II - Role of women in natural resources management
Women play an important role in almost all agriculture and livestock activities of the household and in man`, cases their participation exceeds the one of males. Most of them take part in livestock raising particularly in feeding (included grazing) and watering although the importance of this activity depends on the size of the flocks. A few of them, rarely and especially in Jordan, have developed small income generating activities to improve the living of standards of the family and the household security. Whenever women receive an income, the resources represent resources for food security. Thus, women shoulder a major share of the responsibilities for household food security They are more likely than men to spend a given income on food for the family. That is the reason why income generating activities are options and alternatives to overexploitation on heavy pressure on limited natural resources (forest and pasture resources). As a result of their full participation in the economic and well being of the household. and according to the fact that in rural areas the household is dependent on the use of natural resources, we can se!! that women play a key role in that field.
Some women are employed by forestry services (especially in nurseries where they represent the majority of the employees; in Syria some of them are employed by forestry services in afforestation and maintenance activities generally as part-timers). According as most of the state nurseries are located close to cities. they are no nursery employees in villages covered by FAO Project. Most of nursery workers come from cities and not from farms. Consequently such an activity is not directly, related to natural resources management but can be regarded as any paid work. The majority of female workers come from very poor households, in which the livings conditions are very bad and the female income essential to satisfy the basic needs.
In Syria and Jordan, populations have been excluded from playing any participatory role in management of the natural resources. Up to now the use of the state forests and range lands are regulated by the administration; farmers and raisers are neither organized nor associated to their management according to the restrictive and repressive forestry legislation (both in Jordan and Syria). In Jordan range lands are under state control. In Syria there are no state range lands in the Project's area and crazing ma!- be authorized in forests under conditions.
Although the majority of women participate in decision making within the family. this remains the privilege of male heads of households within the patriarchal structure of the family. As male are not yet associated to the natural resources management (forest and range lands), women do not have any specific role in the decision making process in issues related with forest use and management. The only exception is the one of collecting and transporting firewood for household use, and many women have a wealth of traditional knowledge and experience on the different use of some products. Their knowledge on the medicinal values of leaves, barks, flowers, roots, seeds ans saps, the food and fodder value of the local species, the quality of different firewood, etc. are an important asset.
Any question about forestry and range resources management involves indifference especially in Jordan: the unanimously answer is that they do not feel concerned by these fields; consequently it was unfortunately impossible to go deeper into the use of forest products during the mission. Rangers deal only with males . even if a female disobeys the legislation, offenses and penalties are addressed to a male of the family.
In general males are decision makers for crop production but responsibilities are shared between males and females. Traditionally men are responsible for land preparation, while women are responsible for weeding, harvesting, crop processing and livestock. All family members participate in harvesting but women have a major role in some post harvesting activities, especially food processing. They play a very important role in the management of fruit trees plantation particularly for pruning, treating watering and harvesting. Most vegetables are produced in home gardens close to the house and are in the hands of women Marketing is in most cases in the hands of men.
The female participation in livestock raising depends on the number of animals. If holdings are small, women do most of the work in feeding. watering and otherwise managing stock. Women daily water and feed the animals and may also graze and milk them. However, when flocks and herds need to be taken to pasture, the young men or children are likely involved. Women are always responsible for poultry and processing of products from livestock, especially dairy products.
In Jordanian areas of the project, the main, activities are the fruit tree planting (olive trees are dominating although various species are found like almonds figs. apricots. apples. peaches, vines), annual crops and livestock. The major component of the farming system is characterised by cultivation. of olive trees associated to cereals. Olive tree planting has increased these last years to the detriment of livestock raising. Livestock (sheep and goats) raisers cultivate more cereals but the alimentation of the animals depends on the range lands and purchase of feeding.
In Ira Yarga fanning systems are dominated by the range lands and livestock raising (small ruminants) fruit trees plantation (especially olive) and annual cereals. Transhumance is decreasing according to the intensive cultivation in Jordan valley. Use of state range lands (6,000 hat is controlled by the administration which authorized about two months grazing per year. There is no raisers' organizations for grazing. Graze lands are very insufficient and supplementary feed is provided (barley. concentrated feed). Women make dairy, products and a part of them is sold to Amman.
Food drying, storage and processing of agriculture products are activities performed by women for household consumption. They also market some either directly from the farm or in the village. These include: drying of cereals, vegetables and fruit; vine leaves; processing of vegetables (pickles). cereals (cracked wheat. frike...) and fruit (grape juice. jam); storage in plastic or glass containers. Women can also sell milk, cheese, butter, eggs, vegetables.
In Syrian areas of the Project, food processing is not widely, even if they are fruit trees plantations.
In Marassat Al-Khatib farming system is dominated by fruit tree plantations (especially olives and a few vines and apples) combined with annual cereals and chickpeas). The rural exodus has been increasing during the last years and population can be considered as semiurban according to the fact that about 70% of the families are spending the schooling period in Aleppo. Women take part in all agricultural activities, especially olive and fruit harvesting. They also have home gardens and cultivate some medicinal herbs. Only people who star all over the year in the village have livestock (few small ruminants) which are fed with crop residues, opening grazing land and barley and straw during winter. In, general women are responsible for livestock raising.
In Trungi and Haddar areas, the main activities of women also concern fruit tree plantations. Most of the villagers are employees in the nearest cities. The cereal production and fruit trees plantations (olives, figs and apples) are the main agricultural activities for household consumption. Fresh fruit -particularly figs- are marketing without difficulties according to the proximity of cities (Damascus is only at one hour) but at very low prices. Another activity is animal breeding,, most of them. are sheep. There is no pasture land and grazing is made on unproductive and fallow land in summer. Barley and straw are the main animal fodder in winter.
Forest services provide employment to about one third of the population, in Al-Zeitounah (but no women). Agricultural land has been terraced for practising cereal crops and fruit orchards. The main constraints are the small size of plots and shortage of irrigation water. One of the first action implemented by the Project was the constriction of a dam according to the needs expressed by the villagers during the PRA. This was made without participation of local populations neither in labour force nor in cost sharing. Up to now the irrigation from the pond has not begun because of difficulties: the households come UT, against to organize themselves for benefit sharing. The livestock raising is limited because of the lack of grazing land in the surroundings of the village. Many young women have good educational level and a few followed training courses in Lattakia (nurse word; sewing. typing) but did not get any job.
The new areas wet-e selected in last May according to criteria of location (proximity of forests) and poverty . A lot of people are landless or share-croppers or have e very small plots of tobacco, fruit trees plantations or cereals practiced in made man terraces. These areas are rocky. montainous and close to forests. The rate of unemployment is quite high especially for women. The livestock is limited to an average of one cow per household in Ayn Journ and Hadia and a few goats and cows in Ayn Al-Khatib and poultry. Livestock is in most cases under the responsibility of women. There is a raisers' organization in Ayn Al-Khatib with rotation between the owners of "oats for grazing Animals are feeding with crops residues and pasture in degradated Quercus forest. Fodder is purchased during winter. In Ayn Jourin grazing is limited during a few months and only straw is bought as fodder. In the three visited villages animal production is very low as a result of poor nutrition due to fodder shortage and low income (approximately one kg of milk per cow per day in Ayn Jourin). The situation is particularly crucial -landless and share croppers on small plots of fruit orchards and cereals) in Hadia because there was no land distribution after the Agrarian Reform.
Many women must look for temporary employment especially in Ayn Jourin and Ayn Al-Khatib. Forest services employed several women for its afforestation and forestry maintenance programmes and most of them have to work as temporary agricultural employees at the al Ghap plain farmers. Their work conditions and salary are quite bad (about 75 SP per day)1 and the average time spent ranges from one to two months a year. The opinion of women in these remote areas are that they work more than men.
11 USD = 42 Syrian Pounds (normal rate) and 26 SP (UN rate)
Considering the excessively severe restrictions on exploitation of private woods both in Syria and Jordan, private forestry is very limited and the rare private forests (4% of the total forest estate in Syria and 1% in Jordan) are at risk of rapid desappearance. The only incentive to promote forestry activities is the distribution, free of charge, of seedlings and forest plants to individuals who wish to afforest their land (but no fiscal or financial incentives, such as tax exemptions or advantageous loans), and this mesure is widely inadequate compared to legal constraints that obstruct the exploitation of private woods. Licensing conditions and procedures are identical to those required for exploitation of public forests. Licence and permit are needed for any kind of exploitation. As in the case of state forests, private forest trees and shrubs cannot, in principle, be felled and private holders must obtain licences through a very long and exhausting procedure. Apart from the taking of firewood. private forests can be used in two ways: for pruning and by replacing forest trees with fruit trees (both matters under a formal licence). Protected tree species, in particular conifers. cannot be felled.
Both in Jordan and Syria the collect of fuel wood is always under the responsibility; of women. According to the forestry legislation only dead wood can be collected without licence. Gas is widespread and used for cooking and wood is above all used for bread making which remains a traditional activity in Syria (although it tends towards to decrease!. In genera! bread is made about once a week and collecting wood is not considered as a problem by most of women excepting in some very remote areas like Avn Jourin. in fact in this village gas bottles are not available and wood is used for cooking and heating and women declare that they spend several hours daily for collecting wood and consider this activity as very constraining and exhausting.
According to tile women they do not collect other forest products (fruits, mushrooms...) but this may be considered with caution because the presence of forest officers during, the meetings.
Women's issues have taken a place in both countries only recently pushed by external pressure. This is especially right for Jordan; the actions concerning women are clearly less developed in Syria, may be because units and projects which deal with gender issues are still uncommon at ministries level and more concentrated in the NGOs (NGOs do not exist in Syria!.
There is a politic will to increase the role of rural women in the participation to the economic development, as it is indicated in the Jordanian Development Plan ( 1993-1997). The Plan outlines economic and social objectives aiming at improving the economic performance of the country and focusing on the problems of unemployment and poverty. With regards to women, the strategy calls for mainstreaming women into the economy encouraging self-employment, making available to them wider facilities for loans and providing them with the necessary education and training. Various programmes objectives are to increase women's participation in the socio-economic development through training programmes. Various NGOs such as the Noor Al-Hussein Foundation, Queen Alia Fund for Social Development, the (General Federation of Jordanian Women, the Business and Professional Women's Club as well as the National Assistance Fund, the National Employment Fund provide training programmes for women as well as income generating projects and loans to enhance their economic independence and participation. These various institutions projects concern the production families projects, the revolving loans projects, self-employment loans projects, agricultural production and quality of life projects in rural areas. Through these projects rural women can have access to loans and are the main beneficiaries of income generating projects. But generally all these projects have been recently implemented and are at an experimental stage. Only a few actions seem to implement a participatory approach which effectively highlights the necessity of integrating women in the process of development at all levels. as decision-makers within their communities, as well as economically active participants.
Some of national and international NGOs have got a valuable experience in productive projects with women. At governmental level and public agencies, various consultancy reports on the status of rural women were commissioned but till now these have not allow implementation of effective and significant activity. Most of the activities are concentrated on health and nutrition areas.
a) Government, parastatals and national non governmental organizations
The main counterpart of NGOs (national and international) is the Ministry of Social
The Ministry of Agriculture is operating through directorates al central and distinct levels. Although about 25 % of field officers are female there is no gender approach. Extension and Information Directorate is represented at governorate and district level and there are no extension units in the villages. GTZ is charged with formulating a new strategy and planning framework for extension. In general women are not or very little approached by extensionists.
The Agricultural Credit Cooperation (ACC), a fully owned government organization does not have a gender approach to loan disbursement and only about :% of their clients are women, most of them heads of poor households (unfortunately there are no statistics allowing she knowledge more detailed of the female beneficiaries). ACC has recently started a Rural Families Credit Program targeting rural women heads of households with an annual income of J200 JD. If the woman does not have land or fixed assets to take the loan it will be given with the signature of two guarantees financially responsible for her. ACC is also collaborating, with IFAD in the income Diversification Project (IDP) which operates in the higher rainfalls areas through the Ministry of Agriculture and the Jordanian Cooperatives Organization. The Income Diversification Project targets low income families arid provides short and medium term credits to upgrade the production of small flocks of sheep and goats,, to plant trees,, to produce vegetables, to implement water harvesting, food processing, etc. Some of these activities (like livestock raising, milk processing and marketing) foresee that priority will be given to women. The Project is just beginning.
The Jordan Cooperatives Organization is in the process of restructuring. In 1993 there were 683 cooperatives of which 44 female cooperatives in eight directorates. Most of the members are located in urban areas. There is no female cooperative in the FAO project areas.
The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) established in 1981 the General Federation of Jordanian Women (which has now the status of NGO) with a nation-wide of 25 multi-purpose centres. Training projects are set up to help women in developing leadership in their own communities and raise their awareness about civil and legal rights. The Federation sponsors some small-scale income generating projects sometimes in cooperation with other NGOs. It has been heard that a new project could be soon initiated in Ajloun district and which would be similarly to the one already existing in Irbid. It could be interested for FAO project to get is, touch with The Federation and to visit the Irbid Project which seems to have good results., his project concern medicinal herbs drying and packaging run at community level.
Noor Al Hussein Foundation (NHF) has developed a community approach for the low category of rural women and one of their objectives is to promote women's participation in decision making. NHF provides instruction in family planning, basic health issues, child care and promote income generating activities for women. The one in Jerash concerns traditional handicrafts.
Queen Alia Fund for Social development (QAF) has played a leading role in revitalising urban and rural community for more many years (the Foundation was created in 1977) It has a network of over 40 Community Development Centres which provide local points for a range of services, training programmes and projects and involve the local organisations in running the projects. Many of the community, centres are run by local women known as rural leaders. To encourage women to participate and take up leadership roles is, their communities. QAF introduced the pioneering concept of women's comities on the village and governor-ate level. Educational workshops and seminars cover a wide range of topics and issues, as literacy classes, health, environment, agricultural and animal production, domestic economics. etc.
QAF has been recently set up Business Advisory Units to help women to start up business, offering training and assistance from the generation of ideas to market research. Women who attended a business ideas generation course are currently setting up a variety of business like jam production, dairy processing, sewing, opening grocery stores, goat and sheep raising to sell milk and cheese, etc. In 1992 QAF introduced a Revolving Loan Fund Project which offers loans on easy terms for men or women wishing to set up or expand their business.
In the rural areas people are encouraged to improve their living standards through agricultural projects, as home gardens development (vegetables, medicinal herbs, flowers), sheep and goat raising, food-processing and other productive projects like handicrafts. QAF gives an assistance to the research of markets (as the introducing of rural markets).
The General Union of Voluntary Societies in Jordan (GUYS) is registered in the MSD as the over all organizer of voluntary societies (approximately 650 and 65,000 volunteers.
The GUVS does not have a gender approach but support the voluntary societies as a whole. One of the main areas of assistance is vocational training. Training for females entails primarily knitting, sewing and weaving courses. The activity concerning income generating activities is recent and concerns only 3% of the projects. It is addressed to the less-fortunate and low income families and individuals through its Productive Family Program. This is carried out in cooperation with the Development and Employment Fund. Sewing and knitting machines are given on a basis of easy-term loans, with the aim of increasing their income. GUVS has implemented a Credit Fund Program which has proven to be successful. This project started in 1992 through the Near East Foundation as a pilot project The program aims at establishing credit funds in the qualified and capable societies. These funds are used to provide loans for poor families and individuals to help financing of their productive projects. The loans are repaid from the project returns. Each fund has 7,000 JD and the settled revolving loans guarantee the continuity of the project. About 100 projects exist at the present time.
The Business and Professional Women's Club was funded in 1976 in Amman. It provides assistance to women by informing them of their legal rights and responsibilities and by promoting the establishment of women entrepreneurs
Since Beijing Conference some women's unions tend to become more active but specially in urban or semi-urban areas. Anyway these unions are the only existing women's associations.
The present perception is that handicraft market is saturated excepting for goods of high quality. The women tend to ask assistance in the traditional areas because this is the activity they know and they are not offered other alternatives.
b) International NGOs
Save the Children supports projects for rural women and provide molders with an additional income generating activities.
Care International implements projects for community development and some of them aim specifically at women. Since 1993. Care Community Projects are assisting local grass roots organizations to strengthen their capacities and provide income to the local communities through a number of productive projects (main elements concern loans for small ruminants. food processing). The Savings-Credit Project is a new and original approach in Jordan that allows small groups of women to turn their small savings into loans for themselves. Training and support are provided.
Care is also committed to sharing experiences with other agencies concerned with local community development. It participates to the implementation of the Watershed Management Project (Wadi Ibn Hammad) with GTZ financing.
Near East Foundation is one of the oldest NGOs in Jordan. Its main goal is community development and it runs small-scale rural credit programmes in venous southern governorates.
c) International Agencies
UNIFEM, the branch of the United Nations for the promotion of women's development, has a small business programme established on a regional basis in the Near East. The UNIFEM Project -Strengthening Institutions for Enterprise Development of Women is being developed with the assistance of local NGO, especially the Business and Professional Women Club. The Development Fund has the role of umbrella organization for the finance and credit area. The project objective is small scale enterprise development with the support of training, transfer of technology and credit. Meetings are organized directly with women to identify activities and to form groups for training. UNlFEM is developing models for income generating activities with adequate loan windows and financial support; training in using improved technology is incorporated in the model as an additional value. Expected economic and social benefits are among others the creation of revolving funds and additional income for women as well as the development of leadership and management capabilities. UNIFEM has streamlined its work into the Programme "Economic Empowerment for Women in Jordan".
a) Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (MAAR)
MAAR is operating through central and governorate (Mohafazat) directorates. Al' relevant Ministerial Central Directorates are represented at Governorate level by Divisions the Directorate of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (DAAR ) has the responsibility of developing, the agricultural sector in the Governorate. At district level, a District Sub-directorate of Agriculture is usually run by a staff member of the Directorate of Agricultural Affairs. Usually there is one or more village agricultural extension units in each district constituting the front line of the MAAR. The units staff are responsible for all agricultural matters at grass root [eve!. They are also in charge of issuing, the Agricultural License which is usually related to the mandatory implementation of the Annual Agricultural Production Plan and entitles farmers and cooperatives to obtain seasonal agricultural loans from the Cooperative Agricultural Ban}; (CAB). CAB provides credit to all farmers, while the General Union of Peasants supplies its members with credit. farm inputs. agricultural machinery services and assistance in marketing produce.
This administrative organization allows the Directorate of Agricultural Extension (DAE) which has an office in each Governorate to operate at three levels: national. governorate and village. One of the divisions of DAK is the Women Development Division which assists in preparing programmes in rural woman development in the fields of nutrition child-care, sanitation, home economy, domestic animal care and assists in literacy and family planning programmes. Village Extension Units at sub-district or village level are normally manned with two extension officers. one veterinarian/technician or both, one agricultural technician and whenever possible one female extensionist officer. Specific women's programmes have been implemented only for one year and are especially focused on the IFAD project areas (Southern Regional Agricultural Development Project, see details p 34 in the chapter "Lack of technical support").
b) The General Union of Women (GUW)
GUW is a semi-autonomous organization operating throughout the country and providing the advancement of women. It is omnipresent and the representation is at governorate, branch and unit levels. There are several branches by governorate (average about ten), each is run by a permanent wage earner assisted by volunteers. Each branch is organized by themes: technical and craft training, organization, information, medical services, health awareness education, literacy. Each unit can range from 20 to 500 women. There are 3463 centres and 863 in rural areas. Training courses are dispensed in centres but also in villages according to the requests. Women's Union hires external competencies of public or private sector. Women have to pay a small contribution for the training which is used to remunerate the trainer. Principal activities concerning technical and craft training are: sewing' knitting embroidery, arrangements of artificial flowers, basketwork, conservation and food processing agricultural and livestock raising techniques.
Women Union has interesting ideas for promoting women's advancement like group promotion for creation of small scale enterprises but support is short. For instance it has elaborated a certain number of projects for which it is looking for financing: one silkworm breeders' project in Dreikish area. a fruit processing project in Lattakia governorate and a milk cooperative project in Hama governorate. We also can mention the beekeeping project in Aleppo governorate where a female agronomist specialized in beekeeping has carried out training courses on this activity in collaboration with agricultural extension services.
c) Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour
Its action takes place through Rural Development Centres spread over the country. Each centre contains three units which are under technical responsibility of different Ministries: agricultural (MAAR), social (Social Affairs) and medical (Health). Seven centres were established in 1960 al which 24 centres have been added since 1980. There are an average of 2 or 3 centres by governorate. Some of them are not vet functional. The principal activities for women in these centres are literacy, home economy, kindergarten and carpet making. Almost the whole activity of the about 200 craft units depending on the Social Affairs Ministry consists in carpet making (only 5 are knitting units and two sewing units). Participants follow a six months training course remunerated 200 SP a month and receive food ration, then a complementary course. Then workers are paid according to the quality and quantity of achieved pieces. In general the income is low compared to the difficulty of the task and the maximum income does not exceed 155 SP a month for a skilled woman. Most of employees are low educational level young and single women, coming from poor families and who will leave their job when they get married.
d) International Agencies
The Local Community Development Project in Al-Faradis (Province of Hama), executed by ESCWA in collaboration with the United Nations Volunteers, has been facing the challenge to implement a participatory and community approach and seems to have good results, especially at women level. According to the results, the implementation of this model is now in progress in Deir Ali (Rural Damascus) and Bou Leil (Deir Ez-Zor) and executed by the Division of Agricultural Extension.
UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has just developed the "UN Programme for Women Development in Syria". This programme should be considered as a framework for coordination and cooperation between the Government, bi-lateral donors and the UN agencies and organizations resident in Syria.
The existing forestry legislation is not favourable to the implementation of a participator approach for the forestry and land management resources in both countries. This is the main explanation to the poor results obtained till now in this field by FAO Project There is a gap between the Forest Department (in both countries) which give the priority to the protective role of the forest and populations who would prefer to use such resources without limitations and for whom present time is more important than the future income Populations are complaining about the restricting legislation with regards to forestry and grazing activities and would prefer to decrease these protected areas for agriculture (like fruit trees planting) and pastoral activities The role of private forestry is officially acknowledged.
In Jordan the main bull; of the provisions on forestry under the Code of Agriculture deals with offenses. penalties and enforcement. Community forestry, which tends to afford greater opportunities for public involvement and to increase the power of the inhabitants in participating in forest management by means of contractual or other arrangements, are not reflected in the Jordanian forestry legislation Forest usage rights are disregarded in this legislation however, in reality, the policy of the Afforestation and Forestry Department is more liberal and villagers are allowed, free of charge and without licence, to collect dry branches and fallen trees and fruit. At the same time the legislation is strict with regards to the range lands. Generally and according to the category of range lands (improved or not) and the state of the vegetation, the!! are open for grazing twice a year and the authorization is given for a specific number of head). As a result the population consider the forest officers as the representative of law and legislation and show a general hostility against them.
The Syrian forestry law is quite similar; offenses, penalties and severity of the law imply a bad image of the foresters at village level. How-ever it recognizes usage rights to use forests, which include the use of: dead wood and seeds found on the ground; wood for construction and repair of dwellings and the making of agricultural tools; fuel wood; grazing save goats. Although the law appears quite liberal in principle, the procedures to be pursed for their effective exercise are so complex coercive and time consuming that local communities do not use them. Many steps are requested to get a license for wood exploitation as well as grazing (in the forest). To take the forest products usage rights beneficiares must apply in writing to the Chief of the governorate forestry service for a licence and the process is tortuous and hard. Grazing animals in forest areas near villages is also subject to a similar requisite. The licence may be refused in burnt forest areas for at least 10 years after the fire took place in afforested areas for no less than 20 years following plantation in areas where the natural forest cover is less than 10 years old and in any other forest land where. in the opinion of the Forestry and Afforestation Department grazing should be prohibited on conservation grounds. When grazing is allowed it can be practiced for a period of 8 months (between July and February) in areas in which pasture resources are available during spring time and all over the year in designated areas where such resources do not exist. Raising goats is prohibited in the villages located within forest areas as well as their grazing in the neighbouring forests. According to complicated procedures almost nobody complies with. Actually' taking of fuel wood is free as well as animal grazing (except goats) in natural forests usually. A licence is required only to obtain construction wood.
Although, the majority of the women participate in household activities -especially a agriculture and livestock raising- decision making is in most cases the privilege of male heads of households within the patriarchal structure of family. most of women are especially interested -sometimes involved- in the production of traditional handicraft such as sewing knitting, embroidery carpet making because the! do not have other alternative. Most of women do not have income and if they get a small income this contributes to the family well-being and that is why only a household approach is appropriate regarding any kind of gender project. A constraint that operates in households is the resistance for wives to participating in independent economic spheres with the mobility that this implies. Popular attitudes and mentalities generally disapprove the work outside of house for women: a survey carried out in Syria showed that 73% of the interviewed husbands and 62 % of women were against the work of women outside the house. In conservative areas it is regarded as shameful for the man if his wife is working to earn added income. It is generally difficult for rural women to have an activity that would take them frequently outside the home although nowadays a rapid social change is undergoing. Education is seen as the key to improve income and increase the social status. In spite of the progress made in the field of education. the rate of illiterate rural women is about 40 % in Syria ( 20 % for urban women) and 25% in Jordan. But despite some gaps between males and females the clear trend is a steady increase in female schooling at all educational levels including: at university level.
Farmers in both countries are highly individualistic with little history of participating in group-based activities This individualism is still more important at the female level according to the cultural context the withdrawal into the family, the lack of external contact and technical support. Generally there is no or poor collective cooperation between the villagers neither in producing nor in marketing products. Despite the obvious contribution that women afford on the farm and in processing products, they do not have the same contacts as the males have with agricultural extensionists since most of them are males.
Lack of access to land remains one of main obstacles to the full participation of women in rural development. The land and even joint property is registered in the husband's name. In the even the husband dies, the property will generally go to the husband's male children. or to his brother.
According to the above mentioned considerations there is a crucial lack of technical support at women level.
In Jordan agricultural extension services are almost entirely, established with made household heads in mind. No specific programmes within the MOA are aimed at women, despite their extensive involvement in the agricultural sector. NGOs have only recently begun to take at board agricultural components at board. There is no extension services at village level and extensionist women stay at district level, are not in charge of specific programmes for v omen and are yen, little mobile according to the lack of transportation facilities.
In Syria the existing technical programmes aimed to women are well developed in IFAD Project's areas but everywhere else they carry on focusing on nutrition, health and home economy. In existing IFAD Project's areas funds were provided to rural women for the purchase of animals (cattle, poultry), sewing and knitting machines, food processing equipment. Credit is available through the Cooperative Agricultural Bank's normal channels. Since women's programmes have been implemented only for one year, no evaluation has been made. The main constraints seem to be the procedures. the needs of guarantees and the important deposit at the time of the request. Among the FAO Project areas only Quneitra Governorate has been concerned by IFAD Project till to now. The IFAD Project equips existing centres to ensure that needs of rural women are satisfied. In Quneitra Project areas. training courses leave been carried out food processing, beekeeping, fruit tree plantation, poultry raising (short duration); handicrafts as basketwork, basic medical practices (middle duration) and literacy knitting and sewing (long duration). According to the slowness of the process, beneficiaries have not yet received funds asked (most of them asked for sewing and knitting machines, purchase of animals). Training programmes do not focus on "group promotion" and advantages of group-based activities and some women (in Haddar village for instance) deplore this fact? as well as the fact that they are not enough informed about the modalities of the credit procedure. FAO Project should take these critical remarks into consideration for its IGAs component.
In troth countries there are not enough female extensionists. In Syria many extension units do not have females and whenever they have, female extensionists do not have always the capacities to assume their tasks. Moreover they are not very mobile and generally stay in the village where they live in general vocational training offered to women by the different organizations involved in women's development is mostly in areas emphasizing the traditional role of women as housekeepers and care takers.
Women face great difficulties trying to fulfil the requirements governing access to credit because of the lack of guarantee (generally the possession of lands). In addition. one has to take into consideration the level of difficulty to undergo the loan application process.
Women are not experienced in dealing with formal institutions such as banks and are reluctant to approach them. Most credit is contracted by male households. In Jordan major sources include government organizations (as Agricultural Credit Cooperation) and different NGOs but in general guarantees are needed (land possession or state workers in the family).
Whenever vocational training (like food processing, sewing, knitting and various craft) is given to women, it does not generally allow significant economic return to the trainees. This is especially right in Syria where there is neither follow-up nor support after the training courses. The situation is a little different in Jordan in the areas where NGOs and Social and Community Centres are present and give support to women.
National Jordanian Women Federation in Jordan and General Women Union in Syria are the only existing women's associations. Since Beijing Conference some of them tend to become more active but specially in urban or semi-urban areas. According to the meetings with women during the mission they seem poorly or not represented in the FAO Project villages, excepting in Quneitra villages (Trungi and Haddar). In most cases in remote areas there are no Women's Union membership or whenever there are, those women do not have specific role in organizing and supporting women at village level.
Participatory approach -which means participation of populations in the definition, planning and implementation of projects- is not familiar in both countries. including at male level. However this approach, is implemented in some NGOs' projects in Jordan. In Syria there is a reorientation of the extension services to follow bottom-up planning and work programming.