|The Impact of Training on Women's Micro-Enterprise Development - Education Research Paper No. 40 (DFID, 2001, 139 p.)|
|Chapter 1: Introduction|
This study was based on three assumptions which we expected the research to confirm. These were that:
1. Training can be an important component of poverty alleviation for women. Women find themselves competing in a heavily gendered labour market which disadvantages them vis-a-vis men, who usually have more education, skills, work experience and capital to draw on. Women are perceived largely as unskilled and semi-skilled casual labour. Given that their socio-economic circumstances force most poor women to seek an income in the informal sector, we sought to measure the impact that training might have on their activities in this sector.
2. The potential impact of training on poor women goes beyond increased income. We anticipated that it has the power to change gender relations within the household and the community, either directly as a consequence of the training itself, or indirectly through the increased income brought about by the training. We therefore sought to monitor and record these changes on a number of levels.
3. Training is only effective if it is responsive to the complexities of the socio-economic environment in which women live and work, combining productive work with domestic and community duties in settings often constrained by household demands. Its potential effectiveness may be impeded by poor design and delivery (itself a consequence of the lack of research and evaluation). We would seek to find out what kind of training for micro-enterprise development was appropriate for poor, often illiterate, women.
We have chosen to use the term 'micro-enterprise' or 'small business', 4 in preference to 'income generation' in this study. We wish to distinguish between income generation as a casual activity which women move in and out of as time and needs dictate, and probably supplementing male household income, and micro-enterprise/small business as a more permanent form of economic activity, often the sole source of income in the household. One benefit of the training cited here was that many women shifted from viewing their activities as 'income generation' to viewing them as a 'business'.
4 The terms 'enterprise' and 'business' are also used. However, it must be understood that they are used throughout this report to refer to very small scale initiatives, i.e. 'small businesses' or 'micro-enterprises' (usually defined as those having fewer than five workers). References to 'business skills', 'business training' etc also need to be understood in this sense.