A socio-economic and gender analysis can yield both qualitative and quantitative information about household resources. The roles of women and men include their productive, reproductive and community roles. In planning services with rural households, it is important not to assume that all persons in the household have the same resources (access, control, etc). Women and men often have different constraints, opportunities, knowledge, responsibilities, needs and priorities in managing household resources.
Learning about such issues can be achieved through conversation or interviews with men and women individually or in groups. Much can also be learned through observation. Diagrams can simplify complex information, and ranking and scoring are tools to understand the priorities of men and women and the importance of different household resources.
It is necessary to include the views of all relevant sub-groups to obtain a full picture of a situation. Comparing information from several different sources (e.g. information from womens groups, statistics, statements by local chief) will help ensure that the information is correct.
SEAGA offers three toolkits for use at the field-level
Development context analysis (tools to look at the socio-economic patterns)
Livelihood analysis (tools that examine activities, resources and livelihoods)
Stakeholder analysis (tools for community planning)
These tools focus on i) women and men as individuals and in groups; ii) socioeconomic differences within and between households; and c) communities as a whole. Ten participatory tools have been included in the toolbox starting on page 25. The tools are most commonly used in communication with groups of people. It is recommended to have separate groups for women and men because they often have different perceptions (e.g. in ranking of resources) and contributions (e.g. different knowledge). Experience shows that it is difficult to have mixed groups in which women participate fully, even if there are no apparent norms that inhibit women from speaking. It is important to remember that specific steps need to be taken to ensure the equal participation of women and men.
When planning a field visit:
Agree with the community or farmers on the visit well ahead of time, and ensure that they are well informed about the purpose of the visit.
Plan a meeting in a way that makes it possible for both men and women from different socio-economic groups to participate (e.g. time and place).
Think through the overall context or situation in the area, be clear on what kind of information you want, how the different issues should be approached and how the discussions will be facilitated (who will ask the questions and take notes). Write a list of questions to guide the discussions.
Decide upon which tools you will use, their sequencing and if/how you will split the farmers into groups (by sex, age, larger scale vs. smaller scale, etc.)
Prepare an introduction to the farmers about who you are, who you represent, the purpose of the discussion. It is also useful to prepare an ice-breaking tool.
Look at your own preconceived ideas and biases about the roles of rural women and men.
Ensure that every group has a chance to present its own views.
Ensure that the information is shared with the community (the flip charts are useful information for them) and with other services deliverers as well as your supervisor or other colleagues.
In advance, make a list of what you want to find out about households and their management of resources. Think about:
The importance of particular natural resources for household food security.
Gender-differentiated access to and control over resources and benefits, and/or the factors influencing this within households.
Identifying vulnerable groups and their particular extension needs (e.g. households affected by HIV/AIDS or other chronic illness, etc.).
Time use among household members.
The importance of formal and informal institutions for both rural women and men.
Emerging needs for extension services due to changes in out-migration, diseases etc.
Analysing data assigns a meaning to the information, stories, observations, and secondary data that have been gathered. It is useful to disaggregate information by sex and age, and where feasible, by ethnic group, or other key variables in order to make sure the differences among groups can be examined and understood. The results of a socio-economic and gender analysis will probably illustrate that women and men of different ages have different needs in terms of extension services.
The pointers below could help you in your overall analysis and understanding of poor households (adapted from Gebremedhin 1997).
Who lives in a poor rural household (e.g. male or female, young or old, landless, pastoralists, etc);
Who heads different households;
How certain factors, processes, and institutions maintain poverty for given group(s) of rural households;
How such groups relate to other institutions in order to increase farm productivity, income generation, and food security;
On- and off-farm income sources for women and men, young and old;
The constraints faced by a given group or sub-group to diversifying their sources of livelihood (e.g. access, illness, etc);
The causes and consequences of changes in household production, consumption and income, and the implications these have for development
Start with the most important information that you want to present - most people will not read thick reports or pay constant attention through long meetings. The information should be related to action, with recommendations as outlined by the rural households themselves first, then a summary of the main findings, and the next suggested steps. Most importantly, think about the audience who will use the information:
Do you need to prepare a short brief for a supervisor or other decision-maker?
How can you best present findings back to a community? (E.g. think of language, visuals such as posters or drawings, through radio programming, community meeting or smaller focus group meetings, etc.)