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Part 2. Gender and HLFFDP

Part 2. Gender and HLFFDP

Using the gender related concepts and framework as a reference, the HLFFDP can be reviewed on its actual performance and potentiality in respect to gender sensitivity The information is derived from a critical review of project papers, from a gender case study conducted by a student, and from impressions gained during field visits. Firstly, underlying ideas, values and assumptions will be analyzed, both from the project's side and from the farmers' side. Secondly, the institutional arrangements, partly shaped by these ideas, are reviewed.

I. Gender and project ideas

Rural development cooperation is focused on the improvement of the position or status of poor, discriminated and oppressed people. Conceived in this way, people's position has several dimensions: economic, political and socio-cultural. Traditionally, the economic dimension was given primacy. This is also the case for the HLFFDP (box 1). One of its two aims is to uplift those people living below the poverty line. Therefore, the primary criterium to indicate eligibility as project beneficiary is primarily economical: only small farmers or landless people are included as beneficiaries.

Box 1

How primacy of the economic dimension works out

In the appraisal report it is recognized that group-community tensions might come up. These are exclusively framed in economic terms (class relations): It is known from community forestry that tensions might come up across the division in genders. An example is an all-women group facing problems to retain decision making power over forest management and product distribution (Hughes, 1993). Such group-community tensions require attention and need to be anticipated upon.

The project fully recognized these shortcomings of the primacy of the economic dimension. Therefore, within the class of poor people, the project specifically targets at women and indigenous peoples. This indicates the attention for the other dimensions of underdevelopment: discrimination and oppression. It creates an enabling environment to develop a gender sensitive implementation strategy. The strategy has two steps or aspects. In the first place women's involvement in the project is highlighted. This results in promoting female group members. In the second place, the status of women should be enhanced. This applies to both female group members and female partners. Enhancement of women's status will be done by focusing "on integrating women into the mainstream of activities in a joint husband-wife partnership".

The first strategy in itself is not enough: involvement of women in groups does not imply that their gender needs are addressed (see box 2).

Box 2

Membership alone is not involvement

As within community forestry, inclusion of women in committees or groups does not necessarily expand their participation in decision-making. The very act of formalizing forest management and institutionalizing a group is in practice transferring power from the realm of women (informal forest management) to the realm of men (formal decision making). Mrs. Faugère, conducting a gender study for the project, found that in practice some female beneficiaries were added to a group without their knowledge. These women are poorly informed on their own group's activities and plans.

Defining and perceiving women as targets focuses on the sex-ratio within groups. This might divert attention from gender relations and empowerment. The key to involving women is to focus on men's and women's aspirations, their practical gender needs, and their strategic gender needs. Women need an active, equitable position, not only for their own empowerment and upliftment, yet, also for strengthening democratic structures and for successful forest management on previously open access lands. Therefore, from an outsider's point of view, the second step in the strategy focusing on the enhancement of women's status has to be taken seriously. It is important to find out women's own ideas in this regard.

The assumption stated in the appraisal report is that the "women's status in the family is closely linked to their ability to contribute to the family income" (IFAD, 1990). It is recognized that women already contribute substantially to agricultural in kind income. This is however not fully recognized and valued by men. The approach proposed is to sensitize and raise awareness among men regarding their female family members' importance. This assumes that men are not able to properly make value judgements. It could be that gender-biases prevent fair value judgements. It could also be that the project tends to overestimate the income from the farming system of small farmers. The beneficiaries (male and female) tend to prefer outside off-farm labour above agricultural work.

If the latter were the case, this would then imply that women's status is correlated to their cash income contribution, which is traditionally men's domain. The involvement of women in income generating activities is not recommended by the appraisal team because they assumed women's workload would already increase because of leaseland development and management (see box 3).

Box 3

Assumption on women's increase in workload

The reduced time required for collecting forest products is outnumbered by the required additional time to collect increased quantities of fodder and caring for the livestock, It was assessed that these activities will increase the workload of women by 50 to 100 days per year. It seems that other requirements like lease land preparation and community work (it requires many meetings and discussions to plan and coerce lease land development) are not taken into account.

Based on the assumed increase in workload for women, it is assessed that income generation is primarily the men's domain and will continue to be so. The project staff does not agree with the assumption made and strategy chosen by the appraisal team. Rather, it emphasizes participation of women in income generating activities through prioritizing women for certain trainings, e.g. the nursery naike training (see box 4). Regarding such different ideas and assumptions it is recommended to check them in the field through gender analysis and case studies.

Box 4

Cases on women's involvement in nurseries.

Up to now women were trained in nursery management, from which it was expected they would derive income. Experiences so far are mixed.

    Success: In Padam Pokhari, Mrs. Tamang constructed her private nursery, grew seedlings, tackled a disease, and earned NRs. 6,000 while she still has a stock worth NRs. 10,000. Her husband is supportive, though, often absent. The key to success however seems the motivation and active attitude of Mrs. Tamang.

    Failure: In Riyale, motivated women started a group nursery. After site preparation the male group members were reluctant to gather and to contribute unpaid labour. The male chairman does not back-up the women through facilitating mobilization. All work stopped.

    Dependency: In many cases the trainees manage to get support from their male family and group members, yet, their dependence on field staff is high. They need training and precise instructions which require steady follow-up from the rangers. They depend on field and district staff to receive inputs and to sell the output. This results in a shift from a dependency on their husbands to a dependency on field staff.

    Lesson learned: For effective nursery management women need power. Empowerment can be facilitated through training and literacy classes. However, access to knowledge does not automatically result in decision-making power or status. Empowerment includes conscientization, confidence building, and development of leadership. The lack of a women empowerment strategy at household and group level, tends to result in an increased workload of women without increasing their control. Yet, the accomplishment of empowerment opens the path to progress.

The project appraisal team's focus on women is limited to wives and to women heading a household. Emphasis is put on the husband-wife partnership. The crucial role of the daughter-in-law is completely forgotten in this rather eurocentric view. In rural Nepal, it is often the daughter-in-law taking care of livestock and forestry. It is recommended to analyze intra-family male-female relationships within different groups (classes, castes). This will not only show the role of the daughter-in-law, but also how a husband-wife 'partnership' looks like in practice. How equitable are these gender relations? Based on such information project ideas can be reviewed and strategies can be developed. In which cases does it work to approach women through men, and the daughter-in-law through her mother-in-law.

Regarding female headed households, the appraisal team proposed to provide them with additional loan facilities. Thus, these women's access to and control over resources and services is to be increased.

Another gender related issue raised by the appraisal team is the group composition. "The formation of exclusively women's groups (..) would not be emphasised largely as it could be seen as socially divisive amongst some of the ethnic communities" (IFAD, 1990). Such a statement should result in different strategies for different groups of women rather than being used to legitimize a strategy for all women. From community forestry it is clear that all-women groups can be formed and can manage forests, although they mostly get access to degraded sites only. Since degraded forest is the only land available for the project's beneficiaries, it is probably socially acceptable to form all-women groups.

Therefore, the project team does not fully agree with the appraisal team. There is scope for pursuing both the proposed integration strategy and the autonomy strategy in which exclusively women participate. Both have their strengths and weaknesses (see part 1). The choice depends on the socio-cultural context. While implementing and monitoring it will become clear which approach is institutionally sustainable in which context.

A combination of both strategies might focus on all-women groups in which the male family members play the role of supportive partners. This might result in a strategy combining the advantages of the autonomy strategy with those of the integration strategy. The strength of such an intervention is the empowerment of women without isolating them from their husbands. Men and women redefine both their gender positions and address both their gender needs, aiming at equity.

We can conclude that although the appraisal mission expressed its concern for women's involvement, it did not use the concept and perspective of 'gender'. A gender analysis was not conducted. Due to this lack of a gender analysis, the project document could be labelled as gender insensitive. It pretends a gender neutrality through its partnership approach, yet, in fact the approach is likely to reinforce existing, unknown, gender relations and inequalities. It can be argued that no project is gender-neutral because the very objective of the project is to change the prevailing situation, inevitably affecting gender relations.

Despite such shortcomings (see box 5), which can be corrected, the project document does provide an enabling environment to address gender issues and to pursue a gender sensitive strategy.

Box 5

Gender and the project document

In the working papers attached to the Appraisal Report only 7 pages (half of which deals with cooking stoves) out of the total of 400 are dealing with women's involvement. Effectively, it comes done to less than 1 %.

During the exploratory phase it was proposed to create budget for girl-child fellowships. Given the importance farmers give to education and literacy training (see paragraph II), it addresses a genuine need. In the same way literacy classes conducted by the ADB-N are of great importance. Several other donors and NGOs (especially United Mission to Nepal) have very good results with literacy classes as a starter activity. It enables them to do detailed need assessment and target group identification during the one-year training and prior to local level project planning and formulation.

Yet, it is to be kept in mind that literacy is not a prerequisite for sound forestry or livestock development. It significantly contributes to confidence building and developing communicative skills. Thus, literacy makes it easier for the outsiders to reach out to these women, rather than that it is an indispensable tool for the women to pursue development.

II. Gender and farmers' ideas

During the implementation of the project some information regarding gender relations is already gathered through action research, project visits and literature research. A diversity of ideas and approaches could be distinguished (boxes 6 to 9).

Box 6

The patriarchal case.

In some cases male farmers do not see the need to involve or consult women because the men will give their female household members an order to accomplish the work. Despite that women are the primary users and labourers involved in forestry, neither their voice is heard, nor are they in practice properly informed by their husbands on formal decisions made. Thus, non-compliance with rules is inevitable.

Box 7

The lack of confidence case.

In one case of community forestry, women lacked confidence in their ability to change their lives for the better. This results in among others fatalism and passive forest management: "we cannot read, we cannot understand, we can only protect the forest". These women expressed a need for literacy classes as well as for training in and extension on technologies for active forest management.

Box 8

The incorporation case.

In one case of community forestry, men were very eager to support women's active participation and representation in the committee. The reason given by the men was that without women's involvement they could not reach the women and could not change current 'mismanagement' practices. Thus, with support from the forest office, the men incorporated women to pursue their own forestry activities. These were oriented towards timber production, addressing men's gender needs. Women's gender needs regarding fodder and fuelwood collection were not only ignored but need fulfillment was made more difficult.

Box 9

The empowerment case.

In one case of community forestry, men's strategic gender needs were effectively addressed. Through a pine plantation and external support for a sawmill men became very confident in managing and controlling a productive forest, increasing their income, raising their voice, and pulling outsiders' services towards their community. Women's gender needs, especially the practical needs, were rather neglected until they also raised their voice. In fact their need for fodder was a catalist in changing plantation management from passive protection to active harvesting. Selective thinning of the pine forest addresses men's needs for cash and women's needs for grasses. It matches both gender needs and empowers the insiders.

Prior to investigating what women think about the project, their needs and aspirations should be investigated. For project and field staff it is often difficult to find out farmers' needs and ideas. Their discourse is distorted due to project: they ask what they can get and that is not necessarily what they need. The more reknown a project is, the more difficult to innovate (see box 10). This is particularly true for projects with a sectoral focus and a fixed implementation strategy (including HLFFDP, although three sectors are involved).

Box 10

Farmers ask what projects can deliver.

The Karnali Local Development Project originally had a strategy in which the first step towards community development was the construction of drinking water to decrease the workload of women. After this strategy was known, wherever the project staff went, farmers requested for drinking water systems. Even when permanent rivers were nearby. Farmers' true ideas, gender needs, and on-going development processes were difficult to grasp. Even after abandonning the original step-wise strategy, these difficulties were faced.

To find out women's and men's ideas and perceptions it is not enough to conduct interviews. Particularly women and poor people voice their ideas and needs privatedly with each other and perhaps a trusted outsider, but never openly in public. From various sources information has to be collected, triangulated, analyzed, and interpreted. Insiders play a crucial role in these exercises.

III. Gender and institutions

The ideas and values analyzed in the previous two chapters are to considerable extend shaping the institutional arrangements of the project. The context profile examines amongst others the institutional factors which make up the development context in a specific area. The key question to be raised is: What is the capacity to analyze gender differences and to develop a gender sensitive strategy of the institutions (to be) involved in the project? Important issues are:

A full analysis is not pursued in this paper. Some of the most obvious issues will be presented. A more thorough look at them could be done by the proposed gender consultant.

Donor institutions

Within the donor organizations emphasis is given on gender issues. The Dutch government's policy focuses on the autonomy strategy. FAO has published several documents, among which a manual for designing participatory gender trainings.

Decision making institutions

This addresses the question "in what way and to what extent will or does the target group in general, and women in particular, be able to participate in the different stages of the project?" At appraisal the target group was poorly involved in designing the project. During implementation the target group and community as a whole is involved in decision making through providing community consensus regarding land allocation for leasehold forestry. Ideally, this involves a review of forest use patterns and land use planning. In practice only allocation of a patch of lease forest is pursued (see box 11).

Box 11

The forest as a unit of operation

Community forestry is often implemented by taking a forest patch as entry point. Subsequently the user group was identified, organized and mobilized. The patch is finally handed over. Leasehold forestry takes a similar approach. This tends to result in transferring utilization pressure from that particular patch of forest to other government forest. Another result is that forests are handed over where the incentive to cooperate is questionable or where the abilities to organize and enforce rules are weak (Loughhead et al., 1994). There is an emerging understanding that not a patch of forest but the forest use pattern of a certain area should be taken as point of entry. In this way, all accessible forests and all actual users are included in land management planning, which focuses on balancing utilization pressure and carrying capacity.

Ideally, community consensus is achieved through a democratic process involving all stakeholders. In practice it is left up to the dominant political forces in the community Building and strengthening local democratic structures is recommendable.

After land allocation and group formation the lessees are involved in participatory planning (see below). All these decision making institutions are formalized. Although participatory, women's participation is generally weak. In practice this results in a transfer of power from the realm of women (informal daily decision making) to the realm of men (formal occasional decision making). However, in some groups the minority of women are very active in decision-making. This seems largely due to their strong personality rather than to the institutional arrangement.

Regarding hand over of leasehold forest "government authorities retain considerable, if not overriding, jurisdiction and discretion over the entire process. (..) [Ultimate] authority rests with the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, not with the people, as stipulated in the 1990 Constitution" (Talbott & Khadka, 1994). The official policy towards hand over is ambivalent: the government retains possession of the land itself and control over the process of five-yearly approval, renewal, and cancellation of the lease. This policy provides an enabling environment both for people-centered participatory forestry and for bureaucratic resistance and corruption (idem.) The present practice is focused at sharing out, a form of distribution, rather than sharing in, a principle of collective ownership.

Planning institutions

Planning is based on the targets formulated in the appraisal report and on plans developed by groups. Targets are specified in gender neutral terms such as 'household members', 'group members', 'trainees', or 'beneficiaries'.

Planning formats for groups do not elaborate on gender issues. The preparation of the operational plan is done by the group as a whole (not by men and women separately). The number of female and male group members is recorded. Access to forest products is described. Activities to be performed are written down. From the gender analysis framework's point of view crucial information is lacking. It is not asked who will conduct the proposed activities (men or women). The current activities which form a context in which the project activities must be fitted in are not reviewed. Questions about control over resources are not included. A context analysis is not requested. Expected impact on gender relations is not evaluated.

The supervision mission (December 1993) recommended to add the preparation of a business plan to the planning process. This has so far not been taken up. Taking the gender analysis framework as a reference guidelines can be developed. Refering to the context profile, the guidelines will include available credit sources, economic processes at community and household level, marketing system. Refering to the activity profile, the guidelines will include seasonal price fluctuations, temporal differences in credit needs, repayment periods, etc. Refering to the resource profile issues to include would be the access to and control over credit for men and women.

Apart from the planning formats, gender sensitive planning also requires an enabling institutional environment. It will cost more time, more skilled (wo) manpower is needed, and thus more money needs to be available. Gender sensitive planning also relies on sufficient coordination between various disciplines and agencies (the resource and context profiles require a holistic approach). More in-depth understanding is required, thus, field trips need to be of extra long duration, for which an adapted incentive structure might be necessary.

Implementing institutions

Regarding implementing institutions it was stated in the appraisal report that "the lack of female extension staff is not seen as a constraint as it should be possible for the male (..) staff to interact with the women and hence no provision is made for separate women motivators" (IFAD, 1990). However, elsewhere the intermediary role of women promoters is recognized and described as "drawing the less forthcoming women in the community towards the project's activities" (IFAD, 1990: 40). Such an institution is not very conducive to participatory implementation. From the female farmers' point of view it would be desirable if the women promoters conveyed their needs towards project staff. In that way women's needs can be addressed by drawing project facilities and services towards them. It is recommended to substitute the role of promotor for the role of facilitator.

Coming back to the assumption that male staff can interact with women, it became clear during implementation that this is questionable. The fact that only 13% of the group members is female indicates some difficulty in reaching out to women. Field staff themselves have stated these problems and are eager to receive a training on gender issues. Yet, a training can make them familiar with gender analysis tools but is not sufficient to change their attitude towards women. It is proposed that the project facilitates a socialization process towards gender sensitivity.

Box 11

Socialization of field staff

"Socialization is the process whereby values, attitudes and perceptions are embedded in a person through a l transformation whereby the individual becomes a member of a l group. Many extensionists have gone through at least four l socialization processes. During their youth they became l member of their caste (most are from high caste) and gender l (most are male). Subsequently, they became member of their l profession and, thereafter, they became a member of the l civil service. Generally speaking, this socialization l process gives them a feeling of social superiority paired l with a commitment to social justice. Reorientation towards l community development strengthened their social commitment, l yet it left their superior advisory role unchallenged ("we l know what is best for you"). The locus of control remains l within themselves: they want to know where they stand and l they want to determine where to go. For true cooperation on an equal basis the field staff's social position is at stake. This requires a new socialization process" (Umans, 1995).

To facilitate a socialization process towards gender sensitivity, a workshop can be organized. The aim is that the participants reflect on their values, roles, behavior, strengths and weaknesses.

To make the project's institutions more gender sensitive it would no doubt contribute when more women were included in the various organizations at the various levels. Yet, again, the aim should not be to employ people on the basis of their sex, but on the basis of their sensitivity to gender issues.

Gender sensitive implementation will no doubt require more experienced staff and more time spent by the staff in the field. For instance, it is recommended that female extensionists are jointly going into the field. The project's coordinated nature provides opportunities in this respect, yet, (wo)manpower constraints faced by district officers need to be addressed. The human capacity resource needs to be made available through improved planning, training, and budgeting.

Credit institutions

Credit is provided to the beneficiaries through the Small Farmers Development Project of the ABDN (for details see Sterk, 1994). To receive credit there is no requirement for a collateral once group liability is obtained. Credit is available for land development, purchase of livestock, and income generating activities. Gender is not looked at, except that women headed households have access to additional loan facilities (not specified). The locus of authority for credit disbursement is vested in the Group Organizer from ADB-N, who can consult the ranger and Junior Technical Assistant for their recommendation.

Training institutions

Training is gender sensitive. The roles of women and men in the household and with regard to forestry are taken as a basis for selecting trainees. Training regarding cook stoves are exclusively given to women because they are in charge of the kitchen. For training in nursery management priority is given to women because it provides them an income generating resource and it fits in their working calendar. Men are often absent, while it is assumed that women can devote some time on a daily basis.

Trainings for land development were initially given to group members and their partners. In practice this resulted in participation of the female partner only upon absence of her husband. The woman should take care of farm affairs. It is therefore requested and proposed to conduct this year's trainings separately for men and women wherever possible.

Training material on gender issues is developed for field staff. It will be tested this year. Regarding farmers' training, a discussion on their gender roles and values is not yet included in the curriculum. It provides an opportunity to address awareness raising among men with respect to their wives' and daughter-law's contribution to the household.

Monitoring institutions

Based on the conceptualization of women as targets, only the number of male and female beneficiaries is recorded. No further information on their roles, attitudes and changes in gender differences are recorded. Gender sensitive implementation implies a focus on men's as well as women's awareness, contribution, decision-making capabilities as well as access to and control over project facilities. This requires monitoring of changes in the socio-cultural sphere.

To develop a gender specific monitoring system the currently used formats are recommended to be reviewed. The household questionnaire is focused on assets rather than on who controls and who manages these assets. The IFRI forms inquire on activities and the opinion of 'individuals', 'members', or 'residents', none of them has to be specified by gender. The project's monitoring forms inquire specifically into the number of male and female participants, yet, as indicated above, gender sensitive monitoring is more than counting biologically different human beings. Regarding women headed households even monitoring of their number is not done. Based on a clear idea of the gender concept, each of these forms can be adapted.

Indigenous institutions

Within village communities in Nepal there are numerous indigenous informal institutions for credit, forest management, milk collection, literacy classes, fund raising, and drinking water supply. The capacities, gender sensitivity, strengths and weaknesses of such institutions are not systematically analysed prior to project implementation and little use is made to build upon what already exists and functions.

From community forestry it is known that there is much scope to build on indigenous forest management systems (Baral and Lamsal, 1991; Fisher, 1989). Yet, gender inequity or insensitivity seems one of the weakness of these systems. They "neither necessarily involve the poor and women in decision-making, nor do they specifically address their basic needs" (Loughhead et al., 1994). From eight case studies on indigenous forest management in West Nepal it is concluded that women have no decision making power in at least 7 cases. In the other case women are represented in a formalized committee, however, "it is doubtful as to how far the voices of the female members have been heard" (Chhetri and Pandey, 1992).

Observations indicate that milk collection groups are fairly effective and distribution among its members is equitable. Yet, members are mostly men. The institution addresses men's practical gender need in respect to cash income, while women and children take care of the animals. Fulfillment of men's needs might burden women's workload. Such differences in and impact on gender relations are to be looked at prior to intervention. At first sight milk collection groups seem a very suitable organization for reaching out to men.

In many Nepalese villages literacy classes and women's trainings are conducted. These mostly address women's strategic interests. At first sight such non-formal gatherings seem a suitable organization for reaching out to women.

Generally speaking, it seems that within indigenous institutions women's role is limited. This questions the validity of a "minimum intervention strategy" (Fisher, 1989). From a gender perspective there is scope for intervening to increase gender equity. It is recommended to look more thoroughly into existing indigenous institutions and their role in relation to the project. This could be done both in a specific study and in each community where the project is (to be) implemented.

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