Gender and development People

Posted February 1999

Afghanistan | Bolivia, Burundi, Nepal, Pakistan, Tunisia | Costa Rica | Gambia | Honduras | Indonesia | Nepal | Namibia | Niger (1) | Niger (2) | Pakistan | Sikkim (India)

Good practices in gender mainstreaming and implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action

FAO Project sheet: Namibia

Project Title: 1. "Training for the Integration of Women in Agriculture and Rural Development"; 2. "Improving Information on Women's Contribution to Agricultural Production for Gender Sensitive Planning" [1]
Project duration: 4 years (1994-1998)
Executing agency/agencies: FAO
Implementing or co-operating agency/agencies: Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development's (MAWRD), Government of Namibia
Project cost: US $ 240,000 (FAO/TCP); US $ 120,345(Government of Norway)


The "Training for the Integration of Women in Agriculture and Rural Development" project aimed at building capacity within the extension service in how to use participatory and gender sensitive approaches to plan extension activities with subsistence farmers in communal areas. This involved training agricultural extension technicians in a combination of gender analysis and participatory rural appraisal (PRA) techniques, and then walking them through a practical field experience to allow them to investigate, first hand, men's and women's different activities, constraints and priorities. The main output of the project is the creation of a core group of trainers capable of training other agricultural outreach staff in this approach. This core group of trainers then trained all of the field level extension staff in the Ministry of Agriculture over a period of 2 years.

While the training project focused on building capacity for micro-level planning, "Improving Information on Women's Contribution to Agricultural Production for Gender Sensitive Planning" focused on bringing micro-level information to planners and policy makers at the macro-level. Participatory rural appraisals were carried out in several localities throughout Namibia (in conjunction with the PRA activities of the training project) to enrich the information base on gender issues in agriculture. This information was then shared with Ministry staff and other relevant actors in a process of consultation, discussion and sensitisation. All of these activities then culminated in the formulation of an Action Plan for Gender-Responsive Agricultural Development Policy.

The implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action two projects coincided with a period of activity in which the Ministry was preparing its own agricultural policy and strategy. In part, the projects contributed to the formulation process and helped to make the policy, and subsequent strategy, gender sensitive. With the new policy, extension workers now had the specific mandate of working with communal farmers and targeting female farmers. So more importantly, the projects helped build capacity for the even more challenging task of implementing the new policy. The projects were also innovative in their use of participatory approaches and methods and thus represented a relatively new experience for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development.

Specific changes resulting from the project

What was planned

What was the strategy

Who was involved

A Gender Sensitisation Committee was set up to oversee the management of the two projects and was chaired by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of MAWRD (who later became Permanent Secretary). The Division of Rural Development Planning took the lead role in executing the projects on behalf of the Ministry in collaboration with the Directorate of Extension and Engineering (DEES), and the Division of Agricultural Training. The Deputy Director of Rural Development Planning led the project management team in her role as National Co-ordinator. The Co-ordinator was chosen from within the ranks of the Ministry to reinforce linkages between the projects and the institutional framework.

Two local organisations - ACORD, a non-governmental organisation with expertise in PRA and the Gender Programme of the Social Sciences Division (SSD) of the University of Namibia - were contracted to backstop the PRA, organise the workshops and write the Gender Action Plan in collaboration with the Division of Rural Development. Although the project was mainly implemented under local guidance and with local consultants, limited use was made of international consultants from FAO to carry out the first planning mission and to design and deliver the training programme.

The trainers from the Ministry were the key protagonists, as well as those who they eventually trained in the analysis of difference. The residents of the 9 villages where the PRAs took place were actively involved and in many cases, revisited by the extension agents later. Many other actors in the agriculture and rural sector also participated in the regional and national gender planning workshops.

What was learned, factors contributing to success

See also: Sontheimer, Sally (1997) Gender and Participation in Agricultural Development Planning: Lessons from Namibia, FAO, Rome.

1. The implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action's two projects overlapped, and since the projects were mutually reinforcing their impact is discussed here as though they were one project.

For more information, contact:

Ms. Cornelia Koenraadt
Women in Development Service
FAO Hqs Rome, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
Tel: 00 3906 57054757; Fax: 00 3906 57052004

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