Cover Image
close this bookResources, Power and Women, Proceedings of the African and Asian Inter-regional Workshop on Strategies for Improving the Employment Conditions of Rural Women (ILO, 1985, 96 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPREFACE
View the documentACKNOWLEDGEMENT
View the documentCHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
View the documentCHAPTER 2 MAJOR ISSUES, CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTED FOLLOW-UP ACTIONS
View the documentCHAPTER 3 WOMEN'S PROJECTS AND PROGRAMMES
View the documentCHAPTER 4 ACCESS TO AND CONTROL OVER RESOURCES: LAND/FOREST
View the documentCHAPTER 5 CREDIT AND MARKETING
View the documentCHAPTER 6 ORGANISATION, CONSCIENTISATION AND PARTICIPATION
View the documentCHAPTER 7 APPROACHES TO TECHNICAL CO-OPERATION
View the documentCHAPTER 8 STRATEGIES FOR ACTION: REPORTS OF WORKING GROUPS
View the documentANNEX I List of Participants
View the documentANNEX II Agenda
View the documentANNEX III DOCUMENTS PREPARED FOR THE WORKSHOP*
View the documentANNEX IV INAUGURAL ADDRESS BY THE CHIEF MINISTER, ZANZIBAR.
View the documentANNEX V A REPORT ON THE FIELD TRIP
View the documentBACK COVER

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Objective and Background

The Arusha Workshop provided a timely forum for a stimulating debate on alternative strategies to improve rural women's employment conditions in Africa and Asia. The participants, both women and men, came from different nationalities and backgrounds, yet they shared a common concern about rural development and women. They were acutely aware of the processes that were pauperising and marginalising a large section of the rural population, particularly women; at the same time, they were familiar with a number of strategies and initiatives that were being taken in different countries to address the issue of rural poverty and underdevelopment. The knowledge of the approaching end of the United Nations Decade for Women in 1985 - when a stock-taking of accomplishments and problems of the last decade should take place -was also present in the participants' consciousness; so was the awareness that women's problems which had been created over centuries could not be solved in just one decade, that long and short team strategies for action for the next few decades would have to be worked out carefully, yet with a sense of urgency. The venue of the Workshop - the United Republic of Tanzania, where debates about rural development strategies are a critical national concern - highlighted the significance of the topics under discussion; and the divergent experiences of the participants - high level government officials with planning responsibilities, representatives from Employers' and Workers' organisations, researchers and grass-roots activists, representatives of inter-governmental, non-governmental and donor agencies - added a richness Co the debates.

The major objectives of the Arusha Workshop, which was conceived as a dialogue between policy makers, grass-roots activists and representatives of non-government and other organisations, were the following:

- to evaluate what has been learned and accomplished after a decade's work with rural women;

- to suggest lessons and strategies for actions from field level experiences; and

- to encourage more effective and follow-up policies, programmes and projects for rural development with poor women.

The Workshop was co-sponsored by the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Africa (CIRDAFRICA). It was part of an inter-regional ILO project funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) on the "Identification of Successful Projects for Improving the Employment Conditions of Rural Women". The project grew out of a common concern among women researchers in Africa and Asia to move away from pure research identifying why rural development has not helped women to documenting initiatives which are working in some way to improve the economic and social conditions of poor rural women.

The criteria for determining "success" of any initiative were laid down as:

- improvement of women's material conditions of life along with an increase in their economic and social independence and autonomy;

- enhancement of their access to productive resources and their access to and control over household income;

- full participation in the initiatives at all levels, especially in the decision making process together with enhancement of their confidence and solidarity;

- capacity to demonstrate the value of women's work; and

- potentiality of the initiative for sustainability and replicability.

From 1982, the ILO project helped researchers and activists to identify and document nearly 50 cases in Africa and Asia as "successful". They demonstrated ways in which initiatives supportive of rural women can contribute to rural and national development. As a result, the project was able to draw a few "lessons" about what constitutes "successful" projects, what are the forces that promote and support such initiatives, and what kind of follow-up actions are required. In the Arusha Workshop, a number of such "lessons" were presented in the context of concrete case studies to facilitate debate, discussion and formulation of strategies for action. Since the primary theme was "strategies to improve the employment conditions of rural women", the various panels of the Workshop focused on a few selected strategies, viz. promoting special projects and programmes for women (Panel 1), giving women access to and control over resources (Panels 2 and 3) and organising and conscientising women for participation (Panel 4). Following analysis and debate of the major issues in the panel sessions, three working groups were set up to suggest follow-up strategies for action.

This report of the Workshop is organised in eight chapters. Chapter 1 describes the objective and background of the Workshop and reports on the inaugural and introductory sessions. Chapter 2 summarises the major issues and strategies for action discussed in the plenary and the working group sessions. The suggestions for follow-up include not only those specifically identified by the participants but also those that emerged naturally from the discussions. Chapters 3 to 7 report on the different panels of the Workshop. Each chapter briefly notes the panel presentations, followed by general discussion. There were five panels, viz. Women's Projects and Programmes (Chapter 3), Access to and Control over Resources: Land/Forest (Chapter 4), Credit and Marketing (Chapter 5), Organisation, Conscientisation and Participation (Chapter 6) and Approaches to Technical Co-operation (Chapter 7). Chapter 8 reports on the strategies for action suggested by the three working groups. The Annex contains a brief note on the field trip, the agenda and documentation for the Workshop as well as the list of participants. The full text of the inaugural address by the Chief Minister of Zanzibar, the Honourable Sief Shariff Hamad, which the participants felt was a significant statement on strategies to improve the employment conditions of rural women, is also annexed.

1.2 The Introductory Sessions

The Workshop participants were welcomed by Ibrahim M. Kaduma (Director, CIRDAFRICA), Dharam Ghai (Chief of the Rural Employment Policies Branch of the ILO) and Henning Kjeldgaard (Ambassador of Denmark to the United Republic of Tanzania). The Workshop was then addressed and inaugurated by the Honourable Sief Shariff Hamad (Chief Minister, Zanzibar). He stressed that genuine rural development is possible only when employment conditions of rural women are improved and this can be done by integrating and giving preferential treatment to women's concerns in all rural development plans. John Seal (Director, ILO Office in Dar-es-Salaam) proposed a vote of thanks.

The Honourable Gertrude Mongella (Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office of the United Republic of Tanzania) was elected Chairperson of the Workshop. B.M. Sethi (Employers' representative) and Felicitas BaleWorkers' representative) were elected as Vice-chairpersons and Vina Mazumdar was elected as Chief Reporter. A statement was read out on behalf of Shimwaayi Muntemba, the Project Co-ordinator of the ILO project on Identification of Successful Projects for Improving the Employment Conditions of Rural Women, who for medical reasons had been unable to travel to Arusha; she wished the Workshop every success. Then some introductory information on the ILO's programmes on rural development, women's programmes and the Workshop was presented by Dharam Ghai (ILO) and Martha Loutfi (ILO).

Dharam Ghai touched on ILO's approach to its work on rural development and rural women workers. Since its inception, the ILO has been preoccupied with questions of social justice. This concern has found concrete expression in measures to promote the status and well-being of workers throughout the world. Over the years a body of labour standards has been developed covering a wide range of issues of concern to workers. These standards have had a significant impact on national labour legislation.

The ILO has also developed practical programmes of assistance in a number of fields such as training, industrial relations, workers' education, co-operatives, social security, conditions of work and employment promotion. In the early years the bulk of the efforts went into programmes for workers in the organised sectors. Since the initiation of the World Employment Programme in 1969 and, more particularly, since the World Employment Conference in 1976, the ILO has been devoting increasing attention to rural development and workers in informal and unorganised sectors. Its approach to rural development has been characterised by a focus on poverty and disadvantaged groups; the need to develop programmes and measures to increase incomes and material welfare through promotion of remunerative employment and enhancing the access of the rural poor to productive assets and skills; and promotion of rural workers' organisations and their effective participation in rural development programmes. In addition to the areas outlined above, the ILO has carried out work on characteristics and dynamics of rural poverty, employment and income distribution, the impact of different agrarian systems, the impact of state policies on migration, labour markets in rural areas and participatory organisations of the rural poor.

With respect to rural women workers, the programme has comprised a set of inter - related activities in research, workshops and seminars, pilot field projects and advisory services. The approach has been to focus on critical but neglected questions, to build up a knowledge base for launching of practical programmes and to encourage involvement of researchers and NGO's in grass-roots action with women's groups. The Arusha Workshop and the preceding activities under the project are part of the continuing efforts to promote the overall objectives - an equitable, self-reliant and participatory pattern of development which includes women as well as men.

Martha Loutfi explained that the origin of the ILO's project on Identification of Successful Projects for Improving the Employment Conditions of Rural Women lay in the belief that positive, often isolated steps were being taken especially by rural women themselves, in spite of the negative impact on them of many development projects and policies. In their effort rural women may need allies in the structures and sympathetic officials need more knowledge of the people's needs and priorities. The principle of this ILO effort has been to facilitate learning from the field and from each other. Inspiration for the project came from African and Asian activists, as did the criteria for success and guidance for the project. It has generally been found that cross-fertilisation, at various levels, is an effective method of encouraging more appropriate initiatives and extending knowledge, inspiration and courage, for which the ILO plays a catalytic role.

One could see as much failure as success in the cases documented under the project (granted difficulties with indicators and perspectives of evaluators). They represent as many questions as answers and no formulae but they show, within general processes of change, some constructive elements and signs of encouragement on which one can build.

Some general lessons emerged from the reports prepared for the Workshop. One must take account of the overall context - constrained national economies, inequalities in societies and deep-seated barriers to greater power and influence of women. One should start where people are, e.g. supporting women workers in what they are doing or choose to take up Co meet their own and their families' needs. Certainly, access to assets (especially land), credit and markets are important, but an organisational base is at the heart of success and sustainability, and is most effective when of the people's own choosing to pursue goals they set for themselves. Yet supportive infrastructures (governmental, academic, etc.) are often very important. Other issues which emerged include improving the channels of information between the grass-roots and higher levels, expansion (or replication), the relationship of people's organisations to government and the legal status of women (including property laws).

The project - and the Workshop - represented guarded optimism chat the many setbacks for rural women have been part of a process of learning and strengthening that lays the ground for more relevant, constructive initiatives by those who, like the participants in the Arusha Workshop, are in a position to contribute in some way to the struggle of the poor, and especially women, against poverty and oppression.