Posted February 1999
| Bolivia, Burundi, Nepal, Pakistan, Tunisia
| Costa Rica
| Niger (1)
| Niger (2)
| Sikkim (India)
Good practices in gender mainstreaming and implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action
FAO project sheet: Costa Rica
Project title: "Support to women in rural areas within the framework of a gender approach"
Project duration: May 1996-July 1997
Executing agency/agencies: FAO
Implementing Agency/agencies: Government of Costa Rica - Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Women Ministerial Office, Women Sector Office
Project cost: US$ 235,000 (FAO); US$ 152,000 (Government of Costa Rica)
Women's work in agriculture has been systematically ignored and undervalued both in Costa Rica and in the rest of the region, thus minimising the urgent need to pay attention to gender issues in the planning process. Although this need has been acknowledged, the motivation and training of technical personnel from relevant institutions, the theoretical knowledge of gender issues and the methodological and operational tools have been insufficient or inadequate to obtain the desired results. At the political level extensive efforts have been made to ensure that a gender dimension is incorporated in the agricultural sector's guidelines. On the other hand, lack of disaggregated statistics by sex in household censuses and surveys have contributed to the underestimation of women's activities in the sector.
The institutional strategies and mechanisms adopted by the government have not produced substantial changes in the actions and attitudes of the executive and technical staff, nor have they generated greater and more equitable participation of women in this scenario. In spite of the changes occurred in the active labour structure, there has been no actual participation from women in the economic, social and political life. Moreover, small women producers have not had real access to the training, research and technological services in the farming sector. In this context, the government of Costa Rica decided to undertake the project in question with the aim to strengthen the productive role of rural women and to improve their living conditions.
Specific changes resulting from the project
- A large number of technicians, administrative personnel and professionals sensitised and trained in gender issues;
- Women's organisations and women leaders trained in gender issues;
- Farmer groups trained in gender issues;
- Training materials;
- Action plans to create an enabling environment at the institutional level for the incorporation of a gender dimension into the agricultural sector;
- Recommendations for the incorporation of a gender dimension into the strategic guidelines of the agricultural sector.
What was planned
Overall objective: to contribute to the introduction and development of an alternative methodological approach, i.e. the Gender Approach, in the guidelines, policies, programmes and activities of the mixed farming and environmental sectors.
Specific aims and related activities:
- Training of human resources: sensitising, motivating and training both technical and administrative personnel, as well as farmers, in gender issues;
- Strengthening of grassroots groups and the institutional system: responding to the need for adopting a gender perspective at all sector levels;
- Revision of policies: (i) Identifying problems and indicate actions, measures and institutional mechanisms in order to solve them; (ii) correcting the differential impacts of policies on men and women, through gender-responsive advice.
What was the strategy
The promotion of a specific methodological approach:
- To perceive gender related problems systematically.
- Not to create parallel structures but to insert itself into the social dynamics.
- Aimed at considering gender issues within the agricultural developing processes and not at solving isolated problems.
- To be integrated into the existing social relation system, at all levels.
- To be participatory by definition, since it is implemented through a process of dialogue, joint work and consultations with women and men farmers.
The creation of adequate operational tools :
- Cooperation between the various institutions of the official mixed farming sector and NGOs.
- A training plan for the Huetar Atlantica region (pilot area).
- Adequate methodologies for gender training and didactic material.
- Proposals for the incorporation of the Gender Approach into the Strategic Guidelines of the Mixed Farming and Environmental Sectors.
- Action Plans to create the necessary institutional conditions to introduce a gender perspective into these sectors.
- Mobilisation of grassroots women's groups for the formation of an agricultural women producers movement in the region.
Who was involved
The government of Costa Rica, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and two ad-hoc institutions, the Women Ministerial Office (WMO) and the Women Sector Office (WSO) were key actors in supporting the project. The project has been carried out and managed by a Gender Planning Committee, which was formed with representatives of the mixed farming and environmental sectors. Training institutes, sectoral production organisations and men and women farmers associations took an active part in the process.
- The coherency of the project with the modernisation of the economy and the decentralisation processes facilitated the project's action at the regional level through the intervention and support of local personnel that acted in coordination and had greater contact with the bases;
- The strengthening and creation of grassroots organisations and women groups;
- The institutionalisation of sensitisation and training activities in the guidelines of the mixed farming sector set the basis for future expansion of the pilot project.
What was learned, factors contributing to success
- A climate of cooperation and exchange between officials, men and women farmers and experts working with similar targets and aims;
- The new approach permitted the gradual appropriation of operational and conceptual tools, generated by the project itself, by the executors of the agrarian policy and technical personnel linked to rural development projects;
- The specification of indicators for measuring, systematically and coherently, the progress made in performing the activities;
- A careful revision of the approaches, contents and forms of presentation of the project, since the idea is to favour the joint activities of both men and women for the achievement of their objectives, uniting efforts and minimising constraints.
For more information, contact:
Women in Development Service
Women and Population Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100, Rome, Italy
Tel: +39.06.5705.5102 Fax: +39.06.5705.2004