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Womens Studies Inl. Forum, Vol. 12, No. 5, pp. 519-528, 1989 Printed in the USA.

0277.5395/89 $3.00 + .OO @ 1989 Pergamon Press plc

PARTICIPATION OF RURAL WOMEN IN INCOME-EARNING ACTIVITIES: A CASE STUDY OF A BANGLADESH VILLAGE


Department of Social Engineering, KOHINOOR BEGUM Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo 152, Japan Ookayama 2-12-1, Meguro-Ku,

Synopsis-Rural women in Bangladesh, despite a number of structural and cultural constraints, play significant roles in agricultural production. Their productive activities confined within the households are not, however, socially recognized. Marginalization and pauperization result from socioeconomic changes such as landlessness, population growth, the increase in cost of production, the decline in productivity and falling income and real wages. In addition, technological changes in food processing, especially the spread of rice mills, are displacing labour without creating new employment opportunities. The effects of such changes have been harsh on the poorest section of women. In order to survive women are in desperate need of income-earning opportunities. Policies and analyses need to be focussed on women as a separate category; the strategy of simultaneous pursuit of integrated and separate organizations will facilitate their participation in development.

INTRODUCTION The role of women in the process of economic development has been a growing concern of economists, planners, and the governments. The potentials of women as economic actors are not yet fully analysed and the way gender affects womens participation in economic development is as yet not adequately researched (Smith, 1980). Many programmes for productivity increase in agriculture and rural development could not be realized, or the outcome might have been different, if women had been involved in the process. Programmes for family planning, the spread of literacy and basic health care cannot be achieved without recognition of the importance of the role of women. In the rural areas many poor families depend upon the income of women, who contribute a significant amount of cash income to the subsistence level economy. Womens wage labour participation is inversely related to household income (Unnevehr, 1985, p. 196); and as Staudt (1979, p. 1) comments, Though womens work activities are integral to rural life and development, women are not integral to all development programs, either as direct beneficiaries or decision-makers. With respect to the possession of property
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and access to education and training women lag far behind men; sexual discrimination bar them from many economic activities and wages in general are lower for them. Differences in class and gender are two dimensions affecting womens role in development. There are differences between women across classes, their interests are not alike. Women in the affluent class are as dependent and subordinate to men as any other class, but the difference lies in the fact that they do not have to work to support their family. That these women do not have to work and have no control over family assets is glorified as the epitome of housewifery. Womens programmes covering cookery and embroidery are reflections of this ideology and are in sharp contrast to the needs and interests of the vast majority of women, which include activities in the mainstream of development, such as agriculture, poultry and homebased production. Existing structures of decision-making in most developing countries can not adequately represent womens issues; their work and potentials for development have been neglected. The situation calls for structural change- this is womens full involvement in the formulation of programmes which affect their lives. Access to and control of develop-

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ment resources need to be supported by organizations of the rural women themselves. Women can operate the programmes targeted on them in the framework of separate-sex organizations. Participation through local level organizations are critical for an empowering process, and which can provide access to resources for self-sustained development. The agrarian situation in Bangladesh is characterized by growing pauperization and marginalization which is harshest on the rural poor who constitute about 83% of the population (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 1983). Among the rural poor, women are the most disadvantaged as they have been subjected to two types of exploitation, one based on poverty, another on sex. The dominant religious ideology conceptualises womens role in subordination to men; economically dependent, legally inferior and represents a strong apology for patriarchy (Cain, Khanam, & Nahar, 1979, p. 407). In addition to relations of production there is a different category, based on gender, which can be operative independent of economic forces. Womens economic participation is largely determined by patriarchal control which in turn is consolidated by males control over property, resources and appropriation of womens labour. The birth of a daughter is not usually welcomed with a religious call to a prayer as is the case with a son (Jahan, 1975, p. 3). From her very birth the female child is subjected to discrimination; the lack of basic health care and nutrition is evident by the female infants death rates. Mortality rates is up to 50% higher for girls under five years old, than those for boys (Scott & Carr, 1985, p. 2). Unwanted newborn babies are often deserted, sold at ludicrously low prices and even killed in desperation (Ahmad, 1988). Gender violence which is essentially related to the general problems of womens oppression is alarmingly high despite preventive legislations (Islam & Begum, 1985). On the average a woman has 11 to 12 pregnancies of which 5 to 6 are expected to survive (Scott & Carr, 1985, p. 9). Failure to bear children, or a male child, is blamed on women; divorce is frequently resorted to by men in such circumstances. The controversial legislation of State Religion in 1988 is in sharp contrast with the nations first constitution and has helped the

surge of religious fundamentalism. The religious right aims to move the country close to becoming a hard-line theocracy, not unlike those in the Middle-East. They want to require rigid adherence to those orthodox religious beliefs which are explicit about womens subordination. With the enactment of the State Religion Bill and the lurch to the religious right, women will be worst affected, and have a life of even more hardships and persecution (Ahmed, 1988). The feminist movement which tries to redefine the very social concept of male and female is waging a tenacious fight against the rightist surge (Begum, 1989). The institution which governs the behaviour pattern and roles of women is purdah, based on the principle of segregation of sexes. After the attainment of puberty women are put in seclusion, and their movement is limited within the confines of the homestead. Any contact with the outside world is avoided, and contact with males, non kin in particular, is considered to be disgracing and immoral. By limiting contacts between women and men purdah aims at institutionalizing restraint through social controls on sexual desire (Papanek, 1973, pp. 289-325). Although purdah is held in high esteem, in practice few can observe it; in particular poor rural women cannot afford it, they have to compromise for economic reasons. Literacy rates in Bangladesh are low, and lower for women than for men. While the 1981 literacy rate for males was 3 1%) it was 16% for females (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 1983). In a patriarchal, patrilineal, and patrilocal society, where a male is considered an asset and a female a liability, few are inclined to invest in girls, who are destined to be transferred to other families. Rural women combine child rearing and household maintenance with a large number of productive activities. In any traditional society some kind of division of labour can be observed on sexual lines; in the context of Bangladesh division of labour in agriculture is a spatial concept too. Women work at home, men maintain contacts with the outside world. A womans transgression into male space is considered both provocative and offensive (Abdullah & Zeidenstein, 1982). Men plough the land, sell products, purchase inputs; women are responsible for

Rural Women in Income-Earning

Activities

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post-harvest operations. The most important of these are the preparation of the threshing floor, threshing, beating, parboiling, drying, husking, winnowing, seiving and storing. Women are also responsible for the care of livestock, horticulture, poultry, fish and fruit preservation. A study (by Von Harder quoted in Whyte & Whyte, 1982, pp. 141-142) from a rural area reveals that post-harvest operations and household activities each account for about 43% of womens time each day, while the rest of the time is spent on child and family care. Women (over 10 years of age) sometimes work for 17 hours a day as against 11 hours for men. Womens workload significantly increases during harvest time (UNICEF, 1977, pp. 43-46). Womens work is still largely unrecognized, for the official statistics show only 12% of women as engaged in economic activities. It has been estimated that womens work in rice processing alone accounts for at least 25% of the crops value (Greely, 1982, p. 136). A large household survey has shown that rural women who indicate income-earning activities as their major occupation are mostly self-employed within the homestead (BIDS, 1981). While reporting perception of three major areas where assistance is needed for developing the home-based enterprise, 85% of the proprietors asked for credit for working capital (BIDS, 1981, p. 364). With access to credit womens expenditure saving activities can be transformed into incomegenerating ones, their status in the family and the society can be enhanced (Hossain & Afsar, 1988, p. 1). Women from landless and land-poor families need wage labour, but the wage labour market is not yet prepared for them. Womens income in landless or land-poor families is critical for maintaining bare subsistence; families which are headed by women are in a very disadvantageous position. The official estimate of the number of these families in rural areas ranges from 6.4% to 16%) but the actual number is likely to be much higher. When women are employed, it is because their labour is cheap. Women as a group have little access to bargaining power of organized labour: it has been found that the highest wages for women are lower than the lowest wages for men (Islam, 1979, p. 11). The Government has lately recognized the

weak bargaining condition of women in society and policy measures for income generation for women have been incorporated in the Second Five Year Plan (1980-1985). A number of government organizations with programmes for women have been created. In addition, international organizations and nongovernmental voluntary organizations, both Bangladeshi and foreign, are also active with varied projects, ranging from relief work to raising womens income earning capacity. The growing number of women working for wage labour has caused significant changes in the socioeconomic living pattern of villages (Ahmad, 1980, p. 60). The development programmes implemented through mixed-sex agricultural co-operatives have had little effects on women as a group. Few work opportunities have been created for women and their educational and training needs have not been given proper consideration. Women are effectively being deprived of their benefits in joint co-operatives (Qadir, 1980, p. 31). My case study of a particular Bangladeshi village looked in detail at the following factors: 1. Whether and to what extent existing sociocultural systems have accorded unequal status to Bangladesh women and constrained their participation in agricultural and rural development, but they are none the less contributing substantially to the production process, despite structural and cultural constraints. 2. Whether and to what extent accelerating pauperization is driving rural women to wage labour and a diversification of occupation, but the rural market is not yet prepared for them. 3. Whether and to what extent organizations like co-operatives explicitly dealing with rural women as a target group will have positive effects in the context of productivity and income generation. THE CASE STUDY OF A BANGLADESH VILLAGE The village was chosen so that it could reasonably represent the rural conditions of the country as a whole. An objective of the selection was that the village would not be near the capital city or any big town. The study

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was undertaken on the basis of sample households, roughly in proportion to landholding, while detailed information about the general economic situation was also collected. The methods of data collection consisted of a household survey, the help of key informants, and participant observation. The field work for data collection was carried out in July and August, 1984. The tables in this paper are from this field work. Arappur (a pseudonym for the village under study) is situated in the district of Jessore, south west of Bangladesh. It is in Sharsha upazilla, which was selected for a pilot project of womens programmes. The village is quite a large one, with a population of 6483. Most people are engaged in agricultural cultivation, which provides 47% of all employment. There are also sizeable numbers of households occupied in service, manufacturing and business economic activity. The main agricultural products are rice and jute, vegetables are grown extensively, and pisciculture is fairly developed. The land level is high, and not prone to flood during the monsoon. The village is well connected by metalled roads with upazilla and district headquarters, which are about 12 miles and 18 miles distant respectively. There are unmade roads within the village, but they can not be used by modern transport during the monsoon. In addition to a market centre there are six rice mills, two godowns, a bank, a primary school and a high school in the village. Many households have access to electricity and almost all households have the benefit of well drinking water. The family is both the unit of production and consumption in this village, where most land is tilled with family labour. Around one third of the families are nuclear families, the rest are extended families. The incidence of poverty is greater for nuclear families: 69% of nuclear families own less than an acre or no land at all. With respect to wage earning, extended families have an edge over nuclear families, for some of their members can afford to migrate for job opportunities outside the village. Table 1 shows that landless and land-poor groups occupy a large part of the village population. They can cultivate other peoples land either on the basis of lease or share-

cropping. Share cropping is widespread. Unavailability of land forces many poor peasants to non-farm employment, and the average land received by a tenant is small, often less than an acre. National statistical surveys indicate that 48% of the population is functionally landless; the corresponding figures for the village under study is around 44%. The landless and peasants with 1 acre of land are primarily dependent upon income from non-farm occupations. In some of these households more than one member is engaged in income earning activities. Most of the families headed by women are in this group. The households with between 1 and 2.5 acres of land cannot fully depend upon share-cropping and have to look for sources of non-farm income-generation. Unlike the landless who work mostly as day labourers, members of this group obtain supplementary income from petty trade and other semiskilled occupations. For the households having between 2.5 and 5 acres and those having more than 5 acres, parts of their land are given to tenants on a lease or share-cropping basis. Their larger landholding gives members of these groups greater mobility and they are found to take greater advantage of the agricultural programmes promoted by government. The choice of occupation for these groups is wide and they are engaged in seasonal and other types of occupation.

WOMENS VILLAGE

WORK IN THE OF ARAPPUR

The women of Arappur are engaged in wideranging activities, as Table 2 shows. They have the typical household responsibilities of a wife and a mother; they are also responsible for crop processing and storage, vegetable growing in and around the homestead and care of poultry and cattle. The crop processing done in the household is complementary to mens work outside the home and adds value to the farm produce. In addition, in some fishing and weaving families women are engaged in such productive activities as the knitting of fishing nets and weaving. Women of all income group households are engaged in traditional handicraft produc-

Rural Women in Income-Earning

Activities

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Table 1. Land ownership Size of Land Ownership (Acres) (0) Landless o-1 l-2.5 2.5-5 Above 5

and tenancy

among

sample households

in -4rappur

village

Number of Households 18 19 16 14 I

% 24 26 22 19 9

Households Renting In Land I 9 6 1 0

% 39 41 38 7 0

Households Renting Out Land 3 8 5

% 19 57 71

tion. On an average a woman of this village works for 14 hours a day while younger girls often assist elder women in their work. Table 2 shows the extent of the engagement of Arappur women in the householdbased productive activities. The productive activities increase correspondingly to the size of the landholding: the larger the landholding, the greater is the work load for the women of the household. The work load with respect to crop processing is heaviest for the households in medium sized landholdings, as they do not usually employ outside labour. Households with more land resources tend to hire female labour, whilst rice husking for this group is increasingly done at rice mills. Households with more than two and half acres of land hire outside labour not only for crop processing, but also for other types of work as well. Some of the households in the upper income groups have maidservants, who are employed on a permanent basis. The relationship between these maidservants and the households is paternalistic, though in times of crisis, maidservants can count on some protection and assistance from these households. In an agricultural village like Arappur land ownership is a determinant factor of income generation. In accordance with the law, a fathers land property is divided after his

death in such a way that daughters get half of what their brothers receive, the widow gets one eighth of her late husbands property but one fourth if she is childless. But in spite of their legal rights, most of the women in Arappur did not control the lands they were entitled to, and in some cases they inherited a smaller amount than that which was their legal due. Social custom prohibits them from going out of the home to cultivate land they inherit, and so very often claims on property are renounced in exchange for the hope of protection and good relations with their immediate male kin. The Government has initiated a number of Food-for-Work Projects with assistance from World Food Programmes. These Foodfor-Work Projects aimed at agricultural development are implemented in the slack season, providing employment when it is most needed. It has been an avowed policy of the Government to involve women under favourable terms in these projects. The women of Arappur were responsive when a road was built under a Food-for-Works-Programme, women from landless and land poor families participated well. Of the women who had participated, about 35% were widowed, divorced or deserted; married women accounted for 48 %; the rest were single women. When no such wage employment is available, many of these women are not engaged in in-

Table 2. The engagement Size of Land Ownership (Acres) (0) Landless o-1 l-2.5 2.5-5 Above 5

of the women of Arappur Growing Vegetables 10 13 11 8 4

in household-based Processing Crops 5 13 14 13 5

productive Husking Rice 5 9 11 3 1

activities

Number of Households 18 19 16 14 I

Livestock 16 19 15 14 6

Handicrafts 9 14 11 8 4

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come generating activities, and some have to depend on assistance from friends, wellwishers or charity. Growing numbers of women from rich households are also looking for employment, with the significant difference that these are not efforts at supplementing the subsistence household economy. Rather, their new outlook has been the outcome of educational and cultural advancement, influenced by institutional change and social consciousness. Women of these households are educated, interested in working as teachers, in family planning assistance and other jobs which are prestigious and lucrative. Before the establishment of rice mills, husking was entirely done by village women, using traditional techniques, which are low cost and efficient. No other subsector has seen so much mechanization as this, which is evidenced by the existence now of six rice mills. Even though the output of rice husked in the mills is lower than that from indigenous methods, it consumes far less labour. The decision to establish rice mills has been taken at locally with indirect institutional support from the administration in the form of credit availability, taxation and policy measures for things such as electrification and transportation. However, the rice mills have adversely affected the poor women of the village, displacing their main occupation; 51% of the villagers have their rice husked exclusively at these mills. The number of jobs created at the mill site is smaller and for all responsible and permanent tasks males are employed. Apart from displacing of jobs, the rice mills have labour depressing effects on poor women. Table 3 shows the extent of husking rice by different categories of land owners. The number of households husking rice in the mills is larger than the national average; the obvious reason for this is that the mills are situated within the village, saving the cost and hazards of transportation. Some of the households with no land also send rice to mills, because of their employment in outside labour and lack of establishment for home-based husking. The middle level husking households make use of both types of husking. When there are good number of working women within the family they use the indigenous method; if female labour

within the household is insufficient they tend to make use of rice mills. These households seem reluctant to employ outside labour for husking. Households with bigger landholdings favour the rice mills, although they employ outside female labour for other phases of crop processing. It is thus clear that the displacement effect is different for hired labour and family labour. While the impact of rice mills on the wages and incomes of poor women has been harsh as a whole, it had some positive effects for some families who could afford investment in the business of small scale rice processing. The number of these households is, however, small, involving only five families. INVOLVEMENT OF RURAL WOMEN IN WEAVING AND HANDICRAFT PRODUCTION Table 4 shows the extent of the involvement of rural women in weaving and handicraft production. The women of the landless and marginal families are engaged in those activities which require smaller investment and which make no great demand on skill development. Of all the womens activities, weaving is the most highly productive. The demand for the product is stable as it caters to the needs of most villagers. The women weave coarse quality saree, lungee and gamchha materials, all essential items of day-today life. The products sell at the village market and the margin of profit is higher because of proximity to the market and selling straight to the consumers. The enterprise has some limitations, for procuring yarn is difficult as it is not produced locally. Weaving is a somewhat exclusive occupation, and the hereditary social class which is mainly engaged in this occupation is considered a little inferior in social status. The making of net, mat, and bamboo products require small investment, raw materials are locally available and marketing does not pose a problem. More poor and landless families are engaged in it, but it is not a very productive form of labour. Also dependence on the local market has adverse effect on the scale of production and prices tend to fall with the increased production. Demand from developed countries has

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Table 3. Frequency

of households

husking

rice at home and at rice mills Households Husking Rice at Home Only 3 6 9 2 0 Households Husking Rice at Home and Mills 2 3 2 1 1

Landownership Pattern (Acres) (0) Landless o-1 l-2.5 2.5-5 Above 5

No of Households 18 19 16 14 I

Households Husking Rice in Mills 7 9 5 11 6

given impetus to the production of handicrafts made from indigenous resources. Marketing of these exportable items is organized at the national level; sometimes credit is advanced from these organizations to the cooperatives engaged in these activities. Products are made from jute, cane and bamboo, such as vanity bags, carpets, and table mats, which often require imagination and artistry. Sewing and embroidery, knitting and jelly preparation made no great demands on skill development. The availability of guavas result in jelly preparation, for which training was given at the upazilla level. Income generation from weaving and handicraft production is shown in Table 5. These activities provide for different levels of income generation, weaving accounting for the best returns. The income-earning activities of women provide a 10% to 25 % increase in the family income but are seriously constrained by the marketing opportunities. Social custom does not allow women to take on business roles; their enforced dependence upon men results in the dilution of economic advantages. Women have no control of the market and little information on market prices which seriously limit their bargaining powers.

INCOME GENERATION FROM POULTRY AND CATTLE RAISING

An important income generating activity is associated with poultry and cattle raising. Involvement in this is shown in Table 6. Rural women raise chickens, ducks, goats, and cows to supplement family income. Women mostly from marginal families take these animals on lease from rich families under certain conditions. The established system is that the animals are leased when they are young. After expiry of the term, the lessee gets 50% of the market value of the animal after deducting the value of the animal at the time of lease. Except for the initial price of the animal (which goes to the lessor) all benefits are shared equally between lessor and lessee: offspring are shared equally, so is milk and eggs. At the time of the field study, 18 of the sample households had leased out their animals to 24 lessee households. The period of lease varied from one year to three years. The food, shelter and all other expenses for livestock care are borne by the lessee. The lessor can withdraw the animals on grounds of improper care and nourishment. Livestock raising demonstrates the strategy for survival of the marginal house-

Table 4. The involvement Size of Land Ownership (Acres) (0) Landless o-1 l-2.5 2.5-5 Above 5

of women in weaving and handicraft

production

No of Households 18 19 16 14 7

Nakshikantha 2 5 3 2 1

Net Making 2 1 _

Mat Making 2 1 1 -

Bamboo Products 3 4 _ -

Jute Products 2 1

Wool Knitting 2 2 2

Sewing _ 1 2 1

Weaving 1 2 1 -

1
1 _

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Table 5. Income generation from weaving and handicraft production Activities (Handicrafts) Weaving Net Making Mat Making Bamboo Products Jute Products Wool Knitting Sewing Nakshikantha Yearly Income Earned from Activities (Taka) 3700 400 1100 2000 1500 1820 2000 2500

holds, who are making cializing the activities.

efforts

at commer-

WOMENS PARTICIPATION CO-OPERATIVES

AND

Sharsha upazilla, in which the village of Arappur is situated, was selected for a pilot project for women. In mixed-sex organizations the women were in effect powerless, unrepresented and unable to control the forces that shaped their lives. All local self-governing institutions were run by men and women were under represented. However, in the latest reorganization of local government, provision has been made for three women members in the upazilla parishad to be nominated by the government. There are three different types of co-operatives with rural women as the target group in the village to date: Mahila Samabaya Samity, Nari Punarbasson Samity, and Samaz Kalayan Samity. The activities of Mahila Samabaya Samity, the biggest nationally sponsored organization, will be discussed. Mahila Samabaya Samity (Womens co-operative association) is modelled similarly to Krishak

Samabaya Samity (the Comilla-type Farmers Co-operatives) and was launched in 1975 as a pilot project in population planning and rural womens co-operatives, much of its funds flowing from the World Bank. The project provides assistance in the form of training and credit for production. It provides mechanisms for internal savings with a view to self-sustained development. The first Mahila Samabaya Samity was formed in Arappur in 1978, membership of which is open to any woman purchasing at least a share of ten taka. Two other Mahila Samabaya Samity were formed in 1980 and 1983. The combined strength of the membership is 151. The objectives of the co-operatives are varied. They are designed to integrate women in development activities, to provide opportunities for skill development and cheap credit for productive purposes. The co-operatives provide a channel for raising awareness levels with programmes for education and training in health and family planning. The educational level of the women of this village is very low and most of them cannot read the printed materials or keep basic accounts. The training programmes at the upazilla level for the leaders of the village Samity can be classified in two broad categories. One is associated with subjects of general interest such as health, nutrition, family planning, livestock and kitchen gardening. The other type of training is of a more specialized nature and handicrafts like nakshikantha, tailoring, fish cultivation and bee-keeping are taught to selected members. Young women volunteers from the Japanese Overseas Volunteer Corps conduct training programmes on health, nutrition, handicraft production, and other income-earning activities.

Table 6. The involvement

of women in livestock

activities

Types of Landownership (Acres) (0) Landless O-1 l-2.5 2.5-5 Above 5

Households Engaged in Livestock Activities 16 19 15 14 6

Households Leasing-out Animals

Households Leasing-in Animals 4 9 11 0 0

I
2 2 9 4

Rural Women in Income-Earning

Activities

52-l

CONCLUSION The income-generation projects in the village focus on home-based production, poultry, livestock raising, and post-harvest activities. The growing mechanization of rice processing is displacing employment opportunities for the poorest section of the village women, who were traditionally engaged in rice husking through indigenous methods. In the context of a labour intensive rural economy, adoption of technologies which are unnecessarily labour-displacing cannot be justified. Women from landless and marginal families can make some advantageous use of rice mills instead of being exploited by them if they have access to cheap institutional credit. They can commercialize the rice processing as they can purchase paddy from the market, put labour in earlier phases of rice processing then turn it over to the mill for husking. The focus on poor womens participation in development has the risk of isolating them from the interests of men and putting them in confrontation with established (i.e., male) interests. The specific interests of these women can be promoted by programmes which do not encroach upon the traditional domain of men. Activities pursued at the margins are less likely to be opposed by established interests. The projects under operation were planned in keeping with this in view, and womens involvement in income-generation activities was not perceived as a threat to mens interests. The ultimate objective of womens control over resources, however, implies a protracted struggle for power against the forces of established interests. Some of the projects under implementation in the village are influenced by the values and norms which subtly deny womens full participation and confine them into such activities which are of little economic value. Projects on sewing, cookery, embroidery, and some handicrafts do not meet village peoples basic needs and involve low productivity and income generation as well as ignoring womens roles in the primary activities of agriculture and animal husbandry. Womens co-operative development projects through separate-sex organizations have created linkages between concerned Government officials and the rural women. A mechanism has been developed for continuous

feedback and mutual learning between officials and women. But concern for sustaining projects can be constrained by dependence on external financial support, the initiative of local officials and the enthusiasm of young women from the Japanese Overseas Volunteer Corps. The pilot project in Arappur on incomegeneration for women has achieved some successes, but not on the scale required. The issue is interlinked with broader sociocultural issues. The lack of control of assets and general powerlessness have limited the womens mobility for substantial changes. Institutional assistance in the form of credit, training, access to markets, support in agriculture related activities, all have potentials for rural womens income-generation. But no amount of assistance from above can significantly change the situation unless and until women participate in the institutions which allocate values and resources, power and status. Control of land largely determines the access to and participation in development activities. Arappur women have very little control over land: they have hardly any legal authority over it, nor are they permitted to engage in its cultivation. This case study reveals that the programmes on women have little effect on the existing social and cultural structures which tend to exclude women from primary economic activities. Since right to land is a collateral, many women are denied the access to cheap institutional credit. With overall pauperization and increasing landlessness, the landholding rights, albeit unequal that women enjoyed previously are fast eroding, accentuating their dependence on men. REFERENCES
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