Previous PageTable Of Contents

Part III: Resource papers

Part III: Resource papers

Note: Papers are presented without formal editing. They express the views of the authors, and may not represent FAO's position on any issue.

Gender issues in agricultural and rural development policy in Asia and the Pacific

by Alexandra Stephens

FAO. Regional sociologist and women in development officer

Policy is a powerful instrument for directing development. It is, therefore, a central tool for redressing centuries of gender imbalance, exacerbated by the rapid pace of recent decades of development. Strategic interventions of the right kind, and in the right place at the right time, are now seen by "Women in Development" experts as the most significant actions for long-term impact on gender biases caused through skewed policies and programmes of the past. Indeed as feminist strategists analyze the position of women, and note especially the worsening plight of rural women, they shun "women's projects" in favour of mainstreaming women into all development. Policy analysis thus requires gender analysis as an indispensable aid to the identification of all issues and all population groups to be addressed by policy.


In China, policy decisions manipulated the Chinese work force more drastically than most in recent decades: from Mao Zedong's revolution in 1949, to the Great Leap Forward in 1958-60, followed by the reversals of the Cultural Revolution, and the eventual easing towards today's market-oriented policies. Chinese women have made enormous sacrifices to contribute to the various revolutions and reactions.

An illustration of what policy instruments can do is demonstrated in China's success in enlisting women into the labour force under the banner of equality - "women hold up half the sky." This tactic effectively hid the primary reason which was simply to co-opt more labour. The Chinese Government mobilized 50 to 70 percent of rural women of working age to do farm work in the early 1950s, and by 1964 fully 95 percent of all rural women were indeed farmers. As recently as 1987, 85 to 90 percent remained farmers, assuming most jobs formerly done only by men. Policy was silent, however, on men and women working in the home. Even today rural Chinese women continue to do the lion's share of housework, carrying a double burden which sometimes adversely affects their health (Huang Xiyi, 1993).

Huang claims problems of gender discrimination were actually worse after rural reform A survey reported in 1988 showed that 70 percent of the male labour force had off-farm jobs, which left practically all farm work, including decision-making, to the women. Now, however, women farmers are clamouring for their share of jobs in the non-agricultural sector, especially in newly-developed industrial areas, as a way out of endless toil on the soil. Thus farming provided a stepping stone for women to come out of isolation as housewives, and eventually into the world of business and industry. As in other Asian countries, agriculture has not been able to hold on to the brightest and the best, a matter linked to policies which suppress commodity prices in favour of manufacturing and services. Whatever equality women achieve in the work place, however, they are universally shackled in the home.


Gender applies to one sex or the other, and relates to the way each behaves in a given situation. While sex is biologically determined, and can not normally be changed, gender is a result of socialization into a male or a female role which ascribes certain behaviour according to socio-cultural norms for one's sex. Agricultural policy makers have for decades turned a blind eye to women farmers because they think of farmers as men, thus denying women's claim to participation in farming and other activities which directly affect their lives. As a result, rural women have lagged visibly behind men by most social and economic criteria (United Nations, 1985). If the bias in favour of male farmers had no negative impact on agricultural production, gender issues would probably still remain unrecognized. Until an economic imperative, such as labour shortages, declining yields, or recognition of the need for the special knowledge which women have, demands a change, most agricultural policy makers see little need to address gender issues. Women's welfare, after all, is the business of social welfare departments, is it not?

Not any more. Not only does the economic imperative demand women's labour in agriculture, but women are also becoming politically astute, and resisting co-option to unpaid drudgery in the agricultural sector. Aided and abetted in their gender-blindness by statisticians and economists who ignore women's work on "family farms" as much as in and around the farm household, policy makers have recently been confronted with some startling revelations about women farmers, derived from alternative data sources:

Empirical studies on women in "peasant households" have confirmed Ester Boserup's conclusions of two decades ago, that the marginalization of women in agriculture has further reinforced policy biases in favour of men. This has led many donor agencies to alter some of their aid policies in an attempt to ensure benefits to women farmers (Lund, 1993). The impact of these, however, has been limited by a soft approach to "Women in Development" that neglects strategic interventions in favour of "cute" little income-generating projects for women. Governmental and non-governmental agency staff have often welcomed such projects, seeing them as non-threatening to the status quo and male control over the mainstream economy, while adding vital cents, if not sense, to the poor household economy. Their double standards are manifest in evaluations of these. The criteria applied in judging many women's projects "successful" usually ignore the hard analytical standards of cost-benefit in women's investment of time and skill against returns.

In many cases Women in Development (WID) projects have been no more than a further exploitation of cheap or free women's labour, "in return for pin money," to use the words of the late head of Pakistan's Agricultural Bank, Mr. Jamil Nishtar. In his critique of women's embroidery and handicraft projects in his country, Mr. Nishtar spoke eloquently at an FAO Consultation of the enslavement of women in some of his bank-funded projects. Others have questioned whether women's excellent record in repaying bank loans is not simply another sign of self-sacrifice. In at least one FAO-supported dairy project, each month as their loan repayment date drew near, women gave up drinking milk in order to sell as much as possible in the market.

Policies which really seek to close the gender gap among the poor do not take a "warm and cuddly" approach to women. They adopt the same criteria for economic and social sustainability, the same environmental impact criteria, the same laws and regulations governing access to and control over resources used in production, and the same standards for conditions of work, markets, quality control, etc. as they would apply to male activities. When they do this, a large percentage of "women's projects" are, or should be, reclassified as not viable.

While much can be done to redress such situations through policy change, it has no meaning if implementors are not held to account. To ensure this they must be clearly instructed to undertake specific gender-related actions, and assessed on their achievements. Clear, unambiguous policy statements help to ensure this. In the case of any social imperative this is especially important, as the issues are easily clouded in favour of more traditional and often easier-to-implement economic imperatives. The inclusion of the most important policy mandates in "terms of reference" and/or job descriptions facilitates accountability in such areas as gender-justice, otherwise generally accorded low priority in an employee's performance appraisal. Mandates and accountability give teeth to policy initiatives.

The ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), for example, is meaningless unless backed up by national policies and accompanying legislation to implement both the spirit of the Convention and the letter of related laws. These in turn are greatly increased when supported by political will, and the necessary resource allocations, to provide momentum to what some see as a flagging women's movement. Politicians of all stripes are sensitive to various constituent pressures, but in the case of gender equality women have found it necessary to apply continuous pressure to translate gender-responsive policies into practice. The Decade for Women came and went, and there is a real danger that its short-term impacts will do the same without unrelenting pressure from those committed to gender equality.

A key to strategic success is the continuing battle against "WID fatigue" by strengthening women's networks and organizational capacity, supporting their legal literacy and facilitating and ensuring their political participation in household and community decision-making as much as in parliamentary caucuses and international fore. While it may be premature to say the women's movement is here to stay, it is by now a force in most countries for all politicians, policy makers and planners to reckon with. They ignore this at their peril. Preparations for the Fourth World Conference on Women, to be held in Beijing in 1995, are providing a much-needed filip to the cause, and representatives attending that Conference will be held to account on CEDAW.

Not all countries which signed and ratified CEDAW, however, have demonstrated any real commitment to actually carrying out its provisions. Some have found it far more difficult to put it into operation than they had anticipated. Others have yet to lend real weight to their words.


With the incredible revolutions in communications during this century, the world is indeed becoming a global village. Issues which may have remained of concern in only one corner of the planet once upon a time, are now often shared worldwide.

At a non-governmental meeting in Minamata, Japan, in August, 1992, a People's Plan for the 21st Century included the "Minamata Declaration Action Programme." Among policy issues affecting the most vulnerable groups, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was roundly criticized for its subjecting agricultural, livestock and fisheries products to the domination of powerful Governments of the North and transnational corporations, under the guise of trade liberalization policies. The Minamata Declaration calls for farmers, including family farmers and farm workers, to organize counter-GATT activities in cooperation with consumers and environmental activists throughout the world.

A study in Thailand, however, illustrates that farmers themselves need to be educated on the implications of macro policy. A survey in 1991 found women working in "contract farming" schemes, on family-owned land under contract to a multinational company, were pleased to have their own hard cash income from farming for the first time, under new contract farming systems. As family workers on former paddy fields, the women typically went both unpaid and unrecognized for their long and laborious hours of cultivation. By growing baby corn and asparagus for a multinational company they received what they considered a good income, while others fared equally well in a nearby area growing hybrid maize and sunflowers. Without knowledge of alternatives, nor of the long-term economic and political implications, and with no idea of their contractors' profit margins, such women are unlikely to join activists in a fight for fairer returns from agro-industrial national and transnational corporations, or for environmental protection and sustainable production. Far less will they join forces to lobby for their long-term survival by challenging GATT, unless the necessary information is made available to them.

Similar studies of aquaculture projects in southern Thailand in 1992 show the same situation. Women engaged in shrimp farming under contract to foreign companies enjoyed high profits, low risk and a shorter working day than had been the case in rice farming. These Thai women do not even want to consider possible long-term problems in the flush of a lifestyle undreamed of just three years earlier; they are quite unconscious of their new vulnerability if disease strikes shrimp.

This can change, however, when a woman or her children experience risk to their health or well-being through pesticide poisoning, for example. Irresponsibility on the part of the agrochemical industry or their agents - such as the contractors who supply farmers with seed, fertilizer and pesticides - is quickly condemned by women who take decisive action against such risks. Wise, not to say shrewd, investors in agro-industry display not so much a social conscience as a long-term insurance against loss of their labour force by taking note of such protests, and by providing appropriate education and other safeguards when pushed into a corner. Company policy thus is subject to the same scrutiny as public policy when economic or political vested interests are at stake. Large companies typically take a long-term perspective which may be impossible for smaller companies, so the politicization of women should include alerting women to both the potential and the limits of their bargaining power.

Unfortunately more than a decade of attempts by the United Nations to draw up a Code of Conduct for Transnational Corporations has become bogged in continuing disagreement on both the amount of detail and the degree of regulation. Powerful interests are clearly afraid of the loss of their current freedom to exploit and plunder, and it will be the victims of that freedom who eventually have to enforce ethical compliance.


While degradation and depletion of natural resources shows some respect for national boundaries, environmental pollution floats or flies freely over "no man's land" into neighboring countries, and out into international waters and air space. The victims of pollution from agro-chemical residues and waste are not only poisoned by toxic material, but radiated by nuclear fallout, contaminated by soot and other air-borne particles, and used unwittingly as a repository for heavy metal waste. Agro-industry may expose its workforce to significant environmental hazards and while these concerns may be thought gender-neutral, the fact is that women are affected disproportionately.

First, women outnumber men by a large margin in workplaces where exposure to toxic chemicals is most common - intensive agricultural production systems, such as market gardening, floriculture and agro-processing industries. In places where there is inadequate control over the importation, distribution, and use of dangerous substances, women workers have been found to carry several times the legal limits for poisons in their blood and their breast milk, while others have been rendered infertile by inhaling or ingesting toxic chemicals. Instances of dumping outlawed or banned chemicals from one country into another under the aegis of aid or technical cooperation have received recent publicity in Cambodia, while the Government of Nepal returned consignments of milk powder to its origin after radioactive particles contaminated dairy cows in many European countries following the Chernobyl disaster.

Women farmers themselves are often the least likely to be aware of the environmental dangers in their workplace. Less educated and with less access to relevant information than men, they tend to believe the reassurances of employers about their safety, and since many symptoms of environmental damage in humans emerge only slowly, they are unlikely to make the necessary connections until it is too late. Much, much more attention needs to be given to rural women's access to information and knowledge, in concert with more stringent legislation backed up by its enforcement. These are issues for direct policy interventions.


The phenomenon of international trade in human capital is not new. Slave traders were active thousands of years ago, long before nations as we know them today existed. In most countries males predominate among foreign economic migrants, but females also make up a significant share, and are the majority from Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Among refugees from war and civil unrest, women and children are a large majority, while environmental refugees are made up largely of family groups, sometimes preceded by males with others following. Migration within national borders generally follows similar patterns.

Growing international migration in search of employment gives cause for concern. From slave labour to highly-paid professional persons, an element of exploitation pervades. Poverty is not the only driving force. While it does provide a "push" factor, the new materialism acts as a "pull" factor, enticing highly-educated and competent persons away from low-paid jobs in developing countries to highly-paid jobs in industrialized nations, and the best educated and trained out of rural areas into towns and cities.

Both the push and pull factors are of concern to agricultural and rural development policy planners. Poverty is socially unacceptable to any Government and must be tackled if that Government wishes to survive in the long term. That rural incomes lag behind urban incomes in most countries is one policy issue, but that rural women are joining the ranks of the absolutely poor and destitute faster than rural men is a gender issue of even greater concern to women and their children. A continuing trend in this direction sounds warning bells for national policy makers and planners. The major sources of biases against women are institutionalized in patriarchy. In discussions on sustainable agricultural and rural development at an FAO meeting held in Bangkok in September, 1993, participants agreed that patriarchy is unjust and works against everyone's interest. It must be dismantled, not only for the sake of women and the wellbeing of all humankind, but for the sake of sustainable agricultural and rural development as a whole. The alternative is a further increase in the gap between men and women, with even more women and their dependents joining the ranks of the poor and destitute.

A broad definition of trafficking in human life carries a wide range of negative connotations. Women and children are more often victims because of their invisibility and powerlessness relative to men. Policy makers become co-conspirators in maintaining this invisibility when they accept statistics which show that women and children do not work, and are mere dependent family members and citizens, recipients of "welfare" from men or from the State. As such, they represent no more than a pool of cheap labour to economic policy planners, a commodity with a value in the national and international markets. The dictionary definition of slavery includes the notion of a "person who is the property of another and bound to serve him" (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1990). Many "housewives," as well as maids, domestic and family farm workers at home or overseas, can be forgiven for feeling the bondage of slavery hangs over them as a life-sentence.

Trafficking in human beings under conditions of slavery is implied, therefore, in policies which assume a pool of female labour bound by whatever imperative to serve a master, be it a husband, a landlord or a foreign male or female employer, under conditions of subordination and servitude. This extends from family farms to tenant farmers, to plantation labour and agro-industry, to labour that migrates for seasonal work within countries and to the international trade in unskilled, skilled and professional human beings. The economic potential for a family, and the foreign exchange implications for a Government are the usual justifications. But studies in Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand all show that while families may benefit to some extent, many suffer from irregular and frequently falling remittances after the first few months. The biggest beneficiaries may well be the worker's agent, the employer, and Governments indebted to foreign banks. The social costs, when they have been evaluated, frequently wipe out all benefits leaving a great debt to be paid in social misery. This is manifest in rising rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and abandonment, family breakdown, many forms of social dislocation and a wide variety of stress-related illnesses and deaths. A policy maker who feels far removed from these rising phenomena in this Region, is perhaps out of touch with reality. Ratchadaporn Kaewsanit of Thailand made some telling points about the issues at a recent Lowland Farming Workshop:

Policies have often followed the facts of migration, reflecting reactive rather than proactive initiatives which are usually too little, too late to prevent the worst effects on the quality of human lives. As the problems grow, however, many Governments are taking more interest in preventing some of the costs which accrue in laissez-faire situations.

Patterns of migration are constantly changing - exporters of labour become importers as economies grow and wage levels rise, while importers are constantly looking for labour supplies at the lowest possible wage rate for the levels of skill required. In Asia, therefore, we are witnessing a gradual westward move in search of cheap labour for the international market, as formerly labour-exporting countries, such as the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, become labour importers themselves.

Ministries of Agriculture have not usually been in the forefront of policy debate on migration and labour traffick, not at least until it affects agricultural production or harvesting. Seasonal bottlenecks are becoming a major problem for farmers in many Asian and Pacific countries, pushing wages up and causing anxiety among depleted rural families. In other countries chronic shortages of rural labour have the same effect. Both situations hit rural women hardest, because women are expected to fill the gaps when men leave, and to extend their work day beyond reasonable limits.

When they do address such issues, Governments are often ambiguous about international migration and traffick in their own people. On the one hand, many rely on the foreign exchange migrant workers bring home. On the other, they are in no position to offer these workers alternative employment at home, certainly not at the pay earned in "rich" countries. They are, however, aware of the loss of some of their most able young workers, and the disruption such loss means to their families at home. They are also humiliated by the callous treatment meted out to some of their citizens who fall foul of their employers or hosts. Most, however, have been slow to intervene in the market, allowing agents, pimps and foreign officials to dictate terms and conditions.

For women there are some special problems. Many are not, or were not recognized as "employed" before departure for an overseas job, as their post was arranged privately. As such, they often do not qualify for protection and assistance from their own Labour Ministry or Department, although some Governments have set up bureaux to help and advise such vulnerable persons. The physical dangers of violence against women is a problem in some of the host countries, as it may be in the cities rural women migrate to within their own country. This may come from their placement agent, their local or foreign employer, or simply in the streets of strange cities. Few are able to organize to protect themselves, although Philippine women (Filipinas) in Hong Kong have been effective to some extent in organizing around their collective interests. Disadvantages, such as women's lower status, education and income, however, will continue to place them at the mercy of employers to a greater extent than their male migrant counterparts.


The word "farmer" invariably implies a male farmer. When women farmers receive a rare mention they are usually disguised as "housewives" or farmers' wives. Policy statements which do not specifically include women farmers automatically exclude them. This kind of thinking persists on the part of both male and female policy analysts. An inclusive policy statement has, therefore, to be explicit in saying "men and women," or "male and female farmers" if the planners are then going to address the needs of each, and make sure that both are reached directly. Generic terms like "agricultural labourers" are not acceptable in a gender-sensitive policy statement, unless it is meant to address only the men. Rights to equal participation on paper can only come alive if the relevant policies and plans reinforce those rights by spelling them out.

In most countries legislative changes have been made to facilitate women's rights to inheritance and ownership of land, but in practice they still have great difficulty in realizing the benefits which should flow from this. The same is true of credit programmes. Where women's direct access to agricultural credit was previously barred, many women found the de jure rifling of these barriers did little to change their de facto situation. Furthermore, many bankers themselves were party to these infringements by commission or omission. In Thailand, for example, it was necessary to change the legal term from a "housewife" to "woman farmer" to allow her access to agricultural credit. Even so, it remains rare for rural women to independently take official loans. Among a potential clientele of proven, bankable clients, little has been done by mainstream financial institutions to create an environment in which rural women feel welcome in agricultural and development bank credit departments.

After the lifting of legal constraints, therefore, institutions have to adopt facilitating policies and practices to promote the participation of women according to their rights. Their lower status and self-esteem will otherwise act as powerful constraints to their participation, a situation not always recognized as a major reason for women's failure to take advantage of newly-won rights, even when they themselves have fought for those rights.

Facilitating policies will accommodate such realities as those where women farmers need special considerations which recognize their dual and triple responsibilities in "productive and reproductive" work, their lower education, their lack of mobility, lack of access to capital, and socio-cultural constraints imposed by caste, purdah, class and religion.


Politicians are in the forefront among those who have perfected the art of semantics to embellish, cover and distort facts. Loyal followers among policy makers are often quick learners, however, and this is demonstrated most clearly in ambiguously stated policies which officially seek to remove or undermine privilege. More equality by definition implies that someone has to give up something, but it is rare indeed to find a policy statement which unequivocally accords more to those who have less.

When policy statements have to be prepared to address a political commitment to equity and justice, the author of that policy is usually well aware that there will be enemies who will seek to undermine it, or at the very least, to minimize its impact. Very often the policy writer belongs to the group from whom privilege will be wrested, so personal commitment to it is likely at best to be Luke-warm. Under pressure from peers, even the most modest statement of intent can be watered down to mean nothing at all. An example of this is frequently seen in project proposals in which it is mandatory to include a statement on women, and which may read as follows:

No one needs to do anything about this, because it gives no indication of what needs to be done. No specificity, no quantification, no identification of targets or definition of strategy. When it is time to evaluate at the end of the project, everyone can happily agree that this particular mandate was met, because no one is clear what the objective actually was. On the other hand, those who are sincere in helping disadvantaged women will include an unequivocal statement which will hold the implementors to account:

It would be difficult for project managers to ignore this mandate, and evaluation criteria implied by the statement makes assessment easy indeed. Policy makers, therefore, reflect their commitment to gender justice in their policy formulations. Vague statements of intent are unacceptable, Policy which seeks to intervene to mainstream women must be very clear, and very specific as to targets. It must also recognize that women, like men, are not a homogeneous group even among the poor, and policy must give cognizance to their different needs and the different mechanisms needed for mainstreaming them.


It is rare for any research not specifically on women in some way, to adopt a gender-sensitive approach, and this reflects research policy beginning with the research agenda. Agricultural research is notoriously biased in favour of "male" agriculture, in cash crops, agro-industry, export commodities and mechanization. The resulting biases in "findings" and, therefore, conclusions create a cycle of skewed data that provides misleading information and emphases, which in turn lead to policies which reflect and reinforce bigoted stereotypes. A classic and universal example is in the reflection of women's work, where gender-blind definitions, concepts, and data collection methods make accurate enumeration impossible. Labour statistics thus tell us that women are merely the idle dependents of men.

Both male and female researchers have been guilty of adopting official definitions and concepts of economic activity and resources, legal and conceptual frameworks and boundaries, and the gender-insensitive tools traditionally applied in analysis. Gender-sensitising usually brings as many surprises to women as to men. So universally is patriarchy institutionalized in most societies that it is difficult for many to see it as such. Research policy, for example, recognizes the "natural" rights of men to own land when studies of land tenure are made and data is collected from the "heads of household." Such will generally exclude data about women's de jure and de facto rights to inheritance, ownership, usufruct and various forms of female tenure because a male head of house is often ignorant about land tenure not concerned with his own particular title.

The traditional tools of analysis also reflect patriarchy and male-biased concerns. Cost-benefit analysis excludes much of the subsistence production of women. Yet for many rural women this represents the overwhelming majority of their output. Productivity, production and profit are measured by the market values of goods and services, so women's non-market production and reproductive work is ignored. Economic criteria are applied willy-nilly to output, without concern for the impact on family members, their environment or the community. Economic benefits are assumed to benefit everyone even when researchers know this is untrue.

The gender issues in agricultural research policy are very wide, and each policy would need careful examination to identify the issues and linkages. In general, it is true that the priorities are set by men and some women, who are unaware of gender issues, and that these are seldom considered unless the research is sociological. But even social research can be totally gender blind. The underlying causes of imbalance in food production which affect food security at national, regional or district and household levels, for example, also influence food and nutrition security at the individual level, and are clearly gender-linked. They relate to increased demands on female labour; changing sex roles and responsibility for farm management, especially on small farms; gender differences in access to resources, including land, water, credit and technologies; time use and the division of labour; demographic changes relating to family size; dependency ratios; migration patterns and land use planning; the loss of indigenous knowledge and technology without appropriate substitutes; the competition for land, water and other resources, and between food and non-food crops; the use of toxic agro-chemicals; seasonal fluctuations and economic access to available food, pricing policies; items qualifying for subsidy - cash vs. food crops, male vs. female crops; credit and marketing policies; resettlement and transmigration programmes, environmental issues. The list is endless.

Research studies on gender issues have focussed on time use by members of a household and their responsibility for decision-making in the allocation and use of household resources. In matters of household food security, some work has also been done on food and nutrition security at the household level, but little has been done on female productivity, or the value of women's work. The drudgery of much of the menial work assigned women on the farm and in the household is compounded by the fragmentation of their time. The long and lengthening work day for rural women, for example, is of serious concern, and some research has been initiated to identify areas where technology would be appropriate to save time and reduce drudgery. A new look at research policy, however, is certainly indicated by the growing gaps between urban and rural families, and between women and men in both urban and rural households. This would only have meaning, of course, if new research policies were accompanied by appropriate budgetary provisions, either by reallocations or additions.


The Fourth Asian-Pacific Population Conference was held in Bali, Indonesia in August, 1992, and addressed the complex issues of sustainability in relation to population from a very broad perspective. Delegates adopted a Declaration which described sustainable development as "meeting human needs and aspirations in balance with population, resources and the environment to enhance the quality of life today and in the future." The Declaration endorsed the need for a firm political and financial commitment to these objectives.

Policy guidelines placed a heavy emphasis on poverty alleviation; on the interactions between people, the environment and consumption; and on the strategic linkages between population and sustainable development. Specifically, in the countries where people continue to suffer from high fertility, child and maternal mortality rates, rapid urbanization and the lack of adequate education, health and social services were singled out for urgent attention.

In better-off countries, another population issue - that of growing numbers and proportion of the elderly population - is emerging to command attention and resources from Governments. Elderly women outnumber elderly men by two to one, and by the year 2000 it is expected that 80 percent of the elderly population in developing countries will be in Asia. The aged have both a right and a responsibility to contribute to family and the community, but they should be protected against abuse and exploitation. Many old women are forced to take care of their grand-children well beyond the years when they were competent and willing to do so, and this has a negative impact on all family members. In rural areas the fear of isolation and loneliness combines with economic necessity to force many elderly people to live with younger generations where they feel neither welcome nor useful, and little is done to alleviate their plight.

Most of the estimated 900 million population increase between now and 2010 will be in the Region's least developed countries, imposing greater pressure on already acute problems of poverty, illiteracy, poor health and unemployment (UNFPA, 1992). During this decade alone, four-fifths of population growth in the Region will be in urban areas, fuelling the fires of exploding Asian cities by "natural" growth, and migration.

The reproductive technologies which enable parents to identify the sex of an unborn child are further skewing the balance in favour of boys, especially in China and India where there is already a deeply entrenched bias against females. Demographers estimate 30 million fewer females live in India than would be expected by normal birth patterns and infant mortality rates (Basu, 1993). In China the highly-distorted proportion of 118.5 boys were born to every 100 girls in 1990, leaving 12 percent of girl foetuses unaccounted for (UNFPA, 1993). This is compounded by a higher rate of rural-urban migration by males in seeking better opportunities, creating a shortage of female partners in urban areas. This trend means a "deficit" of 30 million females now will become 70 million by the year 2000.

The increasing phenomenon of women heading, de facto or de jure, poor rural households imposes further problems. Many are ill-equipped by status accorded them as housewives, agricultural labourers, waged workers, petty traders, small entrepreneurs, artisans and industrial home workers, micro-producers or domestic workers, to assume the mantle of "woman farmer" without access to and control over relevant resources. The result is a growing incidence of rural women plunging from poverty into destitution faster than rural men (IFAD, 1992). As a cause and as an effect of rural poverty, both migration and declining female births need to be addressed urgently if the bias against the rural poor in general, and rural women in particular, is to be redressed.

Population policies affect families at the grass roots, and in development processes in general, very directly. Governments which believe that poverty can be reduced by simply limiting fertility and slowing population growth rates, however, are naive. Such Governments view women in an instrumental manner, giving them little say in policies which govern their reproductive behaviour. At best they are insensitive to women's reproductive rights, while at worst they condemn whole families not conforming to population policy formulations to a wide range of discriminatory and punitive actions. Examples include the imposition of special taxes on a child; withholding of health and social services from mother and/or child; exclusion of a sibling, females first, of course, from school; and discrimination in the workplace and the community.

While control over reproduction is a human right for every woman, child bearing is a social act. Family resources, State and common property resources are all affected by population trends, and in agriculture the repercussions are clear in relation to land use planning, carrying capacity and yield potentials, food security and equity issues. Policies, however, which place women's wombs at the disposal of State policy makers to increase or decrease human capital invariably backfire, as has been seen in a number of countries of the Region in the past two decades. The issue here is what policy interventions, if any, are appropriate in relation to sustainable agricultural and rural development'? Given that in most of Asia the frontiers of arable land have already been crossed, there is obviously a need for slowing overall growth. But this is best done by policies which address such issues as poverty, health and education rather than the imposition of quotas, child spacing and restrictions on human migration. Even in land-rich countries, such as the Lao People's Democratic Republic, parts of Indonesia, or Papua New Guinea, Governments have found the need to articulate population policy to ensure the health of mothers and children, the provision of such social services as health and education, employment opportunities to ensure quality of life in the next generation, and environmentally-sustainable use of natural resources.


Religions and their institutions all over the world have influenced public policy from time immemorial, not only providing an ethical and moral framework but dictating "guidelines" for human behaviour. Of course these are often more honoured in the breach than in practice, but nonetheless politicians have often found religious laws conveniently applied to meet secular objectives. Some have also found religious laws in conflict with national development objectives. The ban on "artificial" birth control by the Catholic church in the Philippines is a clear example.

One thing shared by all institutionalized religions is a preference for patriarchy. While original scripts and edicts from religious philosophers, prophets, gods and goddesses may have delineated some separation of the sexes, man-made institutions which grew around holy scriptures generally widened the gaps significantly, pushing women further into subordinate and subservient roles to "man." A "Pagan" or animist woman farmer in Melanesia, for example, had to surrender her property rights to her husband if she became a Christian during the heydays of missionary and Colonial zeal. The State's separation of the sacred from the secular usually, therefore, benefits women in general and especially women farmers, enabling them to play a more active role in social and economic, as well as political aspects of life and work. Some religious fundamentalists may, however, argue that such "freedoms" are against "natural laws" and not in anyone's spiritual interest now or in the hereafter, but that is beyond the scope of this paper.

In a report prepared for the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Farida Shaheed (1990) cites examples of the use of Shariat (Islamic) law in Pakistan to rescind women's rights gained during an enlightened period in the seventies, given impetus by the International Women's Year in 1975 and the Decade for Women declared from 1976. While women's official legal status in Pakistan is virtually equal to men's, in practice there are wide discrepancies. This is true in most countries of the Region. Under personal laws these discrepancies are even more direct, with religious communities being governed by their own, sometimes locally-construed, laws.

Women have always found ways to use religious institutions to organize at the community level, however, and this is demonstrated throughout Asia and the Pacific by Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Moslem women from both fundamentalist and "progressive" religious institutions. Temples, mosques and churches are "approved" meeting places where women are able to network, share information and experience, learn about access to resources, and to mobilize. The acquiescence of men when women attend meetings in such venues may not be matched when women want to visit secular sites, so women have learned to capitalize on the possibilities afforded at sacred places, and policy makers have responded by providing for services to women through such outlets. Shrewd policy makers will also make use of appropriate "chapters and verses" to market public policy through `'men of the cloth."


Studies in agrarian and industrial countries alike show that the overwhelming responsibility women shoulder for child rearing and domestic work traps them in an employment ghetto. As increasing numbers of women join the paid work force there is rarely a concomitant sharing of domestic responsibility by men, so a "working woman's" workday is simply lengthened, sometimes to intolerable levels, by her joining the official work force. Employers are extremely reluctant to accommodate any need for their male employees to have either time off, or flexibility in working hours to meet the responsibilities of fatherhood. Nor do they concede much to motherhood, expecting women employees to make necessary arrangements for child care away from the work site, and resenting any demands made on them when these impinge on their work. Only in some centrally-planned economies of yore has the State made serious attempts to provide affordable child care, because it was in their economic interests to do so.

In market-led economies, policies on creches and child care in the work place emerge only under intense pressure from women, or as employers are forced to consider such measures when alternative labour supplies dry up. As the pool of grandparents, relatives and friends co-opted for child care becomes increasingly resistant or expensive, child care facilities in the workplace emerge. It is, however, a reflection of patriarchy, and the absolving of fatherhood responsibilities in general, that trade and workers' unions, farmers' associations, cooperatives and other bodies representing workers' rights and welfare have formed only a rearguard response to pleas from their working mother's membership.

"As women join the official workforce, marital breakdowns are creating a new underclass of women who are trapped in a downward spiral," claimed a recent report of a long-term study in Britain (Guardian Weekly, 12 September, 1993). The same trends can be seen in Asian countries as divorced, separated, widowed or abandoned mothers command low pay in part-time and low-status jobs, with few of the benefits which full-time male workers receive. Proactive policy analysts should be preparing policy responses to the trends which are trapping Asian women in employment ghettos and inflicting heavy tolls on the family. It is interesting that an agricultural cooperative in Vietnam was able to benefit from a 60 percent increase in productivity of women farmers when good child care facilities were provided (FAO, 1983). Employers unconvinced on grounds of child and workers' welfare might well be convinced by that justification.

Gender issues in employment of course go beyond child care and welfare. Women need to organize to command more equity in the selection, promotion, remuneration and other conditions of their service, which generally lag far behind men. Legal constraints and barriers need to be dismantled, but a facilitating policy environment, coupled with overt political commitment to equality, are among the preconditions needed for women to act. The factors which make women workers especially vulnerable - family responsibilities, lower education and training, a lack of self esteem and assertiveness, and an overriding concern for their children - could be largely resolved by gender-sensitive rethinking about the workplace. A recent seminar in one country of the Region focussed on making workplaces "family friendly" - that is, workplaces which recognize and support their employees with family responsibilities, whatever their gender.

Arlene Johnson, the Vice President of the Families and Work Institute in New York said recently that family-friendly workplaces in the United States benefit from reduced absenteeism, improved recruitment and retention of staff, higher morale and company loyalty, and increased productivity If these are issues of concern in our own workplaces, why not consider family-friendly policies?


Fiscal sustainability rather than "financial or economic viability," has lately pushed its way into development dialogue. The sustainability or otherwise of agricultural credit, especially to small farmers with narrow risk and profit margins, has always been a point of debate and concern. Experience in general has been very mixed, with credit provided in many guises and forms, from grants and handouts to revolving loan funds, and full institutional financial packages with formal institutional obligations.

In the FAO programmes which have targetted rural women, credit has often provided the vital missing link in a chain of services which have catalysed action for self help. But this situation did not evolve without some years of trial and error. It would be less than honest if admissions of serious failures were not recorded - credit sometimes pushed women farmers from poverty to destitution, from debt-free poor to gross indebtedness and destitution. A poor widow in Nepal used credit to buy a buffalo which became her family's greatest economic asset, until it died suddenly before the loan was repaid. A young farmer in the Philippines used agricultural credit to repair her house until it was wrecked by a typhoon, and she too became a defaulter with no potential to repay. There is no shortage of such stories. FAO-supported credit to small farmers, however, has gradually developed to meet the special needs of poor rural women. By 1993 most such credit packages formed a successful part of an overall financial service within a project or programme that includes the mobilization of group savings, systems of insurance against some forms of crop or livestock loss, technical advisory and other extension services, innovative forms of collateral, group responsibility and cooperation, education and training, and investment advisory services. Policy, however, remains to be clearly articulated.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has recently recognized the need for a policy on informal finance to enhance the contribution it makes to economic development (ADB, Quarterly Review, July-August, 1993). While policy makers cite credit unions, savings associations, chit funds and pawnshops, there is no mention at all of rural women's most accessible source of credit - village moneylenders. We may assume this absence represents yet another gap in policy makers' knowledge of the reality of rural women's lives. Small-scale credit is a complex operation. It requires a thorough understanding of the farm families, farming systems and the relevant institutional frameworks, as well as the comprehensive network of support available to borrowers. The big financial institutions have a long way to go if they are to come to grips with the financial services needed by the majority of the world's farmers. The staff of financial institutions too, can only help when they are sympathetic to women's special needs. A women humiliated by a banker on her first visit, is unlikely to return. Both male and female staff of credit institutions wanting to extend loans to women will need to be sensitized to gender issues, and equipped with the necessary attitudes and skills to deal with poor rural women.


While most agricultural cooperatives in the Region have not overtly excluded women, their membership is concentrated, usually in rather small numbers, in the lower ranks. In many cases, women have no voting power. This is usually vested in the "head of house" or the official land owner. Nor are women eligible to sit on management boards where key decisions are made. In a movement dedicated to improving the lot of disadvantaged workers, cooperative leaders have been slow to perceive, and too often resistant to change, the disadvantaged position of women farmers.

Frustrated at their lack of voice in dairy cooperatives, women in India fought hard and eventually won the right to establish their own all-women cooperatives. In these they feel both welcome and competent. Many are successful in a way that would not have been possible if the cooperative had been mixed. Membership in "mixed" cooperatives may provide access to certain services. But it does not imply meaningful participation in setting the agenda, deciding on services and actions, or participating in management and the distribution of benefits.

By pretending to be "gender-neutral," official policy on cooperatives excludes invisible farmers. If policy makers want to include women they must be explicit in drafting policies that not only encourage women to join, but are "women-farmer-friendly." This implies explicit reference to them in policy and plans, specific policy statements enlisting their participation at both management and membership levels, and favoring their attendance by holding meetings at times and places convenient to women.

The task of translating cooperative elements which impose constraints on the productivity of women farmers away from patriarchal norms and into gender-responsive policy and planning is certainly a difficult one, but this should not be a reason for postponing action. A movement that represents the interests of only half its potential clients and beneficiaries is not a democratic movement. Nor is a movement that concentrates its female membership into its lowest levels of membership and participation. Women farmers and other rural women have lived outside the ambit of cooperatives for a very long time. They can continue to do so, but at a significant loss to agricultural production and to the rural economy in general. In other words, at a loss to all society - men, women, and children.

A gender-sensitive cooperative movement, on the other hand, will have policies that accept female partners as equals, providing for their active and equal participation at all levels. This will not be achieved overnight. It will have to begin with sensitizing the entire membership to gender issues. Then it will have to set up interim provisions, such as quotas at the various levels, and offer training courses and services to its members. The long-term goal, however, should be a political commitment to gender equality as part of the democratic process of cooperative development.


No agricultural technology is gender neutral. Whether a hand tool, a machine, a storage bin, or biotechnology, all carry different implications for men and women. Technology is developed by men and women for use by women and men, or specifically for one sex or the other. Most are developed with a male or a female user in mind. Such implements respond to the demand created by those who want to use them and can afford to buy them. This results in a bias determined by the culturally-ascribed division of labour, and the limits placed on women's access to finance. Policy makers who have made such sex-discriminatory norms automatically will set the agenda for technology development accordingly, and planners will allocate resources based on the same set of norms. Thus we find farm women concentrated around the most menial, boring, low-paid, "low-tech" activities, while men clamber aboard tractors and combine harvesters. In a market-led economy, technology always addresses the needs of the monied clientele first. And it is men who have the money. In a centrally-planned economy, patriarchy dictates that machines are for men; that girls and women are "incapable, by reason of their sex, to understand, operate and maintain machines." In very few countries has this stereotype been challenged. Hand tools to speed up women's work in transplanting, weeding, harvesting and threshing, "yes." Machines for women? "No."

In several Asian countries I have personally raised these issues. Men have invariably responded to suggestions that women be taught proper pump or tractor maintenance and repair with grins and laughter. To the insistent "why not?" there is eventually a pause, followed by embarrassed looks. Yet where it has been done, hand pumps have been in use far longer and more consistently than where it hasn't (Stephens, 1986). There is, of course, no biological reason whatever for the many myths that separate women from technology.

The issues for policy makers will be patently obvious to those to whom previous sections of this paper have "spoken." Engineers - civil, mechanical, biotechnical, aeronautical or what-have-you - need as much as anyone in the "development set" to be sensitized to gender issues if technology is to respond not only to economic imperatives but also to social needs. The exclusion by engineers of many of these items in the past have come home to roost on the shoulders of their creators. They now stand accused of gross insensitivity to the needs of the poorest, the most vulnerable and those most susceptible to the plunge from poverty into outright destitution.

The blame for what Devaki Jain (1992) calls the "pauperization of women" falls in no small part on 20th century high-tech flyers who could have averted much of the misery inflicted upon rural women and their families by greater common sense in technology development. Governments that allow technology development and transfer to be totally market-driven abrogate their responsibilities to the poor, most of whom are women, when they fail to introduce checks and balances into such a system. As long as discrimination precludes women's participation as equal partners in development, Governments must assume some responsibility for ensuring gender-related research and development. And they must oversee the transfer of proven technologies to address rural women's work. The primary aim should be to help women achieve the following:

That technology has short-changed women in the past is no reason to prolong the situation. The remedy begins with rethinking policy.


Poor men have wives, sisters, mothers and children who are usually even poorer than they are. The poorest of the poor are almost always women (dickers, 1991). Any negative impact on the economy, therefore, affects poor women and girls most: women because reductions in public spending usually hit welfare, health and other social service programmes first; girls because they are the first to be kept out of school to help at home when the going gets tough, and the first to be denied services.

While most Governments adopt policies to address poverty in their countries, these are seldom gender-sensitive. It is true that many such policies target women, because many policy analysts are well aware of the plight of poor women. They know poor women have a major responsibility for the welfare of the whole family. Further, they do acknowledge women's greater sense of responsibility towards family well-being, and are generally happy to channel resources directly to women. The "problem" with this, however, derives from deeply ingrained patriarchal thinking that categorizes women as welfare cases, or mere dependents of a husband, father or brother. When men's support is not forthcoming, women are automatically demoted to welfare cases, dependent on the State. The ubiquitous failure to identify women's actual and potential economic contributions, especially in rural areas, is a major reason for the plethora of misguided polices affecting women in poverty. That the gap between male and female, and between rural and urban incomes, is unrelentingly widening is in large part a result of this kind of biased patriarchal thinking.

Policy analysis to ease poverty should begin with recognition of poor rural people, women as well as men, as human capital. Women especially should be recognized for what they are - a major economic resource. The UN Joint Consultative Group on Policy (JCGP) is made up of five United Nations bodies and agencies - WFP, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA and IFAD. While all these have policies on "Women in Development," it is extremely difficult to see any poverty alleviation policy. The JCGP is in the early stages of development, so it is timely for that body to:

At the national level, the same applies. Government bodies and agencies need to join with NGOs to address the same issues in national policies for poverty alleviation that clearly spell out unequivocally that women will participate as equals in solving the problems of the poor.


In conservation issues and sustainability, gender differentials are most obvious in rural areas when the environment is degraded. Women in most developing countries are more negatively affected by this than men. Why? Because they do the tasks that demand more inputs as degradation and depletion occur. One of the first demands is for increasing time. As degradation forces women to walk further in search of potable water and household fuel supplies, their workday becomes longer. As soils are degraded, women find their access to technologies for restoration and increasing yields barred or constrained by a multitude of social and economic hurdles which affect men far less, if at all. These include knowledge and information, and the whole range of technologies, credit and services.

Vicious circles of discrimination against women emerge as men leave polluted, degraded or depleted environments for greener pastures. Women are usually less free to leave because of social responsibilities, and because they are ill-equipped by their invariably inferior education and far less access to capital. Left in a poor environment in the countryside, they are then forced for the very survival of their family, into unsustainable practices which further pollute, neglect, degrade and deplete the natural resource base. Females are often unable to cover all the tasks, particularly the heavy ones related to land preparation and conservation, formerly done by men. Remittances, when they do flow back to the family, tend to be used for consumption rather than for agricultural investment, unless they are large enough for both - a rare phenomenon. Their increasing poverty, therefore, drives women to seek off-farm employment or engage in beggary and prostitution to supplement farm production, leading to yet a further decline in agricultural productivity.

As long as development policies focus on the male as head of household and ignore women as major users of natural resources, policy initiatives for more sustainable agriculture will suffer. Although many studies show that women are extremely effective resource managers and are more predisposed to practice frugality, conservation. recycling and innovative ways of "making do" than are men, they seem unable to impress upon policy makers that the female human resource may well be their most precious ally in reorienting agricultural practices towards sustainability.

Among the poorest men and women, gender differentials may be less marked as they both struggle for survival using unsustainable, not to say destructive and exploitative farming methods. These include slash-and-burn, over-grazing, over-harvesting, and polluting resources that lead eventually to the collapse of production potential. Whether due to ignorance or necessity, degraded and polluted lands are extremely expensive to reclaim. Thus the poorest farmers need understanding and assistance to replace condemnation and abuse, in order to overcome the problems they face merely to survive.

When the cash economy adopts unsustainable practices, issues are more easily addressed than those of the subsistence sector. Misguided development projects which simply push subsistence farmers off their land without suitable alternatives always encourage encroachment onto other land, be it forest, steep slopes, marginal areas or wastelands. Policy makers are less than honest when they express surprise at such encroachment. Proper gender-sensitive, socio-economic studies should be carried out whenever subsistence farm lands are taken over for cash crops or for irrigation, dams or hydro-electric power. Feasibility studies should include both ownership and usufruct rights, plus consultation with local land users. The results of ignorance about these issues are predictable, and usually unsustainable.


Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are generally more sympathetic to and in closer touch with poor people, gender-sensitivity and gender-responsiveness are rare at the organization level, especially among male workers, unless there is an active feminist presence within the management (Mathiot, 1993). Even within NGOs predominantly run by women, the tendency is for management to come from the upper socio-economic or caste strata where patriarchy is intrinsic, pervasive and widely held to be unchallengeably "natural." This is particularly true of social welfare and other charitable organizations run by upper class women whose gender ideology is one borrowed straight from their men. They tend to treat poor families, and especially poor women, as dependents-for-life. When income-generation and self-help are discussed, they often apply feasibility criteria which would be laughed out of court by economists, so small are the returns on women's investment in time alone. Such projects, whether designed by men or patriarchally paternalistic women, often further pauperize women. They do so because they are based on commonly accepted but grossly misinformed public policy which assumes women do not work, have unlimited free time and are happy to work for a pittance as long as they gain something for their families. This is an insult to human integrity and dignity. The proliferation of these little projects "for women," under the guise of economic development has to stop. They are more properly classified as hobbies or leisure activities, harmful to the women for whom time and money are scarce resources. A radical change in policies for the sustainable advancement of poor women is long overdue.

NGOs have also shown themselves subject to the same socio-cultural constraints as Governments, the moreso when it comes to the participation of women in their own decision making. An analysis of NGO boards of management shows them to be little different from governmental bodies, habitually placing women at the lower end of status and power. While acknowledging, or even applauding the valuable contributions of women - indeed because of greater flexibility in work conditions NGOs are often more attractive to women - NGO management can often justifiably be accused of being slow to promote women, reluctant to give them equal opportunities to attend training courses or study tours, and to represent the organization at higher levels. Only one NGO at a recent (September, 1993) Consultation held in FAO RAPA on "NGOs and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development" sent a woman representative. This was probably because she herself was the founder of the organization.

Women in NGOs complain about their male colleagues' attitudes as much as their sisters in Government or the private sector. NGO men are probably neither better nor worse than others, but sometimes more is done in response to women's group pressure to address gender discrimination in Governments. But in countries which have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, Governments have usually taken more action to get rid of discrimination than have NGOs - in maternity leave, child care, quotas and promotions. As Mathiot (1993) quotes in her study on grassroots action in South India: "men preach gender equality for women; they do not practice it."

NGOs are, however, closer to the people, and have more influence with them. Official fear of the impact NGOs might have on people who are exposed to these organizations' politicizing causes many Governments to restrain NGOs through policies shackled to official programmes. The NGO must often, therefore, decide on compromises and trade-offs to continue its work. A clear Government policy on NGOs is urgently called for. Boundaries must be delineated and, where and when appropriate, the rules of battle mutually acknowledged. Policies which acknowledge sexism and seek to redress the biases, however, are as important within NGOs as they are in the public arena.


Many gender issues have only been addressed in developing countries when "donors," usually from industrialized countries, have given aid in the form of funds earmarked specifically for women or for selected gender issues. Such donor-driven initiatives do not, unfortunately, necessarily reflect any real commitment on the part of the recipient Government. All too often once funds dry up, all activities instantly cease.

A sign of real commitment comes only when official policy takes gender issues seriously, reflecting such commitment in the allocation of regular, internal resources. This is not to denigrate the donors. On the contrary, such initiatives provide a vital filip to local initiatives which, when they first emerge to challenge the status quo, are often quickly scuttled for lack of resources and support. It is the job, however, of national policy makers and policy analysts to see that donor funds are deployed as intended, and that official policy supports their long-term intent. If it does not, the question is of whether it was right to accept the funds in the first place and if so, what policy changes should then be made. Avoiding misunderstanding on such issues implies an active dialogue at the policy level before donors begin discussions with technical staff.

Gender-sensitive policy analysts will be fully aware that donor-driven development is quite different from donor-instigated welfare. Neither of these situations is desirable for mainstreaming women or for ensuring gender-justice in development. They may provide a step along the way, but a sound policy framework will aim to phase out external donor funding within a definite time frame. National self-reliance is always the better goal.

The frequently announced fear of "Western feminism" creeping in to emasculate Third World men could very largely be overcome by a clear, gender-responsive policy framework developed in the socio-cultural and economic context of a given developing country. It is where a vacuum exists that 'alien' cultures are most likely to take root. But it is clearly necessary to acknowledge the universality of many gender issues within patriarchies even though this is still resisted, sometimes fiercely, by many Asian men and women.


Most Governments in the Region now have either a Ministry, a Department or a Bureau within a Ministry handling women's affairs. Their functions range from policy advice and "watchdogging," to the promotion of practical projects for women's welfare. The most successful have the political mandate and resources to effect long-term change.

One Ministry of Women's Affairs in the Region states its purpose as: "to assist Government to achieve for women:

(New Zealand Ministry of Women's Affairs, 1993)

In New Zealand, the Ministry is an agency for advice to central Government on public policy issues which affect women. Their advice is firmly based on five areas of work:

To back this work up, the Ministry also provides information services to ensure that

(New Zealand Ministry of Women's Affairs' News Sheet, June, 1993)

While New Zealand is a small and relatively "developed" country, the success of the "newest Ministry with the smallest budget" in changing the way public policy is developed is significant and has long-term implications. In countries where women's bureaux confine their activities to information services and projects for women, their impact is negligible.

Monitoring the progress made by Governments in improving the status of women, at least to report at international conferences on women, has spurned a great deal of data collection. While many may question the validity of this data, monitoring usually focuses on:

The data derived from monitoring women's status together with on-going research is the data used for policy advice. While much remains to be done to provide an accurate and comprehensive picture of women's lives, particularly for rural women, significant progress has been made over the past two decades. Policy advisers, however, play a key role in creating the demand for more accurate data, and some need to be a good deal more assiduous.


Mainstreaming women into all forms of development is FAO's current theme, spelled out in the report on the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the Decade for Women, held in Nairobi in 1985. In that document, commonly known as the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies (FLS), Governments committed themselves to a number of actions to redress past biases against women, and to promote them as equal partners in development. Many countries have responded to the FLS with policy and legislative initiatives supported by new programmes.

For its part, FAO developed a Plan of Action for Women in Agricultural Development. That Plan revolves around four spheres of women's lives: civil status, economic, social, and decision-making. Specifically, it focuses on eight priority areas, each of which carries policy implications. One specifically covers policy advice:

In advising Governments on legislation and policy, the concerns of rural women as farmers, housewives and community workers should form an integral part of a gender-responsive framework. This is achieved by working with technical units to ensure that gender issues are raised and taken into account. In such areas as food security or price policies, the likely impact on women should be investigated and discussed as part of policy analysis. Having themselves been exposed to gender analysis training, the policy division staff is becoming more receptive to such collaboration, as they see the potential for enhancing the quality of their own policy advice.

Gender-sensitivity, unfortunately, has not changed much for women in FAO itself. After a decade of "attempts" to increase the number of women in professional posts in the Organization, we have one of the lowest percentages of any UN agency. After almost 10 years of work in FAO RAPA, I myself remain the only woman on the regular programme professional staff in this office. In our headquarters in Rome, women at the senior levels are as scarce as hen's teeth. Recent minutes of a senior policy meeting there, showed one woman present among 22 other officers. She was present as a secretary to record the proceedings. Women are simply not advancing through our own system, and the few who do are difficult to retain.

In the field, it is little different, although FAO often includes gender analysis in the Terms of Reference of one or more field team or project formulation group members. In most cases project formulation teams include international and/or national women professionals. Sadly many women are not gender-sensitive. Even when they are, or one of the male members is, the willingness of Governments to heed their advice varies widely from country to country. Their advice is best received when issues are clearly stated and are backed up with hard data. For that reason, a major effort to improve the data base on women's work in agricultural and rural development is being strengthened by disaggregating statistics by sex. Planned gender-responsive programmes then need to be monitored against the proper criteria to ensure that policy actually translates into action.

When all is said and done, policy advice is only as useful as the willingness and capacity of officials to apply it. When it is based on good data and sound analysis, that willingness and capacity is likely to be higher than in cases where a proforma paragraph of vague intent is inserted into a document, often as a sap. Policy analysts, therefore, have an important role to play in promoting gender justice, even if many are so far ill-equipped for the role. Sensitivity to gender issues is insufficient in itself. But it is a start. Any Government concerned about the forgotten half of their farmers will initiate gender-awareness training among staff. Those who want to launch gender-sensitive policies and gender-responsive programmes will go further and provide the tools for gender analysis. This, of course, has huge implications for staff training. Yet it is an investment with very high returns. FAO itself has far to go in translating its own gender policies into affirmative action. Agricultural policy analysts in FAO as much as in Governments and NGOs have not been at the cutting edge of social reform, though they willingly, if not totally honestly, assume the mantle of macroeconomic strategists. That label will only be deserved when the problems of the other half of the farming population are addressed and adequately supported in "development cooperation" programmes.

In the Region, a Network on Agricultural Policy and Planning in Asia and the Pacific (NAPPAP) has been proposed by FAO's Policy Analysis Division, and by the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAPA). While there has been no mention so far of gender or social policy issues in that forum, the possibility exists for establishing a means of bringing these to the attention of NAPPAP members. For this to happen, however, everything of importance should be spelled out clearly in the founding documents. Otherwise it will certainly be ignored. This Consultation may wish to draft recommendations to that body-in-the-making, to ensure gender issues are dealt with in a meaningful way.


One of the tools to address gender differences in development has been gender-awareness training. This equips policy makers and planners with the skills required to identify the likely results on the people concerned, in any development policy. It also anticipates biases resulting from gender blindness. A valid criticism, however, is that such training is insufficient to provide the necessary analytical framework to enable policy makers either to internalize appropriate values or to apply a proper analysis. Too often the training is of too short a duration or it is superficial, or both. The best that can be expected is that a trainee recognizes a gender issue when confronted with one. The trainee is unlikely, however, to identify and anticipate key issues in the policy formulation without much more training.

Recent attempts by many Governments to carry out an agricultural sector review in preparation for five-year planning exercises show that the results of gender training are generally weak. Often they result only in the inclusion of a short statement of intent on the integration of women into agricultural and rural development. In Thailand, for example, a ritual page in the Fifth Five-Year National Development Plan was replaced by a "proforma" paragraph in the Sixth Plan. Even this was omitted from the Seventh Plan. In many projects, women are mentioned in a paragraph under "Special Considerations," along with the old, the disabled and various other minority groups. Unequivocal commitments to mainstreaming women, combined with meaningful resource allocations in the main body of such documents, are rare indeed.

Policy planning includes setting development priorities and objectives before drafting policy statements. This process governs, to greater or lesser extent, how far gender issues are taken into account even by those fully aware of them and their implications. There is frequently a hidden agenda in policy, and planners are expected to plan only for policies' already accepted development objectives. Politicians decide national objectives. Policy and plans then follow. Most politicians, of course, are men. Usually these men are neither farmers, technocrats nor bureaucrats. Their understanding of how people live and work at the grassroots is often quite divorced from reality, especially so when it comes to understanding poor women farmers.

The "development trilogy" - economic development, equitable distribution and national stability - provides the usual framework for national Five-Year Plans. Evaluation employs traditional tools of analysis, such as cost-benefit, productivity and profit margins, with the odd bow to such social achievements as lowering population growth rates or increasing literacy. Statistics alleging such progress allow us to pretend that everyone benefits. Even when we know the truth, we often choose to deny it. Thus the real measures needed to bring meaningful change are postponed indefinitely. Women have been victims of this inertia throughout the decades of Five-Year Development Plans.

A final point. Where distrust has placed barriers between women and men, between rich and poor, landless and landowners, scientists and farmers, a dialogue on data will not help much to break this down. Facts do not speak for themselves unless someone is listening in good faith. The climate for such honest listening will have to be created on both sides. What is necessary to create a climate of trust is for each side to hear what the other has to say and to listen to criticism, whether of policy or programmes, before becoming defensive and hurling facts back at the critics. A scientific data base is only one tool in the process. It can not replace the emotional debates that invariably surround agriculture's most controversial issues. It can, of course, temper them and strengthen the case for one side or the other, but all real issues still must be heard. The most important skill for a policy maker interested in allaying distrust, therefore, is "to listen." This is seldom easy, for it requires a reversal of "normal" processes so that the emotion plays in concert with the facts to create that climate of trust essential to participation. Listening is a characteristic more common among the poor than the rich, among women more than men. It is a critical factor for all participatory processes: listen more, talk less, and use hard data to enhance the validity of the dialogue.


In the final analysis, the question for this Consultation is: "What can or should policy makers be doing?" We may agree that justice demands more equality for women. We may even agree it is a prerequisite for long-term food security and sustainable agricultural and rural development. We will also be naive if we fail to recognize that there will always be opposition to policies that offer new opportunities to women at the expense of male privilege. We must address men's concerns, if policy change is to be effective. Those who participate in policy analysis, policy-making and planning must be made aware not only of the injustices, but of the benefits for all humankind when a more civil and gender-just society finally emerges, as it will, opposition notwithstanding. Economists must demonstrate not only the economic imperative for women's participation, but both the short- and long-term gains in output for all society. For politicians, pressure from their male and female constituencies will be needed to convince them that women's demands are not threatening. On the contrary, women may strengthen the politician's power base when their women's rights are recognized, and their political affiliation and participation made more explicit.

Whatever we decide in these next few days, we must put forward concrete, detailed recommendations - recommendations we can act on as representatives of the international, national, NGO or village community. Our focus is on national policy. We should seek to direct our energy there as a first step forward. We want to know exactly which initiatives need FAO support. The task for us this week is to explore the arena, and decide where policy can be reoriented to make a real difference. We will then have a report that provides one more step towards a just charter for women farmers, and to which policy makers can turn in their search for a framework which includes both halves of the farming population.


FAO. 1983. Women in Agricultural Cooperatives. Rome, Italy: FAO.

--. 1988. Women in Agricultural Developments: FAO's Plans of Action. Rome, Italy: FAO.

FAO/Netherlands Government. 1991. "Issues and Perspectives in Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development." Main document No. 1 at the FAO/Netherlands Conference on Agriculture and the Environment held in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, 15-19 April.

--. 1991. "Social and Institutional Aspects of Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development." Background document No. 5, as above.

Huang, Xiyi. 1993. "From Housewife to Career Women: Rural China's Other Long March." Ceres, Vol. 25, No. 1, January-February. FAO Rome.

Kaewsanit R. 1993. "Gender and Development Issues." Speech delivered at the Lowlands Farming Workshop summarizing group discussions, held in Thailand.

Lund, Ranghild. 1993. Gender, Locality and Changing Resource Management Practices: the dry zone of Sri Lanka.

Mathiot E. 1993. "Defeating Poverty and Hunger: grassroots action in South India." Published in Hunger Notes, Vol. 18, Nos. 3-4, Washington D.C.

New Zealand Ministry of Women's Affairs. 1993. News Sheet, June, Wellington, N.Z.

Shaheed, Farida. 1990. "Pakistan's Women: an analytical description." Lahore: SANJH.

Shaheed, Farida and Khawar Mumtaz. 1992. "Islamization and Women: the experience of Pakistan" in Women Living Under Muslim Laws. Special Bulletin on Fundamentalism and Secularism in South Asia, published by Shirkat Gah WLUML Coordination Office, Lahore, Pakistan.

Stephens, A. 1986. "Yes, Technology is Gender Neutral, but..." In Ceres, Vol. 18, No. 6, November-December. FAO, Rome.

-- .1993. "Decolonizing Agricultural Information." Paper prepared for FAO RAPA, Bangkok.

--. 1993. "Gender Planning in Cooperatives: the FAO experience." Paper presented at the International Cooperative Alliance Asia-Pacific Conference on Gender Planning in Cooperatives, Tokyo Japan, 1-6 March.

UNDP. 1993. Human Development Report 1993. New York: United Nations Development Programme.

UNFPA. 1993. "Indian Couples Choosing Their Babies' Sex." Article in UNFPA POPNEWS from an article in The Dallas Morning News, by Seema Paul, New Delhi.

--. 1992. Report on the Fourth Asia-Pacific Population Conference and the "Bali Declaration."

Vickers, Jeanne. 1991. Women and the World Economic Crisis. Zed Books Ltd., London.

Waring, Marilyn. 1992. "Policy Planning Workshop." Speech made in Lembang, Indonesia at an FAO-supported Workshop on the Integration of Gender in Policy and Planning.

World Bank. 1993. World Development Report 1993. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), Washington DC.

Gender issues in macro-economic policy planning for agricultural and rural development: The imperative for the 21st century

by Marilyn Waring

Let me begin by telling three stories from my own experience. These, I think, illustrate how attitudes toward women in development differ worldwide.

The first story concerns the Secretary of a Department of National Planning of an Asian country. Among his various duties, this man was responsible for an international agency's Mission to mainstream women into his country's Five-Year Plan. This gentleman had little patience with patronizing efforts designed, more in theory than in fact, to "integrate women into development." He wanted concrete, workable proposals.

His Minister of National Development was equally convinced of the need for real, rather than token, efforts to include women into the nation's mainstream development. At meetings, this Minister quickly silenced ill-informed and biased male criticisms against mainstreaming women. Moreover, he supported whole heartedly the rather harsh criticisms of the international agency's report on women's situation in his country. In my experience as a consultant on women in agricultural and rural development, such men as these two ranking Asian officials are rare.

I got the answer from the Secretary's wife. Her husband, she explained, had worked hard to educate their three daughters in either the U.K. or the U.S.A. Upon graduation, all three daughters refused to return home. Why? Because they "refuse to be treated as second-class citizens." All three young women of course considered it a foregone conclusion that they be so treated in their own country. Since this blunt message from his daughters sank in, the Secretary has worked hard to change his Government's whole approach to the treatment of women in development and, indeed, in society at large.

In the second case, the Minister's only daughter, and his favourite child, had returned home soon after an "arranged marriage" in which she had apparently been subject to considerable domestic violence. Such a situation is not uncommon in his country. And the laws of the country do nothing whatever to protect the well-being of such unfortunate women.

Both men changed their attitudes towards women when the injustice they had known all their lives struck directly at their own flesh and blood, at women they loved.

My third story concerns a man who did NOT change. This man, the official in charge of agriculture in the Department of Planning of another Asian nation, refused even to meet with a Mission team on women in agriculture until a male official with the team showed up. This man's two most outstanding characteristics were his arrogance and his ignorance.

When presented with the Mission's findings that rural women in his country worked longer hours, and at more tasks, than did rural men, he simply denied the truth of it. His mother, he said, was a farmer and she did not work that hard. Ergo, many rural women didn't either.

He did not mention that his mother was from a family with significant land holdings. He would have been more accurate had he said that many women farmers worked "for" his mother, rather than describing the lady herself as a farmer. He also attacked the Mission team's research, implying that it was "Western," biased and had nothing to do with "our women."

But even this story has a hopeful point. A highly-qualified national research team conducted their own field work and concluded that the Mission's findings were quite correct. This made this bigoted man look very foolish, probably damaging his career in his own country. For such a man to be in a position of authority, of course, is very costly to the economic progress of any developing country.

Now why bother with such stories? What relevance have they to this meeting? Because, whether we like it or not, these are typical stories of the way in which the basis for policy decision is built in a key economic sector. They are illustrations of the political approach, by men, to major economic questions concerning the roles and status of half a country's population.

The role of women in agricultural and rural development is intimately related to the goal of comprehensive socio-economic and political development. It is vital for the development of all societies and for the quality of life on our planet.

While decades of comprehensive, detailed and well-researched documentation from a plethora of agencies and researchers, both national and international, has now been published on this question, few male economists or policy planners demonstrate a familiarity with or a working knowledge of gender issues within their own work. It depends on the circumstances of women in these male's own immediate family; it depends on their limited observational powers; it depends on their own strength of character, or worse, their weakness in seeing gender equity as a threat to their personal and collective political power as men. The inefficiency and insufficiency this approach has now reached a critical level.

Agriculture is one of the foundations of human society, and a key economic sector in the Region. Women are central to agricultural and rural development everywhere. It is impossible to talk about the processes occurring within an economy without mentioning women. Yet planners usually talk about the economy without talking about the specific effects on women.

The contributions of the agricultural sector to a nation's economy are registered in terms of a percentage contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In most of the Region this is between 20 and 50 percent. These figures substantially understate agriculture's contribution to all production, since vast amounts of agricultural production are done by unpaid labour, overwhelmingly that of women and children, and because a large proportion of such production occurs in the subsistence, non-market area.

More than half the population of the Region lives in rural areas. The largest proportion of this population is female. Male urban immigration, both permanent and seasonal, is occurring at an ever-increasing rate. The proportion of rural women to men is growing. Almost two-thirds of rural women are from low-income households. Indeed, the poorest group of all are female-headed households. In some areas of the Region, this category exceeds 35-40 percent of all heads of household.

Women contribute substantially to agricultural production and related processing, trade and industry. Undervaluing this economic contribution has resulted in ineffective and inefficient policies in achieving the distributive as well as the output goals of agricultural development. Overall progress is less than optimal because of a failure to credit the part women play in the dynamics of agricultural development, and a consequent failure to utilize their potential.

The logical inclusion of women who farm, and women who live in rural areas as major and principal actors in macro-economic policies does not stem from some liberal, paternal welfare approach. For effective policy planning, it is unacceptable that the majority of the rural populations of the Region, women - their potential, their resource base (or lack of one), and their critical role in the major issues - are habitually excluded.


"Women should participate and contribute on an equal basis with men in the social, economic and political processes of rural development and share fully in improved conditions of life in rural areas. "

The Declaration of Principles and Programme of Action of the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, July 1979.

The now-accepted method for measuring growth and production throughout the world is called the United Nations System of National Accounts (UNSNA). The system's rules state that there are areas of human activity which lie outside an established "production boundary."

The UNSNA measures only the value of all goods and services that actually enter the market. Thus the biggest area of human activity excluded from measurement is household activities, the products of which are seldom or never marketed, i.e. the unpaid services of housewives and other family members, household maintenance and production, subsistence agriculture performed by children or "housewives," voluntary work, and reproductive work. Thus the majority of the work done by the majority of the people the majority of the time is excluded.

From the UNSNA are derived the figures for a nation's GDP. The GDP is used to monitor rates and patterns of growth, to set priorities in policy making, to measure the success of policies, and to measure "economic welfare" generally. Activities outside the production boundary - i.e., the labour performed by women in an unpaid capacity - are left out of the Gross National Product (GNP). This makes it easy to leave women out of policy considerations altogether.

The measurement of "well-being," in terms of "per capita GDP," or any other growth-oriented statistic, is conceptual nonsense. The continued insistence by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and others on the GDP as a key indicator is completely self-interested. "Growth" figures register "market" activities, i.e. cash-generating activities, whatever their nature. These will, of course, include some agricultural production, but they will also include munitions and armaments production, prostitution, the sale of children, and deforestation, provided cash is exchanged. So, despite its terminology, GDP does not measure all production, only production exchanged for cash.

Why? Because the World Bank and the IMF are not interested in the "level of wellbeing, the extent of poverty, nor the distribution of poverty," but in the "ability of the borrower to repay."

In such a context women are just another category to be addressed in macro-economic policy (though they are seldom considered in that context). Trade, transnational or multilateral corporations, commercial lending and foreign aid are the four dominant channels through which international economic relations manifest themselves and affect national macroeconomic policies. More often than not, the policy strategy mix advocated to generate a high growth rate in the GDP increases poverty, inequality and unemployment. Low income groups suffer the most and always women suffer more than men. When powerful macro forces work against the poor, such special micro-measures as a few income-generating projects will not bring about any significant improvement in the well-being of women.

Yet the manner in which these high growth rate activities are pursued increasingly fosters escalating import bulk, environmental plundering, and repatriation of profits. There is little evidence that skills and technology are transferred, especially to rural women. In the key issue of agricultural trade in the Uruguay Round, Asian members of the Cairns Group, which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, have assiduously pursued the policy of restoring free trade to agriculture, with no evidence whatever that any socioeconomic impact planning has been carried out to benefit the majority of the rural population, namely women and children.

Similarly, deregulation through Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) rigidly imposed on poor countries disproportionately affect the poorest - again women and children. SAPs imposed without safety nets are a form of cruelty against the most vulnerable. They also fly in the face of basic human rights and human decency.

While constitutional and legislative instruments and a plethora of international conference statements have for years contained rhetorical statements about equality for women, the policy imperative to mainstream women into the whole policy process has now become critical and an absolute economic imperative. Where can productivity gains be made? Which human resources can be better used? Where can increased efficiency be achieved? Where can more effective targeting produce the fastest results? Which inter-sectoral policies can deliver changes in a range of priorities?

Equity and efficiency are not mutually exclusive. Women are not a problem for the economy. On the contrary, meeting the challenges of agricultural development is more dependent than ever before on women's organizational, managerial, ecological and productive skills. That women have been, through direct discrimination, denied both opportunities to influence the adjustment process and their share of the benefits brought about by structural change, means that women are the least aid-dependent resource in the agricultural sector. They are, therefore, the group most likely to respond to inputs leading to self-reliance.

Direct discrimination against women is overt and covert and exacts major economic costs. There are the opportunity costs of ignoring the constraints women face and of failing to provide them with improved opportunities to participate fully in the development process. There are the costs of gender stereotyping in major labour markets and home maintenance activities. There are the costs of refusing to recognize women by claiming that the household is simply a unit of economic analysis. There are the costs of failing to see the household as a business enterprise of interdependent workers, contributing to two subsystems of production based on different skills, potential, knowledge, and rights to resources.

There is also the inefficient use of resources, poor targeting, and bad investment through the deliberate obstruction by men of women's access to land titles and usufruct, credit, knowledge, information systems, extension training, appropriate technology and a wide range of services, all of which hinder a nation's development and its growth statistics. All the above accumulatively contribute to the intergenerational costs incurred by the rural populations of Asia in poor nutrition, overpopulation and poverty.


"Development strategies and programmes, as well as incentive programmes and projects in the field of food and agriculture, need to be designed in a manner that fully integrates women at all levels of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation in all stages of the development process... so as to facilitate and enhance this key role of women and to ensure that women receive proper benefits and remuneration commensurate with their important contribution in this field. "

The Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, July 1985.

Most Government machineries, established with line ministry responsibilities, present planning problems for macro-policies needed for major issues, such as the integration of women into agricultural and rural development, or the preservation or sustainance of the environment. These planning problems go well beyond the inadequacy of dominant economic indicators, for example, GDP, as tools. The continued predominance of old `'colonial" techniques of planning, with departments and ministries proliferating laterally and with poor mechanisms for horizontal relationships between departments in the planning process, accentuate the challenge. There are, for example, very close linkages between the status of women, subsistence food production, literacy, poverty, the rate of population growth, and policies of structural adjustment. No Government appears to have found a satisfactory mechanism for making the right connections.

Fragmentation of knowledge accompanies the colonization of science in technical development. Specialists have a limited capacity to discern which knowledge is relevant, where to find it, and how to use it. Doctrine and economic dogma do not cultivate a sense of responsibility.

Some Asian Governments have set up national mechanisms to deal with women's issues. Many countries have formed national plans of action; and some have adopted special policies and programmes. A few have provided for a women's component in their national development plans. In some agricultural ministries a middle-ranking bureaucrat, usually a woman isolated from major policy decisions, is designated "the women's desk," handling only "women's projects."

Separate bureaux and tiny "Women in Development" (WID) cells with even tinier budgets have been established. When forced or persuaded to "do something about women," a few such cells have been nominated as heads of social sectors or "soft-ware" components in big institutions. In macro-economic planning in particular, and all planning in general, this has enabled the continuous treatment of women as "marginal," or as "social" actors, thus perpetuating their less than equal status.

Separate Ministries or cells usually lack permanent support, planning, research or administrative staff, and are generally excluded from the final rounds of major policy planning processes (for example, annual budgets, bilateral and multilateral trade talks, five-year plans, and IMF or World Bank negotiations), except for token mention of mothers and children. This will be in spite of the fact that the terms of reference for a Ministry, established constitutionally, may read for example: "to plan and formulate Government policies pertaining to the enhancement of the role of women in all fields of development. " The establishment of these ghettos is then paraded about by country representatives at international conferences as a credible response to the calls for women's integration.

The problem is further complicated by sweeping phrases, included (frequently as an afterthought) in Five-Year Plans and usually in the concluding paragraphs, such as "women's development must be integrated into the Plan." In most cases this is the first, and last, specific mention of the word "women."

Language is a key planning tool in the desire to mainstream women into development. This means that the reader(s) (Ministry Secretary, policy planner, donor, non-governmental organization, members of the public, or researchers), must be constantly aware of this desire. The best way to do this is to create visibility on the page. Whenever generic terms are used to describe any group within the population - farmers, workers, producers, human resources, etc. - the reader invariably reads and thinks "men" unless it is otherwise specified. Specific language can overcome invisibility.

One of the elements of the ghetto planning approach has been to treat women and children as if they are a uniform target category, usually as men's "dependents." This ghetto approach generates major economic costs. While there are a few generalisations that can be made macro-economically - that women are largely invisible, do not count as producers, are the largest number of refugees (whether from conflict or poverty), and are increasing their migration from rural areas to work in cities or abroad and to earn overseas funds - the ghetto approach is clearly a hangover from the patronizing colonial era. Yet rural women, extremely resistant to anything that will increase their expenditure of time and energy, are very practical when consulted politically.


"... discrimination against women violates the principles of equality of rights and respect for human dignity, is an obstacle to the participation of women, on equal terms with men, in the political, social, economic and cultural life of their countries, hampers the growth or the prosperity of society and the family and makes more difficult the full development of the potentialities of women in the service of their countries and of humanity. "

United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, December, 1979.

"Women in Development" is not a Western, neo-colonial, feminist idea. It is a conscious struggle by women from all classes, castes and nations against their inequitable burdens, their exclusion from political power, the lack of autonomy over their own bodies, and, for too many rural women of Asia, a perpetual struggle for their own lives and those of their children. Nor has it escaped these women that their subordination is continually imposed on them, willingly and unwillingly, by omission or commission, by men. It comes in a multitude of guises, and in a multitude of ways. Women recognize "agency" - and that they do not live as passive victims: men have explicitly and with complicity denied their options. Sometimes men seem to believe their own propaganda - the passive voice and the use of the generic obfuscate what is really happening.

Let's demonstrate this as regards the environment, which shares with women an economic invisibility, and the fate to be "managed" and controlled by men.

"We" are not "losing" forests. Multinational oil companies, timber firms, local élites, with the complicity, co-operation and corruption of specific Government and security officials and international development agencies, are burning, clearing and clear-felling vast tracts of tropical forests at a staggering rate for paper, power plants, mineral exploitation, timber and mono-cultural agriculture. Even when tropical rain forest is replanted, it is usually with mono-cultivation of fast-growing species for timber chips, pulp or paper. The passive voice obscures questions of agency, but the people impoverished by such activity are not fooled by words that allege otherwise.

The textbook World Bank/IMF formula for structural adjustment is frequently defended as a requirement for "political stability." The emphasis is on the deregulation of finance, capital and labour, and a reorientation towards exports, along with a downward adjustment of exchange rates. Throughout this period, the developed countries have manipulated exchange rates to set up favourable terms of trade for themselves.

These policies for "political stability" have seen rural revolts over the expropriation of land and other common property resources, over corruption, unfair taxes and recurrent food shortages. Such policies have threatened food security, and in their concentration on mono-cropping for export, have inflated basic food prices in the Asian nation-states, lowering basic nutrition, and resulting in permanent loss of land and resources for subsistence agriculture. A poor crop or harvest failure has not infrequently provoked armed conflict on a national or international level. In such a situation not only is food a weapon of war, but the conflict causes extensive environmental degradation and population displacement. This is hardly a stable situation.

Food aid policies are often equally hurtful. Records show food aid to famine victims being withheld pending political action on the part of receiving Governments to fall in line with donors' requirements on other issues. The Bangladeshi Government, for example, several years ago was forced to cancel a contract to sell jute to Cuba before it was allowed to receive desperately needed food aid from the U.S. Poor rural women and their children are usually the main victims of these games.

Throughout the Region there are movements of peoples concerned about their own impoverishment, social disadvantages, and about the misuse of national resources. While they are fully cognisant of the debts run up by former corrupt leaders, the despoilation wrought by colonization, and the need for economic restraint, they also notice and speak out on the connections between powerful foreign states and their own political leaders and local élites. It is no accident that women's non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are frequently those in the forefront in calling attention to the hypocrisy of Governments who voice concern over the loss of fisheries or forest resources while simultaneously signing agreements with foreign and local companies to plunder these very resources.


"To alienate the underlying causes of the degradation of natural resources and to achieve equal and sustainable development worldwide, the participation of women and their knowledge as environmental managers is essential. Women have been active at the grass roots level with regard to the environment, and support systems should be developed to assist them in participating, fully and equally, at the decision-making level. The participation of women in sustainable development projects should be a prerequisite for the provision of resources, and the impact of such projects on women should be monitored and evaluated in an unbiased manner. "

ECOSOC: UN Commission on the Status of Women. Report of the Secretary General E/CN 6/1992/9.

Economic growth and technological change have accelerated the division of labour and the demand for ever-increasing specialization. Technological sophistication may have produced growth, but it has also produced ecological and environmental devastation. Man's social capacity to "manage and control" in the interests of sustainability have not kept pace with his advances in science.

Sustainable development, appropriate technology, and the integration of women into development are clichés - fashionable political phrases to which everyone pays homage, but which nobody cares to define or accomplish. Each cliched phrase is then used and abused according to the political/economic interests of the user, and then applied in such a way as to render the concept meaningless.

Let's take the notion of "sustainable development" and its potential impact on women, given very different operational definitions. The United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP's) concept of "sustainable development" covers the following:

Compare this with the objectives of "sustainable development" adopted by the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland, 1987):

World Bank experts at a major workshop on agriculture interpreted sustainability as simply maintaining growth in agricultural production (Davis and Schirmer, 1987).

In planning policies, the economic strategies to meet each of these concepts of supposedly the same thing would differ radically. It is a planners' nightmare when multilateral agencies and aid programmes call for any of the cliches - "sustainable development" or "the integration of women into development," which differ so markedly in what they mean. This is even more of a nightmare when two agencies funding the same project have such differences. And the final hypocrisy is that whatever cliche the agency advocates, for example, "the integration of women into development," none has demonstrated either the will or ability to do this within their own institutions.


"The human rights of women and of the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. The full and equal participation of women in the political, civil, economic, social and cultural life, at the national, regional and international levels, and the eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex are priority objectives of the international community."

UN World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna Declaration, 1993.

Women's direct contribution to agriculture is increasing throughout the Region because of three key factors:

A welfare approach is not the way to address the policy crisis. Yet too often it is the point of view participants in gender-sensitivity training take away with them from a course or seminar. Women make up the overwhelming numbers on a global scale and are in the majority in rural Asia. They form an integral component in the overall system.

Among staff in agriculture and in economic planning, there are several clear categories of consciousness. The economic imperative is seldom addressed operationally, although some references can be found in speeches and papers. Such staff express their political will, but as yet have no ideas on the planning vehicles needed for delivery or institutionalization. Where awareness does exist, based usually on project experience, or in the case of the Secretary and the Minister cited at the beginning of this paper, it does not permeate the system because of general resistance to the empowerment of women and because the systems of measurement render so much of women's productive work invisible.

The pervasive approach to the policy of "the integration of women into the mainstream of agriculture" displays a total misunderstanding of the problem. It is the "ghetto" approach, of woman-only projects or separate training.

This approach is underpinned by the total absence of nation-wide disaggregated data bases. It is backed up by male dominance at all levels in all directorates and agencies of Ministries of Agriculture and of Planning. It is supported by de facto and de jure direct discrimination against women and their access to the critical resources. And all this is frequently further complicated by the unwieldy and administratively inefficient management structures of the planning process.

No single expert can possibly cope with this crisis. The issues, and their acknowledgment, are a fundamental responsibility of all those involved in policy planning, including those who believe they only deal with "technical" issues. So what will you do about it?



Brundtland, Gro H. 1987. Our Common Future. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 49.

Davis, T-J, and S. A. Schirmer, eds. 1987. Sustainability Issues in Agricultural Development. Washington D. C.: World Bank.

Tolba, M. K. 1984. "The Premises for Building a Sustainable Society." Address to the World Commission on Environment and Development. Nairobi: UNEP.

Gender issues in agricultural and rural development

by Khawar Mumtaz

Women's participation in agriculture, indeed their contribution to agricultural production around the world, is no longer in question. The International Women's Year (1975) and the decade that followed highlighted this with extensive documentation. Subsequently the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) process, the Global Forum for Women (Miami), and Agenda 21, all have underscored women's relationship with natural resources, environment and agricultural/rural development. Equally well-acknowledged is women's disadvantaged position in most developing societies.

Despite landmark initiatives, such as the adoption of Forward-Looking Strategies (1985), the drafting of special action plans, UN agencies' guidelines and checklists for incorporating women into the development process (FAO, UNDP, UNIDO, etc.), the recognition of women' role in agriculture has not been successfully translated into policies, particularly at the level of individual countries.

This paper attempts to examine the roles of men and women in agricultural and rural development, the policy-making processes that ultimately impact on men and women, gender-sensitivity in selected policies, and the problems of inadequate data-bases. Recommendations for policy makers come at the paper's end. For analysis and illustration, the paper focuses on Pakistan, though these analyses are applicable to other countries at the same level of development.


Notwithstanding the shift of responsibilities from men to women that has accompanied male migration from rural to urban areas, both men and women in agricultural societies still have fairly well-defined roles. In almost all such societies women's roles usually pertain to the domestic household sphere, including bearing and rearing the children. Men are usually the primary producers. In reality, however, women also carry very specific responsibilities in agricultural production. These vary by region, season, crop, and even by social and cultural status.

In most of the South and Southeast Asian countries, land preparation, ploughing, land-levelling, irrigation and drainage development are male tasks. So are the procurement of seeds, application of fertilizer and pesticides, and the handling of agricultural machinery. Women's tasks include weeding and transplanting - though sometimes done jointly with the men, as in Bangladesh for the rice crop - harvesting of cotton and vegetable crops, threshing rice and wheat, crop processing, and seed and crop storage. Besides these tasks, women usually are also responsible for homestead vegetables and fruit, poultry raising and livestock care.


In Pakistan, rural women are major contributors in four sub-sectors of the rural economy: crop production, livestock production, cottage industry, and household and family maintenance. This last alone includes transporting water, gathering fuel and fodder, food preparation and preservation, and caring for the children, the elderly and the disabled (Diagram 1). The rural organization of production links crops, livestock and household into an integral whole, requiring the work of both males and females. While research data on these linkages is rare the case nevertheless remains that, deprived of female input, most rural households would cease to be economically productive (Diagram 2).

Class and Culture

Though the female participation rate is very high in Pakistan's rural areas, restrictive cultural norms demand that rural women work predominantly on their own holdings. These cultural restrictions are also responsible for the wide gender differentials reported between part-time and full-time workers. According to the country's 1972 Agricultural Census, women are more likely to be part-time workers on large farm holdings than on small ones. The 1980 Census shows that female workers, so long as they are family members, are more likely to be full-time workers on farms of all sizes. The percentage of full-time workers on all farms in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) amounts to 89.54% and in Sindh, 74.36%. In the Punjab, there is an almost equal division between full- (55.6%) and part-time (40.56%) workers, while in Baluchistan 82.84 percent of female family workers are part-time (Table 1).

Culturally, the purdah norms are strictest in NWFP. In Baluchistan, women's economic participation is lower than in the other provinces. Little work has been done in gauging inter-provincial variations, but at least one study indicates that under similar ecological and economic conditions Pakhtun women's participation is lower than Punjabi women's (Freedman and Wai, 1988). There are further variations within provinces where specific communities reveal different levels of women's participation in agricultural production. (Saeed, 1966; and Qadri et al, 1982). In the Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, studies show that the women's work in economically-productive activities declines with any rise in economic status, as gauged by size of family holding. (Zaman and Khan, 1987; Saeed, 1966).

Diagram 1. Women's Participation in the Rural Economy (Extracted from Women in Pakistan: An Economic and Social Strategy, World Bank, 1989.)

Diagram 2. Gender Division of Labour Within the Farm Livestock Interface

Table 1. Composition of Female Family Workers by Size of Farm and by Region







Size of farm

Full Time

Part Time


Full Time

Part Time


Full Time



Occa- sional

Full Time

Part Time

Occa- sional

Full Time

Part Time

Occa- sional

Small Farms


































Large Farms


































All Farms


































Family Labour

In their own households, females contribute 42.6 percent of the family's labour in agricultural activities, and 68.8 percent in all non-agricultural labour (Table 2). Among livestock holders, females supply 60 percent of family labour in agricultural activities, and 62 percent in non-agricultural activities. In farm households, women provide 39 percent of agricultural and 73 percent of all non-agricultural labour (Table 2).

Of those working on other people's holdings, women account for only 16.1 percent of agricultural labour and 10.2 percent of non-agricultural labour. This reflects the bias against women working for wages outside their own homes.

Crop Production

Women participate extensively in the production process of most major crops, but the intensity of their labour depends on both the crop in question and the specific activities related to that crop. Women's participation is high in cotton, rice, pulses and vegetables. Men have higher levels of activity in the early stages of production, such as field preparation. Men also monopolize most mechanical and technical work. Mechanical threshing, by either animal or fuel-powered machines, for instance, is carried out by men, while hand threshing is a female activity. Some activities are highly gender-specific. Driving tractors and watering the fields are reserved for men, while cotton picking is an exclusively female task. Women's participation is notably higher than men's in food storage and processing.

Table 2. Distribution of the Rural Population by Activity, Sex and Province, 1980

Activity, Area, Sex, and Type of Household











Male %

Female %


Male %

Female %


Male %

Female %


Male %

Female %


Male %

Female %




















Livestock Holders


40 4



37 9

62 1


85 4

14 6


89 S

10 S


26 9

73 1

Farm Holders


61 3

38 7


27 5

72 5


79 2

20 8


90 6

9 3


22 0














11 1







Livestock Holders


38 2

6 18


39 7

60 3


86 0

14 0

1 6,39 1

88 7

11 3


28 4


Farm Holders





29 3

70 7


79 9

21 4


89 6

10 4







42 6













Livestock Holders
















Farm Holders



















































Farm Holders



































Livestock Holders


































In the rainfed areas of the Punjab, one study shows that while women contribute to almost all of 22 identified crop tasks, their major contribution is in seed preparation, collection and application of farm manure, husking maize, preparing storage, and the storing of food for home consumption (Tables 3 and 4). Interestingly, the study also reveals that males and females see their own and each other's work quite differently. Other investigative work corroborates these differing views (Shaheed and Mumtaz, 1990).

Table 3. Division of Labour Within Household for Major Crop Production Activities, Percentage of Females Responding to: Who Performs the Operation?


Type of Labour


Male Family

Female Family

Hired Male

Hired Female


Seed Preparation




























Collecting Farm Yard Manure





Applying Farm Yard Manure






Spreading Chemical Fertilizer






Taking Off Fodder













53 9

32 5




Binding (Wheat)


20 1

3 8

0 4

8 6

Husking (Maize)






Preparing Threshing Floor


















On-farm Transport






Off-farm Transport






Selling Produce to Agent




Preparing Storage.






Storing Food for Home






Storing Fodder






Women's participation is well recognized in rice and cotton production in the cotton growing areas of the Punjab and Sindh. A study on women's agricultural participation in Sindh found that both crops account for more than one-third of women's annual agricultural activities, 37 1 percent in rice areas and 34 4 percent in cotton areas, and that visible female labour is higher for cotton than for rice (Table 5). In the Punjab, the study found that the highest participation rate for women was in cotton-producing areas, where harvest labour is all female. The lowest female participation was in sugar-cane production (Zaman and Khan, 1987).

Table 4. Division of Labour Within Household for Major Crop Production Activities, Percentage of Males Responding to: Who Performs the Operation?


Type of Labour


Male Family

Female Family

Hired Male

Hired Female


Seed Preparation






Purchasing Inputs




























Collecting Farm Yard Manure






Applying Farm Yard Manure





Spreading Chemical Fertilizer





Taking Off Fodder













1 8



Binding (Wheat)



3 2



Husking (Maize)






Preparing Threshing Floor












On-farm Transport





Off-farm Transport.




Selling Produce to Agent





Selling Produce to Villagers




Preparing Storage

15. I



Storing Food for Home




Storing Fodder




Livestock Production

Livestock represents 26 4 percent of the value of all agricultural production, and women's contribution here is more visible than in crop production. Studies in Sindh and the Punjab estimate that women spend between one-fifth to a quarter of their daily working hours in livestock-related activities (Anwar and Bilquees, 1976; Freedman and Wai, 1988; and Qadri and Jahan, 1982). In Sindh, rural women undertake 63.25 percent of all labour in rice areas and 65.79 percent in cotton-cum-wheat areas.

Table 5. Women's Participation in Crop Production - Sindh






Total Man-days/Year Required Per Acre





Average Area Cultivated (in acres)





Man-days Required for Producing in Average Area





Women's Labour in Visible Agricultural Activities (Man-days)





Women's Labour in Visible Agricultural Activities (Man-days)





Total Labour in Crop Activities(Man-days)





% of Women's Participation in Crop Production Activities





According to Freedman and Wai's study, quoted above, rural women in the Punjab estimate that of 14 livestock production tasks, the work of family males outweighs that of females in only three: the grazing and watering of animals, the sale of products to agents, and the care of sick animals. In cleaning animals and caring for sick ones the work of both sexes is about the same. Family women are exclusively responsible for preparing ghee, or rarefied butter, and almost so for cleaning sheds - though these are built by hired male labour - manure collection, egg collection, and selling produce to villagers. Male opinion largely concurs with this assessment.

Household Maintenance

In addition to work in agriculture, livestock production and handicrafts, women are responsible for the generally not accounted routine and regular tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, carrying food to male family members in the fields and, of course, caring for children. All household chores are both time-consuming and tedious. Cooking food can sometimes take hours, depending on the quality of fuel, as cited in a time-use study conducted in a village of the Punjab (Diagram 3). Fetching water and collecting fuel and fodder are also routine, time-consuming and strenuous female activities' often requiring women to walk for miles and carry heavy loads.

Diagram 3. Composition and Percentage Share of Household Activities Amongst Those Owning 5.1-10 Acres

Among women's non-routine household work are such tasks as house repairs and construction, making and repairing storage bins, processing and conserving food (pickling, drying, grinding), weaving cloth and rugs, and sewing. In addition, looking after the old and the sick, and fulfilling other social demands - marriages. deaths, childbirth - are generally considered women's responsibilities.


When policies are made their impact on women is rarely taken into consideration. In centralized systems of macro-economic management the over-riding preoccupation is with economic growth and maintenance of external solvency. It is therefore not surprising that countries where agriculture is one of the main sources of livelihood and foreign exchange earnings, as in Pakistan where rice- and cotton-based exports generate over 60 percent of foreign exchange, as well as being the major source of surplus for investments, the emphasis is on intensifying productivity and maximizing output. With agricultural policies determined by these concerns, the small farmers, the landless, the share-croppers, and particularly the women of these groups, all become marginalized.

To understand the importance of policy implications on the underprivileged and disadvantaged, it would be useful to look at the policy-making process. Pakistan again offers a typical example. The country has a per capita income of US$380 a year. Poverty is widespread, especially in the countryside. Agricultural workers' average income is now only one-third of the urban average (Seventh Plan). Up to 40 percent of households receive only 18 percent of total national expenditure (1984-85). According to UNDP(1993) on average the poor consume less than one-third of what the better off do. Women within this structure suffer from low literacy - 18 percent overall, 9 percent in rural areas - and are constrained by cultural and social norms. They have limited opportunities for higher education, are largely uninformed, and are invariably considered dependents.

The planning process in Pakistan is highly centralized and people's participation is not really prevalent. The two major planning instruments are the Five-Year and Annual Development Plans. The former provide the development philosophy, policies and sectoral targets, which act as guidelines for resource allocations within each sector. The Annual Development Plans set the annual budget allocations for new and on-going projects. The projects are prepared at both the provincial and federal levels by the respective Departments and Ministries. Approval of projects is determined entirely by their costs. Larger projects are approved at the federal level, those of lower costs at the provincial.

Though constitutionally women are not barred from Government service and in theory have an equal right to work and remuneration, they are conspicuously missing at almost all levels of the planning process. Their generally disadvantaged position in society makes it extremely difficult for women to break these barriers and enter new fields or to reach decision-making positions. Only 3 percent, for example, work in administrative services. Those women who do manage to enter administrative services - and there are now a few - do not necessarily sympathize with the plight of their sisters. Too many have been trained in the dominant male-oriented mould of economic planning and official culture. Even when they are willing to help other women, they are too few in number to make much impact.

In this kind of policy-making process, it is not surprising that the policies' impact on women is never seriously assessed. Take, for instance, the introduction of the high-yield variety packages into Pakistan. The "Green Revolution" transformed productivity and returns from land, it is true, but it also had a specific negative impact on some sections of the rural population. The most immediate effect of capitalist farming in Pakistan was on share croppers - an integral part of the agrarian system. There were forced evictions as landlords resumed farming the land for themselves.

The displacement of women through ejection from their traditional living environment to new and often alien ones and its impact on them has never been examined, but may be observed in almost all the country's urban centres, all uniformly overflowing with rural migrants. Women selling peeled garlic and other spices in Lahore, for instance, usually belong to families of ejected tenant farmers (Mumtaz, 1988) who entered the market place only for the survival of their families.

The damaging effects of "Green Revolution" technology on the quality of land have only recently begun to be studied. Water logging, salinity and sodicity have rendered vast stretches of land in India, Pakistan and Iran totally unusable (FAO RAPA, 1992). The effect of chemicals and pesticides on crops, animals and people is not yet even recognized. Women cotton pickers in Pakistan suffer from blisters and skin rashes caused by the chemicals sprayed to protect cotton plants from pests. The degradation of land means that fuel and fodder, collected as part of women's daily routine, is no longer easily available. Growing desertification due to changed farming practices in fragile ecosystems forces women to trek for miles in search of water. Women in the southern province of Sindh walk up to 10 miles to fetch water. Massive deforestation on Indian mountainsides has also made women's jobs all the harder.

Recognising that women are not receiving the attention their situation demands, a special high-level Women's Division was set up in Pakistan in 1979. Mandated to mainstream policies for women through the line departments, the Division, upgraded to Ministry in 1989, is not represented in the provinces at critical planning levels and has become bogged down in funding and executing only special projects for women. Its effectiveness, therefore, is now marginal.

It is obvious that the planners' primary concern, at least till quite recently, has been to enhance production and increase revenues. Women have, therefore, been quite invisible in the planning agenda. Although they now receive some attention, they are yet to be viewed as human resources instead of a section of the population with its own roles, work, constraints and needs.


There is a general absence of intelligent and well thought out policies regarding rural women. Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan all report the conspicuous lack of policy response to rural women's needs and concerns (Mahmud, 1990; Dayal, 1990; Gunawardena, 1990; and Akhtar, 1992). Even when women's activities are recognized, policy does not necessarily seem to change much. Pakistan's Seventh Five-Year Plan (1988-1993), for instance, states that: "The majority of women work hard and long hours in agriculture, in the informal sector, in urban and rural areas, and within households" (p.280). It has a chapter on women listing special programmes for them. As to polices regarding women, the Plan is silent. The chapter on Agriculture makes no mention of women in agriculture. The chapter on Rural Transformation focuses solely on literacy programmes for women.

The National Agricultural Policy (1992), an important document which, perhaps for the first time, reviews the impact of policy on small and marginalized farmers refers to women only in passing. The document mentions women in four places: for induction into forestry through training; for involving them in co-operatives so as to form a "bulwark against big business and feudal interests," to relieve them, along with other poor, from "the clutches of middlemen;" as agricultural extension workers; and for training in special skills, such as livestock, storage, processing, and so on. (Akhtar, 1992, p.43). As the policy focuses on small farmers and barani, or rainfed agriculture, it does not even cite women as a target group. While theoretically women could be small farmers, as they can own land under law but don't, in reality they are not.

The National Agricultural Policy objectives include making credit available to small farmers and small holders in remote regions. Nothing, however, is said about credit for women. All this despite the Seventh Five-Year Plan promising to provide credit, and without collateral, for poor women. While the policy recognizes the displacement of labour as a result of mechanization and sees the need to address this situation with the provision of alternative opportunities, it does not recognize the displacement impact on women or their need for similar opportunities and assistance. Where the Policy talks of the distribution of State land to the landless and small farm holders, giving land to women farmers or female heads of household - now on the rise worldwide - has apparently not even occurred to the Policy's male drafters.

The above examples reflect the ingrained male-dominated orientation of policy-makers, indeed of Pakistani society as a whole. The perception of women as dependents, as supplementary caretakers of homes and children, and as service providers, all help to conceal the extent of women's contribution. This invisibility, as Marilyn Waring has pointed out, keeps them invisible from the planners as well. The last decade or so, with the conscientious research by women academics and activists, has seen increased attempts to try to remove this invisibility. Governments are now beginning to acknowledge women's role in the various production processes. Pakistan's Sixth and Seventh Five-Year Plans included chapters on women, lamented the "shocking problem of women" and their shackled position, and expressed an alleged commitment to redressing the unjust situation. But both documents do not actually incorporate women in various sections of the Plan itself. Nor do women figure in the Plan's Agriculture and Manufacturing chapters. As a leading Pakistani woman economist and planner says: "They are not a part of the entire thought process" (Akhtar, 1992, p.44).

This failure or refusal to view women as an inherent part of the various agricultural processes is prevalent even in the offices of the UN Agencies operating in the developing world. Some of the agencies have highly-developed gender-sensitive policies at headquarters, at least on paper, but not everyone follows them in the country offices. This was glaringly revealed in a review of the Women in Development (WID) policies of UN Agencies in Pakistan (1989). The study pointed out that some Agencies did not even have copies of the WID policy documents in the country office. And when the documents did at least exist they were misunderstood and not used by staff at all. WID issues were dealt with ad hoc, if at all. Women's involvement in project identification and implementation was also completely missing. At best WID components were sometimes tacked onto on-going projects as an afterthought. The FAO project documents, for instance, saw women's participation mainly as a source of labour or viewed women as passive beneficiaries (United Nations' WID Review, 1989, p.8)

Programmes in the agricultural sector have generally tended to overlook and ignore women. Extension systems usually reach out to male heads of households, or concentrate on commercial crops, seldom on food crops grown by women (Dayal, 1990). Training in the use of new technology and techniques even when applicable to women is almost never provided to them. An oft-quoted example is of livestock training being given to males whereas, as everyone in our society knows, women are responsible for livestock.


One of the fundamental problems of policy drafting and planning is that the data base on women is woefully inadequate. The extent of rural women's participation is simply not visible in most statistical accounts. Available statistics, such as they are, also often suffer from wide discrepancies. In Pakistan, for instance, the Population Census reports a female participation rate of only 3 percent in 1981. Yet the labour force surveys show 12 percent FLFPR (Female Labour Force Participation Rate). And a World Bank report estimates that there are as many as 12 million women who are economically active in the rural economy.

Pakistan's 1980 Agricultural Census captures a much higher women's participation rate. It estimates that 9.5 million, or 42 percent, of the 22.8 million economically productive persons in agricultural households are female. This places the female participation rate in rural areas at 73 percent for women, as compared to 93 percent for males. The Agricultural Census does not include non-agricultural households. These have higher female participation rates than do agricultural households and make up 31 percent of all rural households. The basic data unit in India and Bangladesh also is farm holdings. There too, non-farm households are regularly excluded from the statistics. In Bangladesh, for example, households with less than 5 decimals (5 one-hundredths of an acre) are classified as non-farm and are therefore not included in the Census (Mahmood, 1990).

The FAO RAPA Regional Expert Consultation on Database for Women in Agricultural and Rural Development (Bangkok, 1990) identified many wide-ranging problems common to data about rural women, particularly in South and Southeast Asia.

At the conceptual level, the basic problem in the data comes from the in-built biases as to women's prescribed roles and activities. Habitually viewed as mere passive housewives and dependents, women's economic contributions are ignored and their work within the household is not even acknowledged as productive. Such biases both colour and distort definitions of work and labour force participation employment. They also affect the understanding and attitude of personnel conducting surveys and censuses.

The Agricultural Census in India records all details as to gender, age, and so on, of those responsible for operating land holdings. Women's ownership of livestock or land gets buried in all this. Gender disaggregated data is not recorded at all (Dayal, 1990). Subsumption of women's work also occurs in tasks jointly carried out by both sexes, such as rice production in Bangladesh. Though they work alongside the men, women are not seen as "participants" in rice cultivation and are, therefore, denied status as agricultural producers. And as they are invisible in official statistics, they are also denied benefits from agricultural policies and programmes. The Pakistan Agricultural Census defines a full-time worker in agriculture as one who does only agricultural work; thus women who also do household work are classified as mere part-time workers. Thus 61 percent of economically-active rural women are recorded as part-time workers, compared with only 14.5 percent of males.

Methodologically, problems arise as data is normally collected by male enumerators from only the male members of the household. As women are not questioned, any information on women is second hand. Its accuracy also depends on purely male reporters. Thus women are "counted out" of the labour force and are either categorized as "housewives" or at best as unpaid family workers. Either way their economic contribution remains unacknowledged. In the same manner, since the household is viewed as a homogeneous unit, intra-household disparities and distinctions having to do with female family members are ignored.

Such underestimation of women's agricultural activities is compounded by not taking into account the variations in women's time-use and seasonal activities. In harvest and post-harvest seasons, for instance, women's work load increases manifold but does not always get recorded in official statistics. In lean agricultural cycles the nature of work changes but goes unrecorded. The same happens with the work rural women do inside their own homes. Even when women's work is clearly productive, as food processing and handicrafts certainly are, it rarely finds a place in official statistics.


The above overview leads to the conclusions that:

It is clear that women participate in various activities in the rural areas. All development policies in mechanization, water systems, crop priorities, land terms systems, and so on, clearly have an effect on women.

To address rural women's needs, a number of steps are required, the most important being to include women in all policies. It is, therefore, recommended that:


Akhtar, Masooda. 1992. "Agricultural Policies and Their Impact on Women." Report from the National Conference on Women in the Agricultural Sector of Pakistan. SID, Islamabad.

Anwar, Seemin and Faiz Bilquees. 1976. "The Attitudes, Environment and Activities of Rural Women: A Case Study of Jhok Sayal." Research Report No. 98, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad.

Dayal, Pratima. 1990. "Database for Women in Agricultural and Rural Development in India." FAO Regional Expert Consultation on Database for Women in Agricultural and Rural Development, Bangkok.

Dent, F.J., et al. 1992. Women of the Earth. FAO RAPA, Bangkok.

Freedman, Jim and Lokky Wail 1988. Gender and Development in Barani Areas of Pakistan. Agriculture Canada Research Branch, London (Canada).

Gunawardena, Lalitha. 1990. "Database for Women in Agricultural and Rural Development in Sri Lanka." FAO Regional Expert Consultation on Database for Women in Agricultural and Rural Development, Bangkok.

Heyzer, Noeleen. 1987. Women Farmers and Rural Change in Asia - Towards Equal Access and Participation. Kuala Lumpur: Asia and Pacific Development Centre (Ed).

Mahmood, Simeen. 1990. "The Need for Creating a New Database for Women in Agriculture in Bangladesh." FAO Regional Expert Consultation on Database for Women in Agricultural and Rural Development. Bangkok.

Mumtaz, Khawar. 1990. "Database for Women in Agricultural and Rural Development in Pakistan." Paper for the Regional Expert Consultation. FAO RAPA, Bangkok.

Qadri, S.M.A. and Akbar Jahan. 1982. Women in Agriculture: Sindh. AGRICON, Karachi.

Saeed, Kishawar. 1966. Rural Women's Participation in Farm Operations. West Pakistan Agriculture University, Layallpur.

Shaheed, Farida and Khawar Mumtaz. 1990. "Women's Economic Participation in Pakistan: a status report." UNICEF, Islamabad.

--. 1991. "Testing New Techniques for Elaborating a Database on Rural Women: Case Study-Pakistan." Shirkat Gah-FAO, Lahore.

UNDP Mission. 1990. The UN System in Pakistan and WID. UNDP, Islamabad.

United Nations. 1989. WID Review, p.8.

uz Zaman, Khaliq and M. Jamil Khan. 1987. Female Labour Participation in the Rural Economy of the Punjab. The Punjab Economic Research Institute, Lahore.

Community forestry, NGOs, women and the poor: Some observations from the field

by Gautam N. Yadama

We can define policy as a set of guidelines shaping the behaviour of individuals, groups, communities and, very importantly, institutions in a society. Underlying any policy are bundles of assumptions and value statements. These assumptions and values reflect the priorities of a society. Policies aim to discourage, promote or reward certain behaviour and actions in individuals, communities and institutions.

If development policies are to make a difference in the lives and the lot of women, then they must be rooted in values that are sensitive to women and in the realization that women make overwhelming contributions to any society. We cannot forever, given the preponderance of evidence, be designing policies that merely tinker at the edges of women's lives. Forest policies, agriculture policies and rural development policies in general must alter the lives of women drastically. Development policies must provide women the support and strength to view their hopes and lives differently. Development policies and programmes in the final analysis must be evaluated on their ability to positively influence the opportunities and choices available to the disadvantaged of a society.

In this paper the author examines how community forestry programmes carried out by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have fared in improving the livelihood of women and marginalized populations. The paper begins with a background on the relationship between forests and people; followed by a brief discussion of the role of women in non-timber forest product collection to illustrate the importance of forests to women. The final section is a discussion of NGOs and the results of a study conducted by the author on the impact of non-governmental community forestry programmes on women and the poor. Finally, there are some recommendations.


The dependence of rural populations on forests in the South Asian region is well documented (Arnold and Stewart, 1991; Jodha, 1992; Roy Burman, 1990; and Tewari, 1989).

"Forests and the people living near the forest form an inter-locking natural resource/human ecosystem. The concept of sustainability can be realized only when the communities using the forest resources perceive and benefit from their conservation. In this context, an understanding of the lifestyle of those who gather non-wood forest products should be of crucial concern" (Rag, 1992, p.8).

Earnings from the sale of non-wood forest products, such as sal leaves, tendu leaves, mahua flowers, sal seeds, lac, medicinal plants, honey and bamboo, are a primary source of income for women and the poor (Arnold and Stewart, 1991, p.11). Women and children collect fuelwood, fodder, nuts and other edible forest products, and medicinal herbs for household use (Kaur, 1991; Pandey and Yadama, 1990). Seventy-eight percent of fuel collection in Nepal is done by women, with 84 percent done by women and female children combined (Fortmann and Rocheleau, 1984). For many rural households, community forests constitute the only source of basic necessities and income. According to Jodha, a large proportion of the rural poor (84100%) depend on community forest resources for fuel, fodder and food items (1992).

The link between rural poverty and forest depletion was first acknowledged at the Eighth World Forestry Congress in Jakarta in 1978. This Congress advocated the participation of rural people in forest management as a part of rural development. FAO in 1980 recommended that: a) forestry strategies be based on the active and voluntary participation of the rural poor; b) forests, forest lands and forest industries hold a significant potential for the alleviation of poverty and for promoting social change in rural areas; and c) forestry policies be oriented and designed to support rural development on a permanent basis (Rag, 1987a; 1987b).


Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are major sources of employment and livelihood for women. A large proportion of NTFPs are collected by women. NTFPs can range from gums and resins, bamboo, cane, dyes, grasses, oilseeds, silk and hemp, honey and wax, nuts, leaves and seeds for propagation. NTFPs make up two-fifths of forest revenues and about three-fourths of the net export revenues of forest products (Roy Burman 1990). A large proportion of the workers in the NTFP economy in India are women. Many are tribal women, as 70 percent of NTFP collection takes place in the central tribal belt states of India (World Bank, 1991). The bidi (local cigarettes) industry characterizes the close link between the NTFP economy and women. Women are employed to collect tendu leaves that are rolled into bidis. Most of the work is home-based and women are paid on a piece-rate basis. It is estimated that 106 million person-days in collecting and 675 million person-days in processing are spent in the bidi industry (World Bank 1991). Similarly other forest products, such as Karaya and Gaur gums, play an important role in the economic lives of rural and tribal women.

Ironically, the role of women in the management of forests is not commensurate with the major role they play in gathering forest products (Kelkar and Nathan, 1991). Women should play a substantial role in the management of forests as common pool resources (CPRs). It stands to reason that those populations whose livelihood is closely linked with the viability of CPRs, such as forest populations, should also be given the responsibility to manage the CPRs. The joint forest management (JFM) strategy now underway in various Indian states should include those populations that have the most to gain from a sustainable use of forests. The sustainable use of forests is not possible if women and the very poor, the primary beneficiaries of NTFPs, are left out of joint forest management strategies.

There is ample evidence that women take it upon themselves to protect, manage and conserve village and community forests on their own initiative (Pandey and Yadama, 1990). Such initiatives are not surprising when a significant portion of household survival strategies is linked to resources gathered by women and children from common property resources, such as community forests. Women and other rural poor have time and again organized to manage village forests in spite of an absence of forest policies that legitimize such activities conducted on forest lands that technically belong to the State. In the last decade there has been an emphasis on the participation of women and the very poor in community forestry programmes. A major vehicle for involving rural populations in forestry activities has been the NGOs. Many NGOs are involved in implementing community forestry programmes.

One of the strategies to help women and the very poor has been to involve NGOs in some forest policy making and to a large extent in the implementation of community forestry programmes. NGOs have also been active as intermediaries in implementing joint forest management strategies. I would now like to turn to some empirical evidence from the field to discuss the role of NGOs in implementing community forestry as well as in shaping forest policy as it affects women and the very poor in general.


A large number of NGOs are planning, organizing and implementing community forestry programmes in South Asia. NGOs are thought to be more effective than Governmental Organizations (GOB) in carrying out community forestry programmes. The assumption is that NGOs are locally-based and are, therefore, sensitive to the needs of the people, especially the poor. Based on this assumption, international organizations and national Governments, have encouraged NGOs in developing and implementing community forestry programmes. There is much documentation on how governmental community forestry programmes have failed to pay attention to who participates and who benefits. The general criticism is that Governments too often ignore the social welfare effects of community forestry programmes. Many of the governmental programmes were successful in generating new wood-based resources but were not effective in involving the poor and, as a result, had minimal impact on the economic wellbeing of poor households (Cernea, 1991; Chowdhry, 1985; FAO/SIDA, 1985; SIDA, 1987).

While the evaluations of community forestry programmes managed by the Government have found that there is a lack of participation on the part of the rural populations, there is a growing belief that NGOs involved in community forestry have been much more effective in incorporating the rural people into the planning and decision-making processes (Hazlewood, 1988, Malik, 1987; Soans, 1987; and Streeten, 1987). From the perspective of the NGOs (NGO Consultation 1986:6) the following characteristics are necessary for any community forestry programme: a) beneficiaries must primarily be women and other economically- and socially-disadvantaged groups within local communities; b) the major benefits must accrue to the local communities in the immediate area; c) products and benefits must be of the kind required by the local populations; and d) the strategy and content of the programmes must be determined jointly by the concerned communities, forest departments, NGOs and other appropriate institutions. A community's access to information pertinent to the decision-making process must be ensured.

One of the advantages that NGOs claim over the public sector or Government is their ability to implement participatory programmes that help disadvantaged households gain control of any new resources that are generated. Many NGOs are locally-based and are familiar with the various communities in which they operate. Rural development professionals and experts are convinced that NGOs are the key to a participatory development process. This is evident in community forestry programmes where there is a lot of NGO activity.

Non-governmental institutions provide an alternative structure that fosters equitable development through the participation of the disenfranchised and poor in rural communities. Non-governmental development programmes differ from governmental development programmes for the following reasons: a) NGOs are locally- or regionally-based and are therefore more familiar with the social, economic, political and cultural context of development; b) NGOs do not have the bureaucratic burdens of a governmental development programme and are more responsive and flexible in addressing a community's complex needs; and c) NGOs, because of their familiarity with communities and institutional flexibility, are also able to address a wide array of issues ranging from inequity in the distribution of benefits under existing rural institutions and land tenure issues to issues of gender bias in development programmes. NGOs, given their orientation and philosophy of development, are not only sensitive to these issues but attempt to address these problems as they arise during the design and implementation phases of development programmes.


The results presented in this paper are from four community forestry programmes in Vishakapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Data were collected from two hundred participants in these four programmes during 1989. Of the four community forestry programmes, two were implemented by the Social Forestry Division of the Government of Andhra Pradesh. The remaining community forestry programmes in the study were implemented by two NGOs in the district of Vishakapatnam. Of the two hundred respondents, one hundred were from non-governmental community forestry programmes and a further one hundred were from governmental community forestry programmes. Sixty nine percent of the sample were male (N=138) and 31 percent female (N=62). The average household size in the sample was 5.6 persons; the smallest household had one person, and the largest fourteen. The average age of the participants was 47 years. The average amount of land owned was 10.55 acres. The results of a structural equation model of economic status, gender, participation and benefit-sharing are presented in Appendix I.



The last finding implies that there was little institutional and normative regulation in NGOs to prevent upper socio-economic classes from benefiting directly without participating in the development programmes. While the upper socio-economic classes benefited directly without participation, the disadvantaged, such as the very poor and women, did not benefit as much, even after participation, in the non-governmental community forestry programmes.

Lack of Technical Expertise

Many women and the landless in the NGO programmes participated in raising nursery beds as self-employment schemes. The rates of return on the nursery programmes were very low because of heavy seedling casualties. This was directly due to a lack of technical knowledge on the part of NGOs. NGOs, however, could have imported the technical know-how from the local forestry departments but were reluctant to do so since the relationship between NGOs and GOs was adversarial. This adversarial stance hurt the women and the very poor in the NGO programmes. As a direct contrast, those who participated in nursery projects in the governmental programmes did better since they had the technical assistance of a forestry department.

Differential Market Value

The mechanism in the non-governmental, as well as the governmental community forestry programmes, to redistribute a large proportion of the benefits to the marginal and small farmers was inadequate. Other than providing the landless, and marginal and small farmers with employment opportunities, these community forestry programmes, while rewarding the large farmer, did not put in place any mechanism to deal with practices that exploited women and small farmers. Some women and other small farmers who planted trees on their land, for instance, sold their tree crops to middle-men for early cash returns. Middlemen bought young casuarina crops from the vulnerable and the disadvantaged at low prices, later selling the mature crops at much higher market prices. It has been shown that "where market intermediaries operate, the producer receives on average 27 to 31 percent of the final consumer price. In cases where producers sold to the consumer, the producer's share was around 70 to 80 percent" (Asian Employment Programme and International Labour Organization, 1988, p.27). The larger farmers who have the resources to wait until their tree crop is mature, sell for a much higher market price. So far the NGOs have not explored any mechanism for addressing market exploitation of women and other marginal farmers in community forestry.

Marketing Skills

NGOs in the study helped women establish home-based nurseries through Mahila mandals (Association of Women). After helping set up the nurseries, the NGOs later purchased the seedlings back. A ready and available market was provided to the nursery growers. This made them dependent, however, on the artificial market created by the NGOs. This was evident when the NGOs concerned discontinued the practice of buying back saplings from the women. NGOs encouraged the women to continue tending the nurseries so that the saplings could be sold on the open market. The women, however, were either not willing to take the risk of selling on the open market or lacked the necessary skills to sell their saplings in a real market rather than the artificial one created by the NGOs. Soon the nursery programme came to a halt.

Avoidance of Social and Economic Issues

NGOs in this study implemented community forestry schemes in much the same way as the Government. They did not take advantage of being outside of Government restrictions and hence not only able to implement community forestry programmes but also able to become involved in some of the underlying social and economic issues, such as land ownership and tenurial rights. Instead the NGOs avoided controversial and tough issues.

In many villages, community forestry and the resulting income reaped from the trees gave rise to disputes and conflicts. In one village, encouraged by an NGO, a landless labourer and his wife planted trees on a hillside which had stood unused for decades. When it became apparent that the trees were flourishing and that the landless labourer was doing well, villagers objected to his trees being on the hill slope. Their contention was that the land did not belong to him. The landless labourer's crop was eventually destroyed. NGOs could have taken up the issue with the district officials and, under a governmental scheme, secured a "Pasta" (usufruct rights) for the labourer. Instead the NGO chose not to get involved in the controversy.

In another instance, one of the NGOs attempted to help four widows who were heads of their households. The NGO helped these women establish a woodlot on the side of a denuded hill. As the woodlot became well established, the villagers in the adjacent communities questioned its presence on the side of a hill that was meant for limestone quarrying. After some time, tensions reached the stage where the woodlot was destroyed overnight and the widows were left with nothing. Meanwhile, as the tension mounted, the NGO retreated from the villages and abandoned the women's cause. This made it easier for other jealous villagers to destroy such woodlots.

NGOs thus lose their effectiveness simply by avoiding such social and economic issues as land tenure and the social status of certain populations. NGOs are becoming more preoccupied with their own survival than with bringing about social and economic change. They are becoming more and more conservative in their strategies.

Conflict and Competition Between NGOs

The number of NGOs doing rural development work has steadily increased over the last decade. The high density of NGOs in the region where this study was conducted has had a negative impact on the effectiveness of the NGOs. Many NGOs involved in community forestry, as well as other rural development projects, in attempts to gain the support of the people and therefore more funding, undermine the work of "rival" NGOs. The end result is that villagers, especially the vulnerable, do not take the work of the NGOs very seriously. They have begun to distrust many of the NGOs and doubt their motivation for organizing community forestry programmes.

Many NGOs, large and small, carrying out community forestry programmes do so in isolation and there is no dialogue between the various NGOs on the specific aspects of these programmes. Knowledge-sharing among these NGOs is quite rare. While the NGOs at the national and international level present a unified front, their cooperation at the regional, local and village levels is less forthcoming.

Based on the findings, a few recommendations are outlined below. These recommendations are not only to agencies funding NGOs involved in community forestry but also to the NGOs themselves.


NGOs should always involve women and marginal farmers in planning and decision-making activities instead of merely the implementation of community forestry programmes. Individual households' abilities to organize and plan need to be strengthened so that they can generate more resources. Householders should not always be dependent upon outsiders to undertake new ventures. This can only be done if the participants have gained the necessary skills and confidence by involvement in the planning and decision-making activities of community forestry programmes.

NGOs presently working in community forestry programmes are merely imitating governmental community forestry programmes. These NGOs view themselves only as efficient alternatives to Governments yet they do not exist merely to correct the distributional and political biases of the Government (Bebbington and Farrington, 1993). NGOs in the study area have largely ignored or avoided opportunities to bring about real social change. NGOs are in a position to take initiatives that governmental agencies cannot.

Governmental community forestry programmes are narrowly defined, and in the words of one of the administrators: "...operate within the land tenure, economic and political conditions that already exist." An NGO, while implementing a community forestry programme, however, can advocate for women and the poor on such related issues as land tenure rights and tree tenure rights, if the trees have been planted on degraded Government lands. They can also devise mechanisms to help women to sell their tree crops at a fair market value. As NGOs are outside the Government, they should address underlying issues, such as land tenurial rights and oppressive land tenure systems; social, economic and political dominance over the poor; women's rights; and distribution of benefits. Issues must be addressed within the context of community forestry programmes rather than in the abstract. This will often give rise to specific legislation that benefits people in real ways.

NGOs at the regional level should collaborate to develop regional strategies for community forestry. NGOs need not compromise their autonomy while cooperating with other regional NGOs. A regional community forestry strategy developed by a group of NGOs can be carried out at the village level by an individual NGO.

Inter non-governmental cooperation at the local level has several advantages:

NGOs have the capacity to plan and implement community forestry programmes that address the social and economic problems of women and the very poor. The study raises some concern as to the effectiveness of non-governmental action and the risk avoidance behaviour of NGOs. Funding bodies need to pay more attention to these aspects in evaluating and monitoring NGOs involved in forestry-related projects.


Arnold, J.E.M., and W.C. Stewart. 1991. Common Property Resource Management in India. Tropical Forestry Papers: 24. Oxford: Oxford Forestry Institute.

Asian Employment Programme (ARTEP) and the International Labour Organization. 1988. Employment and Income Generation. Bangkok.

Bebbington, A., and J. Farrington. 1993. "Governments, NGOs and Agricultural Development: perspectives on changing inter-organizational relationships." The Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 29, No. 2, 1993, pp. 199-219.

Cernea, Michael M. 1991. "The Social Actors of Participatory Afforestation Strategies." In Michael M. Cernea (ed.), Putting People First: sociological variables in rural development. New York: Oxford University Press.

Chowdhry, Kamala. 1985. Social Forestry: Who Benefits? In Y.S. Rao, Vergara, N.T., and G.W. Lovelace (eds.), Community Forestry: some socio-economic aspects. Bangkok: FAO/East-West Center.

FAO/SIDA (Swedish International Development Agency). 1985. Evaluation of the Gujarat Social Forestry Programme. Rome, Italy: FAO.

Fortmann, L. and D. Rocheleau. 1984. Why Agroforestry Needs Women: four myths and a case study. Unasylva, 36(4), 2-11. Rome, Italy: FAO.

Hazlewood, P.T. 1988. Expanding the Role of Non-governmental Organizations in National Forestry Programs. Washington, D.C: World Resources Institute.

Jodha, N.S. 1992. Common Property Resources: A Missing Dimension of Development Strategies. Washington, D.C: World Bank Discussion Paper 169.

Kaur, R. 1991. Women in Forestry in India. Washington, D.C: World Bank.

Kelkar, Govind and Nathan Dev. 1991. Gender and Tribe: women, land and forests in Jharkhand. New Delhi, India: Kali for Women.

Malik, M. S. 1987. Expanding the Role of NGOs in National Forestry. Shadab, Vol.5, No.8, Rural Development Foundation of Pakistan.

NGO Consultation (conference proceedings). 1986. The Role of NGOs in Social Forestry. Bangalore, India.

Pandey, S. and G.N. Yadama. 1990. "Conditions for Local Level Community Forestry Action: a theoretical explanation." Mountain Research and Development 10(1), 88-95.

Rao, Y. S. 1992. Forests and Cultures in Asia. Forestry Research Support Programme for Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok: FAO RAPA.

--. 1987a. Programmes of Participatory Forestry Development in Selected Countries of Asia Bangkok: FAO RAPA.

--. 1987b. Role of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Community Forestry. Bangkok: FAO RAPA.

Roy Burman, J.J. 1990. "A Need for Reappraisal of Minor Forest Produce Policies." The Indian Journal of Social Work, 51 (4), 649-658.

Soans, B. 1987. Expanding the Role of NGOs in National Forestry Programmes. Soans Memorial Farmers' and Rural Afforestation Training Centre, Karnataka, India.

Streeten, P. 1987. The Contribution of Non-governmental Organizations to Development. Development 4, 92-95.

Tewari, D.N. 1989. Dependence of Tribals on Forests. Ahmedabad, India: Gujarat Vidyapith.

World Bank. 1991. World Development Report 1991. Washington, D.C: World Bank.

Appendix I. Parameter Estimates of Structural Equation Model of Socio-economic Status, Gender, Participation and Benefit Sharing in Community Forestry Programmes


Maximum Likelihood Estimates






SES __ Benefits





SES __ Participation





Participation __ Benefits





Trust __ Participation





** Parameter Estimates Significant p £.01

Previous PageTop Of PageTable Of Contents