Cover Image
close this bookBreaking the Barriers - Women and the Elimination of World Poverty (DFID, 1999, 24 p.)
close this folderWomen-friendly infrastructure
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentTravel and Transport
View the documentWater and Sanitation
View the documentImproving Basic Services
View the documentEasing Women's Workload


Reductions in the daily workload, better economic opportunities, more free time to improve the quality of life are just a few of the benefits which improvements in basic services, transport, clinics, schools and other facilities can bring to women.

Travel and Transport

Poor women in Africa typically spend more than five hours a day travelling, mostly on foot, to meet the basic needs of their families We are currently contributing to village travel and transport work in Tanzania, and feeder road programmes in Uganda and Mozambique Similar programmes are under development in Nepal and Ghana We are helping women in Africa and Asia to examine their own transport needs and identify solutions, and working with the World Bank and national governments on a rural travel and transport programme in Africa

Water and Sanitation

The development of water supplies and improved sanitation for poor people is an expanding area of our work and one where we are increasingly focusing on gender issues This includes strengthening our support for domestic services, and gender sensitive approaches to the design and management of irrigation systems.

We recognise the key role women can play in the development and management of new facilities and the promotion of better health, and seek to ensure that they obtain the full benefits from the programmes we support

Improving Basic Services

Upgrading clinics, schools, and other essential facilities contributes to improvements in basic services DFID involves communities, including women, in design improvements which impact on the quality of services Improving the layout of clinics, for example, ensures that confidentiality is maintained and people can easily move from one service to another during the same visit. Innovative work is being done in Africa and Asia which makes services more responsive to people's needs, and empowers women and men in key decisions affecting their lives.

Easing Women's Workload

Women in developing countries work long hours, often performing arduous tasks necessary to meet basic needs Drudgery and hard labour take a toll of women's health and limit their freedom to engage in more rewarding activities We support participatory research and action aimed at developing labour and energy saving technologies to ease the burden on women and help them improve their health and well-being

Men and boys

Gender equality should recognise both women's and men's needs and, most importantly, how these interact. Our policy recognises that unlike biological roles, which are determined by sex, gender roles are determined by society and can be changed.

This policy enables us to work towards identifying the underlying causes of gender inequality, and thus develop a more strategic approach.

We hope it will also help us, and our development partners, to persuade men that gender equality is in their interests as much as it is in women's.

Usually women are at a disadvantage, but sometimes a special focus is needed on men and boys. This may be because they are specifically disadvantaged, or because they suffer different disadvantages to women and girls which, in combination, create problems for everyone.

Looking at men's as well as women's needs is revealing In the Caribbean, for example, gender analysis has shown that boys suffer from low educational attainment while women suffer high unemployment, creating a spiral of poverty which is damaging to everyone. In Pakistan, we have learned that effective family planning programmes must actively seek to bring men into dialogue with women so that joint decisions on child spacing and family size can be made In Tanzania, health research showed that men and women suffer different health problems, at different stages of their lives.

Gender inequality is preventing us from eliminating poverty It is in all our interests to remove it The empowerment of women does not need to be at a cost to men, but creates a benefits for society as a whole.