Gender inequality remains very strong in developing countries. Efforts are however made by actors involved in development projects to contribute to reducing these inequalities. Using observations coming from field experiences and a specific case for which some sex-disaggregated data are available, the author offers some lessons learned to practitioners. More specifically, this chapter questions the different phases of the project cycle, in particular the planning, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms regarding their role in considering gender. The chapter focuses on the relevance of initial gender diagnostics which allow identifying what needs to be addressed to reduce gender inequalities and proposing adequate solutions in specific cultural contexts. The author then provides some guidelines concerning operational arrangements necessary for effectively monitoring aspects related to the inclusion of women in development projects. This includes the design and implementation of a gender strategy, the designation of a dedicated focal point, the systematic planning and monitoring of sex-disaggregated data, the provision of staff skilled in gender issues, and the presence of a gender balance in project teams and support staff. The chapter emphasizes that it is essential to analyze the differential impacts that the development project may have on men and women; this is rarely done. Experience has shown that development can increase inequality due in particular to initial gender differences. Finally, the chapter recommends that to compensate for differences in initial opportunities and capacities, support for women in the budget should be strengthened.
Thierry, A. (2019), "Monitoring Gender Data and Evaluating Differential Effects to Reduce Inequality", Segal, M., Kelly, K. and Demos, V. (Ed.) Gender and Practice: Knowledge, Policy, Organizations (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 28), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 79-98. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1529-212620190000028005Download as .RIS
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In developing countries where gender inequalities are still very strong, measures have been taken at the macro level by development organizations to reduce them, particularly through consideration of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (especially SDG 5 focused on gender equality). But their operational application in development projects remains difficult. This chapter analyzes operational measures favorable to the improvement of gender equalities, measures which can be used by development actors directly involved in the field. More specifically, it focuses on the importance of preparatory studies and monitoring and evaluation processes, in particular the monitoring of gender disaggregated data for ensuring women’s inclusion, the gender-sensitive analysis of development strategies and their effects on inequality between men and women in the specific context of rural areas.
The chapter is organized around three axes. The first pays attention both to the consideration of gender in preliminary analyzes – as reflected in the Gender Based Constraints (GBC) model applied to agricultural value-chains development such as promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, 2018) – and the integration of objectives and expected results concerning equality between women and men at an early stage of a project’s design. The second axis focuses on the operational arrangements necessary for effectively monitoring aspects related to gender equality. Finally, I consider the actual monitored effects – and those not tracked on the project-as well as the determinants of such monitoring. This axis also questions the effects associated with differential strategies targeting men and women, which can be related to initial social, cultural and economic factors.
As an illustration of my key points I use a project for which some sex-disaggregated data are available from published monitoring and supervision reports. The project deals with supporting agricultural export value-chains in Sao Tome e Principe, “Projeto de Apoio à Pequena Agricultura Comercial” (PAPAC), financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD (IFAD, 2017). This example has the advantage of providing learned lessons and concrete elements about ways to improve consideration of gender issues in development projects.
Preliminary: Background of the Case Study
Gender Situation and Disparities in Sao Tome and Principle
Sao Tome e Principe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is an island country, located in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe. The country is considered in 2015 one of the poorest countries in the world with a Human Development Index placing it at the 142th spot out of 188 countries (UNDP, 2016), with about 66% of the population living below the national poverty line (on an estimated population of 197,700 in 2017). It is also noted that people working in agriculture are most vulnerable to poverty (69%).
The National Gender Assessment carried out in 2004 (World Bank, 2004) highlights a dichotomy between policy and practice. On one side are legal and official actions promoting equality between men and women including the clear establishment of gender consideration in the constitution, laws on women’s access to land and inheritance, and signing in 2003 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. On the other side, in practice, there are clear socioeconomic inequalities and a maintaining of traditional social roles. While the National Institute for the Promotion of Gender Equality and Equity has been in place since 2008 and a National Gender Strategy decreed in 2014, more recent data (World Bank, 2018) indicate that this assessment of the situation is still valid.
The evaluation of the gender profile of Sao Tome and Principe (World Bank, 2004) shows indeed that disparities in poverty between men and women are significant: 71.3% of poverty incidence by women against 63.4% by men. Two out of five households are headed by women, which is one of the highest rates in Africa. These women are four times more likely to be illiterate than male heads of household. Among these households,57% are considered poor, compared to 48% for households headed by men (Gender Data Portal, 2016), and 18.8% are considered in extreme poverty (against 10.7% for men). Significant differences also exist between urban and rural areas since the rate of extreme poverty among female heads of households is higher in rural areas (19.5% against 8.4% in urban areas).A feature of Sao Tome and Principe in the social and family fabric is the relatively common existence of de facto unions (24% of female heads of household were involved in these unions in 2004). Legally recognized, these de facto unions are actually poorly controlled and the children are in fact almost exclusively under the responsibility of women, increasing their mental stress compared to men.
Women’s participation in decisions at the local level is indeed estimated as very low and, even if they are present on the national level, they are still a small minority in Parliament and the government (World Bank, 2004).Women have limited access to employment and work and are facing income inequality. The more limited formal education among women is correlated with a higher unemployment rate in the group aged over 15 years (19.7% for women against 9.3% for men). Only 53% of women aged 15 to 64 years were working against 76% of men (World Bank, 2018). Among them, 31% have unskilled jobs and 49% work in services and petty trade, mainly informal. Moreover, income inequality between men and women are still very high. On average, women earn half of what men earn. The proportion of women earning a monthly income below the guaranteed minimum wage (44.5%) is twice that of men (20.8%) (World Food Program, 2018). This entails imbalance between genders: one in four women (26%) has nothing to say on the use of revenues, and only 44% are involved in decision-making within the household on care spending and major spending. This is coupled with a very high rate of domestic violence: 33% of women over 15 years are victims of domestic violence, and up to 46% in households with the lowest income. In rural areas, women represent only 12% of the workforce employed in agriculture production, but are strongly represented in post-harvest activities (processing, marketing, etc.) and fishing (fishmongers). Their access to productive factors remains however more limited than men.
To conclude, despite a favorable regulatory framework, gender equality remains a challenge in Sao Tome and Principe, which is ranked 122nd rank in terms of gender inequality (UNDP, 2016). Indeed, its development gender index of 0.907 places the country in group 4, which gathers countries where gender equality is low.
Basis of Understanding for the Specific Case Study
The PAPAC is a development project financed by IFAD which complements a previous participatory program in support to family farming and artisanal fisheries. The main objective of the project is to reduce poverty and food insecurity in rural areas. It planned initially to target 4,750 rural households, including one third held by women, in order to increase their incomes in a sustainable way. From 2012 the project supported agricultural producers of four cooperatives for the production and export of four niche products (organic coffee, organic cocoa, conventional cocoa, organic pepper), through three focused strategies: agronomical support and technical training for plantations’ rehabilitation and extension, organizational and institutional development of the cooperatives for improving access to national and international markets, and support to marginal activities (micro-irrigation and livestock).
This project has generated some data disaggregated between men and women available in the internal data collection and monitoring system and reflected in the published supervision and monitoring reports. Thus all discussion and Figures below are based on these published data that I reviewed and used to illustrate and visualize findings in this chapter. It should be noted that the data – including the ones in the PAPAC midterm review report (IFAD, 2017) which highlights particularly gender issues - were collected by the project under natural conditions. Several biases are thus observed (bias in the collection and consolidation of data, completeness and reliability of data sometimes questioned, double-counting of beneficiaries in households).Nevertheless, cooperatives have registers of their members, and data on the proportion of women, relayed in the report and presently used, are considered relatively reliable.
The upcoming sections present both general findings on gender – emerging while working in developing countries – and specific issues coming from the case study to illustrate them. From these findings, recommendations are then proposed to practitioners.
Knowing What to Address When Talking About Gender in Development and How to Act
The first key step is to evaluate in an early stage what are the main issues regarding gender that we face in our development context and propose adequate strategies to address them in line with the project purpose. This includes initial targeted gender studies, such as gendered baseline and gender-sensitive value-chains studies, if talking about agricultural and rural development, and design of specific gendered strategies embedded in project implementation processes. Pre-requirements for this first step are to actually get local institutional organizations on board and to succeed in moving from general gender policy to operational arrangements. General and specific to the case considerations are presented below as regards the relevance of initial gender studies to address determinants of gender inequalities.
Generally, as part of a project or program approach, it is first of all necessary to identify the real problems that will be addressed with appropriate solutions before the project design phase. Specifically, in a long-term objective of reducing inequalities between women and men (as implied in the SDG either exclusively, as in SDG 5, or inclusively), the situation must be analyzed from the perspective of gender relations and their social, economic and political impact, this in all the sectors affected by the project. Appropriate tools are the gender-sensitive value-chain approach and gender-based constraint analysis. As part of a project to support the sectors of agricultural production, as in the case study, this should actually be based on a gendered mapping and analysis of gender-sensitive approaches in value-chains, to highlight and overcome gender-based constraints. Indeed, in the agricultural sector, FAO (2018) talks about a Gender-Sensitive Value-Chain (GSVC) approach and Gender-Based Constraints (GBC) concerning a value-chain, a sector or several in a given territory. GBCs can be defined as “restrictions on men’s or women’s access to resources or opportunities that are based on their gender roles or responsibilities” (Rubin et al., 2009). FAO (2018) also recalls that:
these specific constraints, resulting from gender-based discrimination, play a key role in undermining women’s productive and entrepreneurial potential. As such, they not only limit women’s opportunities to participate in and benefit from value chains, but also undermine the overall performance of the chain by generating distortions in the labor market, losses and inefficiencies. Detecting GBCs during the analysis of the value chain is therefore essential to have a complete understanding of the underlying causes of its underperformance and identify upgrading strategies that can be both economically and socially sustainable (p. 5).
Criteria to be considered in the analysis can thus be: paid and unpaid work, access to financial services, technologies, markets, etc.
Unfortunately, my field experiences on various development projects, implemented by bilateral, multilateral organizations or NGOs, have shown that this essential step is too often overlooked, sloppy or evaded, as also illustrated by our case study. Here, no gender analysis specific to the value-chains of cocoa, coffee and pepper has been performed. Beyond the initially weak consideration of the gender issues, one difficulty was the lack of updated data: the most recent national socioeconomic data were from 2010 (Instituto Nacional de Estatistica, 2010), and information on inequalities between women and men was dated from 2004 (World Bank, 2004). However, a baseline survey (PAPAC, 2015) was carried out by PAPAC on a sample of members in concerned communities. The survey looked at some disaggregated data. There, women represented 25% of the household heads. The literacy rate of these female heads of household (75%) was below that of men (92%). Concerning household incomes women earned on average 30% less than men. But no chain analysis based on gender constraints was strictly developed. The few sex-disaggregated data were insufficient to identify the determinants of inequalities between women and men in the supported sectors and to define appropriate strategies to bridge the gaps. In our case, a preliminary GSVC analysis, which was not presently done, could have focused more specifically, as identified in the project design document (IFAD, 2014), on the access to productive factors and information, on the workload in the household, on the participation in decision-making bodies, and on the participation in processing and marketing activities. In the absence of such analysis, few inequality reduction measures have been identified and implemented (see Lessons Learned below).
Necessary Design of a Specific Gender Strategy
A first step should be the establishment of a clear vision of the problems to be considered and solutions to be implemented. To actually improve relationships between women and men and address SDG 5 which aims to promote gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls (Goal 5: Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, 2018), it is necessary to have a clear vision of both the initial situation seen through the prism of inequality, as we have seen earlier, and what we hope to achieve. Once this gendered analysis is carried out, a crucial point is to define, in light of the overall objective, specific objectives of the project in terms of gender and inequality reduction (e.g., reducing domestic violence in rural areas, reducing the gap between girls and boys for the access to primary education, reducing differences in income, increasing women’s economic autonomy, increasing women’s participation in politics and decision-making).Once these specific objectives are defined, it is also essential to identify the most appropriate strategies in specific contexts (e.g., improving women’s access to land to increase their income from agriculture). It is then necessary to identify clear outcomes to be completed to reach these goals. For this, the project must have a clear gender strategy, consistent with the other project-specific objectives and results.
To come back to our case, what was missing is a proper strategy and a gender focal point. Indeed, clear and practical guidelines have been proposed in the project design document (including improving women’s access to productive resources and factors of cooperatives, improving their representation in decision-making bodies and strengthening their capacity to intervene), but they have not been reflected in a specific gender strategy (IFAD, 2014). Moreover the absence of an individual designated as a gender focal point for the project, has resulted in a limited inclusion of the gender dimension. It seems clear that a development project, incorporating such gender approaches in a context of change, requires a person in charge of the issue. Ideally this person would be dedicated exclusively to the implementation of gender promotion actions, monitoring and analysis. It also appears crucial to ensure the participation of the institutional stakeholders in defining priorities in terms of gender from the analysis of the situation and the project design for two main reasons: to better understand the issues in the targeted sector and propose solutions adapted to the geographical and temporal context, and to ensure ownership by the decision-makers as well as the sustainability of the measures taken and their potential scaling-up through public policy. This involvement is apparently still insufficiently addressed.
To conclude, it appears that the expected results in the project document in terms of gender and inequality reduction were compromised through the absence of (i) a gender-based constraints analysis; (ii) the availability of a gender strategy to implement; and (iii) a gender focal point, essential for the actual consideration of gender in the implementation of the project and involvement of the institutional actors for sustainability.
One Challenge: Going from Overall Gender Policies to Operational Level
At the macro level, concerning multilateral organizations, it is necessary to define clear specific indicators about gender issues to be reached and measured. Often only very few indicators are proposed in the comprehensive intervention frameworks of international organizations, which means that the responsibility for gender integration and monitoring is delegated to the project team, without providing them the sufficient skills and means to address these issues efficiently. For example, six of the 17 SDGs have no indicator for monitoring the progress concerning inequality reduction (UN Women, 2018).
In our case study, IFAD’s policy on gender equality covers three specific objectives: (i) economic empowerment; (ii) decision-making and representation; and (iii) reduction and equitable sharing of workload (IFAD, 2016a). But in IFAD Operational Results monitoring system, only one indicator of 27 refers to women by targeting the improvement of nutrition, but without actually targeting inequalities, viz: “percentage of women reporting an improvement in the quality of their diet” (1.2.8 indicator). As for the overall IFAD Results Measuring Framework (IFAD, 2016b), it highlights only appreciatively one indicator of gender equality at the outcome level (level 2) and one at the level of IFAD institutional efficiency (level 5): “Percentage of women in P-5 (senior executive position) and above” (indicator 5.2.3). These general guidelines do not make it possible to design a real gender strategy for projects.
How to Reflect Needs and Solutions at the Operational Level
As highlighted above, at the operational level, the gender consideration in the project implementation can suffer from the weak integration of gender issues in the preliminary studies and project design. But in order to both ensure targeted strategies on reducing inequalities and monitor their effects, it is necessary to set specific initial targets, to follow disaggregated data and accurately analyze gender-specific effects. Thus, the gender strategy must be clearly reflected in the logical framework – and project documents – in terms of quantitative results. It must specifically target women with activities precisely described in the associated action plans. Unfortunately, generally, the logical framework and the project design document do not show the expected results in terms of gender effects (e.g., increased revenue of 30% for women or decrease of 25% of the gap of revenue between men and women). Indeed, results and indicators are presented on a comprehensive and aggregated basis, which does not allow evaluating gender-specific progress in terms of women’s empowerment and reduction of the gender inequalities.
Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation: Key Role in Gender Promotion
On first observation, it should be noted that in our case, the logical framework – which fixes the project objectives, outcomes and outputs through particular indicators – actually reflect the monitoring of the women’s inclusion. Indeed, beneficiaries are disaggregated by sex for each of the results from the planned targets to the achieved values (e.g., at least 50% of indirect beneficiaries of the project are women, at least 30% of people trained in methods/techniques of production agriculture are women, at least 70% of the groups accounting women in their decision-making bodies, at least 30% of new planters integrated into cooperatives are women).
This exercise has the effect of forcing the project team and partners to effectively involve women in project actions in order to reach the planned targets. We can thus note that in October 2017, the share of women -among the members of the cooperatives concerned with an easier access to productive factors exceeded the 30% target, though it remains low considering that they represent 49% of the rural population in Sao Tomé. This obligation to follow disaggregated data has undoubtedly helped to involve more women in non-gender-specific rural development projects. In the absence of targets and quotas and without this obligation of monitoring disaggregated data, field experiences I have had on projects implemented through IFAD, European Union or NGOs in sub-Saharian countries in the past two decades showed that the share of women in rural development project did not exceed 20–25% of direct beneficiaries.
This still emphasizes the importance of integrating specific gender objectives and related qualitative and quantitative results into the management tools at an early stage of the project. Moreover, it should be noted that, even with quotas, there is no real specification of the different categories of women in monitored indicators. Indeed, the women supported are mostly not female heads of households. The distinction between the two categories of female household head and non-head of household is indeed not clearly made and followed, while the expected effects will be totally different (e.g., The use of income by women is different in the household if the woman is a head of family, non-head of family, part of a household where the man is also a beneficiary or not).
Efficiently Address Gender Inequalities: Skills to Reinforce in Development Projects
It should be noted that in my field experiences during the two last decades on project teams in sub-Saharian countries, especially concerning IFAD projects, are mostly composed of men, especially in technical and management positions. This is also reflected in the higher level of the international organization seats. For example, only 38% of women access the P-4 level (executive position) and 27% the P-5 level (senior executive position) in IFAD (2016a). Furthermore, at the operational level in the country, the few women in project teams are not always adequately trained and specifically aware of gender issues. Even IFAD supervision missions – coming in support to the project teams in the countries – are mostly composed of men, which can jeopardize the messages aiming at involving more women in project teams and among beneficiaries. Moreover, there is still some reluctance, even denigration, of the recommendations made by women experts on the issue of reducing inequalities, this also occurs among some researchers (Lempert, 2016).
Another finding coming from this specific case, but which is also observed in a number of projects, is about the inadequate skills and capacities, both concerning monitoring and evaluation aspects – including statistical analysis – and regarding gender analysis. The needs for basic and specialized training in order to be able to consider gender issues in project activities and analyze effects on gender equality is great. Moreover, this training must absolutely be contextualized and be included in an initial diagnosis and inserted in the project gender strategy.
Finally, as highlighted above, as killed gender focal point is essential to succeed in implementing gender strategies.
Good Practices: Monitoring of Women’s Inclusion to Keep From Leaving Them Behind
If a positive trend is that more and more development projects include the breakdown of beneficiaries by sex to assess women’s participation, gendered analysis of the effects still seems insufficient at the overall and operational level. Indeed, as an example, to judge the performance of a project in terms of gender, the overall classification proposed by international organizations (such as the UN System Wide Action Plan (SWAP) 1 is necessary but certainly not sufficient, as also suggested by David Lempert (2016 ). In our case, according to its gender policy (IFAD, 2016a), which is aligned on that of the UN-SWAP, the project could be classified as Level 4 (partial integration), given the relatively high proportion of women in the intended beneficiaries (and actually affected). But this rating does not judge the level of reduction of gender inequalities and the real contribution of the project. Indeed, this classification is primarily interested in the inclusion and integration of women over quantitative and qualitative manners, without actually arriving at the real effects. If now we are interested in measuring the effects of the strategies specifically on women, we must go beyond this classification.
The present section will focus on good practices and learned lessons coming from our case study regarding the consideration of gender and then on the shortcomings observed. Some examples of publically available data from our case study are thus employed, which allow for the analysis of gender considerations. Beyond operation good practices, learned lessons will concern the differential effects on men and women, which are still too little explored, as well as the distinction between the effects on individuals and on households to better address gender inequalities. Finally, we will look at financial efficiency seen as a project criterion and women’s self-esteem as a catalyst for empowerment.
Monitoring Women’s Participation Effectively
Generally, available disaggregated data are easily accessible and measurable data, such as the percentage of women among the beneficiaries or the share of women among the members of the cooperatives. Particular attention is paid to monitoring women’s participation in project activities and access to productive factors. Here, available disaggregated data concerning the members of the cooperatives (over 4,000 members in total) make it possible to show that the trend of women’s integration in cooperatives is positive. It appears that the mandatory target of 30% set in the objectives of the project has been met by three of the four cooperatives and that the share of women increased in three cooperatives (PAPAC, 2017): (i) 38% share of women in the organic cocoa cooperative (against about 29% in 2015); (ii) 34% for the conventional cocoa cooperative (against 19%); (iii) 36% for the coffee cooperative (against 39%, showing here a failure in the target achievement, due to the weak share of women among the new members); and (iv) around 20% in that of pepper, which is however increasing (against 15% in 2015). The comparison with the estimated share of women in cooperatives (25%) in the baseline survey (PAPAC, 2015) implies an improvement in women’s access to productive factors across the project efforts (Fig. 1).
Promoting Incentive Measures for Women’s Inclusion
The notable share of women among new members can be attributed to both the conditioning of the financial support upon the achievement of the annual target in terms of beneficiaries and share of women, and specific incentives (e.g., specific subsidies for women to plant pepper and coffee trees). The lower access to productive assets for women who wanted to become new members was overcome by adjusting their contribution based on their initial capacity (physical, financial or otherwise).The exclusive incentives for women (such as support for land clearing and hole digging for planting) have been budgeted in the project to facilitate the integration of women, especially in the pepper cooperative. Nevertheless, the work of awareness-raising in households to promote better inclusion of women (e.g., study of success stories of women producers, visiting the communities of women producers) could have been stronger to increase the effects on the share of women among new members, for instance by using the same model as the awareness campaign conducted among communities and parents for youth access to land for coffee cultivation. In conclusion, in contexts in which equality between women and men is not met, the findings above show that projects can initially be proactive – this in concert with local and traditional authorities – to level the inequalities by taking specific incentive measures.
Being Careful to Bring All Categories of Women on Board
Another observation is that regarding the inclusion of women in the goal of reducing inequality, it is essential to reach all categories of women. In our case, some women, though a minority, have benefited from irrigation kits with the prospect of generating as much income as men. These aspects are positive, but it should not overshadow the fact that the women beneficiaries of irrigation are not representative of the majority of the rural women in Sao Tome and Principe. Moreover the most vulnerable women, actually those concerned with livestock activities are the most marginal among all recipients of the project. This group should be better represented and with adequate supports coming from the project. Once again, it is necessary to clarify that gendered analysis should, at an early stage of the project design, integrate the diverse groups of women and inequalities that they face, in order to make specific and targeted solutions.
Targeting Activities Increasing Women’s Participation in Decision-making: Key for Transformation
A transformative approach should help to make the roles of women and men more equally balanced, especially with greater participation of women in decision-making and technical tasks, which are traditionally assigned to men. In our study case, a target of 30% representation of women in decision-making bodies of the member associations within cooperatives was initially set. This indicator has been followed, and values reached show that the representation of women in member associations of cooperatives is still limited. Less than 25% of the cooperatives boards of directors are women and only the organic cocoa and coffee cooperatives register 70% of associations with at least one woman in their decision bodies. This rate does not exceed 30% for conventional cocoa and pepper cooperatives (Fig. 2).
This transformation takes place through raising awareness, which in our case study, have not been realized. No action has really taken in terms of mobilization of women candidates to integrate decision bodies (e.g., through awareness messages to encourage greater participation of women as candidates during the visits of technicians and social technicians). Another observation concerns the absence of women’s organizations around the project to defend their specific interests and influence in the decisions being made.
Following Women’s Involvement in Technical and Executive Positions
In São Tomé, data are available on the proportion of women in technical positions within partner cooperatives. In 2017, the project team itself had only a single female executive, who was actually the project coordinator. Currently, data reveal that women still represent less than 17% of socio-technicians in the four cooperatives (and none at all for the coffee cooperative). Moreover, except for the pepper cooperative – where one of the two engineers is a woman – other cooperatives do not have any woman among their technicians (Figs. 3 and 4).
Differential Effects on Men and Women, Still Too Little Explored
As explained above, the monitoring and evaluation system of the project essentially allowed the following of the disaggregated number of beneficiaries involved. It appears that no gendered analysis on the effects differentiated between men and women was actually carried out, especially because of the lack of disaggregated data regarding outcome indicators.
The importance of collecting disaggregated data and conducting gender analysis of the effects – especially on projects which do not specifically address women’s needs – is crucial to ensure that projects do not contribute to greater inequality between men and women (FAO, 2018). Indeed, in the cultural context of many developing societies, especially in sub-Saharian Africa, the division of labor is gendered, women have higher workloads and men have more financial and other assets and capacities. Under these circumstances, more ambitious strategies that require greater investment, but are likely to have higher expected returns, will tend to favor men and magnify inequality. An example of differential effects highlighted by FAO showed that the impact of nutrition promoting actions were higher in boys than girls (Bridge, 2014). Though women are the primary beneficiaries of nutrition education sessions in a number of developing countries, boys are by preference the first to see their nutrition improved in patriarchal cultural contexts.
The access to information and innovations, which are crucial steps to the reduction of inequalities, is still neglected. Here, we note that women directly receiving knowledge provided under the project within mixed training groups, and having direct access – not relayed by the men – to information and innovation, contributes to the empowerment of women (FAO, 2018). There appears to be no meaningful distinction at this level between women and men. This corroborates the findings of Lori Beaman and Dillon (2017) in Mali, which showed that direct access to information fosters women empowerment, in comparison with the information being relayed through social networks within the community.
The project in our study has not followed technology adoption rates precisely. It is therefore difficult to draw conclusions regarding the differences between men and women concerning the adoption of new technologies and practices. Cheryl Renee Doss (2001), for example, shows that African women farmers are less likely to adapt to new seeds varieties or new farm management systems. Hence the relevance of developing training approaches tailored to women (e.g., specific focus groups).
Another issue regarding differentiated effects on gender is the lack of disaggregation when talking about data on incomes, hiding possible increased gender inequalities. The importance of women’s access to productive factors and profitable activities in agriculture is no longer in question. FAO (2011) already pointed out that if women had the same access as men to productive resources, their yields would increase by 20–30%, and the number of people suffering from hunger in the world would decrease by 12–17%. There is a positive trend in this direction. Indeed, Deborah Fahi Bryceson (2018) highlights the growing share of women between 1980 and 2015 in profitable agricultural activities in Africa, particularly in processing and marketing activities. However, disparities persist, particularly in terms of revenue generated, and control of resources remains more limited for women. Thus, in our case, the baseline survey (PAPAC, 2015) showed clear differences between households headed by men and women (over 11% on average for men and up to 76% for the coffee cooperative). The project was able to follow the evolution of returns to producers in cooperatives (composed mainly of men). The data showed that revenue increased with some variations for coffee related to market shocks. But since data are not disaggregated by sex, they cannot provide information on differential revenues generated by men and women.
In parallel, to reach more women, the project opted for income generative activities such as small livestock (poultry and pig). As there is apparently no significant gender difference in the task distribution for these two types of livestock in Sao Tome and Principe, the project was able to include mostly women (owning or not-owning land). They represented 58% of beneficiaries of pigs and 63% of poultry beneficiaries. Their contribution was mainly in-kind (labor). But finally, income generation was very limited, around 100 EUR/member/year. Here, the activity (mainly affecting women) was not adapted to the context (lack of access to food in the local market) and has gone downhill (Fig. 5).
In general, the distinction between men and women has not been made in the project to assess the effects differentiated in terms of increased revenue. Despite this Fig. 5 suggests that women are less affected, proportionally, than men of activities with higher profitability.
Finally, concerning more innovative activities that require a significant starting capital (land or funds for the acquisition of equipment), women do not seem very involved. In our example, no woman had set up a micro-irrigation demonstration plot (also included in the project design). And if we refer to the dissemination of technology, only two out of 14 people (14%) had installed equipment on plots of 100 m2. The target of 30% usually set for women’s inclusion was not reached. Although achieving this target could run into limiting factors (as listed above: for example, low investment capacity, patriarchal model), it could nevertheless have been superior if it had been set as a real objective in the project and accompanied with awareness and mobilization.
Distinguishing Effects on Individuals and Households to Better Address Gender Inequalities
If, as mentioned above, the data on the share of women among the beneficiaries is generally available, the bias attributable to double-counting in the same household is often overlooked in the counting of beneficiaries, but also in the analyzes which should isolate the differential effects related to household and individuals. In our case, observations on the project have indeed focused on women without distinction with regard to their role as household head, their status as one project beneficiary in the household or double beneficiary with other people (especially husbands).This lack of distinction prevents the identification of differential effects and determinants of these effects. It does not highlight in particular the effects on women as individuals (at economic, social or political level). It also does not isolate the contribution to the household livelihoods of women’s revenues, those of their husbands, or the interaction of the two sources.
Effects are expected over the household, but this needs to be examined in connection with the division of labor and income within the household. Finally, in our case, owing to lack of data we were not able to analyze the destination of revenues according to their origin, for example on education, health, consumer goods or investment in the home or transportation or leisure goods (e.g., alcohol for men). But some studies have clearly shown that revenues are not used in the same way in the household, whether by women or men. Arielle Bernhardt, Erica Field, Rohini Pande, and Natalia Rigol (2017) thus pointed out that in a context of support to entrepreneurship, the profitability of the wife’s activity will be higher when she is the only one to exercise an entrepreneurial activity in the household than when the husband also performs entrepreneurial activity. This is explained in their paper by redistributing income of women in the activities of their husbands. Another issue is that, as illustrated in a study of Fred Mawunyo Dzanku (2018), household resources controlled by women provide greater benefit to the household.
In Sao Tome and Principe, the family unit is dominated by de facto unions, where the spouses do not necessarily live in the same house, depending on job opportunities and despite whether or not children are present in the household. It would have been interesting in our case to also analyze the effects, especially on the use of revenues, of variables such as common housing/separate housing, distance between units, and number of dependent children per wife.
In the project evaluation system, household surveys do not yet allow one to go to this level of analysis, not so much because of the increased complexity of the questionnaires to be submitted or the significant budget increase needed for longer forms, but mainly owing to weak gendered approaches in evaluations. A challenge here is to develop gender-sensitive questionnaires, which highlight the effects differentiated between men and women and the effects on the reduction of gender inequalities, and to train investigators to the ownership of these concepts.
Assessing Financial Efficiency as an Indicator of Gender Inequality
In terms of monitoring and evaluation, to effectively highlight actual investments dedicated to women and men, it is interesting to analyze the costs per beneficiary in a disaggregated manner according to activities targeting women and men. To take the example of the differential support to cash crops, irrigation and small livestock in our case, the cost per beneficiary would prove certainly lower in the case of small livestock that primarily target women. Moreover, cash crops which target rather men would have a higher expected investment duration than small livestock, which hides here initial inequalities in the differential strategies. At the opposite, if really targeting reduction of gender inequalities, the experience of incentives for hole digging in coffee and pepper cooperatives illustrates that higher women’s involvement in activities traditionally occupied by men may have a supportive cost higher than for men.
As a result, the project studied and development projects in general, seems to invest comparatively much more in men than women, contributing to increase inequalities. Thus, the inclusion of incentive strategy for women – to reduce inequality-demands addressing the issue of cost per beneficiary. Gender analysis of financial efficiency can help to highlight differences between men and women explaining the maintenance of inequality and can provide solutions through specific strategies budgeted for women, through gender-budgeting,which is indeed an application of the integrated approach to equality between women and men in the budgetary process. This involves assessment of budgets with a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process and restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote equality between women and men.
Low Self-confidence Among Women as One of the First Barriers to Address Through Development Projects
As suggested by Rachel Marcus (2018), a point deemed insufficiently considered in such gender analyzes is the question of self-confidence of women needed to develop or initiate activities, in contexts where social and cultural norms disadvantage women, which impedes the development of their capabilities. In our case, the low level of participation of women in cooperatives, in the absence of external intervention from the project, shows both the stability of the patriarchal social model but also the low confidence of women in their own potential, regardless of ambient standards. Indeed, this issue about self-esteem among women was studied by Bandiera et al. (2018), who pointed out that awareness of young girls regarding their own human capital in Uganda encourages entrepreneurship and reduces their social vulnerability.
Here, greater involvement of women, especially in cash crops, could have happened through the constitution of mixed and female clubs on the model of Dimitra clubs (FAO, 2015), in order to discuss opportunities or share successful cases of women, especially in pepper sector. Nevertheless, we can note the relevance of a technical manual edited by the pepper cooperative and deemed sensitive to gender, presenting men and women equally in the different tasks of the cultural itinerary. The manual has not yet been released, and its effects on role distribution between women and men were not yet observed.
The observations and findings arising in our case study point to the relevance of the initial gender diagnostics. These make it possible to identify upstream in specific contexts, different categories of women, barriers to their economic, social and political empowerment, and opportunities to consider women specifically, in order to contribute to the overall community development and to reduce gender inequalities.
In this regard, Esther Duflo (2012) stated that “by reducing the vulnerability of poor households to risks, economic development – even if not specifically oriented toward women – disproportionally improves their well-being” (p. 1056). She added, however, that the economic development alone without specific measures and strategies to reduce inequality, is not enough, pointing out that:
in order to bring about equity between men and women, in my view a very desirable goal in and of itself, it will be necessary to continue to take policy actions that favor women at the expense of men, and it may be necessary to continue doing so for a very long time. (p. 1076)
Another key point in this chapter is the definition of gendered strategies which specifically address the issues of all categories of beneficiaries, including the different social and economic categories of men and women. This must be completed through the establishment of a planning, monitoring and evaluation system including precise sex-disaggregated data at every stage.
While still rarely observed on development projects, it is essential to analyze differential effects between men and women and carry out assessments based on gendered approaches. Such assessments can highlight unforeseen risks and measure increase in inequality resulting from the ways in which women and men are supported. Findings in this chapter suggest that, supports to women should be strengthened compared to ones to men to compensate for differences in initial opportunities and capacities. This gendered approach has budgetary implications that can lead to higher costs per beneficiary for women, due to differences in initial capital (material, cultural, financial, in terms of education, self-confidence) compared to that of men.
Equality between women and men should be regarded as an end in itself and not just a way to improve livelihoods within the family or the community or even to contribute to the economic development of a country. Finally, planning, monitoring and evaluation tools, as highlighted in this chapter, have a key part to play in supporting, critiquing and facilitating the specific goal of transformation in gender roles.
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- Gender and Practice: Introduction to Knowledge, Policy, Organizations
- Part I: Knowledge
- Chapter 1: Exploring the Spaces, Limits, and Future Possibilities for Feminist Perspectives on Knowledge Management in International Development and Beyond
- Chapter 2: Exploring the Intersections and Implications of Gender, Race, and Class in Educational Consulting
- Chapter 3: The Challenge of Measuring Women’s Economic Empowerment: A Critical Analysis on the Importance of Subjective Measurement and Context
- Chapter 4: Gender Norms and Their Implications for Banana Production and Recovery in West Africa
- Part II: Policy
- Chapter 5: Monitoring Gender Data and Evaluating Differential Effects to Reduce Inequality
- Chapter 6: Building Gender Research Capacity for Non-Specialists: Lessons and Best Practices from Gender Short Courses for Agricultural Researchers in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Chapter 7: Gender Politics in Latin American Censuses: The Case of Brazil and Ecuador
- Chapter 8: A Gender Analysis of Tourism’s Impact on the Livelihoods of H’Mong and Red D’ao Women in Vietnam
- Part III: Organizations
- Chapter 9: Advancing Women’s Rights from Within: The Story of the Alliance for Women in Medicine and Science
- Chapter 10: Creating a Global Feminist Organization: Applying Theory to Practice
- Chapter 11: Opportunities for Feminist Social Change at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women