barriers to women's productivity; but, in order to make efficiency
arguments, it is necessary to have data. The first step is specification
of the productive activities women engage in within agricultural house-
holds. It is also necessary to understand the level of resources women
command and the incentives structures that influence their behavior.
This understanding can then be applied to each step in the project
process. An outline of questions for addressing women's roles through-
out the project cycle is included as Table 3.
Such a project cycle analysis requires a dynamic view of changes
over time. Because projecting changes accurately with the present
limited knowledge base is a risky business, the analysis emphasizes the
need for regular monitoring of project effects and flexibility in project
implementation. It also emphasizes the need to evaluate projects in
such a way that the lessons learned can be accumulated and that, over
time, e can increase our ability to design equitable and efficient
agricultural projects.

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems 47


Table 1 Activity Profile of an Agricultural Household
% of Type of Who Who With With Who
Total House- of Acquires Manages What What Controls
hold Time Production Inputs Production Labor Resources2 Disposal
Separate Crops*
Crop 1
Crop 2
Separate Fields
Crop 1
Crop 2
Separate Tasks
Task 1
Task 2
Task 1
Task 2
Shared Tasks
Task 1
Task 2
Women Managed Farm
*Crop 1
*Crop 2
Product 1
Product 2
Product 3
Task 1
Task 2
Task 1
Task 2
Task 1
Task 2
*Crops include agricultural, horticultural and animal products

Gender Roles in Development Projects

Table 2 Gender Profile of Access to, and Control Over, Resources
and Benefits in Agricultural Systems
Sources of Degree of
Access Control
Rural Labor Markets
Entrepreneurial/Markeing Resources
Outside Income
Assets Ownership
In-kind Goods
Food, Clothing, Shelter
Offspring Reproduction of
the Group
Social Insurance
Care in Disaster and Old Age
Political Power/Prestige

Table 3 Project Cycle Analysis: Agriculture

A. Defining General Project Objectives
1. Are the project objectives explicit related to women's economic and social
2. Do these objectives adequately reflect women's needs?
3. Have women participated in setting these objectives?
B. Assessing Women's Needs and Opportunities
1. What needs and opportunities exist for increasing women's productivity
and/or production?
a. In agriculture?
b. In household production?
c. In human capital production?
d. In the informal sector?
2. What needs and opportunities exist for increasing women's access to and
control over resources?
3. What needs and opportunities exist for increasing women's access to and
control over benefits?

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems 4

Table 3 (Continued)
4. How do these needs and opportunities relate to the country's other general
and sectoral development needs and opportunities?
5. Have women been directly consulted in identifying such needs and oppor-
C. Identifying Possible Negative Effects
1. Might the project reduce women's access to or control of resources and
2. Might it adversely affect women's situation in some other way?
3. What are the potential effects on women in the short run? The longer run?
A. Project Impact on Women's Activities
1. Which activities will the project affect in:
a. agricultural production?
b. household production?
c. human capital production?
d. informal sector production?
e. wage labor production?
2. Is the planned component consistent with the current gender denomination
for these activities?
3. If it plans to change the women's performance of activities, is this feasible,
and what positive or negative effects would it have on women?
4. Where there are no planned changes in activities, is there a missed oppor-
tunity for improving women's roles in development process?
B. Project Impact on Women's Access and Control
1. How will each of the project components affect women's access to and
control over productive resources such as:
a. land
b. water (domestic and agricultural)
c. capital
d. credit
e. agricultural technology
f. household technology
g. firewood and other fuels
h. information
i. rural wage markets
j. resources in the informal sector
k. their own labor
1. the labor of others
2. How will each project component affect women's access to and control over
benefits such as:
a. wages
b. revenue from sale of goods
c. revenue from sale of services
d. subsistence goods
e. social insurance (care in sickness, old age, etc.)
3. How can project design be adjusted to increase positive effects and eliminate
or reduce negative ones?

50 Gender Roles in Development Projects

A. Organizational Structures
1. Does the organizational form enhance women's access to resources?
2. Does the organization have adequate power to obtain resources needed by
women from other organizations?
3. Does the organization have the institutional capability to support and
protect women during the change process?
B. Operations and Logistics
1. Are the organization's delivery channels accessible to women in terms of
personnel, location and timing?
2. Do control procedures exist to ensure dependable delivery of the goods and
3. Are there mechanisms to ensure that the project resources or benefits are
not usurped by males?
C. Finances
1. Are funding levels adequate for proposed tasks?
2. Is preferential access to resources by males avoided?
3. Is it possible to trace funds for women from allocation to delivery with a fair
degree of accuracy?
4. Do funding mechanisms exist to ensure program continuity?
D. Personnel
1. Are project personnel sufficiently aware of women's productive activities
and sympathetic toward women's needs for resources and benefits? If not, is
it possible to increase staff responsiveness through incentives and training?
2. Do personnel have the skills necessary to provide the specific inputs required
by women in the project area? If not, are training and/or additional staff
3. Are there appropriate opportunities for female participation in project manage-
ment positions?
E. Flexibility
1. Does the project have a management information system which will allow it
to detect the effects of the operation on women?
2. Does the organization have enough flexibility to adapt its structures and
operations as changes occur and new information is processed?

A. Data Requirements
1. Does the project's monitoring and evaluation system explicit measure the
project's on-going and end-of-project effects on women?
2. Are women involved in designating the data requirements?
B. Data Collection and Analysis
1. Are the data collected with sufficient frequency so that necessary adjust-
ments could be made during the project?
2. Are the data fed back to project personnel and beneficiaries in an understand-
able form and on a timely basis to allow project adjustments?
3. Are women involved in the collection and interpretation of data?
4. Are data analyzed so as to provide guidance to the design of other projects?
5. Are key areas for further research on women's roles in agricultural systems

Women's Productivity in Agricultural Systems


1. U.S. Agency for International Development, AID Policy Paper: Women in Development.
(Washington, D.C., Bureau for Program and Policy Coordination, 1982), p. 3.
2. Ruth B. Dixon, "Women in Agriculture: Counting the Labor Force in Developing
Countries," Population and Development Review (8, no. 3, 1982).
3. Ibid., pp. 561-562. Excerpted with the permission of the Population Council.
4. For Japan, see Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Publication for
Mid-Decade Conference (Copenhagen, 1980); for Eastern Europe, see Elizabeth Croll, "Women
in Rural Production and Reproduction in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and Tanzania:
Socialist Development Experiences," Signs (7, no. 2, 1981); for France, see Ministere du
Travail, Comite du Travail Feminin, La Formation des Femmes, Government of France; for
the United States, see Calvin Jones and Rosenfield, American Farm Women: Findings from a
Survey, Report no. 130 (Chicago: National Opinion Research Center, 1981).
5. For Nepal, see Meena Acharya and Lynn Bennett, Women and the Subsistence Sector,
Economic Participation and Household Decision making in Nepal (Washington, DC: The World
Bank, 1982); for Java, see Gillian Hart, "Patterns of Household Labor Allocation in a
Javanese Village" in Rural Household in Asia, Binswanger, ed. (Singapore: Singapore
University Press, 1980); for the Philippines, see R. Evenson, "Time Allocation in Rural
Philippine Households" American Journal of Agricultural Economics, (60, no. 2, 1978); for
Malaysia, see J. DaVanso and D.L.P. Lee, C ,ti.i.,'. of Child Care with Labor Force Participation
and Non-Market Activities: Preliminary Evidence from Malaysia Time Budget Data, (Rand Paper
Series, 1978), and H. Barnum and L. Squire, A Model of an Agriculture Household: Theory and
Evidence, (Baltimore: World Bank Occasional Papers no. 27, 1979); for Bangladesh, see
Mead Cain et al, Class, Patriarchy and the Structure of Women's Work in Rural Bangladesh,
Population Council Working Paper no. 43 (New York: The Population Council, 1979);
for Kenya, see Jane Hanger and Jon Morris, "Women and the Household Economy" in
An Irrigated Rice Settlement in Kenya R. Chambers and J. Moris eds. (Munich: Weltform
Verlag, 1973); for Rumania, see Michael Cernea, Macroeconomic Change, Feminization of
Agriculture and Peasant Women's Threefold Economic Role (Washington, D.C., The World Bank,
1979); for the United States, see W. Huffman and M. Lange, Farm Household Production:
Demand for Wives Labor, Capital Services and the Capital Labor Ratio, Yale University Discussion
Paper No. 408 (New Haven: Economic Growth Center, 1982).
6. Kathleen Cloud and Catherine Overholt, "Women's Productivity in Agricultural
Systems: A Overview," Proceedings of the International Agricultural Economics Meetings,
(Jakarta, Indonesia, 1982), p. 167.
7. David Norman, Mark Newman and Ismael Ouedraogo, Farm and Village Production
Systems in the Semi-Arid Tropics of West Africa: An Interpretive Review of Research, Research
Bulletin No. 4 (Hyderabad, India: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-
Arid Tropics, 1981), p. 6.
8. Benjamin White, "Population, Involution and Employment in Rural Java," Development
and Change, (7, 1976), p. 280.
9. USAID, Policy Paper, p. 3.
10. Ester Boserup, Women's Role in Economic Development (New York: St. Martin's Press,
11. Meena Acharya, and Lynn Bennett.
12. Benjamin White and E.L. Hastuli, Different and Unequal: Male and Female Influence in
Household and Community Affairs in Two West Javanese Villages (Indonesia: Bogar Agricultural
University, Indonesia, 1980), pp. 32-33.

Gender Roles in Development Projects

13. Carmen Diana Deere, "The Division of Labor by Sex in Agriculture: A Peruvian
Case Study," Economic Development and Cultural Change (30, 1982), p. 810.
14. Norman, Newman, and Quedraogo, p. 244.
15. Huffman and Lange, p. 243.
16. Mead Cain, "The Economic Activities of Children in a Village in Bangladesh" in Rural
Households in Asia, H. Binswanger, ed. (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1980),
p. 243.
17. Alexander Szalsi, The Situation of Women in the Light of Contemporary Time Budget Research,
Report submitted to the United Nations World Conference of the International Women's
Year (Mexico City, 1975), p. 11.
18. Marc Nerlove, "The Dynamics of Supply: Retrospect and Prospect," American Journal
of Agricultural Economics (1979), p. 885.
19. Cain et al, p. 2.
20. For India, see "USAID Project Paper, Maharashtra Irrigation" (Vol. 1), p. 43; for
Senegal, see "USAID Project Paper, OMVS Agricultural Research II" (Vol 2), p. 21.
21. Peter Moock, Managerial Ability in Small-Farm Production: An Analysis of Maize Fields in the
Vehiga Division of Kenya unpublished dissertation (New York: Columbia University, 1973);
and Kathleen Staudt, "Agricultural Productivity Gaps: A Case Study of Male Preference
in Government Policy Implementation," Development and Change 9, 1978.
22. International Women's Tribune Center, Women and Food Newsletter, No. 10, p. 10.
23. E. Chaney and M. Lewis, Creating a Women's Component: A Case Study in Rural Jamaica
(Washington, D.C.: USAID, 1980).
24. World Food Program, A Flood of Changes: World Food Program in India (Rome, 1979).
25. H. Binswanger, et al, Common Features and Contrasts in Labor Relations in the Semi-Arid
Tropics of India Progress Report 13 (Hyderabad, India: ICRISAT, 1982), pp. 18-19.
26. International women's Tribune Center, p. 12.
27. See J. DaVanzo and D.L.P. Lee, 1978.
28. Cynthia Lloyd and Beth Neimi, The Economics of Sex Differentials (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1979).
29. See Peter Moock, 1973.
30. See M. Rosenzweig, "Neoclassical Theory and the Optimizing Peasant: An Econo-
metric Analysis of a Market Family Labor Supply in a Developing Country," The
Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1980.
31. C. Safilios-Rothschild, Access of Rural-Girls to Primary Education in the Third World: State of
the Art, Obstacles and Policy Recommendations (Washington, DC: AID/WID, 1979), pp. 2, 3, 8.
32. USAID Policy paper, p. 8.
33. See Meena Archarya and Lynn Bennett, 1982; and P. Sanday, "Female Status in the
Public Domain" in Women, Culture and Society M. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere editors
(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1974).
34. R.L. Blumberg, "A Paradigm for Predicting the Position of Women" in Sex Roles and
Social Policy, Bernard Lipman-Blumen ed. (London: Sage, 1979).
35. Michael Cernea, p. 119-120.


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Deere, Carmen Diana. "The Division of Labor by Sex in Agriculture: A Peruvian Case
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Technology Transfer:

Implications For Women

Prepared by Mary B. Anderson


Much of the literature on technology transfer now acknowl-
edges that technologies are not value free or value neutral. Two
important volumes by Stewart and Gouleti which came out in 1977
represent a turning point in this recognition. Technologies are seen to
be embedded in, and to carry, social values, institutional forms, and
culture-even as they also reflect resource endowments and the
organization of production.
It is also true, though less often acknowledged, that technologies are
not gender neutral. Because in every society there is a gender-based
division of labor (or, as it is called in the industrialized countries,
occupational segregation), technologies have different and differential
impacts on men and women. Technologies as techniques affect the
ways in which people do things; technologies as systems of knowledge
affect the ways in which people think about what they do. If men and
women do different things, then any particular technology will affect
the roles of men and women differently. When technologies are
transferred across boundaries where the roles of men and women
differ from those in the originating country, the impact on men and
women will be different in the receiving country from that in the
sending country. As technologies affect the ways in which people
think about what they do, the transfer of a technique from an area
with one set of norms affecting work roles to another with different
expectations, beliefs, and norms will often bring about surprising (and
sometimes unfortunate) outcomes.

Gender Roles in Development Projects

A. K. N. Reddy, in his effort to devise an appropriate science and
technology policy for India, cautions any recipient country regarding
the impact of an imported technology. He writes, "Technology can be
considered to resemble genetic material which carries the code of the
society which conceived and nurtured it and which, given a favorable
milieu, tries to replicate that society."2 In technology transfer it is not
enough either to determine the terms of trade by which one country
may purchase another's technology or to ensure that a given imported
technology utilizes the recipient country's resource base appropriately.
The cultural, social and political "codes" carried by technologies must
be considered if unexpected, and often negative, impacts in the receiving
countries are to be avoided.
How can we understand the socio-political biases and gender impli-
cations of technologies? What are the most useful ways of thinking
about transfers of technology from one area to another to ensure the
best possible outcomes? How can we ensure desired economic results
while maximizing beneficial social/political impacts and minimizing
negative effects on people and the environment? This paper will
examine the issues of technology transfer and will provide a framework
for understanding the relationships between technology transfer and
women's involvement in development. We shall address specifically
those issues which are most important in designing projects that are
effective both in engaging women in the development process and in
assuring women's participation in project benefits to the greatest
possible degree.
Transfers of technologies involve both a sender and a receiver. Two
underlying assumptions about technology and economic development
have emerged historically. It is useful to make these assumptions
explicit before proceeding.
The experience of Europe and North America during the Industrial
Revolution, as well as the unprecedented material abundance produced
by coupling scientific discovery, technological innovation, and industrial
production, have shaped the very definitions of modernity which
influence today's attempts at development. Progress has been equated
with the emergence of technological capacity for transforming re-
sources into material abundance and, even more important, with a
mind set that holds that nature can and should be controlled through
science and technique to serve human ends.
The success of this period in producing wealth brought with it an
optimism that all problems were amenable to scientific/technological
solution. In 1934, Richie Calder proposed that the British House of
Lords be replaced by a Senate of Scientists because, he claimed, such a
body would have the knowledge and technique to solve all the problems

Technology Transfer 59

then confronting England. Science could solve not only scientific and
material problems, he and others claimed, but also any social, political
or human problem as well. There was no better examplar of this belief
than Buckminster Fuller who expressed it this way: "...for every
human problem there is a technical solution...You may...ask me how
we are going to resolve the ever-accelerating dangerous impasse of
world-opposed politicians and ideological dogmas. I answer, it will be
resolved by the computer...all politicians can and will yield enthusi-
astically to the computer's safe flight-controlling capabilities in bringing
all of humanity in for a happy landing."3
Even as the experience of the Third World has not substantiated this
optimism, the basic assumption persists that technical solutions can be
found for any problem. Efforts to develop Science Policy Institutes in
many developing countries, to negotiate systems for the equitable
transfer of technical knowledge, to develop international journals for
the publication and dissemination of discoveries-even the appropriate
technology movement-all rest on the assumption that a technological
"fix" may be found. If we can only get the technology "right," then the
assumption is that progress and development in the Third World will
be inevitable. Many advocates of women's involvement in development
are now searching for the "right" technologies for women to assure
their participation in and benefit from development.
What is behind this? Again, from the history of the development of
science and technology in Europe and North America emerges another
strongly held and influencing belief about science. This belief is that
science and technology, because based in nature, are separate from all
normative and political influence and free from cultural or class bias.
In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. Among scientists there is an
increasing acknowledgement of the interactions of their discoveries
and knowledge with their social experience. In attempts to transfer
technological know-how from the cultures of the North to those of
the South, experience has shown that the history of colonialism,
existing power and wealth disparities, and ideological differences affect
and influence the transfer process.
These two assumptions-that all things are possible through science
and technology, and that the affairs of these fields are free from
political bias-should be recognized. Once both the senders and receivers
of technologies understand the force of these assumptions and distin-
guish the realistic elements within them from the unrealistic, they will
be able to analyze the interactions of technology transfers in context.
They may also assess the linkages between the access to and control of
knowledge and the effective application of technologies in development.

Gender Roles in Development Projects


This technology framework will bring together three strands.
First, we shall look at the ways in which technologies affect and alter
productive activities. Second we shall examine the characteristics of
technologies which reflect the context of their origin as these influence
and work through technological impacts. Third, we shall discuss the
systems or mechanisms for technology transfer and the way in which
these shape the impact of technology transfers.
The three parts of this framework for understanding technology
transfer and women relate directly to the analysis of productive
activities and of access to and control over resources presented in the
initial paper of this volume, "Women in Development: A Framework
for Project Analysis." The relation arises from the fact that tech-
nologies affect the ways in which people work and the ways in which
they think about their work. The Analytical Framework shows that
every society has a recognized set of productive roles for men and
women. The rigidity or flexibility of these roles for controlling and
using resources is historically, pragmatically, culturally and/or religi-
ously based. The effect of technical innovation on gender-based roles
technologies may have an effect on production. In each of these, the
potential n project design and implementation.

A. The Effects of Technologies on Production

There are five basic categories of impacts through which for
different and differential impacts on women and men is important.

7. The Doer of a Productive Activity.
The first and most obvious impact of any technology is to
change the doer of an activity, the producer. The introduction of any
device, technique or organizational arrangement which alters the role
assignments of men and women in production may have a number of
ramifications in status, in access to and control over resources and
income, and in the opportunity for leisure.
In technology transfers from industrialized to Third World countries,
the changes in the gender of a producer induced by the introduction of
a technology arise in one of two interrelated ways. The first is through
an implicit expectation that the operator or manager of a technology in
the originating country will be replicated in the receiving country.
Second, as new technologies are introduced into an area, the ability to

Technology Transfer

handle them is usually associated with relatively high status. Thus,
when a technology is introduced, those who either already enjoy
higher status or who are in a position to corner it may move into tasks
that were previously low status when done without the benefit of the
new technology.
An ILO study conducted for the United Nations Commission on the
Status of Women in 1967 provides illustrations of these shifts. The
study analyzed the impact of scientific and technological progress on
employment and work conditions in the metal trades; textiles, clothing,
leather and footwear trades; food and drink industry; and printing and
allied trades. In every case where machinery was introduced in activities
traditionally done by women, men either completely replaced women
or the activity became sub-divided and men took over the tasks that
used the technology and required greater skill while women were
relegated to the less skilled, menial tasks. These shifts were accom-
panied by loss of income earning opportunities or marginalization and
lower income for women.
In Java, when rice mills were introduced, women who had traditi-
onally earned their only monetary income from hand milling were
displaced as men assumed the positions in the factories.4 In Korea,
when the government installed rice mills, men in the mills did jobs
previously done by women.5
In the Ivory Coast, women were traditionally responsible for growing
and spinning cotton which men then wove into cloth. Women, however,
controlled the cloth production and gained wealth, status and power
from it. With the change of cotton into a cash crop resulting from the
colonizer's need for increased supplies, technological innovations were
introduced to increase cotton output. Extension agents and techno-
logists worked with men, and male heads of households were required
to pay a cash head tax for family members. Thus, cotton growing
became the domain of men. However, because women were displaced
from their primary role in cotton production, they were subsequently
hired into newly built textile mills as weavers using machinery. In this
example, technological innovations induced a series of changes in
gender assignments in the tasks associated with cloth production.6
In addition, a technology may alter the components of a productive
task, breaking it into separate functions in a way that alters the gender
roles in the separate, changed parts of an activity. A technology may
focus on a single component of a job rather than the entire task and,
by doing so, alter productive relations between men and women. In
Upper Volta, an AID/NASA project installed a solar pump to save
women the work of lifting water. As it turned out, lifting the water
was the least time consuming and least difficult part of the water

Gender Roles in Development Projects

collection task of women; they spent most time and energy in carrying
buckets of water from the well to their homes. The pump, in fact,
aided male cattle herders far more than women in that the women
only used a few buckets of water a day in home consumption while
herders used many buckets for watering their cattle. For a technology
to ease the work of women, it should have been concentrated on
piping water rather than on pumping it.7
Technologies affect doers of activities by saving labor or generating
employment. In certain circumstances, a decision to employ a labor-
intensive technology may draw women into the labor force to tasks
not previously and traditionally theirs. Sometimes, status is increased
in this process. The period of the Chinese Revolution from the 1950s
through the mid-60s provides a good example. Decisions to employ
low-capital techniques to construct water irrigation and storage tech-
nologies resulted in increased demand for women, as well as men, to
be mobilized in large numbers for construction. Because the status of
the worker was high in that revolution, women gained as they adopted
the worker role alongside men. In Java, the massive involvement of
labor in building irrigation systems and the mobilization of large
amounts of female labor produced a similar result.8
As technologies of production influence who does what, technologies
of marketing and trade can also have this effect. In colonial India, the
importation of cotton from England displaced many Indian workers,
primarily women, from the jobs of spinning and weaving on which
they previously depended. The English production and transportation
technologies were sufficiently inexpensive and effective to make this a
viable economic alternative to Indian production.
In cultures where women and men both engage in trade but there
are distinctions as to quantities and types of products traded by each,
the introduction of carts, roads, or trucks can alter these distinctions.
Transportation technologies may either favor the trader of larger
goods or they may open opportunities for traders who were previously
limited in their ability to carry produce.
Finally, technologies may introduce processes which, because of
social or cultural restraints, make them inaccessible for use by a
certain group. For example, when bicycle pumps have been introduced
in some societies, women have been prevented from using them
because of taboos that prohibit women sitting astride the bicycle.
Thus, technologies may change the doer of a productive activity by
changing the production process itself. The effects may be employment-
generating or labor-saving. The impact on women relative to men can
only be analyzed in context when the division of labor and its social/
cultural basis is known.

Technology Transfer 63

2. The Location of the Productive Activity.

Technologies may affect production by relocating activities. In
many societies, women have different patterns of mobility from those
of men. In some they are confined to certain private, "female" places,
such as the household compound, by social or religious traditions.
They may be required to travel in pairs or groups, or always with a
spouse or a father, or only in certain kinds of conveyances. Women
may also be restricted in their movements by their other productive
and household obligations such as child care, food preparation, or
livestock care.
When technologies change the location of any task, they may result
either in the exclusion of women from the work or in changes in
traditional work patterns. Some women limited by purdah may not
accept employment in a situation where both men and women work;
nor may they work outside their compounds. A rice mill, located in a
central area for ease of access, may not provide employment oppor-
tunities for Bangladeshi women who formerly were responsible for all
rice processing because they are not free to accept work in such a
location. When a technology centralizes productive activities and
women may not go to this location, men move into productive activities
where women previously held sway. Such a process tends to reinforce
the belief that men work with technologies and women do not, or that
men do "modern" work while women only work in subsistence sectors.
The real issue, however, is only where the technology is located.
Changes in the location of production in situations where women
are not restricted by religion or tradition but only by their home-based
productive obligations may cause women to move out of traditional
patterns and undertake new activities. When the owners of the wool
mills of western New England wanted to attract cheap female labor in
the 19th century, they built dormitories (and installed chaperones!) to
house the young girls who took employment. In China, as women
moved into factory labor, nurseries and child care centers were built in
the factories to allow women to meet their nursing obligations and to
provide substitute child care. Electronics factories in southeast Asia
and others in Mexico have recruited mainly young, unmarried women
in order to avoid having to provide these services. In West Africa,
urban women who have undertaken economic activities outside their
homes have worked out a variety of alternative systems for providing
food to their families, including rotating the responsibility for food
preparation among members of a neighborhood group. Street food
vendors clearly help meet this need as well.

64 Gender Roles in Development Projects

3. The Timing of Production.

A technology may eliminate or lessen the time it takes to
accomplish a job, may change the time of day or year when a job must
or may be done, or may lessen the time spent on some aspect of a job
while increasing the requirements for other aspects.
A recent publication on women and technology shows a photograph
of two sweating and miserable women in southern Africa using a solar
stove designed by an expatriate technician. The purpose of the tech-
nology was to eliminate the need for women to walk for as much as six
hours a day to gather decreasingly available firewood. The technician,
however, did not know that these women traditionally cook in the
early morning or late afternoon precisely in order to avoid the heat of
midday. Utilizing solar energy involved a significant rescheduling of
the daily activities by the users. Although the technician understood
resource endowments, he did not consider the time requirements of
his innovation relative to other uses of time in the recipient society.9
A technology designed to increase output/acre through applications
of fertilizers or insecticides may force increased labor applications over
that acre, changing the time allocations of workers. If those laborers
who are responsible for the fertilizer or insecticide applications are
already overburdened, as is the case with many African women agricul-
turalists, the technology will have a differential impact on different
workers. In much of the world, women are carriers of water, and
water is necessary in backpack insecticide sprayers. Women often
weed, the requirements for which increase with fertilizers. If tractors
plow more land, the cultivators, weeders, harvesters and food processors-
often women-have more work.
The impact of a technology on one part of a productive process will
be felt not only on that component, but also on related processes.
When various parts of a productive chain are assigned by gender, it is
important to know this in order to understand labor constraints,
opportunities, and characteristics. When a technology saves labor on
one aspect of production but increases it on another, planners have
assumed that the labor freed from the former will be available to the
latter. When gender determines functions, this is not the case.
Even within the jobs that are women's, a technology may save labor
in one aspect while increasing it in another. A new cooking stove may,
for example, reduce the quantity of wood a woman must collect and
thus save time. It may also require wood of a shorter length or smaller
diameter, thereby increasing the time spent on chopping wood.
Enclosing the flame of a fire inside a fuel-efficient stove may force
women to cook and/or serve meals during daylight hours because of

Technology Transfer 6i

the loss of firelight. A stove and its chimney or flue requires mainte-
nance for efficient performance and this takes time.
Linkages, attendant activities, and gender roles complicate the intro-
duction of technologies. To assess accurately a gain in time savings,
one must consider shifts in time of day when a task must be done,
shifts in amounts of time spent on an activity and all its attendant
activities, and shifts among workers (and genders) of time allocations
in the processes affected by the technology.

4. Skills Needed for Productive Activity

A technology may alter the skills needed for doing a particular
job. Skills are required both in production with a technology and in its
maintenance and repair. Access to and control over the knowledge
required to acquire a technology and to use it may determine who does
a particular job and who gains from that production. Gender biases are
built into the systems of training, education, and skills acquisition
which often comprise a part of technology transfers. Educational
systems shape access to and knowledge of technologies in several
ways. First, in most societies more male children go to school than
female, and fewer males drop out of school than females. The ability to
read, exposure to a broader world and the options it contains, and
training in science and mathematics all support a subsequent ability to
understand, respond to, use, and control technologies which have
originated elsewhere. Advanced training follows basic training, so the
chain is reinforcing; those who lose out early are virtually prohibited
from later involvement.
In most rural areas of the world, schooling provides the only way for
children to learn to speak a more widely used language beyond that of
their village, tribe, or cultural group. The ability to communicate with
outsiders is an essential part of gaining access to knowledge and
technique which come from outside.
Schooling also transmits and reinforces expectations about who does
what in "modern" society. Gender roles, as they have emerged in the
technology-creating societies, are taught even as information about
these societies and their modernization process is taught.

5. Related Attributes of Activities of a Productive Task.

Many productive activities are associated with some cere-
monial, social or familial activity which, if the production is changed, is
also changed. This effect may occur in home-based production more
than elsewhere and, therefore, may be a more important consideration

Gender Roles in Development Projects

to women than to others. The Loreno stove, by enclosing the fire,
utilizes wood efficiently, but at the same time deprives the household
of firelight around which, in many parts of the world, the family
traditionally gathers in the evening for conversation and decision-
making. At an even more practical level, the same stoves that have
reduced smoke and incidence of respiratory disease have also been
associated with increases in malaria and other insect borne disease
because the smoke had been effective in killing insects. Smoke also is
thought by some women to be helpful in making thatch roofs more
resistant to rain.
Women have traditionally used the time of long walks to fetch water
and firewood for social organization, conversation and interchange.
Technologies which alter these functions eliminate these opportunities,
so that other social forms have to be found. Technologies which
gather women in certain areas, such as grain mills, can have the
opposite effect. They can facilitate social activity and opportunities for
education. For example, women in Asia have received literacy training
while they wait for their rice to be ground at mills and women in
Africa have received nutrition training while waiting in line at clinics.
The cotton weaving in the Ivory Coast, discussed above, traditionally
involved an important element of aesthetics. Prestige was derived
from the beauty and patterns of the weaving more than from the
income produced. The changes in production that resulted from cash
cropping undermined this prestige value, and other means for satisfying
it have had to be found.
By their nature, technologies are disruptive of old patterns precisely
because these old patterns have not been sufficiently productive.
People look for and adopt technologies in order to increase economic
output and security. However, for a technology to be effectively
adopted, the gains to recipients must outweigh losses. Some of these
gains and losses are non-economic. Marilyn Hoskins, summarizing a
range of case studies on the transferrence of household technologies
to women in many countries, notes that ". costs appear to be a
relatively less important consideration than many implementers had
expected and that of aesthetics relatively more important."10
Projects which are designed on the assumption that the suitability of
technology transfers can be assessed by economic criteria alone are,
therefore, likely to result in unexpected failure. Experience has shown
that economic rationality is not the only, or even the primary, motivator
of all decisions in many parts of the world. This is particularly true in
the spheres of activity which are not entirely within the market.
Because many of women's productive activities fall outside the market
sphere, such a caution might be especially relevant to understanding

Technology Transfer 67

potential technological impacts on women or to developing any
predictive capability regarding these impacts.

B. The Effects of Technologies on Consumption

Related to the division of labor in production, but requiring
additional empirical research and analysis, is the division of labor in
consumption. Some aspects of consumption seem to have gender
implications. Partly, this division is related to production in that who
produces what determines who consumes what. Partly, it is the result
of traditional role divisions.
Some consumption technologies would seem to be entirely gender-
neutral. In practice, they may have gender implications. For example, a
radio provides access to information on a broad and unlimited scale. A
radio may be listened to, a television may be watched, a telephone may
be used equally by male and female ears, eyes and voices. However, if a
radio is placed in a traditional gathering place for men, such as a beer
hall or the village council, and if women are restricted socially from
access to this place, then men will gain access to additional information
not available on an equal basis to women. The technology itself
becomes a reinforcer of patterns of access and control which already
exist in the society.
A technology may alter consumption patterns in relation to the
goods and services it is designed to produce. The solar water pump,
referred to above, was designed to facilitate women's access to water
but, in fact, benefitted cattle herders more. Whereas the herders had
traditionally moved away from the watering place when the rainy
season came, the pump made water access so much easier for them
that they remained close at hand all year round. This forced the
women to wait in line for water each time they came. Also, the cattle
in the area began to feed on small, new plant growth which women
had previously used for food, handicrafts and medicines. Utilization of
the water supply increased markedly, straining it beyond its capacity.
Women had to wait in line longer, walk farther for the plant growth,
and risk periodic loss of this resource as a result of the technological
innovation. This technology had a productive intent, but in practice
changed women's consumption patterns for the worse.
In some areas of Africa, women note that because they now grind
their meal at a mill only a few times a week, rather than grinding the
family ration at home daily, their children use the meal for snacks.
This may improve nutrition. It may also put stress on food supplies if

Gender Roles in Development Projects

the productive process of daily pounding at home had operated as a
rationing system for consumption.
In Ghana, a project that had apparently been successful in getting
women to use a fuel efficient stove was later found to have failed to
sustain this use. The women explained that the new stoves did not
accommodate the large cooking pots necessary for the Ghanian type of
cooking. In this case, a refusal to change consumption patterns caused
the productive technology to be abandoned."
Table I shows a scheme for tabulating the effects of technologies on
production and on consumption which we have discussed and for
noting the implications of each of these impacts on women in particular.
With this part of our three part framework in place, we shall turn now
to examine the characteristics of technologies and of transfer processes
which form the other cornerstones of this analysis.

C. Technology Characteristics

Technologies may be small or large, simple or complex, cheap
or expensive, labor-saving or employment-generating, locally-based or
imported, etc. That is, any technology has a series of definable charac-
teristics which influence its transfer from one context to another and,
specifically, through the analysis of effects above, the impact of its
transfer on women in the development process. These characteristics
are both material and non-material.
The "appropriate technology" movement, which stressed the impor-
tance of fitting a technology's resource requirements to local resource
endowments, grew out of a recognition of the misfit of physical
characteristics of imported technologies to recipient environments.
E. F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful subsequently led many people to
believe that an appropriate technology is always small, simple, cheap
and labor-intensive. Much effort has been put into the invention and
development of such "appropriate" technologies to be disseminated
around the world. In fact, the characteristics of technologies are more
complicated than this. Appropriateness implies a link to some external
factor and a judgment about correctness in relation to something else
such as resources, goals or values. Furthermore, scale, complexity and
expense are not always positively correlated. It is possible for a large
machine to be both simple and cheap and for a small one to be highly
complex and expensive. The characteristics of technologies can be
combined in a number of different ways and these combinations
incorporate both physical and non-physical elements.
Thomas P. Hughes writes about these combinations as technological
"style." He notes that mechanical technologies were primarily developed

Technology Transfer

in the United States where energy was abundant and labor short while
Europe, with the opposite resource endowments, relied more heavily
on chemical technologies.12 Biological technologies emerged in 19th
century Europe but were elaborated in America through the application
of genetic science to large-scale agriculture. Because climatic conditions,
disease vectors and crop types vary widely among geographic areas, it
is obvious that biologically-based technologies require more adaptation
for effective transference than do mechanically and chemically-based
technologies. With all three types, however, adaptations have not been
adequate because even when they have occurred, they have usually
taken account only of the physical resource base characteristics of
technologies and not of the non-physical characteristics.
Technological style requires more exploration. Hughes illustrates
the concept by comparing the development of the Volkswagen with
the oversized American car. While one is energy efficient and the
other is not, these styles also embody and reflect generalized cultural
style, including a set of explicit values (grandeur vs. utilitarianism),
class attitudes (conspicuous consumption vs. a "people's" car), and
intended use (to spend a lot of time, to travel long distances, to go to
drive-in movies vs. to get around town and through narrow streets
conveniently). Hughes writes about the transfer of technology from
Britain to colonial America which was striving for its independent
technology, "British engineers transferring technology would have
used iron and steam because they knew it; Americans used wood and
water because they had it."13 But the development of the Mississippi
river boat in one country and the shipbuilding industry in another
reflects not only these resources, but also the fact that the British
required a means for moving beyond their small island to explore
distant lands while the Americans wanted to navigate the large rivers
of their continent and had little desire to cross any oceans. Techno-
logical styles are composites of many factors.
What difference might technological style make to gender? What
should we understand about it in order to design projects that engage
women as effectively as possible in development? Table II provides a
system for tabulating the importance of those characteristics of tech-
nology which make up this "style" in projects involving women.
We look first at the physical requirements of technologies in the
originating environment. These include the factors of production-
land, labor, and capital. When the uses of these resources in the
original technology are identified, then two questions, related to its
transfer, should be asked. First, are these resources available in suffi-
cient quantity and quality in the recipient country? Second, who in the
recipient country owns, or controls, these resources? Men and women,
by virtue of tradition and tasks, frequently have different access to and

Gender Roles in Development Projects

control over resources, and the patterns of this gender-based division
vary from country to country and from context to context within
countries. Often patterns of resource control are changing. In Kenya,
for example, new land ownership laws are transferring title to land
almost exclusively to men. Under traditional systems, women enjoyed
assurance of access to land, and this access was central to their roles as
primary subsistence producers. As land laws change, women's abilities
to farm are changing. Technologies which affect farming patterns will
have differential impacts on men and women with their different
access to and control over land.
In all societies, it is important in technology transfer to determine
who has access to adequate capital to buy and maintain a technology.
Also, men and women have differential access to and control over
labor. Women may command the labor only of their children or they
may form interchangeable labor units among kinship groups. Men may
hire men, but in some societies women may not. In some societies
women may work for wages, but in others they are restricted from
wage activity by tradition. Resource inputs to effective technology
usage are among the most important factors for anaylsis in under-
standing the impacts of technology transfer.
The physical characteristics of technologies and their gender impli-
cations in Table II include mechanical, chemical, and biological purposes.
It is important that the purposes behind the development of the
technology where it originated be made explicit. What questions or
problems was the technology originally designed to answer? Who
decided? How were the priorities set regarding which problems to
solve? In all three areas a number of technological developments have
been made in response to productivity needs in the market sphere.
Returns to research and development have been calculated to determine
the profit rate of investment.
In the Third World there are a number of areas where profits can be
realized through technological innovation. New questions based in
Third World experience are being posed to the mechanical, chemical
and biological technologies, but these tend still to be concentrated in
certain types of activities like those found in industrialized countries.
Women are not often included in the decision-making to determine
priority areas for research. There are two reasons for their absence.
First, men have more access to and control over traditional decision-
making and capital resources. Second, women's work is disproportion-
ately concentrated in the nonmonetized or small scale enterprise
sectors of the economy. These areas are not seen as those which are
most likely to produce profits on a scale to justify technological
innovation. While this calculation may be correct, it is also true that

Technology Transfer

women's productive sectors are increasingly recognized as central to
many countries' overall productivity. Subsistence agriculture feeds the
majority of people and produces the majority of food in many lands.
Understanding the basis on which technologies have been developed in
the originating countries is an essential first step to determining what
other considerations should be included in the decisions about where
to focus them in developing countries.
Non-physical characteristics of technologies are also important in
their potential differential impacts on women and their roles. These
include such things as organization, level of skills required, type of
discipline required, degree of cooperation and scale of operation.14 A
technology originated in an area where production is organized hier-
archically will not necessarily be suitable where production is carried
out cooperatively. In situations where women's productive work is
organized differently from that of men, as is the case where women's
mobility is restricted, a technology which meets the organizational
setting of the one will not necessarily suit the other. The connection of
the analysis of the non-physical characteristics of technologies with
the related attributes or activities of any productive activity is obvious.
When a technology provides water to women individually at their
homes, they may, as we saw, lose an opportunity for interaction which
was important in the ways they had previously organized their water
gathering work. The purpose of this analysis is to make explicit the
variety of characteristics of different technologies which will affect
their successful transfer and to relate this to the definable separate
roles of men and women so that the differing impacts may be seen at
early stages in project design.

D. Mechanisms for Technology Transfer

There are three basic mechanisms by which technologies are
transferred in assistance programs.15 These are 1) through direct
projects or programs 2) through personnel and 3) through education
and training programs. Usually the three are combined in a project. A
project will introduce a new technology making it available physically
to project participants. Personnel will bring it, assemble it, demonstrate
its use and maintenance. Training systems for its use will complete the
transfer as project beneficiaries learn to use and maintain the tech-
nology. Personnel also, of course, do the training.
Much of the previous discussion was concerned with elements
which define the technology (the equipment or technique) itself. To
complete the analysis, more discussion is in order here regarding the
personnel in charge of transfer.

Gender Roles in Development Projects

The person who transmits a technique, or knowledge of it, can
affect or determine who finds out about it and who can have access to
using it. There is growing documentation of the problems which have
emerged as a result of the fact that, in many societies, male extension
agents or teachers and instructors do not have access to women who
may be potential or actual users of technologies.
The effect of the agent in technology transfers is more important
and more subtle than direct gender access implies. The characteristics
of the possessor of knowledge about a technology or of the person
who controls a technology communicate a message about who may
have technological knowledge or control. This occurs in two ways that
usually reinforce each other. The possessor/controller may believe that
only people like himself can manage technologies. Thus, he looks for
people like himself to be the recipients of his efforts to disseminate,
sell, give or demonstrate a technology. Others who observe that men
handle technologies will make the assumption that this is inevitable. In
agriculture, there is an additional, insidious, related belief which follows.
Because women have, in many parts of the world, been responsible for
subsistence agriculture, there is a sense that the modernization of
agriculture through the application of technologies requires, at the
same time, the masculinization of agriculture.16 This same process is
found in industry and the belief that it is inevitable follows. As rice
milling became industrialized in Indonesia, men ran the mills. The
modernization of milling brought also its masculinization.
Technologies that originated in Europe and North America often
carry this message. In the history of the development of technologies
in these societies, for a variety of reasons not necessarily replicated in
other cultures and places, technologies have been for the most part
invented, developed, controlled and used by men. Ironically, many
technologies obviate gender differentiations based on size, weight,
strength or speed. Anyone, for example, can push a button or drive a
power steering tractor. It becomes impossible to claim that women are
too weak or fragile to do certain tasks when a technology overcomes
physiological differences. The gender-based division of labor has not
disappeared, however. As physical differences between men and women
have been obviated by technologies, we have substituted limits believed
to be imposed by mental capacity, talents, acumen, and inclination. We
developed the belief that women "don't do" math and that women
"don't like" to work with machines. Women tinker with a machine
with a hairpin; men repair a machine with tools. As western assistance
agencies approach development projects and programs in which they
transmit a technology, the staffs of these agencies often carry these
attitudes and preconceptions and assume that the more complex the

Technology Transfer

technology, the more inevitable it is that they will need to locate men
to whom to transfer it.
Even those concerned with broader access to technique are often
trapped into these gender-based expectations. One U.S. agency, which
is designed to transfer appropriate technologies to all askers from any
area of the world, quite recently still carried photographs in its major
publicity pieces which showed only men working with technologies. A
line drawing showing women washing clothing on rocks was the only
pictorial representation of women. Its technical assistance experts are
predominantly male, as is true for most such agencies. Thus, in a
subtle way even this organization devoted to increasing technological
access conveys the message that technologies are more for males than
For project design purposes, consideration of the messages repre-
sented by the agents of technology transfer, as well as by the systems
of transfer, is important to increasing women's involvement in and
benefit from technologies.


In the discussion above, we have presented categories for
analyzing the impacts of technologies on production and consumption
and for thinking about the characteristics which may affect these
impacts. We have also noted the central importance of the transmitting
agent. The discussion should have made it clear that there is no simple,
technological solution to the problems of development or to the
problems of technology transfer.
Simply having smaller technologies will not bring development.
Simply recruiting women to work as instructors of technology use will
no more solve problems of development for women than the corre-
sponding process has done for men.
What is needed is the development of systems for transferrence of
technologies in their broadest sense, including know-how and tech-
nique, in a manner which promotes the recipient's own ability to
become, him or herself, a technologist.17 How does one develop the
capacity to invent? Familiarity with existing technologies is certainly
one part of the answer. This is why issues of access to both knowledge
and use of technologies is so crucial for longer term development.
Those who do not have access to technological knowledge or experience
are never as likely to become developers of their own technological
solutions as those who do.
Technological familiarity does several things. It instills the idea that
some things can be done better, with less effort, with more favorable

74 Gender Roles in Development Projects

results, or with less cost. It also teaches that a person can make this
occur by control over a technique. It teaches various mechanical,
chemical and biological processes which form the bases for new
discoveries, inventions and adaptations. It gives people the ability and
power to solve their own problems of production. Thus, the marginal-
ization of any group in relation to technology development and use not
only leaves them out of current benefits to be derived from technology,
but also consigns them to an inferior position in relation to future
developments. It limits, if not prohibits, their ability to participate in
self-sustaining development based on the invention and application of
techniques and technological systems.

Table I Technology Transfer and Women: A Framework for Analysis
I. Effects of Technology on Productive Activities
A. On doer
1. Traditional doer
2. Doer with technology
3. Implications for women
B. On location
1. Location of traditional production
2. Location of production w/technology
3. Implications for women
C. On timing
1. How long activity traditionally took
2. How long activity takes with technology
3. Implications for women
4. Time of day/weeklmonth/year activity traditionally done
5. Time of daylweek/monthlyear activity done with technology
6. Implications for women
7. Segmentation of time as activity traditionally done
8. Segmentation of time as activity done with technology
9. Implications for women
D. On skills needed for activity
1. Skills used to do activity traditionally
i. Where acquired
ii. How acquired
2. Skills used to do activity with technology
i. Where acquired
ii. How acquired
3. Implications for women
E. Attendant benefits or activities
1. Linked benefitslactivities when done traditionally
2. Linked benefits/activities when done with technology
3. Implications for women
II. Effects of Technology on Consumption Activities
A. Through technology itself
B. Through products of technology

Technology Transfer

Table II Characteristics of Technologies
Physical Characteristics

Requirements Availability Control in
Originating Country in Recipient Country Recipient Country
Implications for Women

Purpose in Suitability in
Originating Country Recipient Country
Implication for Women

Originating Country Recipient Country
Implications for Women


1. Frances Stewart, Technology and Underdevelopment (London: The Macmillan Press, Ltd,
1977); Denis Goulet, The Uncertain Promise (New York: IDOC/North America, Inc., 1977).
2.A. K. N. Reddy, Mazingira: The World Forum for Environment and Development, no. 8, 1979.
3. Thomas P. Hughes, Changing Attitudes Toward American Technology (New York: Harper &
Row, Publishers, 1975), p. 41.
4. C. Peter Timmer, "Choice of Technique in Rice Milling in Java," Bulletin of Indonesian
Economic Studies 9, (July, 1973).
5. Marilyn W. Hoskins with Fred R. Weber, "Household Level Appropriate Technology
for Women: Part II." (Washington, DC: Office of Women in Development, U.S. Agency
for International Development, 1981), p. 51.
6. Mona Etienne, "Women and Men, Cloth and Colonization: The Transformation of
Production Distribution Relations Among the Boule" Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines 65 (1978).
7. Hoskins with Weber, p. 43.
8. Gilian Hart, Power, Labor and Livelihood: Processes of Change in Rural Java (forthcoming).
9. ISIS, Women in Development (Geneva: ISIS International Women's Information and
Communication Service, 1983).

76 Gender Roles in Development Projects

10. Hoskin with Weber, p. 72.
11. Ibid., 47.
12. Thomas P. Hughes, "Another Point of View: Comment on Paper Read by Amulya
Kumar N. Reddy at the University of Pennsylvania," May 30, 1981 (unpublished).
13. Ibid., p. 6.
14. Mary B. Anderson, "Rural Development Through Self-Reliance: Implications for
Appropriate Technology," In New Dimensions of Appropriate Technology: Selected Proceedings of
1979 Sympisium Sponsored by the IAAATDC (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1980), p. 108.
15. There is extensive literature on the processes of technology transfer through trade
and commerce which includes implications of technology packages, components, servicing
contracts, licensing, patenting, etc. A particularly good analysis of the implications of
various technology aid and trade packages may be found in Hans Singer, Technologies for
Basic Needs (ILO, 1982), pp. 29-50. Because we are concerned with project design and
implementation by agencies involved in providing aid to developing countries, we are
focusing here only on the aid transfer mechanisms.
16. Roslyn Dauber and Melinda L. Cain, eds., Women and Technological Change in Developing
Countries (Boulder: Westview Press, 1980), pp. 33-50.
17. Mary B. Anderson and Peter Buck, "Scientific Development: The Development of
Science, Science and Development, and the Science of Development," Social Studies of
Science 10, (1980), p. 229.


Anderson, Mary B. "Rural Development through Self-Reliance: Implications for Appro-
priate Technology." In New Dimensions of Appropriate Technology: Selected Proceedings of 1979
Symposium Sponsored by the IAAATDC Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 1980.
Anderson, Mary B., and Buck, Peter. "Scientific Development: The Development of
Science, Science and Development, and the Science of Development." Social Studies of
Science 10, (1980).
Canada's role in Science and Technology for Development. Proceedings of the Symposium, Ontario
Science Centre, Toronto, Canada, 10-13 May 1979.
Carr, Marilyn. "Women and Technology in Rurally Oriented Projects" (Washington,
D.C.: The World Bank, 1981).
Dauber, Roslyn and Cain, Melinda L., eds. Women and Technological Change in Developing
Countries. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1980.
de Cubas, Jose. Technology Transfer and the Developing Nations. New York: Council of the
Americas and Fund for Multinational Management Education, 1974.
Driscoll, Robert E., and Wallender, Harvey M., III, eds. Technology Transfer and Development:
an Historical and Geographical Perspective. New York: Fund for Multinational Management
Education and Council of the Americas, 1974.
Dulansey, Maryanne. "Can Technology Help Women Feed Their Families?" Paper
prepared for AAAS Workshop on Women and Development, Brookings Institution,
Washington, D.C., March 26-27, 1979.
Elzinga, Aant, and Jamison, Andrew. Cultural Components in the Scientific Attitude to Nature:
Eastern and Western Modes. Lund, Sweden: Research Policy Institute, 1981.
Foster, George M. Traditional Societies and Technological Change. New York: Harper & Row,
Publishers, 1973.
Goulet, Denis. The Uncertain Promise. New York: IDOC/North America, Inc., 1977.
Hart, Gilian. Power, Labor and Livelihood: Processes of Change in Rural Java (forthcoming).

Technology Transfer 77

Hoskins, Marilyn W., with Weber, Fred R. "Part I: Issues and Project Considerations;"
"Part II: Appropriate Technology Efforts in the Field: Issues Reconsidered;" "Part III:
Field Training Manual: Selection, Introduction and Evaluation of Appropriate Techno-
logies for Women." In "Household Level Appropriate Technology for Women."
Washington, D.C.: Office of Women in Development, U.S. Agency for International
Development, 1981.
Hughes, Thomas P. "Another Point of View: Comment on Paper Read by Amulya
Kumar N. Reddy at the University of Pennsylvania," May 30, 1981 (unpublished).
-. Changing Attitudes Toward American Technology. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers,
-. "Technology." In The Holocaust: Ideology, Bureaucracy, and Genocide, edited by Henry Friedlander
and Sybil Milton. Milwood, NY: Kraus International Publications, 1980.
ISIS. Women in Development. Geneva: ISIS International Women's Information and Communi-
cation Service, 1983.
Rabinowitch, Eugene, and Rabinowitch, Victor eds. Views of Science, Technology and Develop-
ment. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1975.
Restic, Slobodan. The Collective Self-Reliance of Developing Countries in the Fields of Science and
Technology. Japan: The United Nations University, 1980.
Ribes, Bruno, et al. Domination or Sharing. Paris: The UNESCO Press, 1981.
Rothschild, Joan. "Technology, Women's Work and the Social Control of Women." In
Women, Power, and Political Systems, edited by Marguerita Rendel. London: Croom Helm,
Sagafi-Nejad, Tagi and Belfield, Robert. Transnational Corporations, Technology Transfer and
Development. New York: Pergamon Press, 1980.
Singer, Hans. Technology for Basic Needs. Geneva: International Labor Organization, 1982.
Solo, Robert A., Rogers, Everett, M. Inducing Technological Change for Economic Growth and
Development. East Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State University Press, 1972.
Stewart, Frances. Technology and Underdevelopment. London: The Macmillan Press, Ltd.,
Timmer, C. Peter. "Choice of Technique in Rice Milling on Java." Bulletin of Indonesian
Economic Studies 9 (July 1973).
Volti, Rudi. Technology, Politics and Society in China. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1982.


Bhaneja, Balwant, and Walker, J. A. S. "Comment." Impact of Science on Society 28 (1978):
Bourguiba, Habib, Jr. "Development and Transfer of Technology." Culture 3, nos. 3-4
(1976): 126-130.
Brown, Richard Harvey. "Appropriate Technology and the Grassroots: Toward a Develop-
ment Strategy from the Bottom Up." The Developing Economies (Sept. 1977): 253-279.
Brozen, Yale. "Invention, Innovation, and Imitation." American Economic Review 41 (1951):
-. "Technological Change, Ideology, and Productivity." Political Science Quarterly 70 (1955):
Carroll, James D. "Participatory Technology." Science: 647-653.
Dean, Genevieve C. "Science Technology and Development: China as a 'Case Study'."
China Quarterly (July 1972): 520-534.
-. "A Note on the Sources of Technological Innovation in the People's Republic of
China." Journal of Development Studies 9, (1972-73): 187-199.

78 Gender Roles in Development Projects

Eckhaus, Richard S. "Notes on Invention and Innovation in Less Developed Countries."
American Economic Review 56, nos. 1-2, (1966): 98-109.
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Production-Distribution Relations Among the Baule." Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines 65
(1978): 41-65.
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International Development Review 18, no. 3 (1976): 14-20.
Jackson, M. N. "Science and Depoliticization." Impact of Science on Society 28 (1978): 359-367.
Sagasti, Francisco. "Underdevelopment, Science and Technology: The Point of View of
the Underdeveloped Countries." Science Studies 3 (1973): 47-59.


Small-Scale Enterprise

and Women

Prepared by Maryanne Dulansey and James Austin


Small-scale enterprises (SSEs) represent an important means
of earning income for women in developing countries. SSEs typically
constitute a significant sector of the economy in such countries, and
women play a major role within SSEs.
The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance for the analysis of
SSE projects, with the hope that they can be designed so as to
encourage the participation of women and to improve women's welfare.


A. Significance of the SSE Sector for Development

The SSE sector is important to the economy of developing countries.
It provides employment and income for many people while supplying
needed products and services.1 The sector has become more important
as experience has proven large-scale enterprise incapable of providing
large shares of employment in developing countries, as employment in
agriculture declines, and as migration from the countryside swells
urban populations.2
Agriculture is of paramount importance to economic development
and to women. Nonfarm income also plays a critical role, however,
both for those who share in the returns from agricultural development
and for those who do not. With economic growth, agriculture inevit-
ably comes to represent a smaller part of total output, income, and
employment.3 Enterprises unrelated to agricultural production account
for an increasingly large share, until ouput, income, and employment
from nonfarm enterprises surpass those derived from farming.

Gender Roles in Development Projects

As subsistence farming gives way to marketed production, there is
more need for specialized marketing, transport, processing, and pack-
aging. In the industrialized economies, these activities produce more
value added and employment than does agriculture itself. In countries
or regions where the majority of the population is still in rural areas,
and where transport of raw materials and/or products is costly and
difficult, small-scale enterprise is often more efficient than large-scale
operations, and thrives particularly under conditions of agricultural
Small-scale enterprise is an even more important provider of income,
products, and services under less favorable economic conditions. The
very poor, the landless, and women who live in rural areas but fail to
share in the returns from agricultural development are dependent on
nonfarm enterprises, as are those who live in urban areas. "Nonfarm
income is particularly important for the very poor," the World Bank
has reported. "In countries as different as India, Republic of Korea, and
Sierra Leone, landless or nearly landless households earn about half
their income from nonfarm sources."5
The importance of SSEs increases as the size of the locality decreases.
In Haiti, the percentage of the population "directly employed" by SSEs
rises from 2.2 percent in the capital, Port-au-Prince, to 8.4 percent in
the localities with population between 1,000 to 2,000. The SSE contri-
bution to total Haitian employment would loom much larger if the
extremely small localities could be considered.6
If poverty is chronic in rural areas (over 90 percent of the world's
poor, estimated at 1 billion, are rural people), it is becoming acute in
urban areas where the need for income is growing rapidly.7 It is
estimated that the Third World will need 782 million new jobs between
1980 and the end of the century. Since city populations are growing,
often by more than 5 percent per year, an increasing proportion of
these new jobs must be created in urban areas. Currently 20-50
percent of those working in cities are employed in the urban informal
sector in businesses ranging from street vending to tailoring to furni-
ture making. A growing share are working in the informal sector
because larger-scale businesses have not expanded rapidly enough to
provide the jobs.8

B. Significance of the SSE Sector for Women

Small-scale enterprise is particularly important for women who need
to earn income. It is more flexible and less restrictive than employment
in larger enterprises, which may require education, training, and/or

Small Scale Enterprise and Women 81

experience that women lack; such jobs may also require that work be
done at times and in places that are culturally unacceptable or difficult
for women with family responsibilities. SSEs can be built upon knowl-
edge and skills women acquire in the family, can be engaged in part-
time and within the household if desired, and can facilitate the tran-
sition from agricultural employment as it begins to decline.
Although women's economic activities in both agricultural and
nonagricultural production are undoubtedly underreported, data com-
piled from the Yearbook of Labor statistics for 1970, 1974, and 1977
show that for Latin America and Asia, the percentage of the econo-
mically active population that is female is higher in nonagricultural
production than in agriculture; in the Middle East it is equal, and in
Africa it is lower.10
Migration of women to urban areas has risen recently. In Tanzania,
female participation in agriculture is strong, migration is traditionally
male-dominated, and the percentage of population living in urban
areas is smaller than in other regions. Nontheless, women in growing
numbers are migrating to the cities, many in search of income. A
World Bank study found "a sharp increase in the proportion of female
urban migrants" during the 1960s in Africa. "In Tanzania the propor-
tion of migrants who are women rose from 33 percent of all those
migrating before 1950 to 54 per cent by 1971. The analysis indicates
that while the proportion of female migrants who came as economic
dependents remained high, the pull of the city as a source of employ-
ment and education contributed to the increase in the number of
female migrants .. [with] great implications for labor utilization.""1
Small-scale enterprise is difficult for people newly arrived in the city.
With all its demands and challenges to someone who does not know
the ropes, however, it still provides greater access for women than
other sectors, which often require educational qualifications beyond
those held by women. In the Tanzania case, women represented 53
percent of the SSE sector in urban areas, with steet trading and small
plot cultivation the most common occupations.12 The PISCES studies,
covering urban micro-enterprise projects in several countries of Africa,
Asia, and Latin America, came to a general conclusion that such
"projects mostly assist women entrepreneurs. In general, the smaller
the size of the business reached, the larger the proportion of women
business owners."13

82 Gender Roles in Development Projects


The starting point of the project process is the identification
of an opportunity for development, or of a problem or block to be
solved or removed. The two cardinal rules of project design, as applied
to women, are:
1) Do no harm: do not worsen the situation of women by virtue of
the project intervention.
2) Assist the chosen development process in appropriate ways; help
women with the totality of tasks and concerns, and do so in their
To follow these rules requires information about women and their
roles. This paper proposes a twofold methodology for collecting and
considering this information at the project identification stage, when it
can be most valuable in shaping the project. The Small-Scale Enterprise
Participation Profile, as described below, specifies the relevant data and
provides a useful means of arraying them. In addition, we suggest that
preliminary project analysis give explicit attention to the barriers to
women's participation in SSEs.
The use of the SSE participation profile and barriers analysis will
help in small-scale enterprise project design. The participation profile
should be used not only to identify numbers and types of SSEs, but
also to assess the level of experience and skill in the various manage-
ment categories (organization, personnel, production, marketing, fin-
ance). It then serves as an early indicator of project feasibility, which
can help prevent waste of resources. In particular, the profile can help
overcome the common tendency to neglect marketing considerations
at the first stage of the project process. Deficiencies and problems in
other management categories may be addressed by selected project
interventions, but it is very difficult to improve demand, particularly in
the populations targeted for development assistance. There is wide-
spread consensus that "marketing proves to be one of the most
difficult obstacles to creating viable economic enterprises based on the
small-scale production of most rural women's projects."14
Used in conjunction with general indicators (for example, criteria on
participation, access, control, status and indicators of physical, eco-
nomic, and social well-being), the participation profile and barriers
analysis can make it easier to identify and design projects that are not
specifically SSE interventions, but may affect women's economic in-
terests. Small-scale enterprise is a major mode of income generation
for women, especially women with limited financial and human capital.

Small Scale Enterprise and Women 83

For virtually any project with economic ramifications, the SSE partici-
pation profile and barriers analysis can be useful in determining the
conditions under which women are least likely to be disadvantaged,
either absolutely or relative to men.15
Because project identification usually follows a broader country or
sectoral development strategy, the intended beneficiaries are often not
defined in terms of gender. Women within the beneficiary group (e.g.,
small-scale entrepreneurs) may be invisible and, as women, may actually
be hurt by the project intervention.
A few common project goals that vitally affect women's economic
interests are:
1) Increasing GNP; increasing foreign exchange; accelerating eco-
nomic growth; decreasing poverty.
2) Increasing employment.
3) Increasing family income.
4) Decreasing rural-urban migration.
The interventions chosen for the first goal set often harm women's
economic interests by affecting them as producers of basic necessities
(food, clothing, household utensils, and furnishings). Interventions
that favor large industries, products for export, and modernization
requiring capital, land, and human resources tend to exclude women
from participation. Since women are producers, often very efficient
producers, of basic necessities, projects that do not include them and
their productive functions, or even create competition that may drive
women out of the market, will not achieve their maximum potential
macroeconomic impact. The projects may increase income, but if the
returns are not channeled to the producers of society's basic needs, the
long-run effect will be to widen the economic gap within the population.
Small-scale enterprise interventions are gaining favor among plan-
ners as a means of increasing employment. Women's employment, in
terms of time spent in producing goods and services, can hardly be
increased. Poor women cannot afford to be unemployed. Their time is
already fully occupied; the issue is not occupation but compensation,
the returns to them from their investment of time and effort.
Planners have learned that interventions aimed at increasing family
income tend to fall short of the goal if they fail to take into account
women's major responsibility to support their children. Projects that
channel resources only to men and/or perpetuate constraints on
women's access to inputs and earnings have often failed to improve
the income and the quality of life for women and children. Because
women entrepreneurs are well represented among the poor, assistance

Gender Roles in Development Projects

to them will ameliorate poverty-both for the women as individuals,
and for their children.
Efforts to improve rural life in hopes of decreasing migration to
urban areas must include women, in their role of primary producers of
basic goods and services. The increase in the numbers of women
migrants indicates their difficulties in meeting increasing economic
responsibilities in a rural setting.
Other commonly cited project goals may signal women's partici-
pation, yet their economic interests may be overlooked as a factor, for
example in goals to:
1) improve nutritional status and health of at-risk groups;
2) decrease population growth rates; increase family planning prac-
tice; or
3) increase literacy and/or education levels.
The importance of women's earnings to the attainment of these goals
is increasingly being recognized. They need additional income to pur-
chase nutritional foods, to boil or filter water, and to acquire medicine
and health care. Population/family planning project experience indicates
that income-generating activities are "the most effective type of inter-
vention when trying to reach the poor."16 Literacy and education for
females are important for development; but women who are already
fully occupied with the daily struggle to subsist frequently do not see
literacy or education projects as immediately productive investments
of time and energy. Thus, for example, the beneficiaries of the Upper
Volta Equal Access to Education for Women and Young Girls program
modified the project to give priority to their basic tasks.17
It is precisely at the project identification stage that determined
steps must be taken to counteract women's invisibility. If their roles
and interests are not explicitly considered as an intrinsic part of the
project process at the early stages, an adverse impact on women is
more likely. The project identification stage must also include attention
to social norms that may act as formidable barriers to women in their
economic roles. Philip Coomb's observation about rural development
projects is equally applicable to projects affecting women's economic
One of the clearest lessons to emerge from ICED's case studies is that the
impact and continuity of any rural development project are strongly influ-
enced by deep-rooted social, cultural, and political factors in the project's
environment, and these differ considerably from one locality to another.
Failure to give adequate attention to such factors before designing the
project has often led to disappointing results."18

Small Scale Enterprise and Women

As we have seen, women are already in small-scale enterprises, and
for each woman visible there may well be others who have not been
picked up in the employment statistics, SSE censuses, and project data.
For each woman engaged in an SSE, there are others who need income
and would like to be involved. To estimate numbers and types of
existing women's SSEs, and to assess need and feasibility for new
ventures, one can base projections on whatever data are available, then
spot-check them by interviews with women from the targeted bene-
ficiary population. Reliability of community group interviews can be
high, as AITEC discovered in Costa Rica.19
The crucial first step was the perception of the conditions, problems,
and solutions to problems as defined by the people who lived in the
regions. Comprehensive interviews with key groups selectmenn in
town government, farmers, local club members and agency personnel,
teachers, businessmen, unemployed laborers) were conducted, in which
topics ranging from migration to employment to production and com-
munity services were discussed.20 (As was commonplace some ten
years ago, the participatory methods of this project identification did
not quite extend to women.)
If such a comprehensive program is not feasible at the project
identification stage, attempts should be made to interview the most
knowledgeable persons accessible-for example, female home econo-
mists, agricultural or health extension agents, members of women's
organizations, or personnel from the host country government, develop-
ment assistance agencies, or local research and educational institutions.
However, there is no substitute for asking the women themselves.
Within any relatively poor group that would be the clientele of
development assistance efforts, it is safe to assume that women are
involved in productive activities and have economic interests and
responsibilities. The challenge is to find them (for women in their
economic roles are sometimes invisible even to themselves) and to
discover how their interests and roles contribute to and are affected by
the chosen project goals and interventions-to see and support women
within the family, the community, and the economy.

A. Participation Profile

Women in small-scale enterprise suffer from a double invisibility.
Although the importance of SSEs to development has recently received
greater recognition, most such businesses are very small indeed, and it
is very difficult to "see" the smallest "microenterprises," especially in
rural areas. It is even more difficult to see women in SSEs: (1) often

Gender Roles in Development Projects

neither they nor men think of women as businesspeople; (2) the habit
of working without remuneration renders women's participation in
small-scale enterprise less visible; and (3) women's enterprises are
often on the borderline with their subsistence occupations.
The first step toward assessing women's participation in SSEs is
thus to specify the activities they engage in and where, when, and how
they perform them. These activities should not be identified in isolation,
but rather examined relative to male counterparts within the sector.
Thus it is necessary to define the SSE sector and its role within the
larger economy. Much of the literature defining SSEs has used an
"informal-formal sector" dichotomy. Although this has been usfeul in
drawing attention to the neglected SSE portion of the economy, initial
research for this paper led Mary Beth Wertime to suggest that a more
useful conceptual approach for project analysis is to analyze the SSEs
in terms of several descriptive parameters describing their positions
along a continuum or within segments. Enterprises are heterogeneous,
and project design must take this diversity into account. Within this
sectoral profile the women's position can then be explicitly identified.
A useful way to capture the diversity of SSEs is to relate a set of
common descriptive characteristics to two parameters that will signifi-
cantly shape project design: enterprise size (in terms of human
resources) and type of good or service produced. The descriptive
characteristics can be categorized into the main functional areas of
management: organization, personnel, production, marketing, and
The format for an SSE participation profile combining these descrip-
tive characteristics with the enterprise size parameter is shown in
Table 1; Table 2 shows the analogous profile with the goods and
services parameter. Seldom, if ever, would existing data be sufficient
to fill out such matrices completely. Nonetheless, it is very important
for an analyst to know what information is missing so that a decision
can be made either to gather the data or to proceed with project design
on the basis of certain assumptions regarding the missing data.
Three principal sources of data are useful in assessing the role of
women in providing labor to small-scale enterprises and/or deriving
income from them:
1) labor statistics compiled by the International Labor Organization
(ILO) from national data;
2) census or research data on employment or small scale enterprises;
3) project data.

Small Scale Enterprise and Women

None of these sources provides much information disaggregated by
sex. Since it is difficult to "see" small-scale enterprises and particularly
the women within them, available data have to be used creatively.
Approximations may be derived from whatever disaggregated data
may be available on nonagricultural economic activity. Breakdowns for
status categories are then compared with data from census and project
Women in nonagricultural labor are represented in all status cate-
gories of the ILO International Classification as employers, own-
account workers, employees, unpaid family workers, and members of
producers' cooperatives.21
The available data suggest that the various roles women play in the
SSE sector are influenced by the skills and experiences they have
garnered, primarily in the family. Other factors shaping their roles are
the practices and traditions of the society, which may result in women's
domination of a particular industry. The roles may differ from place to
place and may change over time. Garment-making is an example. In
Jamaica, all the dressmaking is done by women.22 Conversely, in Sierra
Leone men dominate tailoring, the industry that accounts for the
greatest share of employment and value added.23 Men also predominate
in carpentry, blacksmithing, baking, goldsmithing, and watch repair.
However, over 80 percent of the owners of tie-dye (gara) SSEs in
Sierra Leone are women.24
Women's participation in particular types of SSE's may change over
time, influenced by the level of development and the conditions of the
economy. In the Philippines, women are moving from household-based
to establishment-based textile/wearing apparel manufacture and are
shifting out of manufacturing into commerce and services.25
The following pages illustrate the variety of roles played by women
in SSEs. The information is organized in the Participation Profile


a) Number of Units

This statistic reveals the degree of fragmentation and the number of
contact points that would be needed to ensure adequate outreach and
coverage for the project. Gender-specific analysis would then show
how many units were owned by women.
In countries where a census of SSEs has been made or SSE data have
been derived from analysis of employment data,26 there has been a

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