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"Who says what, to whom, why, when and how?" These questions sum up the issue of communication as expressed by Marshall MacLuhan.

"Who says what?"[1] Prepared by an agronomist with a background in systemic analysis, this paper discusses the incorporation of gender into the analysis of farming systems.

"To whom" are these discussions and methodological guidelines addressed? To rural development agents involved in the preparation of farming systems, experts on the issue of women's participation in development, gender experts and those responsible for rural development project planning, formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

"Why?" What is the purpose of this document? There is consensus on the need to integrate a gender perspective into rural development programmes and projects. Experiences have matured in this area; however, constraints still arise - from the initial appraisal to the final evaluation - when incorporating the analysis and strategies to improve the living conditions of rural women into the analysis and strategies to improve farming systems.

"When?" Based on existing experiences in preparing appraisals, among other things, it is now possible to review certain problems that arise, learn useful lessons from them, and discuss proposals for methodological and procedural guidelines.

"How?" This document is divided into three chapters. The first illustrates the main aspects of the relevant conceptual frameworks of systems and gender, discussing ways of combining the two approaches. The second reviews the methods used in the project Strengthening Women's Management of Rural Production Units in Nicaragua, as well as the most significant lessons learned from this concrete experience. The third chapter concludes with some proposals for procedural and methodological guidelines that can provide a useful point of departure for future rural development projects.

[1] This document has been prepared by the Women in Development Service of FAO. It is based on the experience of the Nicaraguan project (GCP/INT/020/NOR) and methodological documents prepared by the FAO project team in Nicaragua. Section three, "Methodological and procedural guidelines", draws heavily on the document Propuesta metodológica de diagnóstico con enfoque de Género en los sistemas de producción agropecuarios by Felipe Martínez Sánchez, June l997.

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