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Part II - operational guidelines

Part II - operational guidelines


The full integration of women and development issues into a country's general and sectorial planning unquestionably fosters harmonious and sustainable development. Conversely, ignoring women and consigning them to invisibility can lead to imbalances and have a negative impact on the process of change.

Creating a development policy for rural women that is incorporated into planning mechanisms is a process of active involvement, leading to the discovery and implementation of solutions to the problems women face in gaining recognition and appreciation of their status as producers in their own right. Such a policy constitutes a general framework for formulating action plans based on objectives approved by all the partners in development and integrated into development programmes and projects for the agricultural and rural sector.

The preparation and implementation of a development policy benefiting rural women is closely linked to a whole series of political, economic, social and environmental factors. It cannot, therefore, be limited by an overly systematized approach and, instead, calls for a multidisciplinary one. In order to ensure the policy's relevance and effectiveness, however, an operational procedure and certain key elements will be suggested.


Situation (analysis of)

This is the "what?" and involves the presentation and analysis of the facts and reality.


These are the "why?"; a group of basic points, rules and presumptions that underly the lines of reasoning taken.


This implies both intention and choice and is the approach adopted to facilitate decision-making.

Plan of action

This is the "how?" and consists of a detailed description of the approach and procedure adopted in order to reach the objectives. It includes the different steps to follow, the tasks to accomplish and the responsibilities to assume.


These are the precise, concrete aims. They are action oriented, focused on women's interests and needs, realistic, measurable and feasible within a specified period of time and with specified means.


This is the series of procedures devised to reach the chosen objectives. It is in keeping with the choices and priorities adopted and with their potential effects and anticipated impact. Strategy also covers the management and mobilization of available resources.

Sustainable development

This is the management and conservation of natural resources and the orientation of technical and institutional changes in such a way as to satisfy the needs of present and future generations.

Equitable development

This is development in which each and every party (individuals and groups) enjoys similar benefits while respecting and giving due value to differing individual characteristics.

Gender analysis

This is the review of the activities and responsibilities of men and women and of the specific effects that policies, programmes and projects can have on both.

Integration of women in development

This is planning that considers women's issues and programmes that give women the instruments and opportunities they need to take part in development in their own right. Women's problems, needs, interests and perspectives are, thereby, integrated into national and sectorial policies and not treated as a separate sector

For the sake of clarity some of the expressions currently used in formulating policies benefiting rural women have been defined (see box). These definitions are in no way intended as hard and fast rules, but simply as conventions to aid understanding of the issues involved.

What is a development policy benefiting rural women?

A development policy specifically for the benefit of women may seem a contradiction to the desire not to sideline or isolate women. It may also suggest that the goals or plans of agricultural and rural development policies are directed to men and exclude women.

In fact, a situation of this kind definitely does exist. as anyone can see. Assessing and evaluating the effects and impact of development programmes and projects supports the conclusion that for far too long (or for ever) women have been forgotten, unnoticed and sidelined. In the rural and agricultural sector it is impossible, or very hard, for women to gain access to production factors, resources and assets. They get few benefits from the changes that follow development and are often excluded from participation in policy-making, since their views are considered of secondary importance. These facts are undeniable, and examples are legion.

This situation is the result of the social mechanisms of control and regulation of the dominant production systems, as well as of established approaches to the design, implementation and evaluation of development programmes and projects. On the one hand, attitudes and opinions have not yet fully come to teens with the fact that rural women are producers, operators and economic agents in their own right within the production system while, on the other hand, the analytical methods and decision-making mechanisms underlying development choices do not yet incorporate gender related issues.

Planning methods still in force have disguised the extent to which women contribute to the national economy. Planners are not concerned about the negative or positive effects that their investment decisions have on this sector of the population, in spite of the fact that women's contribution to the national product is far from insignificant.

This means that a policy linked to an action plan benefiting women still needs to be formally and explicitly stated. Acknowledgment of the identity, the complementarily and the distinctive features of the female population, in comparison with the male, and linking the two groups together in a single operational approach will ensure a response to the points of view, concerns and interests of rural society (particularly rural women) and of the whole country.

General aim of the policy

The general aim of a development policy for rural women is to explicitly guarantee that they are taken into account and included in all development programmes and projects as productive agents in the agricultural and rural sector in their own right, and as agents of social continuity.

The integration of women in development is a multidimensional problem and calls for a holistic approach. Sectorial or subsectorial solutions can provide appropriate responses to specific problems but be unsatisfactory in the overall context. Coherence both within and between sectors is of vital Importance where agriculture and sustainable rural development are concerned. It is therefore essential that any development policy benefiting rural women be:

The means of achieving a development policy benefiting rural women will vary from country to country' as will the type and scale of the objectives. These variations will depend not only on the political situation of the country, but also on the level of awareness, knowledge, understanding and training of the various parties concerned with the issue. Whatever the context, as well as aiming to achieve its own stated aims, a development policy benefiting rural women must represent a permanent reference point for the various governmental and non-governmental institutions, with a view to:

Specific objectives of the policy

The objectives of such a policy will thus match agricultural and rural sector objectives and will be in line with sectorial and national policy objectives. Consolidation of the latter will be achieved through promotion of equality between men and women as regards access to and control of resources. obtaining and enjoyment of benefits, level of participation and opportunity to make decisions. Lines of action and other measures will be drawn up with a view to:

The definition of precise and quantified objectives for a given situation is thus part of the process of preparing a development policy for rural women (see "Preparation of a development policy benefiting rural women" on p. 27).

Preconditions, premises and principles


The preconditions for a development policy benefiting rural women can be summarized as follows:


Next, in order to ensure the usefulness and success of the development policy benefiting rural women, it is essential that the government and all the national institutions seek a consensus on the basis of' these premises:


Once everyone has accepted, understood and absorbed these points, certain principles must be followed and adhered to by all the participants in change:

Features of the strategy

Any country that wants to integrate women into development should start up a process, using participatory techniques, for planning, supervision, decision-making, monitoring, management and mobilization of domestic and foreign resources.

Such a strategy should focus on:

Limitations of the policy

Formulating a development policy for rural women is the first step a government can take in solving women's problems and changing their situation. A policy is meant to ensure coherence among the various plans and programmes adopted by the government and the different measures they entail. However, it must be remembered that:

All this means that a development policy for rural women cannot solve all the issues of rural women their status, role, function, difficulties, concerns and desires. In addition, there are serious problem areas that cannot be solved simply by integrating women into the development process. All of rural society is involved in these problems and the response to them often lies within the realm of human rights, such as the right to adequate living conditions (water, health, food and shelter), the right to property and the right to freedom of choice.

A policy formulated with women's needs and interests in mind can help to reduce sexual and class discrimination, injustice and inequality. It is important to bear in mind, however, that the long-term objective is to make the whole concept of a policy aimed specifically at women superfluous, by completely absorbing women's needs and interests into the parameters of general policy.

Preparation of a development benefiting rural women

A development policy for rural women, together with the definition of its goals and objectives, will vary from country to country and situation to situation. Preparation time, measures to be taken, resources to be mobilized and information to be gathered will vary considerably depending on who is initiating and promoting the policy, whether there is an institution responsible for women's issues and the presence of associations, groups, etc.

Formulating a development policy for rural women should be seen as a process that allows policy-makers to follow certain clearly defined steps, to systematize various elements and to adopt a procedure that ensures the policy will be incorporated into all development plans for the agricultural and rural sector.


The preparation of a development policy benefiting rural women involves:

The preparation process

Four closely linked basic stages can be distinguished. Although they are sequential, some degree of overlapping is always possible:

Stage 1: orientation

Stage 1 starts when a country has expressed an interest in developing a policy benefiting rural women and has possibly applied for support in this undertaking. This stage should culminate in:

Clarification. Any policy addressed to women can be claimed by many government structures as falling under their auspices. The cross-sectorial and dynamic nature of the subject can lead to enhanced importance, mobilization of resources and extended powers for the government structures involved.

Clarification of the intention of developing a policy benefiting rural women should be given careful thought. Weighing and assessing the implications, interests and expectations of the initiator and of the participants who are expected to join immediately or in the future will help to balance claims of prerogatives and other conflicts between institutions and to counter the influence of pressure groups. Each government structure has its own mechanisms, aims and objectives. Defining the limits of the mandate, scope and activities of the various structures will help avoid impasses, will facilitate decisions and will guarantee maximum success.

Preliminary analysis. Knowledge of the present situation - i.e. of what is being and has been done and of what the effects have been - is a necessary precondition for the formulation of a policy. Such knowledge illuminates crucial problems, major questions. limiting factors and possibilities. It makes it easier to define high-priority, realistic, consistent objectives based on actual rural situations. It avoids repeating approaches that have already been tried, unnecessary errors and duplication of effort and it enhances positive results.

At the same time the country's capacity to formulate and implement a policy and strategies will be appraised. Success depends on the country's capacity to take initiatives, obtain the necessary tools for intervention and plan and monitor projects and programmes for the expansion and development of the country's capacity can be drawn up if necessary.

This stage will be carried out by people with expertise in the field, an interest in the subject, a knowledge of the country and its cooperation systems and an ability to involve the beneficiaries (both men and women) in discussion and research.

The results to expect from this clarification and preliminary analysis will be:

Stage 2: information and consultation

This stage should operate in parallel (or almost) with the previous one. Its goal is the collaboration and commitment of all participants in a consensus that unites everyone's interests. A mechanism for orientation, consultation and coordination is essential in this.

There are many causes of the marginalization of rural women. Social, economic and political issues must be addressed, bearing in mind their interdependence and points of overlap. The relevance and application of a development policy benefiting rural women depend on the exchange of reliable information, dialogue, discussion and the participation of all those involved in the issue.

Achieving consensus requires the participation of both government and people. The various participating groups must be identified, together with their needs, interests and capacities. Mechanisms must then be set in place that allow them to take part in drafting the policy and ensure their cooperation in preparing, formulating and monitoring it.

One possible measure is to establish a steering and coordinating committee made up of representatives of the public and private sectors, members of various associations and donors. Nationals of the country must obviously be involved; politicians, planning officials, field staff and representatives of NGOs, rural communities, male and female farmers and the various associations. Representatives of international bodies international aid agencies, financial donors and NGOs - should also be involved.

The decision-makers and authorities who oversee the country's policies and investments, are found in the ministries (or whatever name the state in question uses for similar structures) of planning, finance, education, health and, of course, the whole rural development sector. They should he fully aware of the problems involved in and raised by taking women into account in development, appreciate the importance of the issue and know why and how it should be integrated into programmes and projects. These are the people who draw up the documents for submission and who approve funding. If the country is to move on to planned, rational action, it is of utmost importance that these people fully accept the concept and value of women's participation in development.

Associations, private groups and NGOs will play a vital role in ensuring that everyone takes part. They must be actively involved to ensure that men and women at grassroots level are heard. At the same time, these are also the only groups in direct contact with the field and able to initiate a decentralized participatory procedure.

Groups and bodies from outside the country should not be overlooked. For the most part they are already convinced of the importance of a policy benefiting women and they are the ones who can mobilize the needed resources.

The functions of the steering and coordinating committee are to obtain political support, ensure collaboration among sectors, initiate debate and maintain this debate until it reaches consensus. It should reflect on the political, financial, structural and human implications of a policy for rural women, be responsible for organizing grassroots participation and propose procedures for decentralizing efforts towards coordinated involvement.

The project for developing and boosting the country's capacities should be implemented during this stage of information gathering and reflection. The steering and coordinating committee should be asked to provide its members with information on issues related to the individual features of the different genders and to encourage participation in the project.

A large number of existing or potential problems (such as conflicts of interest, struggles for influence, scarcity of resources and difficulties in forming groups to represent the beneficiaries) can be overcome by establishing collaboration at the very start of the process. Such collaboration can be backed up by a clear commitment at a high political level together with the distribution of full information on the procedures and positive effects of a policy for rural women. A national information campaign supported by the media should be a priority.

The expected results of this stage are:

Stage 3: indepth examination of the issue

The aim of this stage is to gain a clearer understanding of the problems, restraints and possibilities defined in Stage 1. This stage leads to the identification of possible solution to problems confronted, the elimination of some specific restraints and the enhancement of existing possibilities. The aim is to reach a fuller, more informed diagnosis on the whole issue of the integration of' women in rural sector development.

The specific studies and complementary research identified during Stage I will be the main approaches to increasing knowledge and understanding. These studies will be action-oriented and in line with the priority objectives defined at the outset of the whole project; they will thus lead to a much better understanding of the various problems. Priorities can then be revised according to the studies' findings as part of the flexible approach adopted.

Each individual study will be concerned with the analysis of a priority problem and its causes together with the identification of possible solutions. The anticipated cost of implementing the various alternatives will also be calculated. Each research report will follow the same format so that the different studies can be compared, which in turn will allow a harmonious coordination of various measures and lines of action.

The participatory approach must be used to the full in order to achieve a thorough understanding of the situation. If the direct beneficiaries (men and women) are not consulted, some possibilities may be overlooked. Establishing priorities requires the involvement of all concerned.

The steering and coordinating committee set up in Stage 2 will now come into its own. A decentralized participatory approach will involve a series of consultations, meetings, discussions and debates with representatives of all participants of the committee. (Care must be taken that the views of rural women and men are not expressed solely through administrative, government or elitist mechanisms.)

The results of this stage will be as follows:

The main activities at this stage are specific studies, using the participatory approach developed by the steering and coordinating committee.

Stage 4: policy-formulation and planning

The policy formulation and planning stage has the aims of comparing possible responses to the need for genuine integration of women in development and selecting the most appropriate strategies and lines of action.

The various partners are consulted and involved in this process so as to ensure a consensus on the chosen strategies and lines of action.

The results of this phase will be:

The activities will be:


This list is not exhaustive. It indicates the main approaches and points that should not be omitted. Selection of the most appropriate of these will depend on the specific context of each country.

In the political sphere

Analysis of government policy benefiting women, national legislation and internationally ratified texts. More specifically, analysis of land tenure laws and regulations. credit and private financing through banking and mutualist agencies.

Analysis of the country's development plan objectives. planning and resources - and sectorial policies for rural development (agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and environment) along with their effects on the overall situation of women.

Analysis of national and sectorial budgets and of allocations to spheres that concern women and are genuinely directed towards them.

Analysis of the structural adjustment programme. its effects and the effects of the economic crisis on the position of women.

In the non-governmental sphere

Location and identification of all potential human resources. associations and groups concerned with and interested in the issue of taking account of women in development policies and strategies.

Identification of liaison and coordination committees and think-tanks to focus on this issue. and analysis of their workings and activities.

Identification of political. social and economic events in which women take part and have clearly shown their intentions.

In the sphere of government institutions

Analysis of reports of national and international institutions, the workings of structures for integrating women in development and interinstitutional mechanisms.

Survey and analysis of the finance systems and policies of national and international sponsors in the country.

Analysis of strategies developed by government and other institutions in the various spheres concerning women - economy, trade, finance, health, education, etc.

In the sphere of action

Location, collection and processing of existing data and material.

Collecting details of all actions benefiting women undertaken by the various ministries, official structures and non-governmental, bilateral and international organizations.

Analysis of the results and their effects, and identification of the potential, constraints and impasses of the various lines of action.

Assessment of the reliability and validity of national and agricultural statistics, of whether they take account of women, their contribution, their status, etc.

In the sphere of knowledge about rural women

Survey and analysis of the socio-demographic situation - population, education, health, sanitation, etc.

Analysis of women's specific experience in the different spheres of their lives (legal, political, economic and domestic), highlighting the difficulties, constraints and obstacles they face.

Analysis of supervisory, control and decision-making mechanisms within rural society, and the powers granted to men and women individually and severally.

Assessment of the constraints and opportunities for women (their room for manoeuvre) and of their contribution to economic, social and political life.

Analysis of the participation of women in the agricultural labour market, with relative wage trends, and in agricultural production, especially the production of processed or unprocessed cash crops.

Analysis of the effects and impact of men's emigration on women's activities, and also the influence of seasonal fluctuations in the labour market on women's workloads.

Assessment of women's capacity and readiness to involve themselves in improving their own situation (the mechanisms, organization and approach used).

Assessment of the readiness of society, especially men, to take women into account in the development process.

In the sphere of specific research (linked to priority problems)

Analysis of credit mechanisms, their accessibility, impact and effect in enhancing women's economic activities.

Examination of the effects of technological innovations in production sectors on women's work, resources and rewards. Involvement of women in extension and training programmes in the rural world.

Feasibility and profitability study of activities specific to women in the areas of production, processing, mechanization and cottage industries

Monitoring preparation of the policy

All these preparatory steps will be monitored to ensure they meet the prerequisites of participation, respect for coherence and collaboration among different sectors and also to establish an outline for the policy monitoring methodology. Throughout this phase a great deal of data will be gathered and processed. Analysis will then provide a reference against which to measure progress.

Action objectives

General features

The objectives will necessarily be in keeping with those of the rural sector, because there can be no question of developing objectives that could conflict with those adopted for the sector as a whole. The aim is to strengthen the mainstream rural development policy and to foster equality between men and women with regard to access to and control of resources, the acquisition of profits and the power to make decisions.

The objectives of a policy benefiting women are action-oriented and focus on women's interests and on their realistic, viable and quantified needs. Objectives are directly linked to women's activities in agricultural production and processing and aim at results to be incorporated into the mechanisms of agricultural work and strategies developed by women.

In extension programmes for example, the policy benefiting rural women will aim at involving women by using methods that make it easy to include them. This could mean: giving women a part in development research; broadening the content of extension work to include women's specific agricultural activities and those for which they are responsible; producing teaching, training and communications material suited to women; and informing and training extension workers on the involvement and integration of women in their activity programmes

To take another example; in a programme to supply equipment to rural communities, new tools and technology could be tried out by rural women with a view to improving their working conditions, extending the range of machinery and tools used in transport, processing, storage and conservation and responding to the need for technological modernization (as much for men as for women).

The following is a list of some of the objectives that could be developed within the different spheres.

In the legal sphere. Improvement and revision of legislation benefiting women would encompass:

In the economic sphere. The constraints and possibilities inherent in women's economic situation could lead to the development of objectives focusing on:

In the social sphere. Positive changes in the social sphere must be seen as affecting the whole population. The objectives must be perceived as comprising the basis, support and complement to the concerns and interests of the population as a whole. Objectives may include:

In the sphere of decision-making. A policy benefiting women must ensure that they can identify their own goals and ways of changing relations and comparisons between women and men It is of prime importance that women participate in decisions on priorities, management and organization at both community and professional levels

The policy's objectives in the sphere of decision making will call for all parties to recognize that every person, regardless of sex, class, origin or age, has needs, interests and expectations and the right or freedom to express, control and resolve them The objectives could focus on:

From policy to action

A development policy benefiting rural women should be implemented by the government institution responsible for preparing it. Structural changes should be avoided. The policy must be integrated into the operations of existing institutions in order to avoid its isolation from current programmes and other activities in the rural sector.

A development policy benefiting women can start, even at the planning stage, by preparing the country and deciding on which steps to take immediately. Such activities will provide the impetus to keep up the momentum throughout the preparation and implementation of the policy.

Increasing the country's capacities

One of the most important considerations for a country preparing a development policy benefiting women is its capacity to draft such a policy, to develop and implement plans and to promote any activity that has a positive impact on women's integration and women as beneficiaries. Many countries need to initiate and implement a project that develops and increases their capacities and makes them more effective in these areas.

All those involved in the rural and related sectors or those in charge of planning and/or implementing field programmes and projects, should be aware of the issue of women in development and be capable of responding. Increasing human resource capacity involves learning how to design policies and programmes that satisfy the essential needs and strategic interests of both men and women as well as fostering equity in the effects and benefits of change.

The objectives are: to report on gender-specific issues; to reflect on the political, financial, structural and human implication; and to supply the skills and tools that will enable these aspects to be included in all stages, from planning to implementation, of the various programmes and projects.

The key to this information-and-training process lies in gender analysis, which considers the roles and responsibilities of women and men in their social, political and economic contexts. Problems specific to women are integrated into the workings of society. The case-study method, which is based on the development programmes and projects already under way in the country, will be particularly helpful in this analysis, because it involves the participants and provides them with experience on how best to tackle problems.

Not only does such an approach provide human resources with support, it also has an immediate effect on operations already under way. The discussion process draws material from the day-to-day professional experience of the people involved in information, discussion, analysis and training.

This is a particularly effective device for incorporating women's viewpoints and interests into programme planning and formulation. Experience in a number of African countries has shown that all officials and supervisory staff who have taken part in this kind of project not only view it very positively but also consider it helps them to fulfill their responsibilities and tasks.

The project can be implemented by those in direct charge of drawing up the policy for women, if necessary with the assistance of domestic or foreign resource personnel who are aware that the aim is to ensure efficient national capacity. Such support will continue while the policy is being implemented. The same procedure will be repeated for all field staff and development agents (extension workers, teachers, organizers and technicians) so that they can, in turn, understand and master the mechanisms for integrating women into development.

The ultimate aim of this development and reinforcement of national capacities is based on the fact that there can be no hope of formulating successful programmes unless those in charge are skilled enough to analyse a situation and come up with solutions, using suitable tools and methods.

A project to increase human resource skills is a fundamental part of the process of designing and promoting activities that have a positive impact on overall rural development. Such a project will not only give the country human resources capable of preparing and implementing an effective policy for women, it will also help to consolidate official support. It allows for the new approaches essential to action under current programmes increases support for the various government institutions involved and facilitates participation and consensus. Investments will thus be optimized. Such a project is a key factor in the success of a development policy for rural women.

Immediate action

As soon as the policy for women is being prepared and implemented, the new climate will start to affect the intervention targets and the budget allocations, without requiring increases in funding and human resources. The need for new proposals, modifications or fresh orientations into programmes and projects for the rural sector will soon become apparent. These will be brought about mainly through ministerial decisions, backed up by guidelines and instructions for work, which will affect all the various spheres that are active, directly or indirectly. in the rural sector (see box on p. 40).

Special attention must be paid to decisions and measures to be taken in the sphere of land tenure legislation and regulations. A policy to help women must necessarily include proposals for changes in legislation and regulations governing access to and control of sufficient quantities of land that is of adequate quality. Women need security with regard to this production factor in order to ensure and guarantee the continuation of agricultural activities.

The proposals should be put into effect while the policy is still being drafted. If this is not the case, the modifications to legislation recommended by the policy must be taken up early in the implementation phase. If texts are not clear enough, analyses and studies on land tenure become essential, so that decisions that meet women's needs can be taken. Such studies should conclude with the drafting of laws, legislative amendments and new regulations, which must then be passed by the legislature and adopted by those responsible for policy decisions in the sphere of land tenure.

In many cases. laws and regulations applying to other spheres will also require study, revision and modification, for land tenure regulations and the laws on which they are based cannot be divorced from the whole body of legislation.

Mechanism for policy implementation

Implementation of the policy will be ensured by an institutional mechanism that not only respects the policy but also provides information to the various partners, encourages the representation and involvement of all parties and ensures coordination and the exchange of information.

Coordinating committee

A coordinating committee will be responsible for overall coordination of the policy implementation. The steering and coordinating committee formed to draw up the policy will take over this role. Its previous composition will be retained, although changes may be made as application of the policy benefiting women advances. The committee will have the task of facilitating the passage of legislation and ensuring that all parties concerned apply the relevant measures. It will also monitor implementation of the policy, regularly review its guidelines and ensure coordination among government institutions, other bodies and donors.

It is imperative that the planning minister sit on the coordinating committee, otherwise financial and institutional recommendations and readjustments will not be enacted or included in the various development plans concerning women's integration. Without the obvious support and active commitment of the highest levels, action plans based on the policy benefiting women will not be effective.

Government institution in charge of implementation

The most suitable institution to have charge of the development policy for rural women will be the one that had charge of drawing it up. This will be the ministry responsible for the agricultural and rural sector, which is certainly the most appropriate office to lead the way in implementing a plan of action that will be incorporated into its own policies, strategies and mechanisms.

The institution will be responsible for ensuring that the necessary steps are taken by the various parties concerned. It will be the central point of a network of information on implementation of the policy and it will collect data for analysis and subsequent distribution. First and foremost, however, the institution will be responsible for putting the action plan into practice and incorporating its objectives and activities into current and future development programmes and projects. Procedures already in existence will be used for implementing the various actions and other measures.

The lead institution in implementing the policy for rural women will have to have a harmonious relationship with the ministry or other structure responsible for general policy on women. Uniform methods will be established along with a system of contacts, information exchange and coordination. The two structures must:

In view of the wide range of the action plan, its implementation will require the practical participation of other ministries or bodies, which will be assigned specific responsibilities. The institution in charge will have a monitoring role here and will be responsible for distributing information

Non-governmental organizations will obviously be represented on the coordinating committee and will maintain contact with the institution in charge. The roles of NGOs will be defined jointly and their effective participation will certainly be in the field. They will be encouraged to establish a joint platform on which to exchange experiences, coordinate their activities and from which to take part in the coordinating committee. The non-governmental sector is constantly growing and has a very broad audience among the rural population. It would be a serious error to ignore it when implementing policy and plans.

Mobilization of resources

Human resources

The establishment of popular participation is a first step in the mobilization of human resources. Next comes the selection and appointment of agents (from policymaking to field level) who should be proficient and ready to assume responsibilities within the sphere of women and development.

The automatic response of recruiting women for the task of implementing actions addressed to women should be carefully considered. It takes skill and qualifications to respond to the call for women's integration. Exchange and dialogue with rural women is not a question of gender, but of mutual respect and recognition. The attempt to take women into account in development programmes and projects will not become effective simply because the number of women within the various structures has been increased. Nature has never determined function.

Although human resources should ideally include as many women as men, this does not mean that suitability can in any way be decided on the basis of belonging to one gender or the other. Similarly, although it is often agreed ( usually as a convenient catch-phrase rather than from conviction), that it is preferable to have women agents working with women, this in no way means that men should not work with women too.

Financial resources

A development policy benefiting rural women and its associated action plan do not necessarily require a search for additional funding. It is more a matter of ensuring that existing financial resources are of equal benefit to men and women. The mobilization of financial resources should therefore be seen as a clarification of the purposes to which investments are put and a possible reallocation for a fairer distribution of those investments.

Donors will also have to be interested in the whole process of representation so that they can pledge their commitment and give their support within the framework of the guidelines and strategies adopted. The coherence of the action plan must also be maintained when agreements are being made on foreign funding. In this way development aid can be directed towards action aimed specifically at women. Such support is forthcoming from the majority of' donor bodies who declare themselves in favour of integrating women in development. It is wise to direct funding towards the priority actions that were decided while the policy and action plans were being drawn up. Lines of action must also satisfy the demand for coherence of strategies within the rural sector. This in turn means that a system of regulating and coordinating funding of actions to benefit women is indispensable.

In collaboration with the ministry responsible for the rural sector, the ministry responsible for planning and finance must be able to respond effectively to these demands. It can do so only when women's issues are taken into account in the planning of development programmes this happens? the ministry responsible for planning and finance will be able to:

The system of data management

The implementation of a development policy for rural women needs a reliable information system for the monitoring, appraisal and modification of plans and work programmes This is a large-scale undertaking, involving the establishment and updating of a vast amount of data. Most countries have impressive quantities of information on women, but only a few have been able to follow up and process this very mixed material. This means that, although processed data are regularly requested, such requests cannot be met. As a result there is duplication of research' analysis and diagnosis, with previous work being unable to help the growth of knowledge.

A support project specifically for the government institution responsible for implementing the policy can be designed in order to ensure efficient data management. It would have the aims of improving the procedures for data collection and handling, establishing a more efficient approach to the production of statistics and setting up an information system for monitoring and appraisal. A project of this kind will be beneficial to the whole rural sector, help bring the various interested parties into contact and allow the establishment of an information network based on knowledge of the present situation.

Monitoring and evaluation


Monitoring must give special attention to the fulfilment of objectives and aims and the quality of the measures adopted and activities developed, as well as to the use of resources. The government institution in charge will devise a monitoring system, adapting and developing its present procedures as necessary. Progress reports will be drawn up, containing sections on achievements, problems and lessons to be drawn. These will be submitted to the coordinating committee, which will make sure that mechanisms for the involvement of all levels of the population are established and that these are effective in making people's comments and suggestions known. This will guarantee transparency and hence the involvement of the various partners.


Evaluation with a broader scope than the progress reports will be carried out at regular intervals and will follow the usual procedures.

In evaluations the methods used to measure relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, effects and impact on beneficiaries often overlook women. This is caused by project design and formulation approaches that do not specify women explicitly as recipients together with ignorance of which indicators to develop to measure these elements.

The mechanism for establishing indicators is the same as that used for any other type of appraisal, in other words, criteria are established to measure and explain the gaps between the initial situation, the anticipated situation and the actual situation, in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

The reference situation is the initial state of affairs that was observed and analysed in order to draw up the policy benefiting rural women. Indicators should then be defined sector by sector, objective by objective and activity by activity to assess the rates of participation and motivation, and separate results should be obtained for men and women.

The two categories will be compared and explanatory hypotheses developed with a view to discovering the causes of the differences. Such comparison not only brings out any inequalities, but also makes it easier to readjust programmes and projects in order to improve justice, participation and continuity.

Obviously there is no point in adopting indicators that will neither be used nor usable. It is preferable to adopt only a small number of relevant indicators, such as numbers of people participating in extension and training activities, the rise in income and representation in community and rural professional bodies (see box Opposite).

Evaluation will show how far the development policy benefiting rural women has contributed to solving the problems women encounter, especially those concerning access to rural services, control of production factors and improvement of women's civil status. The effects and impact of development programmes projects on the condition of women will also be measured.

Evaluation will also verify the degree to which the policy benefiting women is integrated into national development plans, its contribution to the achievement of national goals, the changes that have been brought about, the increase in national capacities and the sustainability of investments.

Updating the policy

The policy' strategy and action plan must be regularly updated. Revisions will follow on from appraisals of development programmes and projects in the agricultural and rural sector and evaluations of the verified effects in terms of reducing inequalities between men and women. When updating the programme it will, therefore, be useful as well as possible to redefine goals and strategies, as well as to reassess the resources needed.

All concerned in revising policy must bear in mind the premise underlying the formulation of a development policy aimed specifically at benefiting rural women; that this particular exercise will eventually be superseded and totally integrated into regular national and sectorial planning.


For an extension activity:

    · number and proportion of agricultural workers participating in extension activities, information days and demonstration sessions;

    · breakdown of numbers and proportions of participating men and women in relation to the whole population and to each other;

    · content of demonstration sessions;

    · estimates of the number of subjects dealt with relating to women's farming activities, men's farming activities, farming activities performed by both sexes, farming activities as a whole, etc.

For a credit activity:

    · type of credit granted, for example, labour, animal husbandry or processing;

    · length of credit;

    · number of credit grants to men, women and both together, according to type;

    · overall number of credit grants, according to type;

    · average amount of each credit grant made to men and to women as compared with total credit grants made in the category and with the overall amount;

    · use and profitability of the credit grants made to each sex;

    · comparison between the kind of credit granted, the request made and the needs


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