Literature dealing with projects, which have been successful in promoting women's development, is very limited. This is partly due to the fact that it is mainly in the last decade that women have received special attention in development work. Thus, many of the projects aimed at women have not yet reached the point where it is possible to pass judgement about their success. Furthermore, when projects have been evaluated, much of the attention has concentrated around flaws in the project design or implementation and on recommendations for alternatives which might more successfully address the needs of women.
Less attention has been given to the few successful project experiences. It reflects the tendency of evaluators to become more interested in the shortcomings of development projects and be less conscious about the potentialities of learning from aspects that seem to contribute to success.
Furthermore, there is little basis for generalisation about women-oriented development, since women have such varying and multifaceted responsibilities with large possibilities for conflicts. However, despite such limitations it has been possible to identify some features which seem to increase the likelihood of success for projects aimed at including women in the development process.
In the following section some criteria for successful operation of women-oriented programmes are discussed, based on issues and problems which have emerged from the analysis of the literature.
a) Consideration to be given to intra-household relations, with special emphasis on gender relations
It has been pointed out that development for women should not only be viewed in terms of measures which could lead to an increase in their income and reduction in drudgery, but also as an important means of social change in the life of the entire rural family (Date-Bah and Stevens, 1981). Important factors to this end are the complementarities between women's and men's roles and activities. Thus, the role of men cannot be neglected in development efforts for women. Before starting new activities for women it is important to find out, not only how these activities will fit into women's total work responsibilities, but also into those of men. In all societies men have traditionally had certain responsibilities for family survival and well-being. It is important that planners, working with development for women, do not become so eager in promoting womens' independence that they are instrumental in relieving men of their responsibilities towards their families.
Similarly, nutrition education aimed at both men and women may be a far better approach than if it is aimed only at women. Priorities in food acquisition and distribution are often based on status and power relations within the household. It is therefore important that nutrition education programmes take these relations into account and stress the fact that both the father and mother have responsibilities for the welfare of the family. Furthermore, development efforts could reinforce traditional areas of cooperation, or promote new areas of cooperation. For example, in societies where men have substantial earnings from cash crop production and women lack the money needed for production as well as being burdened with heavy workloads, it would be more feasible to consider ways of increasing cooperation in responsibilities and reducing women's workload, rather than introducing new labour consuming activities for women.
The need to consider women's activities as part of a household and community has repeatedly been pointed out in relation to success stories. In a collection of successful cases of rural women's income-raising activities (ESCAP/FAO, 1979) many of the authors stressed the important aspect of acceptance and support from the men and the community at large. Furthermore, in some cases the whole family was engaged in the activities, even though they were started by women who were mainly responsible for the outcome. In fact, the cooperation within the family in the work was crucial to the success of some of the projects.
Thus, there need not be any contradiction between women's projects and the need to consider the potentials for cooperation within the family. A question which has received some attention is whether projects aimed exclusively at women or those where women are included in the target group are of greater benefit to women. Projects aimed directly at women may be more effective in reaching women. On the other hand, such projects tend to have smaller budgets and receive less priority as indicated in an analysis of FAO projects for women (Carloni, 1983). Projects aimed exclusively at women also run a higher risk of treating the problems of women as isolated from the rest of the community.
Instead of ear-marking certain projects for women it has been suggested that the division of labour in local farming systems should be taken as a starting point for identifying those who should receive assistance (FAO, 1984a). We would like to specify this suggestion in line with the framework presented in this report. Thus, the starting point should be an analysis of how food production, handling and consumption are organized within the rural household and an identification of potentials and constraints in relation to these operations, including potentials for cooperation between the sexes. If planning is based on such information and sufficient attention is given to the role of women, there will be less need for separate women's projects.
b) Necessity for sensitivity and flexibility in planning and implementation
Sensitivity and flexibility in project design as well as implementation have been recognized as key variables for success in development projects aimed at women. Sensitivity is the capability to respond effectively to the needs of the target women in the rural areas; flexibility connotes the ability for making changes in project design and implementation when it is deemed necessary.
In her review of successful and unsuccessful efforts in introducing appropriate technology for women, Aklilu (1983) notes that NGO's in general have shown more sensitivity and flexibility in planning and implementation than government-sponsored projects. They have therefore often been quite successful in promoting rural women's development. The degree of success appears to be even higher when the projects aimed at rural women are undertaken by women's NGO's.
Several reports discussing factors contributing to success, mention the importance of having women, sensitive to the needs of rural women, in strategic positions in the target country and within the headquarters of aid organizations (Cloud, 1985; Aklilu, 1983). Such an arrangement contributes towards continuity in the promotion of development for women. Such continuity is a very important issue, in view of evidence indicating that measures aimed at women often receive less priority and therefore tend to be dropped in the later stages of the project process (Carloni, 1983; Cloud, 1985).
In a study assessing a number of IFAD1 projects (IFAD, 1985) it was noted that the largest problem was a lack of continuity between preparation and appraisal of projects. According to this report the best results of development projects for women were achieved when WID2 experts were teamed up with IFAD mission leaders in the identification and preparation phase. In this way the mission leader acquired knowledge and experience on crucial issues for women's integration in development. The utilization of IFAD personnel for this purpose was considered important for continuity during subsequent phases of the project.
1 International Fund for Agricultural Development.In addition to basic knowledge of the situation of women in the project area, sensitivity and flexibility require a system of monitoring and reporting where the involvement of women is considered as an integral part of the project.
2 Women in Development.
c) The importance of participation and organization
Participation of rural women in all stages of the project process is generally considered the most important factor for success. Participation is a sign that the development activities have some support from local women, which is necessary for the success of the development project.
In the analysis of experiences with "appropriately" introduced technology some fundamental similarities were found in the successful experiences (Aklilu, 1983). It was the social context within which the technologies were introduced that presented a striking consistency: in the target group's motivation, in their level of organization, and in the provisions made for the participation of the beneficiaries at different levels of the project, from its formulation and design to its implementation.
Participation of women may take different forms. Projects planned "from above" may seek participation from the women in order to determine women's needs and priorities and to receive feedback on ideas for improvements in women's work. This should be the minimum requirement, in view of the fact that it is essential to allow for trial and error. It is also important for women to be able to evaluate the extent to which they have benefited from a programme and compare this finding to other alternatives for their allocation of time.
It is when women's participation leads to self-sustaining activities that development efforts have the best potential of leading to long lasting effects. In some of the successful projects women have been able to get access to land, markets or the banking system through raising awareness and providing training for organization. This has contributed to a feeling of self-reliance, which has had implications for women's position in the community as well as the household (ESCAP/FAO, 1979).
The importance of women's participation in rural organizations has been discussed in a number of reports. Staudt (1979) states that while economic growth and redistribution, better planning and design, and more accurate assessment of women's work in a given society are important considerations, these measures alone do not adequately meet women's needs, because they leave essential power balances untouched. Organizational activity is seen as a possible means to counterbalance the disparity in access to power and resources within the community.
One of the problems often encountered in organizational work is that the power structure which exists in the community will be reflected in the organization. Two main sources of imbalance have been discussed: the dominating role taken by men in mixed organizations and the tendency of women from higher socio-economic strata to dominate low-income rural women.
Avoidance of domination by men is often sought by the establishment of separate women's organizations. This has in many cases been crucial to the success of women's projects, as was the case with the women's farming cooperatives discussed by Safilios-Rotschild (1981). However, separate women's organizations may have the disadvantage of dividing interest groups and organizations or further marginalizing women's interests through isolation.
An important guide to answering the question of separate versus integrated organization in project design is the existing relations and division of labour between genders within the community. In a review of women and participation, Staudt (1979) points out that when women embark on projects without sufficient resources and power to press claims and acquire bargaining leverage, the result is often low priority for the women's interests. Therefore, a separate organizational activity is often appropriate in the early stages of development programmes for women in order to acquire organizational skills and to promote a wider acceptance of the importance of women's interests. Ultimately, promoting organizational activities based on people's interests, work and occupations, rather than on gender, may be the most feasible means of reaching development goals, for men and women.
Even though establishment of women's organizations is often suggested as a means to include women in development processes, the problems pertaining to power structures within these organizations are less frequently discussed. Only a few reports have focused on the problem of socio-economic differentiation in women's organizations.
In discussing women's farming cooperatives Safilios-Rotschild (1981) sees the exclusion of women of high status, who tend to dominate women's organizations, as an important condition for success. She recommends that a membership requirement of contributions of physical labour, which are not compatible with the higher status of better-off women could contribute to the establishment of cooperatives which can be controlled by and successfully benefit, low income rural women.
Staudt (1979) maintains that elite leadership might have some advantage in certain instances, in that it brings skills, influential contacts, the potential for in-country institutionalization, and consequently, increased leverage in the larger political context. However, only to the extent that equality and solidarity among women are more prevalent than among men in a given society, has this organizational set-up a real prospect of promoting effective and collective action. Staudt sees three possibilities in project development which can add to this prospect:
i) leaders adopting a developmental, rather than charity attitude;However, as Staudt also points out, many societies are characterized by wide socio-economic disparities; this makes it less likely that the particular interests of the poorer groups of women will be voiced by more well-to-do groups. One must always ask the question, whether all women are represented or whether the interests of specific groups are represented.
ii) internal group practices ensuring accountability to, and participation of, members;
iii) group goals which, when accomplished, allow for a more equitable distribution of benefits among members.
Another aspect which is particularly important with regard to women's organizations is the question of training. Aklilu (1983) found that in all the successful projects in her study a component of leadership training figured quite prominently. Staudt (1979) points to the possibility for training in group processes, emphasizing democracy and accountability to members. It has also been pointed out that rotation of leadership and training with relatively short intervals have successfully been implemented in order to avoid dominance and to spread opportunities for learning.
The advantage of strengthening already formed and functioning women's groups by provision of technical assistance and credit has been discussed (Date-Bah and Stevens, 1981; Safilios-Rotschild, 1981). In most Sub-Saharan African countries there is a long tradition of women's associations and groups for a variety of purposes. Examples of such women's groups are the rotating credit clubs to which members make regular contributions. The total sum collected is given to each member in rotation, thus providing the women with interest-free capital for their activities. It has been suggested that leaders of these groups could be selected and trained in matters important for women in their area, for example the use of improved technology (Date-Bah and Stevens, 1981). These leaders can, in turn, go back to their groups and disseminate their acquired knowledge. The use of these existing groups to affect developmental change may be more effective than the establishment of new ones. Women are less likely to be skeptical to the new innovations, if launched within a familiar context.
d) The need for interaction with rural women on their own terms
A number of reports have emphasized the importance of reaching women in projects which include measures that may also be of relevance to women's activities, not only to men's (Carloni, 1983; Cloud, 1985). In this context, there is a common agreement that agricultural and extension services in general have failed to reach rural women.
The reasons for this failure are numerous, from cultural barriers that prevent direct interaction between male extension workers and women, to a general neglect of women farmer's need for agricultural services. One of the problems of reaching rural women is the notion of women as working solely in non-productive activities within the home. Thus, home economics agents have been employed to cater to women's housekeeping needs whereas agricultural extension agents address the needs of male farmers.
However, women's needs for extension and training cover the whole spectrum of food chain activities. It has been pointed out that the division between home economics agents and agricultural extension workers does not reflect the real needs of rural women. More integrated approaches to rural extension service have been proposed; for example the need for broader training and overlapping curricula in the training of agricultural agents as well as home economics agents (FAO, 1983b). A related proposal is to consider novel ways to train more female extension agents, for instance through reducing distances to training centres, day studies instead of boarding courses and provision of childcare facilities whenever possible.
Several authors have attacked the problem of how to induce extension workers to reach both women and men. Staudt (1979) has proposed several ways to interact more effectively with rural women:
i) recruitment of a socially representative staff, including a better balance between the sexes in staffing;Spring (1985) has reported another solution to enhance interaction between extension workers and women. In a rural development programme in Malawi, the RDP extension workers were introduced to women's needs for extension by collecting sex-disaggregated data as part of their job.
ii) career structure, including job tenure, salary increases and promotions being based on their performance vis-a-vis women;
iii) clientele accountability - this means that the rural people themselves have a voice with regard to the performance of the extension staff.
Staudt's first option is seen as the most equitable solution and is most commonly proposed in the literature. However, the constraints to this option, including cultural restrictions for women to move around or wide sex disparities in formal education, reduces the prospects of recruiting substantial numbers of women in many societies. This may make it necessary to look for other options, at least temporarily. The second option requires record keeping or a performance monitoring system. The third option is only possible in societies where women are aware of the services and the support to which they are entitled and where women are capable of voicing their demands, for example through organizations. There is a strong political aspect in this issue, and the suitability of these options will vary according to the local context.
Another issue of importance with regard to approaches to reach rural women is the availability of time. The previous chapters in this report revealed the fact that women in many societies have multiple responsibilities, related both to work in the field and in the home. The demands for women's work in the field often show a high degree of seasonal variations. In many societies the seasonal work burden for women is so heavy that it would be impossible for them to find time to attend meetings or training sessions.
The location of meetings is very important. Women generally have many responsibilities to fulfil with regard to housework and childcare even in low peak seasons. Furthermore, it is not considered proper for women in many societies to travel alone for long distances. Extensive travelling may also be beyond the economic capacity of many women. Therefore, the arrangement of meetings close to women's homes and in seasons when women have time to attend, may be crucial for the success of reaching rural women.
An example of successful approaches to reach rural women are the mobile teams for nutrition education described by Hamilton et al. (1984). These mobile teams visited women at their working place, whether at home or in the field.
One way of reaching rural women, which seems promising, is through organizations which have an intermediary role between women and formal institutions. One example of an arrangement which has been successful in providing credit for women in India is the Mahila Bank, established by the well-known Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) of Ahmedabad (discussed in Schumacher et al., 1980). The Mahila Bank acts as an intermediary between members of SEWA and the national banks, which have resisted credit to these women in the past because of the administrative problems in approving small loans and women's inexperience in dealing with formal institutions. The staff of the Mahila Bank work with the women in filling out loan applications, submitting them to banks and paying out the money to the women. In this way the Mahila Bank has been able to provide credit for thousands of women. Such intermediary organizations may be useful also in other areas of development.
It is evident from the literature that because women's role in production has been so largely neglected, a great deal of innovativeness is needed in order to effectively reach women on their own terms.
e) Combination of efforts
Women's important contribution to many of the steps in the food chain necessitates a combination of development efforts for women.
As pointed out by Schumacher et al. (1980) there has been a tendency to target two types of projects to women. One type could be characterized as "welfare projects", the other as "productive projects". The first aims at supporting women's role as providers of family health and nutritional welfare. When technology is introduced in this type of project it is generally in the form of sanitation facilities or household implements such as cooking stoves. The primary goal of these projects is generally to improve the family health, and not necessarily to free up women's time from laborious tasks.
The second group of projects are most commonly aimed at increasing women's economic participation through efforts, such as handicrafts, animal husbandry and petty marketing of dairy products and farm surplus. These activities involve the use of simple technology, and generally afford little profit for the energy expended. Projects, which are aimed at improving women's contribution to food production also belong to this group. However, projects with the general aim of increasing productivity have very often failed to cater to the needs of women.
Women's multiple roles and activities in production and reproduction clearly indicate the need to combine these two approaches. A statement by Carr in relation to a development programme in Senegal emphasizes the need for such an integrated approach.
To attack the problem from only one direction would be self-defeating. To recommend the introduction of labour saving devices is unhelpful if the women have no money to pay for them. To recommend the introduction of income generating activities is unhelpful when the women have no extra time to indulge in them. Almost every aspect of improved nutrition and hygiene has a time consuming element, which would require diversion of time from other activities such as food production which would have a nutritionally detrimental effect. (Carr, 1979, p. 28).One way of avoiding this type of conflict is to address the problem from different angles and introduce dual or multiple purpose activities. Attempts to this end have shown good results, particularly in projects with a high degree of participation from rural women. In her review of FAO projects, Carloni (1983) describes a women's component in a livestock project in the Sahel where expansion of goat production was coupled with action to reduce women's work burden in other areas through the introduction of grain mills and carts for transporting water and crops. A component of nutrition advice was also included, which was useful in view of the fact that increased production of animal protein does not automatically result in increased consumption for rural families.
A project in Gambia, mainly financed by IFAD, had a similar promising combination of efforts (N'diaye, 1985). In this area women are responsible for rice production for family consumption. Among the problems they encountered were food shortage and malnutrition among the children, long walks to the fields and excessive workloads. Local participation in project planning and execution was facilitated by a women's rice growing committee. A combination of mechanization of farming methods, introduction of postharvest technology and better management of the irrigation system resulted in a dramatic increase in rice production at reduced labour costs. Many women used the time saved to grow vegetables. Food security was further ensured by the establishment of cereal banks which sold rice back to the farmers during the off-season at a reasonable price. Roads were constructed to aid transportation and day-care centres for children were established close to the fields to ease the work burden for the mothers and provide better care for the children.
Systematic planning of such combined efforts which allow for the development of different but mutually supportive activities for different groups of women, has the potential of substantial long-term benefits.
In this section we have tried to concentrate on a few ideas about what seems to contribute to successful women's projects. As has been pointed out, the assimilated knowledge in this area is still very small. Furthermore, we will always run the risk that what works in one programme will not work in another. Therefore, the criteria chosen for this discussion must be very general in nature. Some of them will apply also for general development efforts, not particularly geared towards women, especially when such efforts are aimed at poor and deprived groups in the society.
However, these criteria are particularly pertinent when development aid is focussed on women's food chain activities. For example, some degree of participation from women is absolutely necessary in this regard. Since women almost always will have many conflicting priorities with regard to their food-related and household work, it is important for the success of projects related to food chain activities that these are brought out and discussed.
More evaluation studies of the impact of women-oriented projects are needed to shed light on what does work and what does not work in different socio-cultural settings. It should be emphasized that merely focussing on the failures of development projects does not necessarily contribute to increased knowledge of what can work. There is also a need to bring out and discuss the positive aspects of projects to gain insight for future planning of women-oriented efforts.