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W o m e n and

Edited by Barbara Evers


Front cover photo: Women collecting paper and rags to sell for recycling, Hyderabad.

Oxfam 1993
Published by Oxfam (UK and Ireland), 274 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7DZ, UK
Designed and typeset by Oxfam Design Department 477/PK/93
Oxfam is a registered charity No. 202918

ISBN 0 85598 260 8

This book converted to digital file in 2010
Editorial 2
Barbara Evers
Gender relations and economic issues 6
Diane Elson
Structural adjustment: cure or curse?
Implications for Caribbean development 13
Peggy Antrobus
Changing from subsistence to cash cropping: Sakaramma's story 19
Rajamma G.
Gender, economic growth, and poverty 22
Noeleen Heyzer
Struggles over patriarchal structural adjustment in Tanzania 26
Marjorie Mbilinyi
Filipino women demand freedom from debt 30
Judy Taguiwalo
Is liberalisation damaging Albanian women's health? 35
Coin's Corrin
The other side of economic success:
poverty, inequality, and women in Chile 38
Stephanie Barrientos
Investment finance: off limits for women 41
Christine Y Chilangwa-N'gambi
NGOs and gender policy:
some issues from the South Indian silk reeling industry 43
Linda Mayoux
Saptagram opens up windows of opportunity in Bangladesh 48
Tahera Yasmin
Empowerment through income generating projects 53
Rajamma G.
Through Western eyes: two poems 56
Bridget Walker
Resources and Further Reading 57

News from GADU 61

Sue Smith
Barbara Evers

HE PAPERS IN THIS ISSUE of FOCUS OH significant social and economic ramifica-
Gender are centred around two main tions in the Third World and also in many
themes: macroeconomic policy and Eastern European economies.
gender relations; and income generation There is a growing concern to under-
projects and empowerment. The link stand how gender shapes a society's ability
between gender relationships and macro- to respond to macroeconomic changes and,
economic policy is an area of acute interest in turn, how macroeconomic policies inter-
for women's groups, development plan- act with gender relationships in society. In
ners, NGOs, and international lending the opening paper Diane Elson dispels the
institutions such as the World Bank. smokescreen of gender neutrality created
Equally, considerable attention has been by economists. The connections between
given to the potential for women's income- gender relations and economic issues are
generating projects to help to overcome discussed with clarity and in a language
gender discrimination in the labour market which relates economics to women's every-
and to provide a building block in the day experiences so as to 'empower women
process of development. At the outset it is to enter more effectively into the discussion
important to note that a focus on gender of economic issues'. Peggy Antrobus, in
'does not ignore other important issues her paper on structural adjustment policies
such as race, ethnicity and class, but focus- in the Caribbean, makes a strong case for
es specifically on gender precisely because the incorporation of a gender analysis at
this tends to be subsumed within class in both the macro policy and micro project
so much policy and planning.' (Moser, level. Antrobus points to the pressures on
1991, p.159.) Indeed, many of the authors women's 'reproductive time' that result
emphasise the central importance of recog- from cuts in government spending and
nising differences between women in tack- which in turn reduce the time available for
ling women's subordination, and in under- work in the 'productive sphere'. This is a
standing gender relationships. theme which emerges very clearly in many
In the South, the economic policy envi- of the contributions in this issue. Since
ronment in the 1980s has been dominated women's lives are straddled between the
by the legacy of massive international debt, reproductive and productive spheres, they
the adoption of wide-ranging adjustment absorb the brunt of the pressures of adjust-
policies with the associated emphasis on ment. The increase in women's burdens
export-oriented development and the bene- resulting from both stabilisation (cuts in
fits of 'free markets', all of which have had government spending and consumption)

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No.3, October 1993


and adjustment (which involves an Tanzanians in the past'. Although women

increase in cash-crop and export produc- suffer more than men as a result of adjust-
tion, often at the expense of subsistence ment, gender equity as an overriding goal
crops and basic domestic goods) is occur- is not sufficient. When there is such a gen-
ring on an international scale. eral increase in impoverishment and dras-
The current macroeconomic policy envi- tic declines in living standards, equality is
ronment prioritises exports over domestic actually worth very little.
production. The consequences of this are felt The Philippines, one of the world's top
most profoundly at the individual house- ten debtors, has been undergoing various
hold level. This point is brought home by forms of adjustment and stabilisation for 13
Rajamma's report on Sakaramma's story of years. Judy Taguiwalo vividly describes
a village in South India, where cash-crop how under such conditions the policy of
production is increasingly encroaching on debt repayment at any price has hurt the
land for food crops. With women's loss of poor, and among the poor, women have
control over decisions around food pro- paid the biggest price. She discusses the
duction, the quantity and quality of food activities of The Freedom from Debt
production and consumption has dimin- Coalition, a policy-making and campaign-
ished and food security has become a ing body set up in 1988, which has adopted
problem. a gender perspective in its development of
While there may be some link between an alternative development strategy.
export-oriented development strategies and One trend that has been identified in
overall economic growth, there is resound- many countries undergoing market-orient-
ing agreement among the authors that this ed reforms is the considerable deterioration
is no guarantee that the benefits of growth in people's health. The contributions on
will 'trickle down' to the poor, nor to Albania, India, Tanzania, Chile, and
women. Noeleen Heyzer notes that the Bangladesh all show that the health and
nature of growth is more important than well-being of women and children suffer
growth itself. She challenges the basis of disproportionately. Partly because of the
anti-poverty programmes (APPs) which fail physical demands of filling in the gaps left
to acknowledge the gender dimensions of behind by the state, women are physically
poverty, especially as, most often, 'women more vulnerable to disease. When com-
are the poor'. Given the social role of bined with cultural mores which favour
women, Heyzer, along with many others, men and boys over women and girls, the
emphasises the point that meeting women's decline in basic health programmes and
needs and interests is crucially linked to provision of social infrastructure such as
overall poverty alleviation in any society. hospitals, schools, and clean water, a social
Looking specifically at sub-Saharan crisis begins to emerge, with women in the
Africa, the adjustment experience here has middle trying to hold things together.
been especially harsh; neither investment Drawing on Elson's arguments, one can see
nor economic growth has materialised in that these are precisely the areas where the
the ways envisaged by the international private sector does not compensate.
institutions, and living conditions for both Instead, it is where the market fails to pro-
men and women have worsened dramati- vide the goods and services necessary for
cally over the decade. Marjorie Mbilinyi basic survival, and where women are
describes the ambiguous effects of adjust- expected to fill the gaps. Even where the
ment in Tanzania, and finds that overall, market does offer medicine, schooling, and
women have suffered disproportionately in other necessities, it is often at a price most
the 'reversal of achievements made by people cannot afford.
Focus on Gender

The labour market is an important area 'Empowerment' is a long-term process

of research on gender relations and pro- involving women and their communities.
vides a link between macro and micro However, as Yasmin notes, even the best
analyses. There is a growing acknowledg- planned IGP (at the microeconomic level)
ment that gender hierarchies influence the can be undermined by macroeconomic
ways in which women participate in the uncertainty when the State is unwilling to
labour market. Looking at the macroeco- coordinate microeconomic employment
nomic level, there is an argument that goals and more general macroeconomic
adjustment policies will actually stimulate aims of liberalisation.
a 'feminisation of employment' (Standing, Women face significant barriers in get-
1989), and that the emphasis on flexible ting access to finance. Indeed, the difficul-
labour and low wages will benefit women ties faced by women in Zambia are shared
disproportionately to men through creating by women in most countries, to varying
more employment opportunities for degrees: Christine Chliangwa-N'gambi
women. Instead, in urban areas we actually shows that access to finance is determined
see a feminisation of unemployment. Nor, by one's relationship to property and pro-
despite the evidence of feminisation in cot- ductive resources, which is in turn deter-
tage industries traditionally dominated by mined by the gender structures in one's
women, is there any evidence of a decline society. Simply making finance available is
in gender discrimination in the labour mar- not enough; fundamental changes must
ket, as hypothesised by Standing. occur in property relations, and in provid-
For many NGOs income-generating pro- ing women with the means to gain knowl-
jects (IGPs) represent a way to meet both edge and experience of financial matters.
the long-term strategic interests of women NGOs have a role to play in filling this gap.
as well as the short-term practical needs of Linda Mayoux's study of women's entre-
alleviating poverty. The papers by Yasmin, preneurship in the silk-reeling industry in
Rajamma and Mayoux analyse the varied South India illuminates the complexities of
experiences of IGPs. Recognising women's promoting women's entrepreneurship.
unpaid labour is an important first step in Based on her insights, Mayoux offers a
developing an IGP. This point is clearly range of measures which NGOs can take to
brought home by Tahera Yasmin's report improve the position of women in the
on the experiences of Saptagram, a gender- industry.
aware NGO in rural Bangladesh. Among These papers contribute to the great
her interesting observations she notes how wealth of case studies and analytical work
Saptagram has learnt from the past mis- which provides a rich resource of informa-
takes of others. For example, the applica- tion on gender relationships within house-
tion of erroneous generalisations about holds, on the nature and extent of women's
women, combined with ignorance of the work, and the ways in which women's sub-
economic importance of 'reproductive ordination is experienced in different soci-
labour time', has led to the implementation eties (see Further Reading). On the basis of
of inappropriate IGPs at the expense of the this literature, we know a great deal about
poor. the gender division of labour within the
The lesson from Rajamma's study of the 'productive' paid economy and in the
Women's Liberation and Rehabilitation 'informal' or unorganised sector, where
Society (WLRS) IGP is that projects which many women are located. We know that
take a longer-term perspective are more the gender-neutral terminology of econom-
sustainable than those simply concerned ics disguises much about the inherent
with short-term monetary benefits. 'male bias' in economic policies. We know

that although policy makers talk about

'farmers and their wives', in many coun-
tries farming is an occupation dominated
by women. Regardless of the unwillingness
of economists to include the products of
women's labour into their statistics, no
economy could function without women's
paid and unpaid labour. Indeed,
researchers and activists have revealed the
falsehood of the idea that women con-
tribute less than men to the economy.
Gender divisions within society have
significant economic repercussions, not
only for women themselves, but for their
families, communities, and ultimately for
the economy as a whole.
Many of the authors focus our attention
on the links between the different 'spheres'
of economic life: the reproductive, or
sphere of social reproduction, which
involves the creation and nurturing of
other human beings; and the so-called 'pro-
ductive' sphere where goods and services
are bought and sold and workers receive a Women have a dual role, not only contributing to
wage for their efforts. The authors look household income, but taking the chief responsibil-
beyond the economic jargon and false ity for domestic tasks and the care of children, and
assumptions and explore the ways in often for the production of food for the family.
which gender relationships are shaped by
these policies and how gender divisions in
turn affect policy outcomes. Finally ,and
most importantly, the contributions includ-
ed here show how women are organising
at the household, community, national and
international levels, not simply for their
own personal gain but on behalf of the
communities in which they live and work.

Moser, C O N (1991) 'Gender planning in
the Third World: meeting practical and
strategic gender needs' in Wallace and
March (eds) Changing Perceptions: Writings
on Gender and Development.
Standing, G (1989) 'Global feminisation
through flexible labour', World
Development, 17:7.
Gender relations and
economic issues
Diane Elson

OST ECONOMIC ISSUES are dis- improved access systems is welcome. But
cussed, at both technical and women's unequal access to resources still
popular levels, in ways that pay remains an issue at the bottom of the agen-
no explicit attention to gender relations das of most organisations with economic
and how these relations subordinate power.
women. Most government economic policy One reason for this is a lack of imagina-
is formulated and implemented in ways tion on the part of economists, officials,
that appear to be gender neutral, but on and business managers. They do not see
closer examination turn out to be marked how most of what they consider to be eco-
by male bias (Elson (ed), 1991). Most eco- nomic issues have any connection with
nomic decisions of private and public sec- gender inequality. At the same time
tor enterprises are structured by gender women's organisations and women social
relations in overt and subtle ways, but scientists often lack a language with which
reducing gender inequality is never a dom- to try to make them see a language with
inant objective. some points of connection with the con-
It is true that pressure from women's cepts of economics. Of course, this is not
organisations and the research and advoca- the only reason: an understanding of
cy of women social scientists have in the inequality does not necessarily lead to any
last 15 years brought about some increase practical steps to reduce inequality.
in attention to women's issues in the insti- However, without a way of explaining the
tutions which analyse economic issues and sense in which all economic issues are
formulate economic policy. But most eco- women's issues, and can be better under-
nomic issues are not thought of as stood if gender relations are taken into
women's issues; and women's issues in the account, even if at first sight this is not
economic sphere are narrowly construed in apparent, it is that much harder for
terms of discrimination against women in women's organisations to intervene in the
public sector agencies and private sector processes of making economic policy and
firms in the distribution of employment taking economic decisions in the public
opportunities, and.access to land, credit, and private sectors.
and technology. Women's unequal access This article explores some aspects of the
to resources controlled by officials and gap between ideas about economic issues
business managers is an important topic, and ideas about women's issues; and aims
and the progress made in exposing the to empower women to enter more effective-
problems women face and designing ly into the discussion of economic issues.

Focus on Gender Vol I, No. 3, October 1993

Gender relations and economic issues

Defining the economy: the ual 'economic man' and the 'man' in
basic problem this phrase is definitely not shorthand for
'mankind'. As many women researchers
A basic communication failure occurs in have pointed out, the characteristics
the way that the economy is defined, both ascribed to 'economic man' bear much
in the technical analysis of economists and more relation to typical male gender roles
in everyday conversation. The economy is than to female gender roles (Ferber and
primarily defined in terms of activities that Nelson, eds, 1993). Of course, economists
are undertaken to earn money whether recognise that individuals are usually
in the form of a wage or salary, or in the grouped in organisations firms, house-
form of income from self-employment, or holds, schools, hospitals, etc but these
profits from employing others. In the jar- organisations are most often treated as if
gon of economic statistics, an 'economically they behaved in exactly the same way as
active person' is one who earns or seeks to 'economic man'. So that, for instance, the
earn money for their work. Unemployed household is treated as if it were a single
people are economically active people who decision maker, the household head
are looking for a way to earn a money assumed to be male in the 'normal' case. In
income but who unfortunately have not technical analysis this is described as
found one. In the jargon of economic statis- assuming a 'joint utility function'. The
ticians, the yearly output of a country (its same idea is captured at the everyday level
gross national product) is measured pri-
marily in terms of expenditure of the
'output that is sold. As many women
researchers have pointed out over the last
15 years, these definitions leave out all of
the work that women do, unpaid, in family
farms and businesses, and as mothers,
wives, and daughters with obligations and
responsibilities to look after others. The
work that is particularly 'women's work' is
defined as 'non-economic', though without
it, no economy could function (Beneria,
1992; Waring, 1988).
The technical definitions of the econom-
ic statisticians mirror the 'commonsense' of
everyday life in which men say their wives
do not work, even though the wives are the
first in the household to get up, the last to
go to bed, and are fully occupied all day.
Women too share in this 'commonsense'
when they declare they do not work, they
are only housewives, or helpers in their
husbands' businesses.
The male bias inherent in this preoccu-
pation with production for the market is Catherine Banda breaking stones to sell, central
compounded by male bias in defining the Lusaka. Structural adjustment measures in
units of which the economy is composed. Zambia have led to unemployment and rising liv-
The basic unit is thought of as an individ- ing costs. ROBERT M DAVIS/OXFAM
8 Focus on Gender

in the Russian proverb: 'I thought I saw two rium, growth of national output, and
people coming down but it was only a man and improvements in the health, education, and
his wife.' Women are understood primarily general well-being of the people. Today the
as dependents of a male breadwinner, process of trying to achieve these objectives
though there is a vast amount of empirical is dominated by the fashion for relying on
evidence showing how vital women's earn- 'market forces', on 'undistorted' price sig-
ings (in cash or in kind) are to the majority nals, and 'free' private enterprise. This is
of families around the world. characteristic of structural adjustment pro-
Economists, officials, and businessmen grammes in developing countries; the tran-
have tended to respond to women's criti- sition to capitalism in formerly centrally-
cisms by saying that of course they recog- planned economies; and of privatisation
nise that their concepts of the economy are and deregulation in developed countries.
simplifications that do not capture all the But market forces come up against the gen-
rich detail of life as it is lived. But to aban- der division of labour, the gender division
don these simplifications is too difficult (the of income, and the gender division of
models that economists use would become responsibilities. And market forces do not
too complex mathematically if the reality of just sweep aside any barriers which gender
gender were introduced); or too expensive relations pose to the ability of those forces
(the statistics that would reveal the full to mobilise resources productively. Instead
extent of women's contribution to the econ- there is a complex interaction in which mar-
omy cost too much to collect and process); ket forces modify gender relations, and
or beside the point (acknowledging the gender relations in turn modify market
gendered structure of the economy would forces. The outcome may in many cases be
make no difference to the policy recommen- different from that envisaged by econo-
dations and business decisions). The chal- mists and policy makers who fail to take
lenge now is for us to show how economic gender intoaccount. Policy objectives may
analysis can be made more gender-aware not be achieved, or may be achieved only at
without being made too complicated; to a much greater cost than anticipated (Elson,
show how not devoting resources to collect- 1991). Let us look at this in more detail,
ing the statistics is a false saving; to show using the case of reductions in public sector
how the gender blindness that characterises provision of services via expenditure cut-
most economic analysis and policy does backs.
matter; and how its removal would lead to
changed policy recommendations. Cutbacks in government
The significance of gender
Government expenditure is typically
relations for the fulfilment reduced as part of an attempt to balance the
of policy objectives public sector budget and to release
An approach being adopted by a number of resources for use by the private sector,
researchers (e.g. Palmer, 1991) is to argue where, it is supposed, they will be used
that a failure to understand the way in more effectively. The type of economic the-
which male-biased gender relations struc- ory that is most often used to justify expen-
ture the economy will tend to jeopardise the diture cutbacks suggests that, though in the
fulfilment of the stated objectives of eco- short run there may be unemployment and
nomic policy. These objectives are typically a shortage of the services that public expen-
expressed in terms of the achievement of diture used to finance, in the longer run
price stability, balance of payments equilib- retrenched workers will be employed in the
Gender relations and economic issues

In the short run, the first response may

be for this sector of social reproduction to
cushion the impact of public expenditure
cutbacks on services by attempting to pro-
vide substitute services free of charge
though at a cost in time and effort to those
providing the services. This effect has been
emphasised in much of the criticism of the
impact of structural adjustment pro-
grammes on women and girls, which has
argued that programmes achieve their
objectives at the expense of women and
girls (Commonwealth Expert Group, 1989).
It should be emphasised that these bur-
dens are not simply a problem for so-called
female-headed households i.e. women liv-
ing in households without the presence of
adult men. Even if adult men are present,
they contribute far less than do women to
the work of caring for others; and they add
to the demands on women's time with the
care they demand for themselves. The gen-
der division of labour in unpaid 'caring'
work has proved very resistant to change
Children at school in Tanzania. As a result of cut- all around the world, even where men are
backs in government expenditures on education, unemployed and women have new
school fees become too high for poor families to
employment opportunities.
educate all their children. Girls are more likely to
be withdrawn from school than their brothers. Some researchers have gone beyond
RICK DODCSON/OXFAM criticising the implications for women and
emphasise that these burdens on women
private sector, and the services that people also jeopardise the ability of economies to
require (such as education, health, housing, achieve their targets for exports and
sanitation, and transport) will be provided growth of output (Elson, 1991; Palmer,
more efficiently, either through the private 1991). Women may not have time to take
sector, or through a reorganised, 'leaner up new employment opportunities or
and fitter', more efficient public sector. respond to incentives to produce for
This theory pays no explicit attention to export. The burdens may spill over on to
the existence of a set of activities that are girls, whose schooling suffers. Very intense
neither public sector nor private sector in time pressures will jeopardise the quality
the sense in which these terms are usually of care that women are able to provide, and
used: the provision of care and nurture weaken their ability adequately to super-
unpaid in the household and the communi- vise their children, or participate in wider
ty what might be called the social repro- networks of kin and community. The for-
duction sector. This sector is overwhelm- mation of a skilled and healthy work force
ingly staffed by women, and their labour is will be hampered. Given the connections
mobilised not through market relations, but between girls' schooling and fertility
through the structures of obligation and decline, the rate of fertility decline may
duty of the household and the community. slow down. As a result of these various
10 Focus on Gender

Women do not have 'spare time' to income on things that benefit other house-
hold members as well as themselves
make good the Joss of public sector (Dwyer and Bruce, eds, 1988). A good illus-
tration is provided by a study of low-
services. income households in contemporary Cairo,
which found that, as families got better off,
pressures, long-run development prospects women preferred to buy washing machines
for the country as a whole may deteriorate, and gas cookers, whereas men spent
the reason being that most women do not income on leisure activities which excluded
have 'spare time' to make good the loss of their families (going to cafes or cinemas). If
public sector services. Women's time may men did buy equipment for the home it
be 'free' in the sense that it can be was much more likely to be a television or
mobilised without pay, through the forces a cassette recorder (Hoodfar, 1988). So
of social obligation (backed up all too often quite a lot depends on whether private sec-
by outright violence). But in most cases it is tor expansion puts more money into the
not 'free' in the sense of being leisure time hands of women or men; and whether
free from any existing tasks. women retain the money they earn or yield
it up to other family members.
The second snag is that the private sector
The private sector option may well fail to expand in a productive
Of course, it may be argued, adverse effects way. Private sector investors are inclined to
in both short and long run could be avoid- want to see definite signs of market demand
ed if economies worked in practice in the for the output of their investments before
way that the models used by the IMF and they risk tying up their capital in new pro-
the World Bank assume. In that case public ductive assets. However, the definite signs
sector cutbacks would be compensated of demand often depend on the generation
almost immediately by an expansion of the of extra income. There is frequently a kind
private sector, generating the money of 'chicken and egg' problem. If the private
income to allow households to purchase sector investors were to invest in new facto-
private sector goods and services to reduce ries and hospitals and schools and housing,
the demands made on the unpaid labour of this would in itself generate income with
household members. which the output of the new facilities could
However, there are at least two snags be bought. But before the investment is
which may prevent this. The first is that undertaken, the existence of a new market
more money income in the hands of house- appears uncertain, so much so that the
hold members does not necessarily result investment may be regarded as too risky.
in purchase of private sector goods and The private sector may prefer to keep its
services that would reduce demands on savings in financial assets or real estate
unpaid household labour. It all depends on rather than use them to create new produc-
who controls the income. Just as there is a tive assets. If investment is 'demand-con-
gender division of labour, so too there are strained' in this way, then the gender divi-
gender divisions of income and expendi- sion of income may exacerbate the problem:
ture. Complete pooling and sharing of all women may want new private sector goods
household income seems far from being and services to compensate for fewer public
the norm. Rather, what is normal is for sector services, but may be unable fully to
men to retain a portion of their income for express these wants in the market. So pri-
personal use for leisure activities, while vate sector investment to fulfil these wants
women are more likely to spend their does not take place.
Gender relations and economic issues 11

Certainly it is now widely recognised, by information sharing, participation and insti-

the World Bank as well as its critics, that the tution building are becoming buzz words
response of private-sector investors to (World Bank, 1990b). There is less emphasis
structural adjustment programmes in many on competition and more emphasis on
countries has been weak (World Bank, social norms, trust, and reciprocity as foun-
1990a). Private domestic investment in dations for a successful economy.
many countries does not seem to have This is a debate to which those con-
increased to fill the gaps left by cuts in pub- cerned with women's issues and gender
lic expenditure; while foreign investment inequality have a lot to contribute but
has been concentrated in a very few coun- not because women are somehow 'natural-
tries and sectors (such as labour-intensive ly' or 'innately' more co-operative than
manufacturing in East and Southeast Asia). men. Rather, a focus on gender relations
leads to a deeper understanding of how
Co-operative and inter- non-market, non-monetary relations work;
and a deeper appreciation of their com-
active solutions? plexities. A focus on gender has enabled us
Some economists and policy makers are to see that relationships which at first sight
now taking an interest in the potential for may seem to be those of trust, reciprocity,
co-operative and inter-active relations, both and co-operation may mask inequality and
within the private sector, and between the conflict, even violence. We have learned
private and public sectors, as a way of over- always to ask questions about power; and
coming the investment problem. Planning to be aware that social institutions and
is seen as out-moded but networking, social norms present different faces to dif-

Zambia: ivomen's groups can provide support for their members in facing economic problems.
12 Focus on Gender

ferent social groups. We have learned that References

true reciprocity requires equal rights. So
while an emphasis on co-operation is a Beneria, L (1992) 'Accounting for women's
welcome antidote to the fashion for over- work: the progress of two decades', World
whelming reliance on market forces, we Development, 20:11.
need to make sure that the social institu- Commonwealth Expert Group on Women
tions and norms in which co-operation is and Structural Adjustment (1989),
embodied are free from male bias. Engendering Adjustment for the 1990s,
Building capacity for Dwyer, D and J Bruce (eds) (1988) A House
Divided: Women and Income in the Third
gender-aware economic World, Stanford University Press.
analysis Elson, D (ed.) (1991) Male Bias in the
Effective intervention to ensure that all eco- Development Process, Manchester:
nomic issues are treated as gendered issues, Manchester University Press.
with potentially different implications for Elson, D (1991) 'Male bias in macro-econom-
women and men, requires both grassroots ics: the case of structural adjustment' in D.
organisation and a capacity to intervene in Elson (ed.) op. cit.
debate among economists. Development of Ferber, M. and Nelson, J. (eds) (1993) Beyond
the latter has been held back by the lack of Economic Man: Feminist Theory and
women who have had training in econom- Economics, University of Chicago Press.
ics, and by the lack of organised networks Hoodfar, H. (1988) 'Household budgeting
of economists committed to a focus on gen- and financial management in a lower-
der. Some new initiatives are starting to income Cairo neighbourhood' in Dwyer
remedy this, so this article will end with a and Bruce (eds) op. cit.
mention of three of these: Palmer, I. (1991) Gender and Population in the
Adjustment of African Economics: Planning
Work is under way at Manchester for Changes, ILO: Geneva.
University, UK (with funding from Waring, M. (1988) // Women Counted, New
Swedish International Development York: Harper-Collins.
Authority) to develop a variety of training World Bank (1990a) Adjustment Lending
materials including a PhD programme, to Policies for Sustainable Growth, Washington
build capacity for gender-aware analysis in DC.
development economics. World Bank (1990b) World Development
Report, Washington DC.
An international research workshop is
being co-ordinated from University of
Diane Elson teaches development economics
Utah, with funding from the Ford
in the Economics Department, University of
Foundation, on gender-aware modelling of
Manchester. She has written extensively on
economic adjustment.
gender relations and structural adjustment
An international association for feminist and is active in developing links between
economics has been set up, beginning from women workers in First and Third World
a base in the USA. countries through Women Working
These and other initiatives should put us in
a better position in future to be able to
show how all economic issues are women's
issues, and how a focus on gender leads to
a better analysis and better policies.
Structural adjustment:
cure or curse?
Implications for Caribbean development
Peggy Antrobus

This article is based on extracts from a paper originally published in the Bulletin of Eastern
Caribbean Affairs, 16:1, March/April 1990.

ODAY A FOCUS on women's role in es, there are no value-free theories. It is
development confronts us with some very important for policy makers and plan-
hard truths about our development ners to see the underlying assumptions and
policies and strategies. This is due to the hidden biases inherent in their policies, if
attention being given to the impact of struc- these are to have the desired effects.
tural adjustment policies on vulnerable
groups. Adjustment policies have become Structural adjustment
the panacea for our economic problems.
Indeed, they have become synonymous policies and gender
with development itself, even with eco- analysis
nomic transformation. Two elements are usually identified in
In this gender analysis of structural structural adjustment policies: austerity
adjustment policies, I hope to demonstrate measures intended to reduce consumption,
why gender analysis of macroeconomic and measures intended to stimulate pro-
policies as well as micro-level projects and duction. In practice they tend to overlap, as
sectoral programmes should be a central in the case of Jamaica, 1981-1986, where the
concern of planners and development prac- policy package was focused on a realloca-
titioners and not simply a marginal or tion of government expenditures away
optional activity. Indeed, it is a prerequisite from social services (defined as 'non-pro-
for effective analysis. ductive') in support of policies which were
When I first started to analyse the presumed to stimulate economic produc-
impact of structural adjustment policies on tion. The particular model for economic
women, I argued that they represented growth is export-oriented production based
policies which failed to take women into on foreign investment. While there is noth-
account. Today, on further reflection I am ing new about this export-focused model of
persuaded that, far from not taking women development, nor in the assumption that
into account, the structural adjustment the benefits of economic growth will 'trick-
policies are actually grounded in a gender ledown' to the poor, what is new is the
ideology which is deeply exploitative of growing realisation of the extent to which
women's time and labour. Contrary to the reallocation of government expendi-
what we are taught in our economics cours- tures represents the virtual abandonment

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No. 3, October 1993

14 Focus on Gender

of the development goals adopted by gov- able one which places people at the
ernments whose stated commitment is to centre.
improving the well-being of the people of Before I explore these arguments further
the region; and that these goals have been I need to make some passing reference to
replaced by the promotion of the outdated the role of women in Caribbean develop-
model which equates economic growth ment. Since there is a wealth of data on the
with development, and which has jeopar- subject I will only remind you that women
dised the gains in socioeconomic develop- make up slightly more than 51 per cent of
ment achieved in the 1970s. In short, we the populations of the Caribbean countries;
seem to have set back the clock in support women are key actors in agriculture, food
of a model of development which places production marketing and processing; as
the interests of international capital before providers of health, education and other
those of the majority of Caribbean people. services, both within and outside the for-
mal, monetised sectors; in manufacturing
and services in the formal sector of the
Structural adjustment polices have economy; and in the informal sector, where
their activities represent a creative response
their greatest impact at the level of to the absence of opportunities for earning
the household. an income in the formal sectors of the link
economy. Yet women represent the majori-
ty of the unemployed and the poor.
There are at least five reasons why gen-
der analysis is important: Bridging gaps between
It enables us to bridge the gap between
macro and micro analysis
macroeconomic analysis and policies Structural adjustment polices have their
and the micro level of experience at the greatest impact at the level of the house-
community and household where life hold. It is here that they affect people's
is actually lived. health, nutrition, and intellectual develop-
ment, and their psychological attitude to
It illuminates the link between social work.
reproduction and production a link The overwhelming majority of
which explains why it is not possible to Caribbean women engage in the dual work
separate the two without jeopardising role of carrying out household tasks (social
both. reproduction) as well as extra-household
It illustrates the essential linkages work (production) to meet their familial
between social, cultural and political responsibilities. It is also important to
realities and economic choices, and the recognise that, for women, productive and
full range of consequences of these reproductive roles are closely intertwined.
choices. In any day the amount of time spent on
household tasks is time not available for
It exposes the limitations of both neo- extra-household work. This is particularly
classical and Marxist economics and true for poor women in fact women's
the paradigms in which they are embed- experiences are mediated by class. The
ded. poorer the woman, the fewer her resources
and the more limited is her access to ser-
It offers clues as to alternative paths to a
vices such as water, transportation, health
development model which is holistic,
services, and schools. The more time-con-
humanistic, participatory, and sustain-
Structural adjustment: cure or curse? 15

Harvesting peppers, Jamaica. The production of non-traditional crops for export jeopardises women's
role in agriculture, as producers of food for their families and the local market. BELINDA COOTE/OXFAM

suming her role in social reproduction, the cal to women's interests and ultimately
less time and energy she has for essential negative for development itself.
income-earning activities. On the consumption side, the cuts in
social services affect women in three ways:
Linking social reproduction by reducing their access to resources (since
women predominate in those sectors sub-
and production jected to the cuts); reducing their access to
Unfortunately, the value of 'household' services vital to the performance of their
tasks is seldom recognised by policy mak- domestic tasks; and increasing the
ers and planners and often not by the demands on their time to fill the gaps creat-
women either. To assess the impact of ed by the cuts.
structural adjustment policies on our soci- On the production side, a model of
eties and economies, a recognition of the export-oriented production based on
link between the two roles is essential. export processing zones is based on the
To explore these linkages it is useful to exploitation of cheap female labour. In
distinguish between the consumption (cuts agriculture, the promotion of non-tradi-
in social services, devaluations, removal of tional export crops jeopardises women's
subsidies) and production (promotion of role in agriculture, since it undermines the
export-oriented production) aspects of production of food for the local market a
structural adjustment policies. In turn, we field in which women predominate, both
must examine how these policies are inimi- as producers and in marketing.
16 Focus on Gender

Equally, adjustment policies have a neg- increased as a result of cuts in social ser-
ative impact on socioeconomic develop- vices, in reduced access to water, trans-
ment itself. The social consequences of portation, or electricity, she cannot be as
these policies are mediated through the productive as if she received the support of
social construction of gender roles: since it these services.
is women who have a primary responsibili- Production itself is a function not only
ty for the care and nurturing of people of capital, technology and access to mar-
particularly for children, the sick, and the kets, but of the physical, intellectual and
elderly it is women who have to fill the psychological capacities of the labour force;
gaps when cuts are made in the health, these are determined in the domain of
education and welfare services. social reproduction women's domain.
But women are also involved in produc-
tive activities and in order to work effi- Limits of neoclassical and
ciently they must have support with their
domestic, traditional tasks (in the area of
Marxist paradigms
social reproduction). When services are cut, By focusing on social relations between
women have a harder time in managing men and women, gender analysis helps to
their dual roles, and both production and break down the dichotomies of private-
social reproduction suffer as a result. To public lives, the household and the econo-
give a typical example: the productive my, individuals and communities, personal
farmer who happens to be a woman is seri- and political, the realms of rationality and
ously hampered by the demands of her those of feelings. Neither the dominant/
domestic role. If these demands are liberal/equilibrium nor the alternative/

Kingston, Jamaica. Small market stalls like this one can provide income for honshold needs such as school
Structural adjustment: cure or curse? Y7

radical/conflict paradigm recognises the What are the implications of this analy-
dialectical relations between these spheres sis for planners, especially for those who
of reality. take seriously the stated commitment of
our governments and institutions to
the goals of equality between the sexes and
Alternative paths the full 'integration of women in develop-
Perhaps the best way to begin is to examine ment'? I think planners and people with a
the type of contradiction that is often pre- concern for promoting development and
sent in policies which are devised without protecting women's interest can do three
consideration of women's/gender roles. things. First, we can try to understand the
UNICEF was the first major international essential links between women's produc-
agency to study the social impact of adjust- tive and reproductive roles, by avoiding
ment policies on vulnerable groups, and the contradiction of placing additional bur-
the recommendations are aimed at giving dens on the same people who are expected
these policies a 'human face'. UNICEF is no to be 'productive'. We need to recognise
doubt sincere in its wish to help govern- that over-burdening women will under-
ments to 'protect the vulnerable' while, con- mine the effectiveness andefficiency of
tinuing to promote growth; however, one policies in the areas of economic as well as
of their recommendations is the following: in social development, since if women's
estimating that 'at least 75 per cent of all reproductive roles are undermined the pro-
health care takes place in the family', the ductive capacity of the society is also
Report advocates the promotion of self- undermined.
help (i.e. shifting responsibility onto 'the
family') as a way of promoting 'efficient
and effective' social services. It recognises Over-burdening women will
that 'such an approach may increase time
costs for women' but that 'it will place undermine the effectiveness of
extremely modest monetary costs on the policies in economic development.
households; and will lead to substantial
savings in the public sector...'
When we deconstruct this statement in Second, we can recognise that gender is
the light of a situation where between 30 indeed a critical variable in development
and 40 per cent of households are headed planning, and gender analysis should be an
by women, and where in most, if not all, essential part of the planning process,
households in the poorer sections of our using the analytical tools devised to ensure
society, women's incomes are a significant that women's needs and interests are taken
part of 'household' incomes, the contradic- into account.
tion becomes clear: by using the words A number of policy guidelines and
'family' and 'household', the recommenda- checklists, analytical frameworks, and train-
tion obscures the fact that it is women who ing programmes have been developed for
take care of sick members of the house- this purpose. We can learn how to use and
hold; and in the poorer households it may apply them in our work. At the same time,
be these same women who earn the we must recognise the limitations of these
income. If these women have to stay at technical tools. After reflecting on the expe-
home to take care of the sick they cannot rience of my own programmes, in which
also earn the income. The 'monetary costs we have given a great deal of emphasis to
on the household' may be far from modest: sensitising key policy makers, planners and
they may represent its total income! programme/project managers against
18 Focus on Gender

the background of the largely disappoint- conditions of women's experience, in their

ing results a number of questions need to engendered position within the sexual
be raised. For example: are these poor division of labour, and deriving out of their
results due less to the technical shortcom- practical gender interests for human sur-
ings of the tools and more to the existence vival'. Most of the programmes undertaken
of strong ideological biases inherent in the by governments in the past fall into this
planning process in terms of both class category. However, while these pro-
and gender? grammes meet important needs, they do
not deal with the underlying problems of
gender subordination, nor advance the
Our most useful purpose may be to struggle for a more humane world: they do
use gender analysis to raise not meet strategic gender needs those
'formulated from the analysis of women's
fundamental questions about the subordination to men' and focused on the
transformation of power relationships
process of development itself. between men, the state, and women.
The critical question is: is it possible to
Has the time come for planners to recog- meet strategic needs along with practical
nise that we live in a world which is nei- needs? One conclusion is that even practi-
ther politically nor ideologically neutral, cal gains in improved nutrition, education,
nor value-free; and that the process of and housing are easily reversed if no atten-
development itself is profoundly political, tion is paid to the strategic need to give
and not merely technical? When resources women a voice in the decisions which so
are scarce it is the relative power of the dif- directly affect their lives.
ferent groups in our society which deter- Given the limitations of the analytical
mines how they are distributed. frameworks and technical guidelines, as
Third, we must recognise that it is the well as those of the employees within the
users of services who are in the best systems which introduce and enforce these
position to determine how they might be policies, our most useful purpose may be to
reorganised in order to make them more use gender analysis to raise fundamental
effective and efficient. This can be done by questions about the process of development
giving opportunities for the women most itself. Secondly, our projects can therefore be
concerned (not women as professional designed to place more decision-making
teachers, nurses and social workers, but power (strategic power) in the hands of
women as the users of those services those who use services. This will at least
although they may indeed be the same help to ensure that gains (in meeting practi-
women!) to determine the priorities, and cal gender needs) achieved through the pro-
the services which need to be protected: ject are not eroded when the financial
those which are most vital for the resources are no longer available.
maintenance of life, and hope.
Peggy Antrobus is Tutor-Coordinator,
Practical and strategic Women and Development Unit, Extra Mural
Department, University of the West Indies,
interests Cave Hill, Barbados and general coordinator
In this connection we need to distinguish of Development Alternatives with Women for
between practical and strategic women's/ a New Era (DAWN).
gender interests/needs. Practical gender
needs are those derived from the 'concrete
Changing from
subsistence to cash
Sakaramma's story
Rajamma G.

This is drawn from a paper given at the Gender Needs Assessment Workshop - Gender and
Landlessness, February 1992, Hyderabad.

N INDIA MORE and more land is being water for cultivation and there is one small
brought into cash-crop production. This irrigation tank for the whole village.
shift from subsistence to cash cropping Until 20 years ago, the chief crops were
has had an enormous effect on the standard rag;', bajra, jowar, navane, saame (cereals) and
of living of rural women in many respects: other coarse varieties of the traditional food
food security, nutrition and health, income, grains, and pulses such as pigeon pea and
and employment. We highlight these green gram were grown for home consump-
changes by looking at the experiences of tion. Nowadays there is a shift towards the
Sakaramma, from Dadagundanahalli vil- cultivation of groundnut and cotton and,
lage of Madhugiri Taluk, Tumkur district, increasingly, mulberry cultivation.
Kamataka, in southern India.
Sakaramma, who is about 40 years old, is
from a tribe locally known as the Lambani.
Food security
There are seven members in the family and In Sakaramma's family, in the past, most of
their total land holding is three-quarters of their production was food grains for the
an acre of dry land. She is illiterate and, family's own consumption. The food grains
apart from working on her family land, she produced were sufficient for five months,
also works as an agricultural labourer. and for the remaining months they depend-
The village is located about 120km from ed on the income from agricultural labour,
Bangalore city and 20km from the nearest which was often paid in kind. For example,
town. The nearest bus stop is lkm away when the labour rate per day was one
from the village. The population of the vil- rupee, a labourer could either earn one
lage is around 730, with 141 families of rupee or could collect 15 seers of ragi, which
which 93 belong to the Lambani tribe and 48 would be sufficient to sustain a family for
belong to various castes. The total land hold- 4-5 days. There was almost sufficient food
ing is 485 acres, 61 of which are irrigated. throughout the year. Pulses were also
The majority of the villagers are landless grown, which meant that dependence on
or small, marginal farmers, although there the market was minimal. In the case of an
are also nine large farmers. Most villagers emergency such as sickness, a portion of
depend on agricultural labour for their the existing food stocks would be sold in
livelihoods. Rainwater is the main source of the market to meet the family's needs.

Focus on Gender Vol l,No.3, October 1993

20 Focus on Gender

Weeding a crop of groundnuts, South India. JOANNA MOTION/OXFAM

Only part of the land is under food grains and has been produced by others, no one
and this is sufficient for only one month's knows from where and by whom.' The food
consumption. The rest of the land is under does not taste as good as it used to because
groundnut cultivation, and the crop is sold of all the hybrid varieties that have been
immediately after the harvest because of introduced, and because of the increasing
the existence of a ready market. use of pesticides and insecticides. The inci-
dence of sickness has also increased.
Recently Sakaramma complained that
Nutrition and health her efforts to persuade her husband to buy
In the past, Sakaramma used to eat good 2-3 bags of ragi with the cash from a sale of
quality food which, she explains, is food groundnuts had been in vain. She feels that
not treated with pesticides, and which she has no control over what she cooks
included different types of millet, lentils each day, since there is no choice; she has
and other grains which local people had to prepare what is available.
eaten for generations. There was a wide
variety of food: cereals, pulses and vegeta-
bles. The quantities consumed were also Now cash is a must
greater. In the past it was normal to cook In the past, there was very little cash used
3kg of ragi daily, whereas now this has on a day-to-day basis because most items
diminished to 2kg. were available at home. Sakaramma now
A number of other food items were also feels that having cash on hand has become
produced not only during festivals but also a must, because everything has to be
during normal days. Sakaramma says that bought from the market. Cash is received
the satisfaction derived from eating home- only after the crop has been sold in the mar-
produced food was much greater: 'food pro- ket, where prices often fluctuate. Although
duced by our own hands was consumed by there is an increase in her cash income,
us, but now everything has to be bought, Sakaramma's real income has not increased
Changing from subsistence to cash cropping 21

because cash crops need more capital While Sakaramma feels that the traditional
inputs, pesticides, and fertilisers. These are pattern of agriculture was definitely better
financed by loans from money lenders or for small, marginal farmers, the present sys-
institutions at high rates of interest; any tem is beneficial for farmers with large
crop failure can pauperise the farmer. Even holdings, who have sufficient food security.
if the shift to cash cropping brings in the Why, then, are more and more farmers
expected income, it is rarely used for buy- taking up cash cropping? The answer given
ing better food. This is because the price by Sakaramma is that there is a lot of pro-
which Sakaramma pays for purchases is paganda by the government, development
higher than the price for the family's own workers, and others, saying that cash crop-
produce. She also feels that she has no con- ping means greater productivity resulting
trol over the income from the sale of the in higher income, which in turn promises a
produce: the increased income from cash better standard of living. This is encour-
crops is spent with little regard for food. aged by banks and financial institutions,
Instead it is often spent on debt clearance, including village money lenders, who are
alcohol, and household items. willing to give loans for cash cropping.

Unequal wages Lessons from Sakaramma's

Although there have been no changes in
the pattern of employment, the nature of As women are not recognised as farmers,
payment has changed. In the past, when they are usually not consulted on decisions
payment was in kind, there was equality about land use, and government induce-
between males and females for certain ments are aimed specifically at men. A shift
types of agricultural work. Under the new towards a cash economy in agriculture is
cash system, wages have become unequal, accompanied by a shift from payment in
widening the gap between males and kind to cash wages. Payment in kind
females. ensured that women had some control over
Previously there was less pressure on an food resources for the family and wages
individual's work time, says Sakaramma. had gender parity: cash payments have
Apart from working in her fields and on brought a gender-based wage disparity.
others' fields, she would have sufficient The switch to cash crops was meant to
time to do other household chores, but this increase prosperity. But measuring pros-
is no longer possible. More of her time is perity only in terms of cash income ignores
now spent collecting wood for fuel and fod- the impact of the loss of the non-monetary
der for cattle, which in the past were avail- flow of resources within the traditional
able from the residues of traditional crops. agricultural cycle, almost all of which is
associated with women's activities.
Traditional farming is
Rajamma G. is Oxfam's Project Officer in
better for small farmers Bangalore, and actively involved in gender
In the end, one wonders if these changes training. She has carried out research on the
that have taken place in the cultivation pat- lives of rural women, and plays a full part in
tern are for the better or worse. When this the Indian women's movement.
question was put to the farmers of (G. in her name stands for Gomathy, her moth-
Dadagundanahalli village, their unanimous er's name. She is from a matrilineal communi-
reply was that traditional farming is ty in Kerala, where daughters inherit their
undoubtedly better than cash cropping. mother's name and use it even after marriage.)
economic growth,
and poverty
Noeleen Heyzer

number of people living in poverty is esti-

MAJOR CHALLENGE for planners in the
Asian region is to help to create and mated at more than 500 million. While the
sustain processes and structures proportion of the population in poverty
that can bring about the kind of develop- has declined for most countries over the
ment which provides decent and secure last decade, the actual number of people
livelihoods and at the same time gives men who are poor has increased. It is therefore
and women greater control over their lives. important to understand the relationship
In order to address what can and needs to between economic growth and poverty
be done in this area we must examine the reduction in order to draw lessons for for-
macro-planning process itself as well as mulation of future strategies.
anti-poverty programmes in our countries. Two questions must be addressed: one
is whether economic growth necessarily
Benefits of growth do not leads to poverty reduction; the other is
whether economic growth is necessary for
'trickle down' sustained poverty reduction. The issues are
The 'trickle-down' theories of the 1950s complex but generally the answer to the
and 1960s, and the planning process associ- second question appears to be 'yes'. But in
ated with them, have brought about new response to the first question, one must say
opportunities for many but they have also that the pattern of growth and economic
failed to improve the living standards of management may be more important than
large numbers of people. By the 1970s it simply the rate of growth in affecting a
was recognised that poverty had to be tack- society's ability to deal with poverty.
led directly, side by side with economic
growth. This approach, while welcomed, Economic growth, anti-
also avoided the questions of whether the
development process itself had created poverty programmes, and
poverty and deprivation, and how the gender equity
process can be transformed. Economic growth and anti-poverty pro-
After more than four decades of devel- grammes are designed with the assump-
opment efforts in Asia, a large number of tion that they assist 'the people', both men
people continue to live in poverty. This is and women. Our experience has shown
so despite the relatively high growth rates that economic growth has created opportu-
achieved in many parts of the region as a nities for very substantial numbers of peo-
whole during this period. In Asia alone, the ple but it has also created new inequalities

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No. 3, October 1993

Gender, economic growth, and poverty 23

limited access than do men to development

resources such as land, credit, technology,
and opportunities. Understanding and
removing these constraints must therefore
be a major component of anti-poverty pro-
The strategies most commonly followed
by anti-poverty programmes (APPs) are:
integrated rural development pro-
grammes (IRDP) which aim to generate
income and employment opportunities
for the very poor;
area development programmes for
impoverished and remote areas;
special credit programmes for target
groups, such as small farmers and the
decentralised administrative systems to
encourage bottom-up planning and bet-
Planting out rice seedlings, Indonesia. Women usu- ter co-ordination amongst government
ally perform the most tedious and labour-intensive agencies which deliver resources and
agricultural xvork. /EREMY HARTLEY/OXFAM
services to the disadvantaged groups;
land and land-tenure reforms requiring
or reinforced existing ones. Similarly, anti-
redistribution of land or the establish-
poverty programmes are assumed to reach
ment of more secure tenancy rights;
'the poor' but experience has shown that
they often by-pass the hardcore poor. provision of basic needs;
There is increasing evidence that women
do not automatically benefit from anti- relief or dole especially in the wake of
poverty programmes and that many national disasters;
growth-promotion strategies may make the development of household production
conditions of significant numbers of poor and small industries;
women worse unless certain adjustments
are made to planning assumptions and large-scale rural programmes.
implementation methodologies. There are some major shortcomings in
these programmes from the perspective of
women. Women's interests are assumed to
Often 'the poor' are women be included in the various groups that gov-
In almost every Asian country, women ernments plan for, like 'farmers', 'the poor'.
comprise a large percentage of the poor Yet on closer examination one finds that
. and the very poor. Yet even with the most these groups are differentiated by gender
effective economic development policies, and that the lives of men and women with-
most poor families would not be able to in each group are structured in fundamen-
survive without the contribution of the tally different ways. A sexual division of
female members.However, women typical- labour exists that allocates to women the
ly earn lower wages and have much more most tedious and labour-intensive work,
24 Focus on Gender

and limits women's access to and control holds where men are migrant labourers, and
over development resources. New employ- women are left behind to care for the family.
ment opportunities tend to be built on this
existing division of labour and may even Gender divisions within
intensify it.
the household
False assumptions of anti- The use of the household rather than
household members as the preferred unit
poverty programmes of analysis can create potential policy fail-
There are many untested assumptions that ure. This is because an emphasis on the
guide APPs which can work to the detri- household tends to ignore the economic
ment of women. The first of these assump- and social behaviour that occurs both with-
tions is about the social responsibilities of in and outside the household. Whether
men and women. Governments plan as planners like it or not, gender differences
though men support families, when in reali- exist in intra-household allocation of pro-
ty it is men together with women, and fre- duction and consumption. The existence of
quently women alone, who do so. The fact gender complexities in the handling of
that most male wage-labourers are paid income affects the quality of family life, the
sub-subsistence wages has been amply quality of children's nutrition and educa-
demonstrated. In these cases, women's tion, as well as household stability (con-
income is essential to household survival. flicts about income constitute a major
Women's income is also essential in house- source of household tension).

Selling food in the street, Indonesia. Because of the difficulty in separating out domestic work and work
directed at the market, women's economic contribution is often not recognised by policy-makers.
Gender, economic growth, and poverty 25

Domestic and public Poverty and gender

spheres not separate
Women's experience of poverty may be
A closely-related problem deals with the different and more acute than that of men
concept of work. In the analysis of work because of gender-based forms of exclu-
and its rewards, sharp distinctions are sion. Women become poor through a dete-
made between domestic and non-domestic rioration in the household's access to
spheres. Yet for many groups of women, resources, or if the family unit itself breaks
the boundaries of the two spheres are not down, or through the loss of male support.
so clearly defined. For women in the sub- Women's lives are governed by more
sistence sector and non-wage sectors of complex social constraints and responsibili-
society, the domestic and non-domestic ties than men's, and they are more concen-
spheres exist as a single system and it is trated in the non-monetised sector. For this
often difficult to separate domestic work reason, APPs need to be sensitive to gender
from that directed at the market. For this issues within and among households, and
reason, women's economic roles have been must take into account the intra-household
invisible. dynamics which affect the use of income
What is the impact of economic growth and decisions over resource allocation
on patterns of employment and wages along gender lines.
across gender? This depends on the charac- A few general lessons may be drawn.
ter of growth itself and how the relative There is no direct relationship between
shares of the fruits of economic growth are gender equity and human development, on
distributed between industry, agriculture, the one hand, and high rates of growth, on
services, and the formal/informal sectors. the other. In fact, gender equity and human
Women are usually concentrated in the development may be temporarily achieved
agricultural sector and in the informal sec- at relatively low levels of growth and
tor, where the rates of growth and the income. In the long run, low rates of
potential for growth are relatively low. In growth tend to reduce the opportunities for
the industrial and service sectors, where the employment creation, a situation where
growth rates are much higher, the majority existing gender hierarchies assert them-
of women are in the unskilled/ semi-skilled selves and where male employment and
categories, and hence have limited access to skill formation are likely to have priority.
the benefits of such growth compared to Thus, for growth to translate into social
more skilled workers. For women to take development, a society needs social cohe-
advantage of the benefits of future econom- sion, people's participation, and consider-
ic growth, there must be an emphasis on able targeted interventions in the form of
women's skill development. However, the government planning and implementation.
possibilities for women to enter into skilled
work is limited by existing social and insti- Noeleen Heyzer is coordinator of the Gender
tutional structures. and Development Programme at the Asian
How do government policies and pro- and Pacific Development Centre, Kuala
grammes deal with social development? In Lumpur, Malaysia and has written numerous
countries with high degrees of gender books and articles on women and develop-
inequity, the ability of government pro- ment in Asia.
grammes to promote women's access to
even basic resources like education and
health care is limited by gender culture and
Struggles over
patriarchal structural
adjustment in Tanzania
Marjorie Mbilinyi

This article is based on extracts from the TGNP's Gender Profile of Tanzania, originally edited by
Lucy Mboma. It is based on contributions from Group 1 of the TGNP Gender Profile Workshop (23-16
June, 1993) and incorporates comments by TGNP Facilitation Committee: Marjorie Mbilinyi, Fides
Chale, Aggripina Mosha, Fenella Mukanagara, Lucy Mbona, Crispin Hauli, Demere Kitunga, Nancy
Masumba, Heslon Mahimbo, Asseny Muro and Mary Rusimbi.

N THE 1960s AND 1970s Tanzania made industries increased at first, after donors
real achievements towards decolonisa- provided foreign exchange to import raw
tion of the economy, redistribution of materials, equipment and machinery.
wealth, provision of social services, racial Political reforms associated with multi-
equality, and increased power of working party politics helped to create an enabling
people in the workplace and politics. environment for non-governmental organi-
Structural adjustment policies (SAPs) in sations (NGOs) and the private press.
Tanzania have helped to reverse these On the other hand, government and
achievements within seven short years donor support for social services declined
(1986-1993). We highlight recent efforts by relative to 'productive' sectors. Enrolment
women's/gender groups to assert them- figures in primary schools dropped from
selves in the arena of economic policy, par- nearly 100 per cent universal enrolment in
ticularly in agriculture, which remains the the mid-1980s to 65-70 per cent. Individuals
most significant sector for export earnings and communities are now expected to pay
and continues to provide employment for more for social services and local infrastruc-
the majority of Tanzanians. ture, according to cost-sharing principles, in
spite of reduced incomes. Medical costs for
the treatment of malaria, the major killer
Structural adjustment disease of children, consume half the
The adjustment process has been highly monthly wage.
contradictory. SAP measures mainly bene-
fited large-scale producers and merchants, Debt absorbs government
and in some ways conditions for ordinary
citizens also improved. Shops and markets
were filled with imported manufactured The promised funding from bilateral donor
goods, and there was a rapid growth in ser- agencies to support SAPs never materi-
vices available in the private sector as a alised, and external capital investment has
result of liberalisation. Output from local not significantly increased. Foreign debt

Focus on Gender Vol I, No. 3, October 7993

Struggles over patriarchal structural adjustment in Tanzania 27

reached US$6 billion, which far exceeded employment (URT/UNICEF, 1990).

export earnings (US$0.4 billion) in 1992. Retrenchment of public sector workers hurt
Debt servicing represents one of the largest women more than men because most per-
items in the budget and consumes 15 per manent job opportunities for women have
cent of total domestic revenues. Each been in service (teaching, nursing, clean-
Tanzanian citizen, on the average, pays ing), sales, and clerical occupations in the
about twice her total income to service the public sector. Moreover, in both the public
debt some US$224, compared to the aver- and private sector, temporary redundan-
age per capita annual income of US$110. cies mainly affected the low cadre of work-
ers where most women are located.
Lower household incomes during the
Donors, the state, and SAP era forced women and girls to work
patriarchy harder in unpaid household work, casual
The reduction of government and donor employment, and highly exploitative forms
support for social services has increased of self-employed 'cottage industry' in both
women's work in the home and communi- urban and rural areas. Most women in all
ty; strengthened the gender division of classes became active in the informal sec-
labour in the household economy; and tor, seeking cash incomes which were not
reduced women's access to education and taxed or regulated by the government
health services and to regular formal (Koda and Omari in Suliman, 1991).

Nurses at a mother and baby clinic at Liuli hospital. Employment opportunities for women in the service
sector have been reduced as a consequence of SAPs. SARAH ERRINGTON/OXFAM
28 Focus on Gender

The positive side of processing and cooking, without which

adjustment their families and communities and the
entire economy would collapse.
A positive side of women's greater partici-
pation in market-oriented activities is their Women harmed by shift to
increased access to independent cash
incomes and control over economic export crops
resources. Women have begun to travel In rural areas, the pressure to grow more
more, to and from urban centres, and to cash crops has diverted labour and land
different village markets. Increased partici- away from food crops, or forced people to
pation in the money economy and expo- sell part of their food store for needed cash.
sure to urban society and different cultures At the same time, men have tried to take
has increased their gender and class con- over food crops once controlled by women,
sciousness. This has shifted the balance of such as maize, beans, and horticultural
power in many families and given women produce, and women have lost their former
greater negotiating strength. The result has autonomous position in food production in
been increased sharing of decision making, many places. Women's historical reliance
and increased control over resources in on food production means they have been
spite of gender discrimination in allocation harmed the most by the policy shift in sup-
of credit and other productive resources. port of export crops, and the perpetuation
On the other hand, many men have of male-biased crop programmes
responded to changed gender relations at increasing women's vulnerability.
household level by abdicating their respon- 'Sex work' provides a higher income
sibilities for the family. Gender conflict has than most other forms of employment
increased, as women and men endeavour available to women and young girls. Apart
to create new kinds of gender relations, from those who work on the streets, many
and women resist patriarchal forms of other women prostitute themselves on a
oppression. Old forms of marriage and part-time basis to bosses, teachers and
family no longer provide women, or men, other 'big' men, in exchange for 'gifts' of
with the kind of economic security and food, clothing, or a good meal.
social sustenance they once could depend
on, and alternative kinds of gender pat- Women's and children's
terns, including prostitution, beckon.
health has suffered
No investment in the Hard work, low income, and stress have
increased the rate of disease and malnutri-
reproductive sphere tion among women. Combined with deteri-
Irrespective of women's social position, orating health services, these factors have
however, they have remained in charge of led to a high maternal mortality rate, which
reproduction of the household and family increased from 190 to 215 maternal deaths
whether they are married or single per 100,000 births in 1990 and 1991. Women
heads of household. Poor women are espe- are also more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS
cially hurt by the lack of serious investment infection. An especially high rate of
in cheap fuel, water, semi-processed food- increase in infection has been found among
stuffs, and community forms of child care. teenage girls from 15 to 19 years of age.
Half the working day, or more, is spent on A backlash against feminist efforts to
tasks for which most women are not paid: transform male-dominant structures is
collection of water and fuel wood, food growing in both popular and anti-imperial
Struggles over patriarchal structural adjustment in Tanzania 29

discourse. Critics label efforts to transform A number of recommendations have

patriarchal relations as 'Western' (just as been made by the workshops. A people-
European colonisers accused the nationalists centred development strategy should be
of being 'Westernised aliens' in the past). adopted to transform the present structure
A more long-lasting solution is neces- of decision making and control over
sary, which empowers women and trans- resources from a top-down approach to a
forms society so that women and men can grassroots-based, people-centred approach,
live and work as equal partners, regardless within which women and other disempow-
of class, race or national location. ered people attain dignity, power, and con-
trol over their lives and future, and live
Tanzania Gender with peace and justice.
We have recognised that although
Networking Programme research and writing are essential aspects
TGNP is one of many initiatives among of the empowerment process, they remain
Tanzanian women to organise themselves meaningless unless they are part of an
in the non-government sector. TGNP was action-oriented programme, directly or
started in December 1992 by those active in indirectly. On the other hand, action which
the women's movement at national, region- is not informed by theory may reproduce
al, and grassroots levels. The overall objec- gender stereotyping and other oppressive
tives of TGNP are to facilitate the process ideas and structures, and strengthen the
of gender equality, the empowerment of status quo, instead of challenging it. That is
women in Tanzania (and worldwide), and why TGNP also emphasises the signifi-
the transformation of society at all levels cance of a strong conceptual framework
individual, household, community, nation- which enables women (and men) at the
al and international. grassroots to understand their reality bet-
The major areas of action for TGNP are: ter, in order to change it.
education and training; animation work-
shops; action-oriented, participatory
research; lobbying and networking; publica-
tions, communication and dissemination; URT/UNICEF (1988) The Situation of Women
documentation and library; exhibitions, and Children in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam:
publicity, and sales; fund-raising; operations URT/UNICEF.
and logistics. TGNP recognises the signifi- Wagao, J H (1988) Analysis of the Economic
cance of both practical needs and strategic Situation of Urban and Rural Women in
interests at grassroots and national level. Tanzania, Dar es Salaam: UNICEF.
Animated workshops have created TGNP (1993) Gender Profile of Tanzania, Dar es
space for analysis of the present situation Salaam: TGNP.
of women, in the context of SAPs. Three
large workshops have been organised since Majorie Mbilinyi is Professor of Development
December 1992, involving more than 100 Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam.
leading women (and a few men) involved Her background is in educational psychology
in women's/gender issues. The workshops and her interest in gender issues goes back
have become a forum to criticise macro- many years.
economic policies and specific Women-in-
Development (WID) policies and pro-
grammes, and to plan concrete steps of
action and implementation associated with
alternative development strategies.
Filipino women demand
freedom from debt
Judy Taguiwalo

ILIPINO WOMEN, like most women compared to US$2 billion in 1962. The
worldwide, shoulder the double bur- mushrooming of the Philippine debt can be
den of unpaid reproductive work attributed to a number of factors: the
within the family and undervalued pro- international lending optimism in the
ductive work. Filipino women are farmers 1970s, the volatility of global markets,
involved in rice, coconut, vegetables, and government mismanagement and
sugar-cane production. They predominate corruption, and a development strategy
in the informal economy as washerwomen, that is outward-oriented and that is
itinerant vendors, or petty traders. They primarily financed by foreign borrowing.
are also wage and salary workers, earning
on average only 35 per cent of the already Debt at the expense of
low salaries or wages of their male counter-
parts (Institute of Labour Studies, 1992). development
External financing has not generated devel-
'She will pay for the debts opment. On the contrary, growth has elud-
ed the Philippines. Between 1965 and 1989,
of her father' the Philippines grew only by an average of
The Filipino women's subordinate position 1.6 per cent (Ferrer, 1993). Per capita
in society is reflected in the lower regard income fell from a peak of US$800 in 1982
for female daughters. 'She will pay for the to US$570 in 1986 and remains below
debts of her father' is a Filipino saying US$800 to date (Lamberte et. al, 1992).
associated with the birth of a daughter. The country's continuing economic stag-
While originally referring to women-relat- nation is directly related to its official debt-
ed offences of the father, contemporary management strategy. Various Philippine
Philippine reality provides a new dimen- governments, from the Marcos' martial
sion to this adage. The Philippines is one of regime, through the Aquino administration
the ten most heavily-indebted middle- and the present Ramos administration,
income countries in the world. Filipino have prioritised debt payments to foreign
women, who at the best of economic times creditors at the expense of the country's
carry the double burden associated with development. A presidential decree,
their gender, are paying heavily for the imposed by Marcos in 1977 but still in force,
country's indebtedness. provides for the automatic appropriation of
As of January 1993, the Philippines funds in the government's annual budget
owed foreign creditors over US$31 billion, for debt payments regardless of the eco-

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No.3, October 1993

Filipino women demand freedom from debt 31

nomic state of the country. The current gov- These official mantras that are supposed
ernment continues to honour all foreign to lead the Philippines to the promised
loans including those made by private cor- land of newly-industrialising-country sta-
porations and firms. From 1986 to 1991, an tus have become a cross that Filipino peo-
average of 53 per cent of the government ple bear. Women especially carry the heav-
budget actually went to debt servicing. ier load due to government policies that
Needless to say, appropriations for social transfer the burden of providing social and
and economic services, including an agrari- community services to women, that
an reform programme and the develop- encourage overseas work for women, and
ment of alternative energy sources, suffer. that offer a 'docile' and underpaid female
This strategy has led to a net outflow of work force for foreign investors. Filipino
financial resources from the Philippines to women have become the country's 'coping
the rich creditor nations. For example, total mechanism' for the debt crisis.
debt repayments from 1986 to 1992 The removal of government subsidies,
amounted to almost US$23 billion while the increase in taxes, and the cutbacks in
only around US$14 billion in new money government spending mean that Filipinos
came in, resulting in a net resource outflow pay higher prices for basic goods and ser-
of almost US$9 billion. vices. Government subsidies for rice and
tax subsidies on oil have either been
Adjustment removed or drastically reduced, while
taxes on basic utilities such as water and
conditionalities electricity have been increased. The man-
An integral part of the government's debt dated minimum wage for workers in the
management strategy is the adoption of Philippines, which is around US$5 a day, is
adjustment conditionalities foisted upon already way below the US$8.50 daily cost
the Philippines by the International of living for a family of six.
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Poor women spend more time market-
(WB) in exchange for additional loans or ing as they scrounge for cheaper food;
for the renegotiation of outstanding loans. more time in income-generating activities
The adoption of policies such as high ranging from buying and selling of old
interest rates, credit restraint, cutbacks in newspapers and bottles to hiring them-
government expenditure, and increase in selves out as washerwomen; more time
taxation, are all in response to IMF pre- providing for the care of the ailing mem-
scriptions for stabilising the economy. bers of the family as access to health ser-
Deregulation, liberalisation and privat- vices becomes more constricted.
isation as policy instruments for freeing the Less food for the family and longer
market and for allowing the Philippine working hours have meant worsening
economy to be globally competitive are the health conditions for the average Filipino
main features in the restructuring of the family, especially for women. Men and
economy. children have priority when it comes to the
limited food on the table, as Filipino
Mantras for the State, women have been conditioned to put their
families before themselves. Tuberculosis, a
crosses for Filipino women disease associated with poverty, is one of
'Honour our debt obligations.' 'Earn more dol- the five most common causes of deaths
lars and spend less.' 'Remove all government among Filipino women. Meeting women's
interventions and allow the market to operate special health needs (because of their child-
freely.' bearing role) becomes one of the casualties
32 Focus on Gender

ply an extension of women's domestic role.

A more insidious side to the export of
Filipino women is the legitimation of sex
trafficking, and the violence and sexual
abuse which women working abroad are
liable to suffer. There have been widely
publicised reports of the inhuman treat-
ment of Filipino women abroad, including
the horror stories of the rape, physical
abuse or deaths of 'Japayukis' (Filipino
women entertainers in Japan) and domestic
workers in Kuwait and other countries.

Land for food crops

Export-oriented policies have displaced
small domestic farmers as agricultural
lands for staple food production is taken
Laguna Bay, Philippines. Doing the houshold over for cash-crop production or industrial
washing for richer neighbours or relations can
bring in badly-needed income.
estates for export production. Food security
is threatened by the rapid transformation of
the countryside, and increasing land specu-
as debt servicing is prioritised over health lation has further marginalised peasant
services. Pregnancy-related deaths are women. Women's role in food production
among the top ten women-killers in the is significant, whereas cash-crop production
Philippines (Tan, 1992). is dominated by men. Job opportunities for
the production of export crops are limited,
and even if women do work in this area, as
Filipino women deskilled in the rubber plantations, they work as
and dehumanised 'family labour' and only their husbands get
The government's emphasis on export-ori- paid (Jimenez, 1992).
entation has resulted in a rise in the number
of women overseas workers (Beltran and de Peasant farmers become
Dios, 1992). Overseas workers help to make
up the shortfall in the balance of payments; cheap labour
they sent back to the Philippines an estimat- Peasant families displaced from the land
ed US$3 billion in 1992 (ibid, 1992). are potentially cheap sources of labour for
However, this is achieved at enormous export manufacturing. The sub-contracting
costs: the country is being drained of a big industry employs home-based women
chunk of its skilled human resources. workers on a contractual basis to produce
Filipino women nutritionists, teachers, garments, embroidered materials, handi-
architects, even engineers, can be found in crafts, and footwear for export. Foreign
Hong Kong, Singapore, and in the cities of contractors rake in huge profits paying
Europe and of Canada earning a living as women sub-contractors the equivalent of
domestic workers. Deskilling of Filipino US$0.20 for a baby dress that would sell for
women has occurred becausethe job market US$15.00 abroad (Ofreneo, 1991). Women
abroad generally requires work that is sim- workers in the export factories do not fare
Filipino women demand freedom from debt 33

any better. They are generally low-paid Filipino women demand

and receive lower wages than men doing freedom from debt
similar work. In a company producing rub-
ber shoes for export, where women com- Filipino women's groups are active in the
prise 85 per cent of the workforce, a male struggle for debt reforms and against oner-
sewer earns 16 per cent more than a female ous conditionalities of multilateral lending
sewer (Espallardo, 1993). institutions. The Freedom from Debt
Coalition (FDC) consists of 144 organisa-
tions of varying ideological and political
Violence against women persuasions set up in 1988. Through policy
In this economic climate women have analysis and research, education and train-
become more vulnerable to violence and ing, mobilisation and campaigns, and inter-
sexual attacks as workers. In one year, 17 national linkages and action, FDC has been
young women, mostly night-shift workers building a freedom-from-debt constituency
in food outlets, have been found raped and and is developing a comprehensive alter-
murdered in a city adjacent to Manila. native development strategy.
Domestic violence has also been associated The FDC's reform agenda consists of
with the added stress Filipino couples face debt and structural reforms. The FDC sup-
because of economic difficulties. Several ports the call made by a growing number
studies in poor Filipino urban communities of NGOs worldwide for a 50 per cent
reveal that wife beating is usually triggered reduction of the official debt of middle-
by arguments over money matters. income countries and the 100 per cent debt-
write-off for low-income countries. It also

Group making handicrafts for Oxfam Trading, Dagonoy, Manila. The women have formed themselves
into a co-operative to organise production. DARWIN FLORES/OXFAM
34 Focus on Gender

calls for the repeal of the automatic debt

appropriations act (PD 1177), the reduction
of Philippine debt servicing, and the can- Beltran, R and A de Deus (aetas)(1992),
cellation of fraudulent loans. The coalition Filipino Women Overseas Contract Workers...
campaigns for economic measures that will At What Cost, Quezon City: Goodwill
bring about equitable and sustainable eco- Trading Co. Inc. and Women in Develop-
nomic development. These measures ment Foundation.
include: increased government spending Commission on Audit (1993), Philippine
for health, education and other basic social Borrowings: A Report to the Filipino People.
and economic services; reforms of the tax Espallardo, L (1993) 'The Impact of Structural
system to make it progressive and efficient; Adjustment Program on Women Factory
the lowering of the bank lending-rates and Workers: A Case Study of Rubberworld and
the dismantling of private bank cartels; and Carla Manufacturing', Unpublished Ms.
a Philippine government that is democratic Ferrer, R (1993) 'The challenge of develop-
and interventionist and has the capability ment in the Philippines', in Issues and
to use state and market instruments to dis- Letters, Philippine Center for Policy
mantle monopolies, promote new produc- Studies: Quezon City, May-June.
tion areas, and redistribute resources
Freedom from Debt Coalition Strategy Paper
(Freedom from Debt Coalition, 1993).
for 1993-1995.
Within the FDC is a Women's Com- IBON Facts and Figures, (1992) 15:12, 30 June.
mittee, composed of women's groups, Institute of Labour Studies, Department of
women's resource centres, university-based Labour and Employment. March 1992.
women's studies programmes, and Lamberte, M et al (1992) Philippine External
women's desks of national and sectoral Finance, Domestic Resource Mobilisation and
organisations. The Women's Committee Development in the 1970s and 1980s, Makati:
participates in FDC campaigns and Philippine Institute for Development
activities and ensures that the women's Studies.
viewpoint is integrated into the FDC's Jimenez, M (1992), 'Living on the edge,
analysis. The Women's Committee also women, the debt crisis and structural
initiates its own projects to highlight the adjustment' in P Diwa, Issues and Trends
impact of debt-related economic policies About Women of the Philippines, Center for
and programmes on women. It has Women's Resources, Quezon City, 5: 3,
produced a primer on women and debt and National Statistics Office, 1992.
has held forums on debt and structural Ofreneo, R (1991), The Philippines, Debt and
adjustment. Poverty, Manila: Oxfam UK and Ireland
Through varied initiatives Filipino and Freedom from Debt Coalition.
women are clearly indicating their refusal Tan, M L (1992), 'Women's health in the
to function as society's coping mechanism Philippines: a critical analysis', Health Alert
and to continue paying for the 'father's' (Special Issue), Quezon City: Health
indebtedness. At the same time, initiatives Action Information Network, 8. May-June.
which confront the issues of debt and debt-
related economic conditionalities are an Judy Taguiwalo is the new Executive Director
affirmation of the Filipino women's aspira- of the Centre of Women's Resources in
tion for a sovereign, democratic, prosper- Manila. She lectures on Gender Studies at the
ous, and egalitarian Philippine society, and College of Social Work and Development,
for a just and egalitarian international eco- University of the Philippines
nomic order.
Is liberalisation
damaging Albanian
women's health?
Chris Corrin

like its neighbouring coun-

LBANIA, 'emancipated' women were shown with
tries, is dismantling the system of huge muscles and bright smiles. They were
central planning and laying the portrayed as invincible, often shown at the
foundations for the development of a mar- heads of militia. In reality their lives were
ket economy and civil society. However, very different, not least because of their dou-
compared to its neighbours, Albania is at a ble and triple burdens. Not only were
much lower level of economic development women expected to work in paid employ-
and the changes in Albanian society have ment but they were responsible for all
been 'telescoped', so that the impact of domestic work, including cooking, and car-
these changes is immeasurably deeper. ing for husbands, children and home, as
Currently Albanian society is highly well as the duty of collecting wood and
politicised, and (over-)expectations of the water. In many villages, certainly in the
new government may well lead to further mountains, wood and water collection is still
instability. The political sphere became considered only women's work. In addition,
devalued and dangerous under the old the psychological burdens of feeding people
regime, and confusion and name-calling is under conditions of scarce resources, of
rife. Many women with whom I spoke in planning how to get food or manage with
1992 and 1993 would not be prepared to risk much less, are enormous. Many families
entry to such a scene. Yet this is not to say were living on bread and water-melon in
that Albanian women are not active. 1992 and again in the summer of 1993.
Concrete problems of everyday life are their Women are generally responsible for main-
priorities. The old saying 'In Albania men taining food supplies and are constantly in
drink and women work' has been modified fear of illness striking their children.
to 'In Albania men talk and women work.'
There is much evidence of the truth of these Health care and
sayings in discussions with women.
reproductive rights suffer
In the current climate of change, confusion,
'Equal to nothing' and shortage of resources, health care and
As in the other state socialist countries, reproductive rights are seriously suffering.
Albanian women were constitutionally Given women's needs and responsibilities
'equal' with Albanian men. As some com- concerning reproduction and child-rearing,
mented 'we were all equal to nothing.' the lack of even basic health care is having
Under the Albanian ideological propaganda, a very severe impact.

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No. 3, October 1993

36 Focus on Gender

Albania has one of the youngest popula- has trebled. Poor women are obviously in
tions in Europe roughly 40 per cent of the worst position when medicines are sold
people are under 15. The natural increase on the market.
in population is relatively high, especially
in rural areas. The birth-rate, though slow- Rudimentary health care
ing, is still high and there has been a fall in
infant mortality rates. for children
In an attempt to curb the number of Child-care services are very poor. As many
deaths resulting from unsanitary, illegal firms are now in the process of closing
home abortions, the government legalised down and state authorities are making cuts
abortion in January 1992 for any woman in their budget, creche and nursery school
over 16, but it must be performed before facilities which were provided by the
the twelfth week of pregnancy and employer are now disappearing. Many of
requires a fee. Women who want an abor- the state-run child-care facilities were set
tion after the twelfth week or those under up in villas taken over by the Communists,
16 must face a special commission. which are now being reclaimed by their
former owners. Others have fallen into a
very bad state of disrepair. The develop-
Abortion as contraception ment of facilities for creches and kinder-
Although the number of abortion-related gartens is urgently needed. Often the chil-
deaths appears to have declined, the num- dren are sent home when there is no food
ber of abortions reported in the first quar- or blankets for them. Plastic sheeting for
ter of 1992 exceeded the number of live windows is a basic necessity. Clothes, bot-
births 0.8 births per abortion. In discus- tles, books, toys and training for staff are
sions with several women, there were fears all needed.
that now abortion is legal men will consid- Creches, schools, kindergartens and
er contraception of any sort to be unneces- clinics all lacked basic equipment.
sary and expect the women to keep having According to health experts:
abortions. We still do not have single-used syringes,
The effects of repeated abortions in poor and a proper chain of sterilisation of med-
conditions (legal or otherwise) will increase ical instruments; no production of any
the deterioration in women's health. industrial ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts);
Access to medical supplies is now dictated very high levels of viral hepatitis, very high
by access to cash. Health workers confirm levels ofdiarrhoeal disease and parasitoses.
that the conditions in maternity homes and In rural areas there is often only one
women's hospitals have rapidly deteriorat- nurse for two to three villages. Births are
ed. There is no anaesthetic available (for often in the home, which in winter can
abortions or births), old steel needles and mean one room, in which families of seven
other equipment are boiled and re-used, or more are living, (like the family of the
and sheets are not changed after each children pictured at the head of this article)
patient. There is virtually no access to any with a fire in the centre. In such conditions
form of contraception or sex education. the risks of infection are great. The lack of
UNFPA (United National Family Planning disinfectants and basic medical supplies
Association) and Medicins sans Frontieres coupled with the poor standard of basic
brought limited supplies of birth-control nutrition make it likely that infant and
pills into Albania during 1992-1993. The maternal mortality will increase.
emergence of an alternative market in med- Assistance for women employed within
icines has meant that the price of these pills the health service is very badly needed.
Is liberalisation damaging Albanian women's health? 37

Roughly 3 per cent of the 'working' popu- opened outside the flats and neighbours
lation is employed in the health services, of queue for water, and there are frequent dis-
which 80 per cent are women. This group putes. In the rural areas water supply is
of women are very important socially in also on a timetable but water for domestic
the rural areas, especially the more isolated consumption is less problematic than water
areas where few outsiders visit. for irrigation.
One woman doctor who worked in two
villages near Shkoder in northern Albania Women's personal security
stated that:
7 try to be helpful when I visit homes .. and
try to improve relations within the family. Women's security is a very important issue
Man calls himself 'iron man' more than else- currently in Albania in several senses. The
where. Men still feel it a shame to work in most obvious personal security issue is that
fields. 1 tell men and children that their of women not being able to walk alone, cer-
wife/mother is not a servant all must help tainly in urban areas, after dark. This
each other... (Maria, 1992). requires making complicated arrangements
Whilst there are no reliable statistics on with husbands, sons, or women friends to
malnutrition, all the mothers with whom I meet at certain times to return home.
spoke told me of their fears about the Bicycles are a big security issue rather
weakness of their children and the possibil- than buying chains or locks, most people
ity that they will become or remain ill. prefer to leave their bicycle with someone
Several mothers of young children were they trust. Again, complex bargaining is
feeding them on a mixture of yoghurt and, involved.
when available, condensed milk. Fresh With increasing numbers of cars and the
milk is no longer available. Many women aggressive 'macho' behaviour of many dri-
could no longer afford to buy their usual vers, the number of car accidents, many of
amount of bread. In the summer months them serious, causing injuries to car-occu-
water-melon, tomatoes, onions, and some pants and cyclists, is increasing every day.
figs and grapes are available. Many women Domestic burglaries are also increasing.
fear that there will be nothing to eat in the For many Albanian women, these are
winter. Several women spoke of unfair issues being dealt with for the first time .
access to food aid. They had heard that The personal security aspect certainly cur-
food aid had come into the country but tails some women's ability to participate
they had not had any. fully in everyday activities.
Whilst there are some opportunities for
women being created in the new Albania, a
Water from 3.30am to 6.30am great number of problems have emerged.
In the current situation the very poor state With the new emphasis on competition,
or lack of community services is a cause for and with cash now necessary for maintain-
concern. Access to water is limited all over ing one's health, many serious problems
the country. In the urban areas such as with women's and children's health and
Tirana water is generally available between security have arisen and are becoming
3.30am and 6am. It is generally women increasingly more urgent.
who get up to fill up containers, and wash
clothes and dishes. The low water pressure Chris Corrin is a lecturer in politics at the
means that water often does not reach flats University of Glasgow and Convenor of the
above the second floor. Most blocks of flats Women's Commission of the Helsinki
are four or five storeys. Standpipes are Citizens Assembly.
The other side of
economic success:
poverty, inequality, and women
in Chile
Stephanie Barrientos

ARCH 1990 SAW the transition to a Women's response to the
democratically elected govern- feminisation of poverty
ment in Chile, after 17 years of
repressive military dictatorship. The mili- The increase in poverty under the military
tary regime had initiated fundamental eco- dictatorship had a major impact on the
nomic and social changes, with one of the lives of women and led to what has been
earliest and most extensive experiments in termed the 'feminisation of poverty'.
economic liberalisation, which produced Although the military government had
an export-oriented economy (based mainly some success in targeting those in extreme
on copper and agricultural produce). After poverty, this was at the expense of those
a major recession and the debt crisis of immediately above the poverty line
1982, followed by structural adjustment (Mellor, 1991:72). The overall extent of
policies, the economy has become relative- poverty increased, and in 1990 it was esti-
ly buoyant, with the rate of growth of GDP mated that 40 per cent of the population
reaching 10 per cent in 1989 and 1992. As a was living below the poverty line.
result Chile has been heralded as an eco- The combination of increased poverty
nomic success. and large-scale reductions in state welfare
On the other hand, liberalisation has led provision led to a substantial increase in
to significant increases in poverty and self-help and community organisations as a
inequality, with a large section of the popu- primary means of survival. These included
lation becoming marginalised and having soup kitchens, collective shopping groups,
to eke out a subsistence living. This has and workshops, and arose largely in the
had a profound effect on people's lives, poblaciones and poor neighbourhoods. They
particularly those of women, for whom the were run mainly by women, although
transition to democracy has yet to lead to many were set up under the auspices of the
significant change. church. In Santiago alone it is estimated
Ideologically the military regime sup- that over a thousand such groups were
ported the traditional 'machismo' notion of formed. The groups had an important
a woman's role in the home, but their poli- impact on woman's ability to organise
cies had an opposite effect: increased communally and socially, and later provid-
poverty and the reduction of state welfare ed a vehicle for more political forms of
for women has pushed an increasing num- organisation by women.
ber of women into the labour market.

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No.3, October 1993

The other side of economic success 39

has also been a significant increase in the

Women in flexible number of female heads of household, par-
low-paid employment ticularly amongst the poor, partly because
Increased poverty arose from a combina- of the break up of relationships, and partly
tion of unemployment, lower real wages, because of men leaving to seek employ-
and increased part-time and 'flexible' ment.
work. With male heads of household
becoming unemployed (particularly from The transition to
traditional jobs and livelihoods) and house-
hold incomes becoming insufficient to meet
basic needs, women were forced onto the The transition to democracy since 1990 has
labour market. In 1987, 27 per cent of been constrained by the constitutional
women participated in the formal labour strait-jacket left by the military dictatorship.
force (with a much higher percentage in The new government remains committed to
urban than rural areas)(Gill, 1992), and the principles of the free-market system
women also played a significant role in established under the military dictatorship,
informal economic activity. and within this framework has attempted
The inequality of income increased to address the problems of poverty and
under the military regime, with the share inequality. It has had some success, facili-
of the poorest 40 per cent falling signifi- tated by recent economic growth, but this
cantly. Women have on the whole been remains an uphill task, dependent on con-
forced into lower-paid work. In 1987, aver- sensus with the right and continued eco-
age female earnings were 65 per cent of nomic success. Arguably a significant factor
male earnings (op. cit.), well below the underlying this success has been the long
norm for Latin America, despite the fact hours, low pay, insecurity and stress borne
that men and women had on average by many Chilean women.
approximately the same level of education
in Chile.
A significant factor underlying this
Women, more so than men, tend to be
forced into the more 'flexible' jobs, which success lias been the long hours,
are less secure and more irregular. This has
been particularly noticeable in agriculture, low pay, insecurity and stress borne
where there are a large number of seasonal by many Chilean women.
workers. Fifty two per cent of the workers
registering for seasonal work are women
(Los Hijos de las Temporeras de la Fruta, Women's organisations have played an
1993). Apart from fruit packaging, which is important role in the transition to democra-
regarded as skilled and for which women cy, and the government is formally com-
are preferred for their 'nimble fingers', sea- mitted to addressing the 'women's ques-
sonal work is very low-paid, with extreme- tion'. A national state institution has been
ly long hours. Working in paid employ- set up, the National Women's Service (SER-
ment has strained, but not changed, NAM), with the role of developing public
women's traditional role in the home, with policies for women in areas such as legal
women often working a 'double day'. reform, labour law, welfare, rights, and
Women who work full time outside the support for women affected by poverty,
home spent an additional 33 hours a week with special emphasis on addressing the
on domestic tasks, working in total an 81- problem of intra-family violence. However,
hour week (Valenzuela, 1991, p. 168). There the questions of divorce, abortion, and the
40 Focus on Gender

Santiago, Chile. Women's group, learning to cut out garments, for an income generating project.

family have remained highly-divisive polit- References

ical issues, with the political right and the
Church strongly opposed to any change. It Mellor, P (1991), Adjustment and Equity in
is ironic that under the right-wing military Chile, Paris: OECDDevelopment Centre.
dictatorship the traditional gender division Gill, I (1992) 'Is there sex discrimination in
of labour was shaken, and women were Chile? Evidence from the CASEN Survey'
spurred to organise in a way they had not in G Psacharopoulos and Z Tzannatos
done previously. Despite the return to (eds.) Case Studies on Women's Employment
democracy, women's burden has been and Pay in Latin America, Washington DC:
greatly increased by the pressures of con- World Bank.
tinuing economic liberalisation and pover- 'Los Hijos de las Temporeras de la Fruta'
ty, and 'democracy' in the home remains as (1993) Mujer/Fempress, 136:7,
elusive as ever. Febrero/Marzo.
Valenzuela, M. (1991) 'The evolving roles of
women under military rule' in P Drake
and I Jaksic (eds.) The Struggle for
Democracy in Chile: University of Nebraska
Stephanie Barrientos is a lecturer in econom-
ics at the University of Hertfordshire and is
currently working on gender aspects of
developments in the Chilean economy.
Investment finance:
off limits for women
Christine Y. Chilangwa-N'gambi

has shown that women have very limited

F ONE ASKED what concerns have women
in Zambia invested in? How many have access to land, capital, gainful employment
had access to capital? The most likely and positions of decision making. Zambia is
response would be, 'very few'. just carrying out a survey to establish the
Indeed, very few women have made any number of women in decision-making posi-
serious investment that could be referred to tions, and it will be very interesting to see
as an economic investment. Worse still, it the results. The factors that have con-
has been difficult to get access to gender- tributed to women's limited access to
segregated data in the lending portfolio in finance are varied and include:
most of the financial institutions, so as to lack of collateral (which is the major
establish women's areas of investment. In contributing factor);
any case not many of us have asked for administrative discriminatory practices
such information until recently when gen- where financial institutions demand
der issues are in the headlines. to have a consent from the spouse or
It has been estimated that in 1989, rough- male relative for a woman to borrow
ly 10 per cent of the country's business (although this is no longer applicable);
community were women, and this figure women's lack of knowledge and infor-
has probably not changed since then. In fact mation on the availability of facilities in
the few women who have ventured into the various financial institutions;
economic investments have done so the failure of women to maintain active
through the influential positions of their records of their accounts, which are
spouses or male relatives, in the govern- often required by the financial institu-
ment or private enterprise, who have pro- tions, because of their low incomes.
vided collateral in the form of a guarantee Of the labour force dependent on the
to the lending institutions. In some cases informal sector for survival, 63 per cent are
women have managed to raise investment women. Women are drawn to the informal
funds through their own positions of influ- sector often because they have no access to
ence, coupled with perseverance, determi- finance, nor other tools of production.
nation and aggressiveness.
Areas of women's
Women's access to finance investment
Getting access to finance has not been easy The few women who have excelled as
for women. Both experience and research entrepreneurs have invested in areas that

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No. 3, October 1993

42 Focus on Gender

during this critical time of economic crisis.

Yet the NGOs have been known to be insti-
tutionally weak in terms of human and
financial resources. So, in addition to being
rather scanty, the programmes have made
little impact due to lack of a sound capital
Most donors have not been helpful in
this regard as they are programme-orient-
ed, and underestimate indirect costs and
overheads. Indeed, somebody has to be
paid for effective delivery of any pro-
gramme. In this era of economic crisis it is
Utopian to expect anybody to render vol-
untary services for such programmes.
The few government departments like
Community Development and Social
Welfare that have been addressing gender-
aware programmes still base their planning
on stereotyped programmes like baking
and sewing, which have proved to be
uneconomic. These activities do not change
the position of women at all in their com-
Zambia: Mrs Banda trained at a skills centre and munities in terms of acquiring new skills,
started up in business with the help of a loan from
because of the welfare approach taken by
an NGO. She can make up to eight dresses a day.
Making clothes is an entrepreneurial activity in the planners.
which women have proved successful. In this era of adjustment and debt the
ROBERT M. DAVIS/OXFAM institutions set up should have a business-
like approach so as to move women from
one would categorise as 'feminine', such as welfare to economic empowerment, and
manufacturing of dresses and handbags, stimulate women to entrepreneurship by
and flower growing. Following the transi- providing them with information, training
tion from a one-party state to a multiparty and credit, so they can enjoy meaningful
democracy in Zambia, we have lost the benefits from their efforts.
official machinery in the government struc-
tures to plan, formulate policy, and ensure Christine Y. Chilangwa-N'gambi is a member
the implementation of gender-aware pro- of the NGO coordinating committee, Zambia
jects. This marks a break from the past and participated in the 1992 International
where we, at least, had a partisan machin- NGO Forum on World Bank and IMF
ery, the UNIP Women's League, which was Adjustment Lending.
represented up to policy level.

Little help from NGOs or

A number of churches and NGOs have
continued to carry on rather disjointed gen-
der-aware projects to help women survive
NGOs and gender policy;
some issues from the South Indian
silk-reeling industry
Linda Mayoux

ILK REELING is a crucial and potentially research there were no women entrepre-
very profitable middle stage in silk neurs in the areas studied.
production. Throughout the 1970s and Credit issued in women's names had
1980s there has been an expanding domes- generally been taken by men in the house-
tic and international market for silk prod- hold. In many cases women had not been
ucts and the silk industry as a whole has consulted beyond being asked to sign the
been seen as a major growth industry. It is loan papers. Despite a number of attempts
one of the industries where a gender policy to set up women's co-operatives, none were
has been introduced in the state adminis- operating. Policies for women have become
tration. This has been prompted by loan incorporated as part of family strategies
requirements from the World Bank and and as a result women have gained little,
Swiss Development Corporation, as well as and no more than where assistance has
in response to pressure from local women's been given to men (Mayoux, 1993c).
organisations. The Department of Sericul- In this case it has not been sufficient
ture has recently been required to appoint merely to target credit and other facilities to
female staff at all levels, to introduce gen- women. Policies have vastly underestimated
der sensitisation training for staff, and to the complexity of reeling entrepreneurship
prepare an Action Plan for women's devel- and the potential problems for women.
opment. Although male labourers often become
entrepreneurs (Mayoux, 1993a) reeling
Entrepreneurship requires substantial amounts of capital and
involves significant risk. Male entrepreneurs
development: a combine various sources of formal and
disappointing record informal credit, and poor, illiterate men
In reeling there have been a number of have often moved up the labour process to
measures to encourage women's entrepre- gain the experience required. They use their
neurship including training, credit, friendship and kin networks, and particular-
improved technology, and co-operative ly the unpaid labour of female family mem-
development. Although there has been bers, to overcome some of the difficulties of
some success in sericulture programmes for labour recruitment and lack of resources.
women (Acharya (ed.) 1992), the policies Gender inequalities in access to resources
for entrepreneurship development in the and markets and an all-pervasive ideology
more lucrative reeling industry have been of women's subordination both in the work-
notably unsuccessful. At the time of the place and the family prevent women from

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No. 3, October 1993

44 Focus on Gender

following this pattern. It is, therefore, highly at national level by the Reelers'
unlikely that current schemes can succeed (Entrepreneurs') Association which had
by focusing on entrepreneurship alone. powerful supporters in the Delhi adminis-
tration. The Sericulture Department had
Problems of women given no assistance to those attempting to
enforce existing labour legislation. On the
labourers contrary, Labour Inspectors reported bla-
Women and young girls are widely tant opposition and obstruction from
employed as unpaid family workers and Department officials. At the same time,
wage labourers in both skilled and women themselves were unable to organ-
unskilled tasks (Acharya ed, 1992; Mayoux, ise to defend their interests. They lacked
1992b, 1993c; Tom, 1989). There have been time, resources, and power. There were
no policies for these female labourers also numerous social and economic sanc-
despite continuing poverty and the stated tions which could be used against them
aim of reaching poor women in the indus- both within the industry and within the
try. Following the predominant market-ori- family and community.
ented development orthodoxy, attempts to
strengthen the position of labourers have
been seen as contrary to the interests of Gender inequality and
expansion of the industry. Female labour- women's responses
ers are assumed to benefit automatically There are no measures directly addressing
through 'trickle down' from expanded gender issues in the family or wider con-
employment opportunities. text of the industry as a whole. These have
However, the extent of 'trickle down' is been seen as socially divisive and unneces-
limited. Women's wages are, by and large, sary. Targeting facilities to women and
strictly controlled by employer organisa- increasing female employment have been
tions. Although wages for men have risen seen as automatically leading to enhanced
significantly, and the labour process offers status in the family and community. The
possibilities for upward mobility, women research found, however, not surprisingly,
are stuck in low-paid, dead-end tasks that this could by no means be assumed.
despite a recognition of their skills. All There were significant variations
workers in the industry are also exposed to between and within communities and
a range of health hazards. For women these households in the way gender inequalities
are made worse by the exhaustion and operated. There was also wide variation in
malnutrition caused by their responsibility the degree to which women were able to
for domestic as well as production work, avoid gender prescriptions or manipulate
and their lack of control over income them to their advantage (Acharya ed, 1992;
(Mayoux, 1993b). Inbanathan, 1992; Mayoux, 1993b). In many
cases, there was obviously a great deal of
mutual respect and esteem between male
No defence of women's and female family members. Women's
interests responsibility for decisions about expendi-
Labour legislation on minimum wages, ture on food and other family needs gave
maternity leave, pensions and insurance them ways of expressing dissent. They also
exists and would apply to larger enterpris- had a recognised right to maintenance. A
es in the industry but has not been updated man's inability to maintain female family
since 1979. At the time of the research members was a source of shame which
attempts at updating it were being blocked women could, and did, manipulate. Some
NGOs and gender policy 45

Cooking cocoons in order to soften the gum to enable the silk to be wound off. A high level of skill and
experience is needed to get the timing of this process right. LINDA MAYOUS

women had small independent sources of author and others (Acharya ed, 1992;
income which in some cases were seen as Mayoux, 1992a,b, 1993,b,c,d; Inbanathan,
legitimately theirs; in others these were 1992) indicates that a range of measures are
hidden from men. Norms of female mod- needed to improve the position of women
esty and seclusion were also far from in the industry. There are various possible
absolute. Even Muslim women in purdah roles for NGOs.
developed important networks and con- In entrepreneurship development and
tacts wherever possible. Nevertheless, for co-operatives there is a need for better
all the women interviewed, gender training and preparation of credit benefi-
inequalities are fundamental to women's ciaries and co-operative members. Training
failure both to take up entrepreneurship needs to cover all aspects of entrepreneur-
and to improve significantly their position ship, including access to informal sources
as labourers. of credit, the intricacies of dealing with the
marketing system, as well as the acquisi-
Gender inequality and tion of 'male skills'. Co-operative working
has significant advantages over individual
gender policy: some issues entrepreneurship for women because of the
for NGOs potential for overcoming problems in the
The purely mechanical targeting of facili- market and providing group security for
ties to women, and reliance on market loans; but, if it is to be successful, it needs
forces and 'trickle down', has in this case- intensive preparation, and attention to
had serious limitations. Research by the potential problems of corruption and
46 Focus on Gender

better working conditions and higher

wages in initial stages of setting up.
At all levels there is a need for greater
attention to gender inequalities. Ways must
be found to increase women's control over
income and resources, increase their access
to the world outside the home, and
decrease the time they spend on unpaid
reproductive labour. Although women var-
ied in their responses to inequality, they
were certainly not merely 'passive pawns'
in the system. Women, where their hus-
bands failed to provide properly for their
children, and where levels of domestic vio-
lence and alcoholism were particularly
high, were also secretly keeping money
aside from their husbands. In one area
women had begun to use rotating credit or
'chit funds' (Mayoux, 1993c). Other
women, particularly Muslim women in
purdah, frequently initiated conversations
with the author about problems in sexual
relationships, and their anger and resent-
Silk reeling, unwinding the filament from ment about restrictions on their move-
cocoons, requires skill and care. LINDA MAYOUX ments outside the home. There was a range
of activities already being pursued by the
women themselves which could be built on
bribery within the industry which lead to to assist them to protect what they see as
mistrust between co-operative members their interests.
(Mayoux, 1993e). The types of activities in Labour organisation and 'feminist con-
which NGOs are currently developing sciousness raising' are areas in which
expertise: participatory training, savings NGOs have traditionally been less keen to
and credit organisations, and group forma- become involved, fearing potential con-
tion, could all improve the success of entre- flicts of interest with government and large
preneurship development. private vested interests, and potential ten-
For women labourers there is a need for sions within the household. Such interven-
organisation to counter pressure from tions may also disturb complex relations
employers to keep down wages, and to between people where differences in
improve working conditions. At the same power have been accommodated by being
time, the interests of very small employers presented as 'natural' and inevitable. This
and the stability and continuing expansion has often limited the degree to which
of the industry must be safeguarded. women or labourers have themselves
However, very small employers often pay thought about possibilities for change. The
more to their male labourers than do larger specific defence of women's rights as
units, indicating considerable possibilities labourers and in the family is, however,
for increasing incomes. There is also scope central to any serious attempt to address
for changing levels of bank credit to poor poverty and inequality. This is particularly
small entrepreneurs to cover provision for the case within industries like silk-reeling,
NGOs and gender policy 47

where substantial profits are being made, Bangalore, India.

and thus substantial possibilities for Mayoux, L C (1993a) A success story?
change exist. Far more discussion is needed Poverty, inequality and entrepreneurship
about ways in which significant change can development in the Karnataka silk-reeling
be brought about without causing unneces- industry' Development and Change, 24: 3:
sary suffering and disruption, but also 541-568.
without compromising basic principles. Mayoux, L C (1993b) 'Who Gets the Trickle-
Down? Women Labourers and Gender
Inequality in Expansion of the South
Notes Indian Silk Industry' mimeo, Cambridge.
This paper is based on part of the findings of Mayoux, L C (1993c) 'Gender Inequality and
research on entrepreneurs and labourers in Gender Policy: Some Issues from the
the Karnataka silk-reeling industry for an South Indian Silk Industry', Development
ESRC-funded project, in collaboration with Policy Review, December.
Dr S R Charsley and Glasgow University and Mayoux, L C (1993d forthcoming) 'Gender
the Institute for Social and Economic Change, inequality, revolving credit societies and
Bangalore. The main body of the research sectoral employment strategies: some
was conducted by the author with assistance questions from the south Indian silk
from Shri Anand, Mary Nirmala and Shri V industry', in S Ardener and S Burman
Uma Shankar between August 1989 and July (eds) Money-Go-Rounds: Women's Use of
1991. This has subsequently been updated by Rotating Savings and Credit Associations,
information kindly supplied by Shri Anand, USA: Berg Press.
Dr S R Charsley and Shri A Inbanathan. The Mayoux, L C (1993e forthcoming)
work was also indebted to assistance from Mr 'Alternative development or Utopian fan-
D Mahadevappa of the Karnataka tasy? Women and co-operative develop-
Department of Sericulture. Any responsibility ment in India', Journal of International
for the views expressed, however, lies entire- Development.
ly with the author. Mies, M (1982) The Lace Makers of Narsapur:
Indian HousewivesProduce for the World
Market, London, Zed Press.
Tom, I (1989) Women in Unorganised Sector:
References Technology, Work Organisation and Change
Acharya, J (ed) (1992) 'Women and in the Silk Industry in South India, New
Sericulture in South India' Papers pre- Delhi: Usha Publications.
pared for the National Workshop on
Women in Sericulture, New Delhi, 4-5 Linda Mayoux has carried out extensive
February 1992, ISEC, Bangalore, India. research in India on gender issues, income
Inbanathan, A (1992) 'Reeling and Women generation, and policy on small scale indus-
Scheduled Castes in Sidlaghatta tries and has also worked on co-operative
(Karnataka)', mimeo, Glasgow, UK. development in Africa. She would welcome
Mayoux, L C (1992a) 'From rags to riches? discussion of any of the issues raised.
Poverty alleviation and development in Correspondence should be addressed to:
the Karnataka silk-reeling industry', Indian Linda Mayoux, 61, Cheney Way, Cambridge,
Silk, February pp.6-26, Bangalore, India. CB41UE.
Mayoux, L C (1992b) 'Women Reeling
Labourers in Kollegal Taluk, Karnataka: A
statistical profile and some issues for com-
parative research', Indian Silk, July pp. 1-4,
Saptagram opens up
windows of opportunity
in Bangladesh
Tahera Yasmin

This is drawn from a larger report, Study on Women and Employment, much of which is based
on the author's eight years' working experience with Saptagram Nari Swanirvar Parishad.

GOs IN BANGLADESH play a pivotal and her clothes splattered with mud. Her
role in promoting women's husband, standing nearby, would glance
income through self-employment slightly disapprovingly at the questioner
and other economic activities. In view of and say ' no, no, my wife doesn't work'.
the large percentage of male unemploy- Everyone, including women themselves,
ment and the particular constraints women believes that women's work is not real
face, there is limited scope for improving work. Yet it is the women who take care of
women's employment prospects. Women household chores, post-harvest work, and
confront a number of social barriers as well livestock. However, this work does not
as the lack of technical or managerial skills. directly bring in a cash income. Instead, the
They do not have access to markets and men who sell the agricultural and house-
resources, and have virtually no control hold products that women produce are seen
over the means of production. as the real workers since they are directly
The experiences of one NGO, Saptagram involved in cash exchanges. Cash in the
Nari Swanirvar Parishad (Saptagram), rural society means power. The areas where
illustrate how some of these barriers have cash transactions take place are in men's
been overcome. Saptagram, which was set realm, which remains out of bounds for
up in 1976, challenges the traditional role women. Rural society has reasonably clear
of women in the rural areas through target- areas demarcated as the 'male sphere' and
ing the landless and marginal landless the 'female sphere'. This demarcation is
women who occupy the lowest rung on the both geographical as well as social and
socio-economic ladder and lead lives includes a range of activities, norms and
shaped by extreme poverty. behaviours. It is a way of life. Transgre-
ssions are frowned upon because the 'izzat'
(honour) of families depend to a large extent
'Women don't work only on each knowing their place in the village.
the men do'
At any given time,, ask a woman in a vil-
lage in Bangladesh what she is doing and
The work that women do
the answer will be 'nothing' is she work- The work available for poor, rural women
ing 'no', though her face may look tired often leads them to the rich neighbour's

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No. 3, October 1993

Saptagram opens up windows of opportunity in Bangladesh 49

These ivomen are working for Bridge, Oxfam Trading, and are receiving a fair wage for their work, and
benefiting from other activities organised by their group, such as literacy training. BADAL/OXFAM

house where they may grind spices, wash during 'spare time' that would have
clothes, or help with post-harvest activities. remained otherwise unproductive.
Payments generally consist of a cooked
meal or a measure of grain and is seldom
made in cash. In households where women
Coming together
are the producers of molasses, vegetables, Finding time to attend group meetings is
fishing nets, pottery, for example, their not a commitment everyone can keep but
labour is unpaid, never to be valued many of the women meet regularly to dis-
because it is the men who sell these prod- cuss their lives and their problems. Often
ucts and thus become the 'owners' of the they are joined by their 'apa' (field worker)
product and of the income derived. from Saptagram. Lack of cash is always a
The invisibility of women's work helps problem and it was suggested that the
to support the view held by many develop- group form a savings kitty. Each group
ment planners in the 1970s, that women member contributes a certain amount by
have 'spare time' to undertake activities selling eggs, or the 'mushti chaal' towards
that will bring supplementary income to a fund that the members manage jointly.
the household. As a result, projects more This cash is available for emergencies or for
suited to urban, middle-class women were investments. The savings kitty ensures
targeted at rural women who were per- that members meet regularly not just to
suaded to waste their time making prod- pool their savings but to continue their dis-
ucts that could not find a market. The cussions which often focus on the reasons
women were paid below any recognised for their powerlessness.
standard because the work was being done The experience of Saptagram shows that
50 Focus on Gender

the actual size of the fund is too small to unrecognised by society. Women from sim-
generate income and employment but ilar backgrounds are encouraged to organ-
there are other benefits. With control over ise together on the grounds that women
their own funds, groups not only have easy who share a class affinity are likely to be
access to the money but decisions over its more united in their efforts to change their
use tend to be taken in a more democratic lives by identifying and challenging their
manner. This process helps to develop common oppressors.
skills of financial management that allow Those who have begun to earn cash
creative use of limited funds for both the incomes have commented on the positive
individual and the group. changes at home. There has been an increase
in the level of co-operation from the male
members of their household, notably that of
Getting around their husbands. Husbands being willing to
If strides are to be made towards opening take over household duties when their
employment options for women the isola- wives attend training or are busy earning an
tion and immobility of rural women has to income are no longer isolated incidents.
be broken. Saptagram has developed a However, women are not oblivious to the
deceptively simple approach to mobilise its fact that their earning capacity provides a
groups and at the same time make its mem- strong impetus for the co-operation they
bers visible. Initially, meetings are held in a receive from their husbands.
member's yard; as the number swells the Saptagram realises that not all women
venue is shifted to a space under a tree, are able to participate in non-traditional
which is more visible to the villagers. activities because they are already involved
Within a few weeks, a workshop is in household-based production. Many of
arranged at the nearest Saptagram centre for them are Hindu and, being a minority
the day. group, their community tends to hold onto
the more orthodox practices. They are
women with family-based occupations
Isolation and immobility of rural such as potters, weavers, cane and bamboo
basket makers, where the cash and capital
women has to be broken. flow is dependent on the money-lender.
While they are the producers, they do not
Saptagram also arranges for training own or control the means of production
and meetings at other centres that last for nor do they control the income that they
2-3 days. This often proves to be the first bring. Saptagram's strategy is to provide
time women travel because they want to, in credit, widen access to raw materials and
the company of other women, leaving the market, and help women to establish
behind household responsibilities and hus- some form of control over production.
bands. Creating this space and opportunity
for mobility is an extremely powerful cata- The need for women to be
lyst towards building women's confidence
and commitment for change. literate
The need to count, to read and write
became important for women only when
The need to earn money they realised that they were being short-
Saptagram's groups are encouraged to gain changed. Saptagram's literacy programme
access to cash incomes, which adds value really took off when the groups involved in
to women's work that otherwise remains the Intensive Rural Works Programme,
Saptagram opens up windows of opportunity in Bangladesh 51

labour gangs but later the project changed

to hiring labourers directly, with the NGO
acting as the bridge between the labourers
and the project. The advantage of this is
that labourers get paid directly and the
NGO ensures that the labourers' rights are
protected. Working in this project has
helped women to develop technical skills
in a non-traditional activity. They also
develop negotiating and bargaining skills
in asserting their rights as labourers.

Employment generated
through collaboration with
other organisations
In partnership with Mennonite Central
Committee (MCC) Saptagram helped to
create women's employment in horticul-
ture and pisciculture, and has provided
Saptagram with training for its staff and
group members. Since 1990 over 600
Saptagram literacy student practising. Acquiring women have been trained by MCC. While
literacy can not only strengthen women in their women have always been responsible for
ability to organise, but also have a powerful effect growing vegetables around the homestead,
on their self-esteem, and standing in their family. this scheme provides income and self-
RO COLE/OXFAM employment in a non-traditional way.
Members learn low-cost techniques for
after being cheated by the contractor, growing vegetables and they market the
demanded that the organisation teach them surplus produce.
to read. Literacy helps to protect members Despite its initial success, the fall in the
from unscrupulous landlords and money- price of paddy has depressed vegetable
lenders. It lessens dependency on prices and threatened the livelihood of the
Saptagram staff who help to maintain their workers. This is one of many cases where
accounts, increases the group's responsibil- Saptagram is finding that the impact of
ity to itself, and raises women's self-esteem macro-economics threatens the success of
they are sometimes the only literate projects, despite appropriate training and
adult in the family. adequate credit supply. This is illustrative
of the wider problems faced by NGOs.
Work through mass
employment schemes Government policy and the
Faridpur, the home town of Saptagram, is
pricing mechanism
now the headquarters of an infrastructure The adverse implications of macro policies
development project under which a vast at the micro level are not taken into
number of women and men are employed account in the planning process. For
in road building and maintenance. instance, 1992 saw a bumper crop in paddy
Originally, workers were hired through which depressed its price to an unprece-
52 Focus on Gender

dented low level. Farmers, including many der-based dominance in some areas. In
of Saptagram's members, who had invest- particular, the majority of the women have
ed in paddy were unable to recover their problems working late and travelling far,
costs, and many women had to work as and the threat of sexual violence always
unpaid labourers to replace the cost of the exists. Women's entry into the labour mar-
hired help. Matters were made worse by ket as less-expensive labourers is seen as a
threat by male labourers who feel that
the price-rise of inputs like fertilisers, when
the farmers had no option but to buy them women are taking over work reserved for
at a higher price if they wanted to guaran- them. Harassment of women in the labour
tee a good yield. market and the conflicts that arise either
force women to fight back or persuade
them to try other options.
The disparity between the genders Saptagram's efforts to open up windows
remains a major barrier. of opportunity for women's employment
are part of the process towards empower-
ment. While some of its interventions have
The repercussions continue into 1993 as succeeded in providing women with a rea-
prices for other commodities have also sonable income, others have only supple-
declined. For example, vegetable cultiva- mented existing income. Many of the
tors cannot market their products because employment generating activities were
the cost of transporting vegetables to the adopted based on the needs of the women
market is higher than the potential pro- concerned, while others were promoted on
ceeds from their sale. the strength of the organisation's belief in
There are other cases where the impact launching flagships. The value of flagships
of government decisions, that remain must not be under-estimated; they chal-
beyond the control of workers and produc- lenge preconceived notions of women's
ers, have a far greater impact on people's work and present the possibility of new
income and employment than do training activities. Saptagram views its activities
and credit inputs from NGOs. In an with a holistic perspective where women
attempt to promote the sericulture industry find strength through solidarity to take
and motivate cocoon rearers, the govern- actions to change their lives.
ment raised the price of cocoons so as to
make this sector viable for employment Tahera Yasmin has worked with women in
generation. However, the price of yarn was Bangladesh for many years and is an ex-
not raised, and to encourage textile produc- director of Saptagram. She is currently work-
tion, importers were permitted to bring in ing as a consultant with Oxfam on a study
silk yarn, tax free. As a result, in the last looking at various issues regarding women
season the silk-worm rearers could not find and employment.
a market for their cocoons. In such cases
the government could have purchased the
outputs in an attempt to stabilise the price,
instead of leaving the poor poorer.

Traditional gender bias

The disparity between the genders remains
a major barrier. Men still retain their gen-
Empowerment through
Rajamma G.

EVELOPMENT PLANNING in India has Women work primarily in the agricul-
often ignored the problems of tural sector as unskilled labourers and
women. Of the total female work- there is no alternative for skills develop-
force, 94 per cent work within the unorgan- ment. Women normally take up the work
ised (informal) sector, characterised by low of sowing, transplanting, weeding, harvest-
pay, long working hours, low levels of skill, ing, and winnowing, which are considered
and lack of job security. Wage discrimina- low-skilled work. In addition, women are
tion against women is rampant in all sec- responsible for taking care of the family's
tors despite equal pay legislation. water, fuel, fodder and child-care needs.
Income generation projects (IGPs) for Men restrict their activities to ploughing,
women are often seen as a way to bring applying fertilisers, spraying pesticides,
about changes in their lives, but in most and harvesting.
cases have only resulted in further margin- WLARS conducted a survey in
alising them. Simply focusing on an Madhugiri Taluk in 1985 and identified the
increase in income as the main objective of low status of women and the major prob-
IGPs distracts attention from the overall lems which they were facing. Women's liter-
well-being and empowerment of women. acy rates and general health status are gen-
Women's Liberation and Rehabilitation erally below that of men. Even if they do the
Society (WLARS), an organisation regis- same type of work as men, women are paid
tered to work for improving the socio-eco- much lower wages. Women do not own any
nomic and political well-being of women, land nor do they have a say in the selection
believes in the importance of the empower- of crops, nor do they have control over nor
ment approach to women's development access to property and income. Women have
through income generation programmes. absolutely no control over their bodies and
WLARS works with the women of sched- reproductive systems. The head of the
uled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST), in household is always the male member of the
Madhugiri Taluk of Tumkur District in family, although some women have become
Karnataka State, South India. Hinduism is the head of their household after separation
the principal religion, with a minority of from their husbands owing to the practice of
Muslims and Christians. The Taluk has a dowry, polygamy, migration of husbands in
wide range of castes and scheduled castes search of employment, or male alcoholism.
and scheduled tribes. Madhugiri Taluk is Wife battering and prostitution are charac-
severely drought-prone and farmers mainly teristic of the society. Frequent bouts of vio-
depend on rain-fed agriculture. lence occur as a result of caste and class con-

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No. 3, October 1993

54 Focus on Gender

flicts, and sex abuse and other forms of However, with the help of the
domestic conflict. Community Credit Fund, women began
On the basis of this information, developing skills, which enabled them to
WLARS decided to work only with the become more independent. Now their
SC/ST and those of similar socio-economic long-term goal is self-reliance in all aspects.
backgrounds. The following objectives Even if the NGO withdraws, the women
were prioritised: to minimise the gap in are empowered enough to sustain their
economic and social conditions and to achievements. The project is viable and,
make use of government and other devel- with little support from WLARS, is in a
opmental facilities; to organise women to position to develop its own financial
fight for their rights through literacy, investment and mobilise government
health education and other programmes; to finance for self-reliance. Their efforts to
improve the economic status of women obtain finance have given the project more
through the formation of various income accountability and viability. Even if the
generation programmes. Their broader income earned is not very significant, the
strategic objectives included formation of a project has empowered women in other
sustainable Taluk-level federation of respects.
women to tackle macro issues of women at
large, and to develop a secular society Support given to women's
without caste, religion, race and gender
'social reproduction'
The women are making every effort to
mobilise and use all existing resources to
Women's savings group meet their basic needs. Since most house-
Initially each member contributed one hold requirements are now being made
rupee and formed the sangha. Later they available by the sanghas locally, the addi-
started a small savings activity where tional burden of activities like marketing
women contributed five rupees weekly. has been substantially reduced. This gives
After two years of saving, WLARS con- women more time and energy to concen-
tributed Rs2,000 to each sangha, which was trate on their work.
deposited in a joint bank account by one of Ensuring equal participation among
the sangha members and WLARS staff. women is another strong point of the pro-
Before starting the project, agriculture ject. Responsibilities are shared by five
was the main occupation of both men and committees, each with a membership of
women. Men used to migrate in search of five to ten women, to look after the various
employment during the lean season where- aspects of other programmes.
as women had no sources of supplemen- Their experiences of failure and success
tary income. They were dependent on the have taught the women how best to choose
landlords and were indebted to them. their IGP activities. Activities are priori-
Whatever they produced or earned by tised through discussion and studying the
labouring work went to service the high options. Increased income and economic
interest on loan repayment. Due to illitera- independence is seen by the women as an
cy and lack of awareness, many govern- important way of enhancing their status.
ment schemes which existed for women The Community Credit Fund together with
were not taken up. This was in contrast to the IGPs have given the women of
the men who participated in many schemes Madhugiri Taluk a platform which other-
like IRDP (integrated rural development wise would not have been possible. While
projects). the increase in income is an added advan-
Empowerment through income-generating projects 55

tage for the women, the empowerment of Some compensation for

women is even more critical for achieving
increased workload
the longer-terms goals.
The project has, in certain ways, increased
women's workload. The responsibilities of
Weaknesses of IGPs women in the sangha and weekly meetings
The women lacked experience in economic increased their working hours. However,
affairs, which carries economic costs. For the sangha itself has taken responsibility for
instance, the absence of skills in financial reducing the usual workload of women in
management has meant that money domestic chores by providing drinking
remained unused in the bank for long peri- water nearby. Since the sangha started,
ods. They were reluctant to explore newer women provide some of the basic necessi-
areas of economic activity and this restrict- ties like soap and ragi locally, so they do not
ed their progress. In other cases, marketing need to go to the market as frequently. The
of projects is restricted to the villages in health committee has taken the responsibili-
which the activity was initiated with no ini- ty for keeping a check on the health prob-
tiatives taken to explore newer markets. lems of women and their families and per-
suades them to take necessary care in time.
Overall well-being
Empowerment and gender
In general, there has been a positive change
in the overall well-being of the women.
Before starting this project, women The IGP has increased women's access to
depended on agricultural work for four to and control over the factors of production.
six months and the rest of the year they Women started with the traditional activi-
were engaged full-time in their reproduc- ties and slowly they showed interest and
tive and community roles. Now during the confidence in taking up non-traditional
peak agricultural season, women concen- employment, like brick making (which was
trate on agricultural activities. The rest of usually done by men), running a food co-
the time they are involved in self-employ- operative, construction of smokeless
ment or group economic activities. stoves, and construction of low-cost
Some women have said that in the initial latrines. Some of the women have taken up
stages, their husbands were not co-opera- non-traditional agricultural activities like
tive, which put a great deal of pressure on ploughing, and applying fertiliser. Over
them. But once their achievements began to the years, the positive changes within the
materialise by way of getting community community are very obvious. Child mar-
facilities like drinking water, land pattas in riage is almost nil, both among the sangha
women's name, electricity for their houses members and the community in general,
and village, husbands gradually stopped while the problems associated with
their resistance. 'Now if I come for the sang- untouchability and Dalit discrimination
ha meetings and attend training pro- have diminished. Although it is a very
grammes at Madhugiri, my husband takes slow process, the women of Madhugiri
care of the domestic work,' says Taluk are steadily changing the system and
Narasamma, one of the Income Generation in the process improving community life
Committee members of Masarapadi village. for everyone.

Two-thirds of the sky: women in development

Poems by Bridget Walker

Through Western Eyes 1:

Invisible women, invisible work

Bearded, sun-reddened skin,

the aid worker welcomed us
with apologetic grin,
as he said: 'I'm afraid
there's nobody here today.'

In the compounds the women

were pounding grain,
spreading the coffee berries to dry, Through Western eyes 2: Women's
keeping a watchful eye work
on children scuffling in the dust.
The women travel by night
At the tap in the market place to reach the market place by dawn,
young girls filled buckets to the brim, a long journey, but they get higher prices
joined hands to lift in the South,
the load with care - and every little counts.
not a drop to be spilled.
We feast our eyes on
Invisible women, the profusion of produce,
invisible work; corn and cassava, so many kinds of yam,
as essential as the foundations large misshapen tomatoes, small green-
which hold up the house, skinned oranges,
as dependable, and as unseen. fruits of long hours of labour.
Yet, the prices are low and we bargain them

Last term Ndofor brought 5,000 francs of

school fees
entirely in five-franc pieces.
I counted them and thought - how many
how many backbreaking hours on the farm;
thought too
ofhoiv Ndofor"'s sister Grace dropped out of
school last year.
There are several organisations which carry of structural adjustment programmes, for
out research and publish material on gen- non-specialists. It reports on the
der and economic issues: International NGO forum on World Bank
and IMF Adjustment Lending, held in 1992,
Alt-WID (Alternative Women in and provides a number of interesting case
Development) is a coalition of women studies. The Development Gap, 927 15th St.
researchers and policy advocates. They NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20005,
work on developing alternative policies to USA.
empower women in the US and the South,
Hammond, R. and L.McGowan, The Other
especially those living in poverty. Alt-WID
Side of the Story: The Real Impact of World Bank
argues that economic policies, promoted by
and IMF Structural Adjustment Progams, (1993)
the World Bank and the IMF, are linked to
Washington DC: The Development GAP, Inc.
the deepening impoverishment of women.
They publish Reagonomics and Women,
which draws parallels between the prob- The Entre Mujeres Network provides a
lems faced by women in the US and those forum for North-South dialogue on develop-
in the South, through the use of case-study ment issues, particularly those which affect
material and statistics. women. They publish Women and the Crisis
in Latin America, which analyses the 'femini-
Alt-WID, Reaganomics and Women: Structural sation of poverty' in contemporary Latin
Adjustment, US Style, 1980-1992: A Case Study America, and includes country statistics on
of Women and Poverty in the US. women's participation in the labour force in
an evaluation of the gender dynamics of
The Development Gap, founded in 1976, is economic crisis.
concerned with issues related to adjust-
De Barbieri, M.T. Women and the Crisis in Latin
ment and economic policy. It manages the
America (1993) Lima, Peru: Red Entre Mujeres
NGO Center for Action on Structural
Dialogo Sur-Norte.
Adjustment (on behalf of the Third World
Network) and works with groups from the
The Freedom from Debt Coalition is a
South in challenging adjustment through
broad-based network of church groups,
providing information and a platform for
academic and professional bodies, and
views from the South. They have produced
community organisations, which studies
The Other Side of the Story in co-operation
the social and environmental impact of
with a number of international NGOs. It is
debt, to try to find solutions to the crisis
a useful resource which clarifies the nature

Focus on Gender Vol 1, No. 3, October 1993

58 Focus on Gender

which will ease poverty and suffering in (1988) which documents the results of con-
the Phillipines. Judy Taguiwalo, Freedom sultations with urban poor women on how
from Debt Coalition, PO Box No. 2, UP government policies and debt have affected
Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines. women's lives. KALAYAAN, a service-ori-
Women's organisations in the ented women's group has published The
Philippines relate women-specific issues, Debt Crisis, A Treadmill of Poverty for Filipino
such as women's health and reproductive Women (1989).
rights, women's migration, sex-trafficking
of women, and violence against women, to Helsinki Citizens' Assembly has pub-
the issue of debt and structural adjustment lished a book on reproductive rights, based
programmes. Gender issues in the context on meetings and conversations with new
of the Philippines are closely connected and independent women's groups
with official (both international and throughout East and Central Europe. It
domestic) economic and development poli- provides a practical and informative
cies. update on the status of women's health-
The importance of building an interna- care issues including information on abor-
tional front against debt and aid-related tion rights, restructuring of the health-care
conditionalities inspired a Filipino peasant systems, and projects and campaigns to
women organisation, AMIHAN, to organ- secure women's rights. Helsinki Citizens'
ise in 1992 an Asian peasant women's dia- Assembly, Inter-national Secretariat,
logue on structuraladjustment programmes Panska 7, Praha 1,11669 Czechoslovakia.
and GATT. After the conference, partici-
pants from India, Indonesia, Vietnam, HCA Women's Commission (1992),
Reproductive Rights in East and Central Europe,
Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Japan, and
the Philippines formed the Asian Peasant Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Publication,
Women Network to co-ordinate a regional Series 3.
campaign to educate Asian peasant women
on, and to oppose, structural adjustment Mujer a Mujer is a collective of Mexican,
programmes and other international eco- US, Canadian and Caribbean women based
nomic programmes detrimental to women. in Mexico. It promotes communication,
The major papers presented and discussed exchange and strategic connecting among
at the conference have been published in a activist women throughout the region. It
book, Nurture the Seeds of Unity, Take Root
publishes, three times a year,
and Reclaim our Lives!
Correspondencia, a bilingual (English/
Spanish) forum for women active in
Several women's groups in the labour, urban popular, lesbian, anti-vio-
Philippines have produced publications on lence, popular education and cultural
women, debt and development. These mate- movements in Mexico, Canada and the US.
rials are valuable contributions to Filipino Mujer a Mujer/Woman to Woman, PO Box
women's efforts to understand and confront 12322, San Antonio.
debt and debt-related economic policies that
are wrecking their lives: The Center for
A selection of publications dealing with
Women's Resources (CWR) has recently
published the pamphlet Living on the Edge, gender aspects of economic issues:
Women, the Debt Crisis and Structural Council of Europe, International Encounter,
Adjustment (1992) in English and Filipino. Human Rights and Democracy: The Role of
GABRIELA, a national coalition of predom- Women in an Interdependent World,
inantly grassroots women's groups, pub- Conference, Lisbon, April 1993.The confer-
lishes Empoivering Filipinos for Development ence papers provide a rich and varied
Resources 59

source of information, some of which link Crises, Persistent Poverty and Women's Work,
current international economic trends, the Boulder: Westview Press.
violation of women's basic human rights, Beneria, L. (1981) 'Conceptualizing the labour
and the global feminisation of poverty. The force: the underestimation of women's
invisibility of much of women's work (as activities', Journal of Development Studies,
farmers, in the informal sector, and within 17:3.
the household) is emphasised. Brydon, L. and S. Chant (1989) Women in the
Third World: Gender Issues in Rural and
Frank, E. Report on Black and Migrant
Urban Areas, Aldershot: Edward Elgar.
Women in Europe, produced for the
Cohen, M. (1987) Free Trade and the Future of
European Economic Commission,
Women's Work, Toronto: Garamond Press
Women's Group. Available from the EEC,
and the Canadian Centre for Policy
Women's Group, Brussels. This study looks
at patterns of work and livingstandards
Commonwealth Expert Group on Women and
among Black and migrant women in
Structural Adjustment (1989), Engendering
Europe, emphasising the effects of the
Adjustment for the 1990s, London.
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Elson, D. (ed) (1991) Male Bias in the
The Reality of Aid: An Independent Development Process, Manchester:
Review of International Aid, Somerset: Manchester University Press.
ActionAid. Produced on behalf of the Folbre, N., B. Bergmann, B. Agarwal and M.
International Council on Voluntary Floro (1992) Women's Work in the World
Agencies (ICVA) and European Economy', London: Macmillan.
Consortium of Development Agencies Freedom from Debt Coalition Women's
(EUROSTEP), the Report links analyses by Committee (1989), Women Want Freedom
NGOs from 20 industrial nations, on the From Debt: A Primer, FFDC, July.
performance and policies of their govern- Fulleros Santos, A. and L. F. Lee (1989), The
ment's Aid programmes and highlights Debt Crisis, A Treadmill of Poverty for
major areas of concern for development Filipino Women, KALAYAAN, 1989.
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Basingstoke: Macmillan. Developing Countries 17:7.
Antrobus, P. (1989) 'Gender implications of the Haddad, L. (1991) 'Gender and Adjustment:
development crisis', in Girvan, N. and G. Theory and Evidence to Date'. Paper pre-
Beckford (eds) Development in Suspense: sented at the workshop on The Effects of
Selected Papers and Proceedings of the First Policies and Programs on Women,
Conference of Caribbean Economists, Kingston, International Food Policy Research
Jamaica: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Institute: Washington DC.
Bakker, I. (ed) (1993, forthcoming), The Impact International Women's Seminar (1990) Beyond
of Economic Policies on Women in a Period of the Debt Crisis, Structural Transformations,
Structural Change and Adjustment, Zed Final Report of the International Women's
Press for North-South Institute, Ottawa. Seminar, New York: United Nations.
Beneria, L. (1992) Unequal Burden: Economic Joekes, S. and N. Kabeer (eds) (1991)
60 Focus on Gender

'Researching the Household: Methodologi- Wallace, T. and C. March (1991) Changing

cal and Empirical Issues' IDS Bulletin, 22:1. Perceptions: Writings on Gender and
Kanji, N. and N. Jazdowska (1993) 'Structural Development, Oxford: Oxfam.
Adjustment and Women in Zimbabwe' Waring, M. (1988) // Women Counted, New
Review of African Political Economy, 56:11-26. York: Harper & Row.
Mackintosh, M. (1990) 'Abstract markets and Watkins, K. (1992), Fixing the Rules: North-
real needs' in The Food Question: Profits vs. South Issues in International Trade and the
People? London: Earthscan and Monthly GATT Uruguay Round, London: Catholic
Review. Institute for International Relations.
Mariano, L., T. Oliveros and A. De Vera (eds.)
(1993) Nurture the Seeds of Unity, Take Root Periodicals
and Reclaim our Lives!, Quezon City: AMI- DAWN Informs, DAWN, c/o Peggy Antrobus,
HAN. Women and Development Unit, School of
Mayatech Corporation (1991), Gender and Continuing Studies, Pinelands, St. Michael
Adjustment, Prepared for Office of Women Barbados.
in Development, Bureau for Program and Development and Change, Sage, 6 Bonhill St.,
Policy Coordination, US Agency for London, UK.
International Development, June. Development Policy Review, Blackwell, 198
Moser, C. (1985) 'Gender planning in the Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JF, UK and
Third World: meeting practical and strate- 238 Main St. Cambridge, MA 02142, USA
gic gender needs', World Development, Economic Development and Cultural Change,
17:11:1799-1825. University of Chicago Press, PO Box
Momsen, J.H. and V. Kinnaird (eds) (1993) 37005, Chicago, 111., 60637, USA
Different Places, Different Voices: Gender andInstitute of Development Studies Bulletin, IDS,
Development in Africa, Asia and Latin University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9RE,
America, London, New York: Routledge. UK
Mosse, J. (1993) Half the World, Haifa Chance: Journal of Development Studies, Frank Cass &
An Introduction to Gender and Development, Co. Ltd, Gainsborough House, 11
Oxford: Oxfam. Gainsborough Rd, London Ell IRS, UK
North-South Institute (1985) Women in Journal of International Development, John
Industry, North-South Connections, Ottawa: Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Baffins Lane,
North-South Institute. Chichester, W. Sussex, PO 19 1UK, UK.
Ostergaard, L. (ed) (1992) Gender and Journal of Peasant Studies, Frank Cass & Co., as
Development: A Practical Guide, London, above.
New York: Routledge. Review of African Political Economy, PO Box
Piza-Lopez E. and March C. (eds) (1992) 678, Sheffield S111BF, UK.
Gender Considerations in Economic Waves, Newsletter of All Women's Action
Enterprises, Oxford: Oxfam. Society, c/o 43C Jalan SS6/12, 47301
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women as society's coping mechanism', in Malaysia.
Laya (Feminist Quarterly) Quezon City, 1: 4. World Development, Pergamon Press Ltd.
Tinker, I. (ed) (1990) Persistent Inequalities: Headington Hill Hall, Oxford OX3 OBW,
Women and World Development, New York: UK
Oxford University Press.
UN (1991) The World's Women 1970-1990:
Trends and Statistics, New York: United
UNICEF (1987), The Invisible Adjustment: Poor
Women and the Economic Crisis, Santiago.
News from Gadu
Sue Smith

Vienna UN Conference on rights; and whether individual rights are

universal and absolute, or modified by
Human Rights national cultural contexts.
Human rights and fundamental rights for Sponsored by a range of women's inter-
poor women are indivisible. It is impossible national organisations and networks, the
to talk about the right to free expression global tribunal on 15 June which consid-
without freedom from violence first having ered violations of women's human rights
been achieved. This was the strong message was attended by not more than 10 men and
to the UN bureaucracy from the women's 1200 women. It provided a forum for
lobby attending the Vienna UN Conference women to protest against the failure of
on Human Rights. GADU Coordinator existing human rights laws and the lack of
Eugenia Piza-Lopez, attending the confer- mechanisms to protect and promote
ence, spent time in the women's caucus, in women's human rights. Testimonies
preparations for Beijing 95, and in support- focused on human rights abuse in the fami-
ing counterparts by arranging meetings for ly, war crimes against women, physical
women from funding agencies. violations, socio-economic rights, and polit-
In the human rights debate, women's ical persecution and discrimination.
issues were previously seen as of special The final declaration unequivocally
interest, and only representing the views of included poverty and hunger among gross
some people. The concept of human rights and systematic violations, and recognised
was challenged, redefined and expanded the importance of gender in human rights
by the women's caucus to include gender abuses, asserting that violence against
issues, giving it a new language. Women women is a human rights abuse whether it
wanted integration of gender-specific occurs in public or private. The declaration
issues, such as violence, as well as the also called for the integration of women's
inclusion of a perspective throughout the concerns into every area of UN operations,
whole debate, and the creation of mecha- including the work of all Treaty Bodies and
nisms at UN level to address and monitor the Human Rights Commission. Proposals
violence against women. on the agenda of the next UN General
The major contribution of the women's Assembly include the creation of a High
process to the debate focused on: the pri- Commissioner for Human Rights.
vate sphere as a legitimate arena of concern Oxfam will provide follow-up through
to the UN and human rights bodies; the its work with EUROSTEP and in relation to
indivisibility of human and economic the UN.

Focus on Gender Vol 2, No. 3, October 1993

62 Focus on Gender

EUROSTEP gender of discussions of programme issues,

workshop informed by research by IBIS and NOVIB.
The choice of partners, defining what con-
A meeting of gender experts from stitutes a women's organisation, and the
EUROSTEP, a network of 22 European non- merits of working with mixed or women-
governmental development agencies, met in only organisations to achieve gender inte-
Oxford in May 1993 to learn and share their gration in projects were of crucial concern.
experiences in the field of gender. The workshop emphasised the role of
A total of 52 people from Belgium, networking as a vital tool in the task of
Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Italy, mainstreaming gender. Networking helps to
Greece, Spain and the UK, met for a pro- improve gender practice, provides models
gramme of expert inputs and presenta- and examples for agencies newer to the
tions. Strategies for influencing the EC, net- issues, provides support and solidarity, and
working, and strengthening programmes develops a common voice for lobbying.
were discussed. The programme included: The workshop is a first stage in sharing
mainstreaming gender in our NGDOs, information, a vital part of networking and
frameworks for programme and project the gender learning process. A recognition
planning, and networking for change. of gender as a field of technical expertise,
One important question raised was the acquisition of gender-disaggregated
whether the model for successful institu- and gender-specific knowledge, and honest
tionalising of gender should be a cen- sharing of successes and failures, are all
tralised team of gender experts, or gender essential for gender to be moved forward
teams integrated into other organisational in agencies.
structures. Oxfam, NOVIB and MS present- The setting up of a gender group was
ed case studies. Although the experience of agreed and ratified to the EUROSTEP
large and smaller agencies was different, assembly. Future gender work is focused
delegates were agreed that, where possible, in two areas programme work led by
it was best to adopt both approaches; this NCOS, and lobbying led by Oxfam UK.
prevented both marginalisation and dilu- Follow up includes a meeting of the steer-
tion. The importance of gender-sensitive ing group to discuss areas of further pro-
staff recruitment, staff development, and gramme learning, hosted by NCOS, who
gender training was emphasised in the will produce a plan to gather and systema-
context of institutional support for women tise programme learning, especially in the
workers, and a change in work styles. areas of monitoring and evaluation. A
NOVIB, ACORD and MS shared their lobby programme is in progress on popula-
experience of developing a gender policy, tion and reproductive rights (led by Action
which underpins and defines practice and Aid) aimed at influencing EC governments
links institutional and external issues. The and the UN Conference itself, which will
process is as important as the outcome, and coordinate efforts with other networks. A
the challenge of translating policy into programme will be ready by October for a
organisational tools and day-to-day prac- two-year European lobbying strategy
tice is ongoing. The workshop recommend- aimed at influencing Horizon 2000, Lome,
ed guidelines for the formulation, manage- and other relevant policies including WID
ment and sharing of experiences of devel- policy. A programme to coordinate efforts
oping and implementing gender policies. and strategy will follow the Human Rights
The overarching imperative of talking to Conference and lead to Beijing 1995.
women at all stages of the project cycle and Oxfam plans to publish the workshop
using women as project workers came out proceedings, including issue-based papers,
News from GADU 63

case studies detailing the experience of meetings in Africa, Latin America, Asia,
agencies, and the keynote presentations. Middle East and possibly Europe will be
held over the next year.
Preparations for the UN For further information about the
Beijing conference and NGO preparations,
Conference on Women, write to the International Women's Tribune
Beijing, 1995 Centre (IWTC), 777 UN Plaza, New York,
Planning for the NGO Forum at the 1995 NY10017, USA, who produce 95 Preview,
Beijing UN Conference onWomen is the an occasional bulletin reporting on who is
responsibility of CONGO'S (NGO Planning doing what in plans for the Prepcoms and
Committee under the auspices of the the meeting itself. Most IWTC materials are
Conference of NGOs in consultative status free to individuals and groups in the South.
with ECOSOC) Planning Committee,
which held an NGO consultation in March Preparations for the UN
1993 in Vienna, attended by Eugenia Piza- Conference on Population
Lopez on behalf of Oxfam. The representa-
tives of 71 NGOs on the planning commit-
and Development, Cairo, 1994
tee follow UN discussions, assess the Population is among the most contentious
impact of possible decisions on women, issues in development. Claudia Garcia
seek to influence government delegates to Moreno, Coordinator of Oxfam's Health
include the women's concerns, and feed Unit, attended the second Prepcom in May
back UN decisions and activities to the 1993 for the 1994 Cairo UN Conference on
NGO sector. A report of the consultation is Population and Development: Women's
available from Forum 95, Kirchengasse 26, issues were high on the agenda at both the
A-1070 Vienna, Austria. official and the NGO meetings.
At the meeting, a number of NGOs dis- The purpose of the meeting was for the
cussed joint strategies between women's country delegations to give guidance to the
groups in the South and international Conference Secretariat for a new World
agencies. Many NGDOs emphasised the Population Plan of Action to be adopted in
need for a co-ordinated approach to Cairo. Agreement was reached only on
encourage greater representation of draft headings for the document, and dis-
Southern, especially feminist, organisations cussions clustered around the interrelation-
and networks at the Prepcoms (preparato- ship of population, environment and
ry meetings) and the NGO Forum. It was development, the role and status of
also hoped that Southern groups would women, reproductive rights, health and
achieve greater representation on the family planning, population distribution
CONGO NGO Planning Committee and including migration, and resource alloca-
access to the UN system through CONGO. tion and mobilisation.
Oxfam will be working at different lev- Oxfam will be working through the
els. In some cases, it will support increased ODA in the UK to participate and provide
access for partners to the UN conference inputs in preparatory national fora, partic-
and its preparatory regional processes by ipate in the UK Delegation for Prepcom 3,
supporting and strengthening groups and and through the EUROSTEP network to
initiatives lobbying and influencing nation- produce briefing papers with other agen-
al governments. Ideas about developing a cies and explore channels in other net-
joint approach with other international works such as WIDE. Oxfam's population
agencies to maximise impact and share strategy will be backed up with a forth-
resources are being discussed. Regional coming book on population and gender
64 Focus on Gender

issues in June 1994 and an issue of Focus on strategies. Women have been selected by
Gender devoted to population and repro- Oxfam Field Offices worldwide (as well as
ductive rights. Oxfam's approach aims at a a number of similar agencies) to attend the
comprehensive strategy to link the Human Regional Meetings in Bangladesh,
Rights Conference, the 1994 Cairo confer- Indonesia, Zimbabwe and Chile. These
ence and the 1995 Conference on Women. women are development practitioners
In September 1993 the Conference working in Southern organisations, most
Secretariat circulate the first draft of the with close links with Oxfam.
Country Reports, and Prepcom 3 in New Over the next few months, many Field
York in April 1994 will be the forum for Office staff will be taking a close look at
major debate on the Plan of Action's exact their own work with women and talking to
wording, to be submitted to the Cairo con- the women they work with. They will be
ference in September. spending a month taking an in-depth look
at their own efforts to integrate gender into
their work, and at a selected project. They
Oxfam AGRA meetings will try to find out how the project is work-
In June 1993 a meeting of AGRA (Action ing in practical ways to meet the challenges
for Gender Relations in Asia) South on women face: the violence and poverty
women and employment was attended by women experience, their need for support
representatives from Oxfam offices on the on health issues and on building their deci-
Indian subcontinent, and a report will be sion-making role in their societies, and
available soon. The AGRA East meeting on their need to find an equal place in their
women and health in November 1993 will particular culture and its traditions.
be hosted by the Philippines team. This preparation work and the recom-
The structure of AGRA meetings in mendations from the Regional Meetings
which expert inputs, case studies from the will feed into the International Conference
experience of field staff, and participatory to be held in Thailand in February 1994.
learning are blended, make it an interesting The Conference is primarily for Oxfam
cross-regional forum. The Philippines staff, but delegates from the Regional
meeting will introduce the concept of and Meetings and a number of other practition-
approaches to women's health. It will cover ers have been invited as well.
a wide range of issues including the nature The Conference offers Oxfam a unique
and control of reproductive health, popula- opportunity to take a fresh look at the
tion issues and a look at the Cairo confer- impact of its gender and development
ence, the effects of war, conflict and vio- work with women; to listen to the best pos-
lence against women on mental health. sible group of advisers the women it
works with; and to provide a platform for
their views. The participants will prepare
News from the Women's an up-to-date assessment of Oxfam's work
Linking Project with women, and develop guidelines for
The Women's Linking Project is entering future work.
an exciting time with four South-to-South And work does not stop with the meet-
Regional Meetings arranged to take place ings! All participants have a vital role to
between October 1993 and January 1994. play; to make sure that recommendations
The Regional Meetings, for 10-30 partici- are brought back home and put into prac-
pants, will enable groups of Southern tice. Oxfam will be integrating the findings
women to exchange information and expe- of the Project into its preparation for
rience, and to explore and develop new Beijing 1995.