Posted February 1998
MANY OF THE PROJECTS were implemented in areas in which government staff had little information on gender roles in different agricultural activities, gender-specific constraints on labour time, and gender differences in access to and control over resources. Generally there was no knowledge of gender differences in farmer priorities for government support or training. This section briefly highlights information that the case analysts felt was most relevant for planning.
In Nepal the PRAs revealed that women play crucial roles in household decision-making over the use of land. This information was critical to planning for extension, natural resource management, crops, livestock and forestry departments. The men's and women's mobility maps developed during the PRAs (reproduced on the next page) showed that women did not travel to the Agricultural Sub-Service Centre located outside the village (where agricultural training normally took place), and did not attend the Village Development Committee meetings, go to school or even travel to the health clinic. Discussions of these maps revealed the reasons that women had rarely, if ever, had the opportunity to participate in extension training courses. Women's priority rankings, however, showed that extension and other forms of skills training was their highest priority. This, of course, was vital information for extension programme planners. It convinced them that extension training for women must be carried out in the village itself.
In Namibia the PRAs reconfirmed well-known aspects of the gender division of responsibilities-women for crop production, men for livestock. They also revealed that as men emigrate in search of urban work, women are increasingly involved in large livestock management and in other tasks in the "male domain" such as ploughing. Senior managers and policy-makers had not been aware of these changes in the gender division of labour. The new knowledge made it clear that women as well as men need better access to veterinary services, training in range management and improved livestock and crop production, and assistance for ploughing, cattle marketing, and fodder subsidies.
Ethiopia's client-oriented extension training project found that women work double the hours of men in agricultural peak seasons and nearly three times men's hours in the off season. This information convinced extension staff that they must bring extension training to the villages if women are to participate. Daily activity schedules also helped extension agents identify the periods of the day when women normally work in groups, thereby revealing when male extension agents can be culturally sanctioned to work with them. Gender analysis of resource control revealed why women have little incentive to help their husbands with field crop production, while priority ranking helped extension agents identify areas in which women would be receptive to extension advice.
In India the PRAs revealed strong socio-economic differences among villages. The sexual division of labour also differed. These inter-village differences underlined the importance of engaging in participatory, locally based extension planning for both livestock and cropping activities. The PRAs showed that even though all household members are involved in goat rearing, young girls are the ones pulled out of school when herd sizes increase. This fact convinced project planners that poultry, which is under female control and requires less work than goats, should be prioritised. Participatory monitoring showed the advantage of this choice. Women's small earnings from the sale of eggs and chickens allowed them to improve nutrition levels in the household and even to amass enough savings to face most financial emergencies without borrowing from money-lenders.
In Afghanistan the PIHAM project highlighted gender-differentiated roles and responsibilities in livestock management, showing the magnitude of women's involvement and knowledge in livestock rearing. Project staff came to realise that without including both women's and men's knowledge about animals, effective responses to livestock production constraints could not be developed.
The Tunisian PRAs reaffirmed women's important roles in agriculture and natural resource management. The seasonal calendars showed that women tend to diversify the sources of their income just as men do. Men's and women's priorities for women's income generating activities differed somewhat, with men favouring activities that would keep women closer to home, while women gave their highest priority to livestock rearing (including large livestock), which currently takes up much of their time and for which they have mastered the skills. It would be interesting to know how the planners reacted to the differences in men's and women's priorities for women's economic activities.
In Honduras a joint project-INA study provided information about women's land rights and land tenure situation. This prompted the land reform and registration agency to modify definitions of a "producer" and a "farm" in order to incorporate the name of the woman when couples register land, and to give female headed households the right to register land in their own names.
The Costa Rica project revealed the previous under-estimation of women's roles in agricultural production on small farms, commercial farms, and non-farm enterprises in the informal sector.
Summary on Gender InformationPRA/GA exercises generated both well known information on the sexual division of labour and some surprising information on women's roles and responsibilities in what have been regarded as "men's spheres". In many cases, the implications of changing gender responsibilities for involving women in extension programmes previously focused on men were obvious. More difficult challenges for planning and policy making resulted from information regarding women's limited land rights and their difficulties in replacing absent husbands due to their lack of socio-cultural authorisation to engage in "male tasks". Nepal's PRAs also produced information that was highly relevant to planning, including the importance of women's decision-making for land use, their nearly total exclusion from extension training, and their emphatic insistence on training for themselves as their number one priority.
In sub-sector focused projects, participatory methods informed by gender analysis provided two types of information: 1) on women's priorities and support needs that can inform line agency programming, and 2) on issues that need to be tackled at higher policy levels, such as women's lack of secure land rights, excessive labour burdens, and limited mobility. Several projects noted that this type of "information from the field" was the most powerful means they had for convincing policy makers and senior managers that participatory methods and gender analysis should be supported as effective and efficient means of providing the information needed for gender responsive agricultural planning.