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Selected programmes in support of women in agriculture, forestry-and fisheries

Selected programmes in support of women in agriculture, forestry-and fisheries

Several of the reports critically assessed the ' or-going assistance targeted at rural women and identified those programmes and experiments which should be expanded. Several reports also reviewed the constraints faced in providing appropriate assistance to rural women.

The projects reviewed in the sectoral reports can be divided into-three broad categories: policy, planning and research; institutional strengthening; and direct assistance to rural women.

(1) Policy, planning and research. This category includes those projects focused on the collection and dissemination of statistics disaggregated by gender and place of residence, on the gender division of labour, and on overcoming the main constraints rural women continue to face. These projects appear to be increasing as the relationship between gender and the efficacy of micro-level projects with macro-level policy planning-becomes better understood. In several countries, participatory research has been conducted to diagnose the situation of rural women, identify their constraints, and to determine their needs'. 'Research' has also been conducted on the gender division of labour. Other projects have included gender analysis training components for extension agents and Ministry staff, while several countries have programmes that include a component on the collection of gender disaggregated data.

(2) Institutional strengthening. Projects in this category include gender analysis training programmes for government officials and agricultural extension agents and the creation of WID units. A variety of interventions have' been carried out, often with donor support, which focus on increasing the number of qualified female extension agents and sensitizing extension and ministry staff to gender issues. Training programmes in technical subjects for female extension agents has been carried out in several countries. Some male and female extension staff have been trained in communication skills, participatory development, gender analysis, and household food security in order to provide extension services to rural women in a more effective manner.

Another type of project in this area addresses a major constraint raised in several of the sectoral reports: the lack of coordination among the various bodies and organizations working with rural women. It is mentioned in several of the reports that the success of development programmes has often been undermined due to the absence of coordinating structures. In one country, efforts to establish linkages across sectors, within and among districts/provinces, and between the Government and NGOs are helping to improve service provisions.

(3) Direct assistance to rural women. The projects in this category are characterized by three primary objectives: increase women farmers productivity and thus household food security and/or income through improved farming methods and appropriate technology; increase rural moments access to resources and services such as credit, transport, and marketing; and organize women into self-help and other types of groups and associations.

It was stressed in several of the reports that projects targeted at rural women were often more successful if they sought to address both women's productive and reproductive roles and needs. For example, a project being carried out in one country aims to improve the productivity of women's and men's agricultural labour on both rainfed and irrigated crops, reduce the amount of time women devote to fuel collection and food processing, document the relationship between women's labour and household food security, and integrate these findings into the operations of regional extension services. Another project examined the impact of the sexual division of tasks and responsibilities on women's health, and held training courses to sensitize the rural population on the health implications of women's double and often triple work burden.

It appears from several sectoral reports that the use of participatory methodologies is also an important factor determining project success. One sectoral report asserted that the main weakness of projects aimed at rural women continued tombs women's lack of involvement in project operations, including project identification and formulation. In response, some countries are implementing projects which aim to increase women's participation in defining their needs. In one country, for example, the agricultural extension service is implementing a project that seeks to set up a dialogue between the service and female farmers in order to tailor extension services to meet women farmers needs.

Projects- by governmental and nongovernmental actors that seek to support local women's groups and cooperatives, as well as those that support women's increased participation in rural organizations, were also mentioned in several sectoral reports as effective in addressing the constraints that women face in accessing credit and land, and in participating in decision- making at the local level. One project approach that has been successful focuses on increasing women's access to credit and land by using membership in a women's group as a criteria. In another country, a project supported by several donors has encouraged the formation of savings groups and associations in which the aggregation of group savings could be used for the acquisition of supplementary rural credit. In several countries, initiatives have been undertaken to involve women in community decision-making structures by integrating them into the village, district and regional project committees.

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