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4. Implications of gender aspects for project design

4.1 General aspects on gender-issues

Today gender aspects are an overwhelming concern in all countries and in all fields of social and economic life. Gender is defined by IFAD as: "the socio-economic and evolving roles and functions of men and women as they relate to and complement each other within a specific socio-cultural and economic context". Despite such a definition, gender is often misunderstood as being the promotion of women only. However, gender issues focus not only on women, but on the relationship between men and women, their roles, access to and control over resources, and division of labour and needs. Gender relations determine household security, well-being of the family, planning, production and many other aspects of life.

Gender and gender related aspects are often given lip-service by politicians and briefly noted in policy papers. However, to actually incorporate the concept of gender across all operational levels is more difficult. To give the support required to ensure that it can be properly applied and that some measure of success can be made, demands even more effort.

Concerning livestock development, there is a high level of agreement in the literature that socio-economics and institutional frameworks play an important role in determining who does what, and who gets what. Social and cultural norms dictate the division of labour and control over assets. Policy and institutional structures often restrict existing sources of support to women, particularly credit to acquire large ruminants.

Values, norms and moral codes embedded in culture and tradition have very strong influence on gender issues as they determine attitudes and the organisational set-up of the whole community system. Like culture and traditions, political, institutional and legal structures also change slowly. Hence, these latter factors often impede the implementation of gender balanced programmes. Therefore, in projects operating at micro level, the most important set-up to consider is the socio-economic factor (1)1. Social and cultural factors determine the possible margin of action of women and their activities. In cases where women are excluded from community meetings, have no access to education and training, and where their capacity to become actively involved is not strengthened, they will always be left behind (8). Economic factors are the basis for change because with a greater economic independence, self-confidence and possibilities of upward socio-economic movement increase (1 ). If one is to achieve a broad-based impact with a particular intervention, then gender aspects cannot be looked at separately: all factors including political, institutional and cultural aspects have to be considered. The distinction between practical needs and strategic needs is not clear cut and the complexity of gender relationships goes beyond these two definitions. Nevertheless, these definitions are clearly relevant for gender analysis and monitoring. New gender frameworks and, more importantly, flexible ones have to be evolved to address the dynamic reality of gender at the grassroots level (2).

Failure to take into consideration gender relationships leads to unsuccessful project activities, and the marginalisation of the disadvantaged sector of society and a large part of the agricultural workforce. Thus, understanding gender relationships and adjusting methods and messages to them is crucial for full participation by all sectors of the community.

4.2 Gender awareness of project designers and executors

For an increasing number of organisations, participation of men and women is becoming an important goal. Many project papers mention the importance of gender aspects, which are often included in the overall project goals. However, upon closer examination of the operational plans, one finds that gender aspects are often missing. As demonstrated by an example from Burkina Faso, gender aspects are only included in words, but not translated into actions in the action plan for rural financing and sometimes are misleading for publicity purposes (4).

Formulation of gender balanced projects and programmes assumes a high degree of awareness of stakeholders on gender issues. This includes not only the theoretical understanding of the concept, but also the willingness of the parties and persons involved to think permanently about their own positions and concepts. Gender training helps to achieve a better understanding of the concept, but gender awareness is also a personal position in daily life. This is the reason why gender training should take all opportunities to move towards addressing gender issues at the level of the individual person, organisation and institutional fields, culture, etc. Few programmes have had the possibility to attempt this (1,2,3,5,9).

Nevertheless, training itself is not a sufficient condition for gender transformation. It has to be integrated in a capacity building strategy including follow-ups and action-learning projects on a continued basis. Innovative interventions in gender issues need to be initiated in order to bring about breakthroughs in traditional division of labour and culture (2).

Special attention has to be however given to the social and cultural reality in a specific society. Project focus and approach in gender issues have to fit into general attitudes of beneficiaries. Activities related to gender issues always require to analyse the specific situation in order to establish a gender balanced programme. Forced promotion of women rarely lead to sustainable impact or even worse, antagonism between groups could strengthen social imbalance. In Mozambique a goat programme which promoted women ownership of livestock was in the beginning rejected by men and women due to the fear to disrespect cultural aspects. Though a gender balanced approach including men and women and giving special attention to women headed households the programme turned to be successful including women ownership and with participation of women and men in meetings on livestock issues (12).

Most programmes include gender without a proper understanding and perspective of the complete concept. Understanding gender requires a high awareness of the stakeholders and a permanent thinking about positions, behaviours and reactions of all involved partners, field workers and beneficiaries, and women and men in a project. A gender perspective should be a cross-cutting issue for all stakeholders, being part of their function and responsibilities, and should not be delegated or put aside (2).

4.3 Implications for project design

Gender awareness cannot be learned in a one week training course and it also cannot be delegated to one person or section within an agency. It is an ongoing process which implies the whole society in developed, as well as in developing countries. But a stakeholder can influence the process by his/her own commitment in applying the gender approach at each moment and for each action. Gender aspects should be adapted to the specific project region and society. In 1998 Intercooperation worked out a guideline for equal opportunities for women and men within the organisation and at project work level and a document on implementation instruments to support gender approach with the goal to integrate a gender specific dimension of analysis and implementation into the daily organisational and operational practice.

Gender-aspects should be an integral part of project goals and get carried on board throughout the log frames. It should be systematically and practically included in the operational plan by translating it into concrete activities and relevant indicators. Apart from activity oriented indicators, which show that a certain activity has taken place, performance indicators should be well defined in line with the objectives and expected results or outputs. Proper monitoring to capture small, but sensible changes in gender relations within and among households should be worked out in all planning stages (1).

With the integration of gender aspects, the project's scope expands as it is forced to dwell into the social, cultural and economic parts of the target communities. It will no longer be a livestock project, but will also deal with household dynamics and community anthropology. This is one of the major challenges when integrating gender aspects in a project. Major attention has to be focused on the fact that gender changes are very slow and, therefore, project goals should not be too ambitious in gender issues (1).

Gender analysis requires taking into consideration other factors which could influence the potential impact of a project and presents opportunities or constraints to project goals and activities. The reason for specifying these determining factors is to identify what can facilitate or constrain the project. The following factors have to be considered:

For successful livestock interventions the following factors have to be considered:

The task for project designers and planners is to assess these factors, and determine whether and how they will have an effect on or be affected by the project. An analysis of the flow of resources and benefits is essential to understand how a project will affect women and men. Monitoring is important and should be carried out periodically to evaluate whether the project is achieving the expected impact and, if not, corrective measures have to be taken.

In the past, livestock projects have been designed and implemented mostly by men. The main focus was oriented towards production issues such as breeding, feeding and animal health. Only when project development was hindered, were institutional set-ups, market aspects and gender issues considered. A review of more recent livestock project documents shows that a clear reorientation of projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America occurred. Generally, the specific situation of the project region and its society, as well as the market aspects, are becoming more important. Nevertheless, a real awareness of gender and its application is today the exception, rather than the rule. In many countries, for example in India, livestock extension services are mainly oriented towards men, which makes it difficult to implement a gender balanced programme. Also, research is mostly dominated by men. Until today, little research efforts have been oriented towards livestock and intra-household decision making and organisation

The planning team has to be gender balanced, well trained on gender issues and show a high degree of gender awareness. Experiences on gender issues from other projects, within the same country or region, should be analysed and taken into consideration. This is particularly important if projects are oriented towards other activities (health, agriculture etc.).

4.4 Participatory approach and gender training

Participatory methods are often used to initiate and guide the process of joint learning. These methods help people to visualise the analytical process of identifying causes and effects, and their linkages serve as common points of reference, and help to mobilise communities into action. As illiteracy is very high in most developing countries, especially amongst women, symbols help to visualise discussions and to record final plans and achieved agreements.

All those who participated in the questionnaire process agree, that despite the use of participatory methods and improving facilitation skills, not everybody participates in and benefits from the extension activities. Some agricultural trials fail and messages are not adopted because women, though being active farmers, did not attend the extension sessions. Husbands did not repay the loans because they spent the money on other things and had discussed neither the loan nor the purpose of the loan with their wives. Women's groups frequently are unable to market products because their husbands do not allow them to travel. There are many other examples that one can cite which illustrate the difficulties in achieving satisfactory results through participatory methods, if gender aspects are not actually integrated in the extension system.

In building up a gender sensitive programme, training is one of the most important components. The overall aim of gender training is to increase the awareness, knowledge, skills, and behaviour in relation to gender of all people. The training has first to be oriented towards the staff in order for them to acquire knowledge and skills to understand, explain and practice the concept of gender. Awareness raising should be carried out at all levels, from senior staff to junior staff over to the clients themselves (1). Proper approach and teaching methodology should be developed for each level.

Specific approaches should be developed which suit staff and client levels separately. The background of the target community should be well understood and the training components should be in line with the existing situation. This means that a global gender training syllabus is not appropriate. Rather, a syllabus must be developed which specifically relates to the context. Resource persons should both represent the male and female sex, and should have an affiliation with agriculture and livestock production (11).

Another aspect consists in the preparation of training programmes. The aim of the training and the content should be well thought out and developed. A suitable training environment should be identified and proven techniques used to facilitate participants learning by understanding. These are two very important points because in gender training individuals basically talk about their own lives, beliefs and experiences. Thus, they need an environment and facilitators which will promote open and frank discussions in order to identify certain biases and views they may hold concerning gender. The sensitivity of the gender concept itself calls for participatory, open minded and flexible approaches, so as to involve all participants in the whole process in order to identify their own weakness in terms of behaviour, perception and attitudes, and gradually prepare oneself for a change.

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