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Social Diversity
Introduced by Mary B. Anderson

A Development in Practice Reader

Series Editor: Deborah Eade

Oxfam (UK and Ireland)

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First published 1996

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Deborah Eade 5
Understanding difference and building solidarity: a challenge to development
Mary B.Anderson 7
Gender, development, and training: raising awareness in the planning process
NailaKabeer 16

Working with street children

Tom Scanlon, Francesco Scanlon, and Maria Luiza Nobre Lamardo 26
Older people and development: the last minority?
Mark Gorman 36

Culture, liberation, and 'development'

Shubi L. Ishemo 40

The politics of development in longhouse communities in Sarawak, East Malaysia

Dimbab Ngidang 55

What is development?
Hugo Slim 63

Research into local culture: implications for participatory development

Odhiambo Anacleti 69

An education programme for peasant women in Honduras

Rocio Tdbora 73

Challenging gender stereotypes in training: Mozambican refugees in Malawi

Lewis B. Dzimbiri 78

Defining local needs: a community-based diagnostic survey in Ethiopia

Yezichalem Kassa andFeleke Tadele 82

Empowerment examined
Jo Rowlands 86
4 Development and Social Diversity

Some thoughts on gender and culture

Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay 93

Who is the expert?

Valerie Emblen 95

Annotated bibliography 100


Deborah Eade

Social diversity is a relatively new addition to community). In so doing, it holds up a critical

the lexicon of development practitioners and mirror to development processes (and aid
thinkers. Yet it has quickly come to represent programmes), showing how these can actually
both what is most inspiring, and most depress- generate poverty and exclusion. Indeed, the
ing, about human potential. The recognition interventions of official agencies and NGOs
that our needs, our perspectives, and our priori- alike have often exacerbated inequality, and
ties are shaped both by who we are and by further disempowered the powerless, largely
how we relate to others, and they to usrepre- because they have ignored differences in how
sents an important advance in our under- poverty and oppression are constructed, or the
standing of how societies function. It thus ways in which our identities are mediated by
changes how we perceive our own roles, as power. Diversity does not mean breaking down
individuals and as institutions, in working for society into ever smaller sub-sets, or attaching
social and economic justice. more labels to people; but rather seeing how the
Mary B. Anderson, who introduces this interaction of various aspects of our social and
Development in Practice Reader, has made economic identities comes to shape our life
major contributions to policy and practice in options. A deeper understanding of these
this field. Her work has provided the processes shows how detrimental it can be to
international development community with trust that the situation of one set of people is a
more sensitive tools with which to analyse the barometer against which to measure the well-
contexts within which we act; and more subtle being of society as a whole.
ways in which to listen to those whose thoughts Here, Mary B. Anderson argues that the
remain unspoken, or whose voices we have contemporary expressionsof intolerance, com-
been unable (or did not wish) to hear. Her bined with the extreme abuse of power, require
insights into how we can best respond to us urgently to re-examine the implications of
people's individual and collective capacities diversity in the context of development and
and vulnerabilities, and specifically in terms of emergency relief work. The massacres that
gender analysis, have influenced many official took place in Rwanda in 1994 were an abhorr-
aid agencies and non-governmental organisa- ent example of how assumed differences
tions (NGOs) around the world. between one set of human beings and another
The greater recognition of social diversity can be invoked to inspire acts of unspeakable
(for instance, in terms of gender, or age, or brutality, and how fear can be manipulated for
cultural identity) reveals some of the conflicts political and material gain. The cynical term
within social groupings that were previously 'ethnic cleansing' disguises barbarity of a
regarded as homogeneous (such as the house- similar kind, based on the totalitarian view that
hold, the urban neighbourhood, or the refugee difference cannot be accommodated within a
6 Development and Social Diversity

society; and, by extension, that belonging to a are far from understanding how to create devel-
particular culture or social group means that all opment policies, practices, and institutional
individual members must by definition share mechanisms that can represent (and thus are
identical interests. Lethal combinations of fear accountable to) all interests in society, rather
and loathing have, throughout history, allowed than being defined around those of certain
one set of human beings to dehumanise others privileged or more vocal sectors. But in trying
emphasising (or inventing) difference in to respond to existing forms of diversity, we
order either to deny the right to express that must also recognise the wider context in which
difference, or (as under the Apartheid regime in we are working. For economic globalisation
South Africa) as a pretext for the systematic and rapid advances in information technology
subordination of particular communities. are generating ever-greater homogeneity across
Yet the denial of diversity and hence of societies and cultures. We listen to the same
the privilege and discrimination that flow from music, depend on the same computer software,
it can be equally devastating in impairing visit the same hamburger chain and even
people's lives. For instance, the 'quiet communicate through the same language
violence" of the fact that over half of all whether we are in Miami, Manila, or Moscow.
murders of women, whether in Brazil or in The challenge is to form the kinds of alliance
Bangladesh, are committed by their husbands that are needed in order to resist cultural and
or male partners. Or the 'apartheid of gender',2 ideological domination, but without falling
which means that fewer than two dozen women into an anachronistic isolationism.
have ever been elected as heads of state or of If we believe in the universality of human
government in the history of the world. It is the rights, an awareness of diversity places upon us
categorisation of people according to a single a moral responsibility to work for the eradi-
characteristic or set of traits a physical dis- cation of the discrimination and exclusion that
ability or illness, skin colour, sex, age, stem from it. However, such an awareness also
language, political views, sexual orientation, holds the promise of still richer and more
culture or religion and conceding or denying exciting forms of solidarity in the quest for a
rights and opportunities to them on that basis. world based on equality and social justice for all.
When societies believe in their intrinsic fairness
'in letting the best man win' attempts to Deborah Eade
redress such systematic bias are often cast as Editor, Development in Practice
improper interference with the 'natural order',
a denial of 'fair play', or an indulgence in February 1996
'political correctness'. In addition, certain
disciplines and 'laws' are perceived as neutral
and immutable. Indeed, discrimination may Notes
come to seem so natural that we fail to see it.
Yet, after years of research by feminist econ- 1 A phrase coined by Betsy Hartmann and
omists and others, UNDP now estimates that if James K. Boyce in A Quiet Violence: View
women's unremunerated (invisible) work was from a Bangladesh Village, London: Zed
monetised, not only would it yield some US$i 1 Books (1993).
trillion each year, it would irrevocably change 2 The 'apartheid of gender' was the central
the face of orthodox economic analysis.3 A theme of the 1993 UNICEF annual report,
deeper recognition of the diverse ways in The State of the World's Children,
which people relate to the market would thus Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.
help to shape development policies in a more 3 UNDP: Human Development Report 1995,
equitable way. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.
Written largely by development practitioners,
the papers in this volume demonstrate that we
Understanding difference
and building solidarity:
a challenge to development initiatives

Mary B. Anderson

People as individuals differ, and peoples 'successful' in meeting their stated objectives.
as groups and societiesdiffer. Those of us We have learned that awareness of the intrinsic
who work within the framework of broad social socio-political structures that determine
movements, including the area(s) of inter- economic and social roles in any society is an
national social and economic development, essential ingredient of effective development
must acknowledge that such differences exist, programming.
even as we seek to apply encompassing solu- The papers in this collection deal with a
tions to large and comprehensive problems. variety of categories of people and analyse the
Development theory and practice of the role assignments, both natural and socially-
1950s and 1960s generally assumed that constructed, that make their circumstances of
poverty was more or less homogeneous and special concern for development practitioners.
that effective poverty alleviation efforts would, They raise and examine central issues of
in a reasonable period of time, spread cultural blindness on the part of 'outsider' aid
sufficiently to include most people. Experience providers who fail to recognise the realities of
showed these assumptions to be mistaken. 'insider' aid recipients.1 And they propose
Increasingly in the last thirty years, therefore, helpful and important shifts in thinking and
development analysts, policy-makers, and programming that are required if development
practitioners (very often responding to assistance is to serve all of the people it is
evidence brought forward by groups who intended to serve. The advantages and funda-
found themselves excluded through develop- mental necessity of recognising differences
ment efforts) have identified categorisations of and diversity are amply demonstrated through
people who are 'left out' of generalised devel- these articles.
opment processes and who, therefore, require In this Introduction, however, I shall take a
special programming attention. Specifically, somewhat different approach. I shall argue that
we have learned through practical experience, the current emphases in international develop-
and through analysis of this experience, that ment assistance on recognising differences and
certain groups for example, women, the appreciating diversity have both positive and
elderly, children, and others who are negative impacts. In the first section, I begin by
marginalised by their societies because of race, examining the gains in development program-
ethnicity, religion, or languagevery often do ming that are realised from recognising
not participate in or benefit from development differences. In the second section, I turn to the
programmes that are generally applied, even corresponding examination of disadvantages
when these programmes are recognised as that have arisen both for programming and for
8 Development and Social Diversity

outcomes when development practitioners mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters; when
misapply the methodologies that highlight family resources were scarce, parents chose to
difference. In the third section, I pull the two take sons to the clinic when they were ill, but
together and discuss the importance of waited, sometimes too long, to see if their
programming on the basis of differencesbut daughters would get well without medical
of doing so in ways that unite, rather than assistance; men who earned extra cash through
distinguish, people's interests and that wage labour or the sale of cash crops bought
advocate shared societal progress, rather than 'luxury' items such as radios and bicycles,
only special (albeit justified) sub-group while women, whose income sources were
empowerment. I conclude that those of us who shrinking, remained responsible for household
work internationally must find a way to food, health, and education and, as they were
maintain a balance between appreciation of pressured to meet increasing family needs with
difference and affirmation of sameness, fewer resources, favoured sons over daughters,
between programming according to special thereby reinforcing the cycle of advantage and
circumstances and programming for disadvantage.
commonality. The importance of the recognition of these
unintended but systematic consequences of
economic change, often brought on and
The 'good' of recognising encouraged by external aid, cannot be
differences and appreciating overemphasised. So long as women, and their
diversity roles as producers and distributors in the
economic sphere, were 'invisible' to aid
Recognition of differences planners, the damaging impacts of assistance
on them and, hence, on their families
As noted above, early development assistance continued. Many development projects failed
efforts failed to take account of differences because their designers and implementers did
within communities and, thereby, failed both to not recognise the relevance of gender analysis;
integrate and benefit all parts of society. The as a result, scarce development resources have
result of this failure was that some people not produced the broad social and economic
gained from international assistance, while benefits that were intended. Attention to
others were systematically excluded and women and development, and the introduction
disadvantaged. Foremost among groups that of and refinements to Gender Analysis, have
were excluded were women. In country after made a contribution to development theory and
country, through project after project, the practice that should no longer be questioned by
evidence mounted during the 1970s and 1980s anyone with development experience.
that development assistance benefitted male As experience in analysing women's roles
members of societies at the expense of female and circumstances grew, an appreciation of the
members of societies.2 Men gained access to importance of other differences also emerged.
technologies, while women did not; boys Development analysts and practitioners found
entered and completed schooling at rates that that the assumption of homogeneity in any
far exceeded those of girls; cash crops beneficiary population was a mistake which led
largely in the domain of male farmers were to ineffective programming. In addition to
encouraged at the expense of food crops, which acknowledging the differences of women's
were the responsibility of women.
and men's roles and status, we found it useful to
Furthermore, evidence also emerged that the
'disaggregate' populations according to urban
distribution of the gains realised through
and rural contexts, by age groupings, and,
development assistance were not shared
often, according to sub-population groups
equally within families and households. Male
defined by language, ethnicity, clan, religion,
family members were often fed before their
or race.
Understanding difference and building solidarity 9

It is important to note that our motivation for practitioners to set priorities among competing
identifying such groups was born, primarily, demands for scarce resources. From observing
from negative experiences. We were alerted to how existing systems lock certain people into
the importance of differences, because we disadvantaged positions, they could set
observed that programmes planned without priorities among various programme options in
attention to them did not reach everyone. The order to focus effort and resources on strategies
categories of people whom we identified were, that would most effectively address these
in general, seen to be 'marginalised' or systems and enable people to break out of the
'vulnerable'. We shall come back to this in the traps of impoverishment.
second section below. These advantages, gained through the
The adoption of disaggregation method- recognition of difference, and its systemic
ologies3 resulted in several distinct benefits in creation and re-creation, are great. Develop-
development programming. ment efforts (both international and
First, these methodologies overcame the indigenous) are remarkably improved when
exceedingly important problem of they apply the methodologies for disaggreg-
'invisibility'. That is, they alerted development ation that have been developed in the past two
practitioners to the fact that difference does decades.
exist, and it led them to analyse both why it
exists and how its existence interacts with the
implementation of development activities. Appreciation of diversity
Both the recognition of difference and the Even as the development assistance
ensuing understanding of its place and dynamic community was learning to recognise and to
within societies were essential elements of programme in ways that incorporated differ-
understanding the context where any effort was ences, it was also moving towards an overdue
to be initiated. and equally important appreciation of divers-
Second, knowing that some groups were ity. (The articles in this collection attest to both
excluded from automatic inclusion in benefits the importance and momentum of this
allowed development assistance to be directed movement.)
and honed, so that it reached those groups Again, in the 1950s and 1960s, international
whose special needs were identified or who development assistance provided by countries
would, otherwise, have been left out. of the North to countries of the South generally
Third, understanding how exclusion of some assumed a single development model, based on
groups occurs allowed development European and North American experience in
practitioners to develop more intelligent and the Industrial Revolution.4 And, again,
accurate strategies for overcoming disadvan- evidence of failed development efforts in many
tage through development assistance. If places revealed the inappropriateness of this
disadvantage were 'natural' that is, the assumption. Development practitioners came
inevitable result of innate characteristics of a to see and appreciate the fact that cultures differ
certain group then programmes might and that models of development must take
simply be developed to meet the needs of such account of diversity if they are to succeed.
groups as an act of charity. However, Socio-cultural diversity the rich variety of
recognition that the systems which marginalise ways in which people and peoples assemble
people according to a 'natural' characteristic their systems of belief and values, of working
such as sex, age, or race, are socially and surviving, and of living in relationships
constructed meant that one could devise with others has thus assumed a central place
strategies for altering and reconstructing in the thinking and planning of development
systems to end marginalisation. workers. The appreciation of diversity forces
Finally, recognition of difference and the abandonment of formulaic development
systems that reinforce it allowed development approaches. Local contextual realities assume
10 Development and Social Diversity

priority in the planning of development Possible negative conseauences of

strategies and programmes. programming based on differences
Distinct advantages are also realised in and diversity
development programming when diversity is
Recognition of differences
recognised and appreciated.
Thefirstadvantage, again, is awareness. Past As we noted above, attention to differences was
(and present!) failures of development initially motivated by recognition that certain
programming often reflect a misfit between groups were regularly disadvantaged by
expectations and values imported from one mainstream development. Thus, disaggreg-
context and the realities of the context where ation methodologies are directed primarily
they were applied. To see and to appreciate as towards identifying problem areas. That is,
valid the existing realities and capacities of disaggregation is used to identify 'vulnerable'
people whom development efforts are intended or 'marginalised' groups. What often occurs,
to assist is essential for accurate planning and then, is that development initiatives are
programming. undertaken only on the basis of needs and
Second, when providers of development deprivations, and fail either to recognise or to
assistance appreciate local realities and directly build on the capacities of the groups to whom
incorporate these into plans for developmental the aid is offered. The situation of women
change, this ensures that local people, those provides an example. As it has become
actually doing the work of their own commonplace to recognise that women are
development, assume responsibility and marginalised from economic and political
ownership of their developmental directions power and that they are, thus, more vulnerable
and processes. This is essential for what is now to poverty and crises than men, it has also
referred to as 'sustainability'. become commonplace to assume that
Third, and probably most important, when femaleness automatically equates with
development practitioners (especially those 'vulnerability'. While women are, indeed,
who act as 'experts') truly appreciate socio- more vulnerable to marginalisation and all of
cultural diversity, they undertake their work its attendant disadvantages than men, they also
(whether it is a long-term engagement or a have immense strengths. They produce, they
short-term consultancy) on the basis of genuine manage, they nurture, they maintain
respect for the people with whom they work. households and communities in the midst of
There is strong evidence that such respect on hardship, and so on. While it is neither
the part of the aid provider for the culture and necessary nor inevitable that giving attention to
capacities of the people is a major, if not the differences and vulnerabilities will also result
primary, determinant of whether people are in ignoring capacities, experience shows that,
motivated to engage in the activity of too often, this does occur.
development and, thus, of whether the aid Second, among development agencies that
actually achieves its intended outcomes. recognise the importance of identifying
Clearly, the case is strong indeed that differences as a way of focusing their
effective development programming must be programming there is a tendency to perceive
based on a recognition of differences and an and treat all vulnerable groups in the same way.
appreciation of diversity. Much good comes We find, for example, repeated references to
from both. Unfortunately, experience also 'women and children', as if they comprise one
shows that a misapplied emphasis on dis- group and as if their circumstances are the
aggregating population groups and on same. Of course it is true that women's
appreciating cultural diversity in order to focus concerns include, and hence overlap with,
programming efforts may have negative those of children. However, while children (at
consequences, as well as positive ones. least very young ones) are dependent entirely
on others in order to survive, women are not.
Understanding difference and building solidarity 11

Putting women and children into one when designating a particular disadvantaged
programming category obscures, again, the group as needing change, development
capacities of women, infantilises them, and practitioners focus their efforts only on that
results in poor programming. It would be group, rather than on other (possibly
similarly wrong to aggregate different minority advantaged) groups who may hold the key to
groups, or people in other categories of the required change.
disadvantage, without careful analysis. It should be clear that none of these five
Third, the categorisation of people may possible negative consequences of
obscure important differences within a differentiating among populations is either
categorised group. To use the example of inevitable or necessary. They represent misuse
women again, all women are not the same. In or partial use of the tools for improving
some situations, the fact that women are rich or programmes through disaggregation.
poor, urban or rural, educated or not may be a However, each does occur, repeatedly, both
more important determinant of their in field operations and in decision-making at
circumstances and, thus, of appropriate headquarters. To avoid misuse of the tools of
programme activities to support their disaggregation, development agencies need to
development than the fact that they are be aware of these potential pitfalls and must
women perse. develop their analytic capabilities to ensure
Fourth, the reliance on categories of people dynamic and appropriate categorisation of
as a way of focusing activities has led some people's differences in any context where they
development agencies to define their are working. Assumptions about differences
programmes as if the group with whom they are carried from one locale to another can never be
working is in a static and fixed position over more than partially accurate. They must be
time, rather than involved in dynamic and reexamined and reevaluated over time, and
changing roles and relationships. For example, from place to place.
if an agency is committed to working with 'the
poorest of the poor' and learns through gender
analysis that women fall into this group, agency Appreciating diversity
staff may (and have been seen to) fail to An emphasis on the importance of recognising
recognise changes that occur in women's and appreciating cultural diversity can also
circumstances. If programming were effective, have negative consequences in development
women should move out of the category of programming. Two possible pitfalls deserve
'poorest' and the agency should shift its focus discussion.
to another group. Very often, designation of First, recognition of diversity sometimes
certain groups as the target of effort at one time leads to complete 'ad hocism'. If every place
will become inappropriate later but, because of and every culture is different, then (some
the fixed categorisation of peoples, a believe) we must empty our minds of past
development effort may continue to focus experiences as we approach each new area. The
wrongly on the first-designated group. result is that there is no attention to cumulating
Fifth, to call attention to disadvantage and codifying lessons about effective
through attention to difference can, sometimes, programming.
result in misdirected programming. For The issue is not simple. We have just noted in
example, while women may be marginalised the paragraphs above that assumptions about
from employment in a certain context, the most differences carried from one locale to another
appropriate way to improve their access to can be wrong. We now raise the danger that
work may be to focus not on the women development practitioners will fail to learn
themselves, but on some other aspect of the from experience and fail to improve their
employment picture, such as legislation or effectiveness if they regard each programme-
transport or company incentives. Very often setting as different from all other locations.
12 Development and Social Diversity

How can one remain open to differences and, at primary example of this is the claim made by
the same time, learn from and accumulate some international and indigenous develop-
experience, so that development efforts ment practitioners that assistance should not
become increasingly effective? undertake to change the relationships between
One answer to this apparent conundrum lies men and women in the societies where it is
in learning to ask the right questions as a basis offered. Again, the issue is not simple. What is
for designing development programmes an appropriate balance between a commitment
questions which are common to all settings to universal values (such as equality) and an
rather than in applying a common solution appreciation of local values that differ from (or
which is unlikely to be appropriate from one deny) the universal values to which one is
place to the next. Disaggregation methodolo- committed?
gies discussed in the previous section provide Answers to this apparent conundrum are
systems for asking such questions. From offered in several of the papers included in this
experience, we have learned that in every volume. Decisions of agencies and individuals
society there are some groups who are about where and how to express disagreement
disadvantaged relative to other groups. Who, with local values always reflect both the depth
why, and in what way this occurs varies from of disagreement and the realities of any given
society to society (according to socio-political context. In my experience, however, an
and cultural diversity). From experience, we 'outsider' is never in the position of, alone,
have learned how to ask questions that will help representing some 'universal' value. Rather,
us to learn, in any society, how roles are within every society, there are individuals and
assigned to different groups, how resources groups who are themselves engaged in propag-
(both material and political) are divided, and ation of the values considered 'universal'.
what factors lie behind and shape these role- Moreover, aid workers' claims that apprecia-
assignments and resource-divisions. Recog- tion of local culture forces silence in areas
nising that patterns differ from society to where 'outsiders' disagree are disingenuous, in
society, but using past experience to alert us to that the very act of working for development
what to look for and how, allows us to abandon amounts to a declaration that all is not right with
assumptions and to find out facts that are the situation prevailing in the area of work. All
critical for effective programming. Thus, if development and humanitarian assistance
disaggregation is rightly understood and interacts and interferes with local structures and
diversity is well appreciated, it is not necessary systems and, if effective, reinforces changes in
to approach each situation with a blank mind these structures and systems that some parts of
and to develop ad hoc programming without the local society seek and other parts, very
benefit of past experience. likely, resist. To pretend otherwise is to deny
The second dilemma raised by emphasising the very purpose of the effort. Explicit
the importance of appreciating cultural acknowledgment of areas of disagreement,
diversity is more difficult. This is the tendency coupled with understanding of local culture and
for an appreciation of differences to be respect for the people but not for the specific
translated into total cultural relativism. Some values with which one disagrees, provides a
people feel that an appreciation of local basis for continuing dialogue and exploration of
customs and values entails suspension of differences. I would argue that honesty about
judgement about them. Everything that exists differences in values is an essential element of
in a society is accepted as valid for that society respect; to remain silent about areas where there
and, therefore, not to be tampered with by are differences of values is to show disrespect
outside aid providers. Very often, however, for the other's ability to join in debate and the
appreciation of cultural diversity is used to mutual search for common ground.
justify the acceptance of systems of dominance We have explored difficulties and problems
and exploitation that exist within societies. A that arise both from misapplied recognition of
Understanding difference and building solidarity 13

differences and from too facile an emphasis on expression of their commitment to justice and
appreciation of cultural diversity, and we have against exploitation. They have used the
suggested some possible ways of addressing mechanism of development programming to
these difficulties. Though I have explored these express 'solidarity' with those whom they see
possible negative outcomes, readers should be as suffering from unjust systems. Their
in no doubt about this author's commitment to commitment to justice has demanded that they
both disaggregation methodologies and the 'side with' those who suffer injustice.
appreciation of diversity as essential elements In taking on the just cause of the poor,
of effective development and humanitarian development programming has often
assistance. International (and insider) promoted confrontation between those it is
assistance cannot be well offered without these intended to help and those seen as perpetuating
elements, and it is for this reason that we must unjust systems. Development practitioners
be alert to their wrong application as well. speak of 'empowering' those without power;
This stated, we turn now to a seemingly new they organise and encourage women's (and
(but perhaps quite old) challenge that develop- other) groups to analyse the causes of their
ment practitioners face as they seek to navigate oppression and to recognise their power to
through the shoals of difference and diversity. affect change.
If there were a chance that my discussion, This is good. Injustice must be confronted
above, of possible difficulties could be mis- and power should be shared. However, the
interpreted as an excuse for not doing gender outbreak of multiple, civilian-based wars
analysis or, otherwise, programming with within societies since the end of the Cold War
attention to differences, then the dangers of has caused me to take another look at the
misinterpretation of what follows are even impacts of the well-intended alliances with the
greater. I caution and implore readers to be marginalised that we, in the development field,
attentive to the dilemmas I am attempting to have pursued. A reexamination of our
raise for our further, collective exploration, as I approaches of recent years shows that, very
am convinced from my own experience that, if often, we have promulgated a perception that
we fail to face the difficulties I will discuss the evil which people experience in poverty,
below (as well as above), we shall risk doing exclusion, etc. is embodied in some other group
more harm than good with the people whom we which holds wealth, power, etc. We have
seek to help. identified 'problems' with people, and we have
encouraged those with whom we work also to
do so.
When differences lead to widespread This approach entails problems. Let me
violent conflict suggest three.
Over the years, narrow attention to improving First, as we noted in the previous section, it is
income levels has been replaced by broad wrong to assume homogeneity in any group of
attention to social, political, and cultural people whom we identify as needing our
elements in development programming. support. It is equally wrong to assume that
Attempts to understand how people are 'oppressor' groups are homogeneous. Within
excluded from sharing in their societies' wealth all privileged groups there are individuals who,
motivated not only recognition of differences though they benefit from existing systems, are
and diversity, as noted above, but also explicit extremely uncomfortable with these systems.
programming efforts to overcome that They often take immense risks and sometimes
exclusion. Thus, many development efforts sacrifice their lives and livelihoods to end their
have focused on alleviating poverty and have, own privilege. In addition, there are always
as a result, operated in alliance with the poor. people who benefit, without thought, from
Non-governmental organisations in particular socio-political systems and who are threatened
have taken up development efforts as an by the idea of change through which (they fear)
14 Development and Social Diversity

they will not only lose their privilege but also strong that civil wars in which former
be dominated by some other group. However, neighbours, co-workers, and, even, family
these are not evil people. If approached with a members take up arms against each other do
vision of how change might result in benefits little to further either equality or justice. And,
for all, many of these individuals can be sadly, there is some evidence that the
enlisted in the pursuit of broadened justice. promotion of differences by the international
Both the sacrificial few and the not-selfish aid community can be put to the use of and
many could become allies for social and reinforce social divisiveness where it exists.
political change, if they were allowed to do so; Finally, one should ask, if we seek to identify
but categorisations of people as 'those in sub-groupings of society that have been
power' have too often limited our ability to silenced through amalgamation into the whole,
differentiate among them and to see them as where might this ultimately end? Will the
worthy of association and common planning. groups that deserve external support for
Second, a programmatic emphasis on recognition of their rights get smaller and
differences and diversity has, in some cases, smaller? Will identities be formed around more
supported tendencies towards social disint- and more special and particular histories? If so,
egration and divisiveness. In the power how will societies accommodate the
vacuums that followed the end of the Cold War, centrifugal forces of such sub-group splits?6
opportunistic leaders emerged in a number of
places who found that their power could be
consolidated through manipulation of sub- Towards a balance of difference
group identities. Too often, these leaders and sameness
defined their societies' problems in inter-group
terms and encouraged their followers to define We began this essay by noting that people and
their own access to justice and power in peoples differ. We end by noting that people
opposition to the attainment of these by other and peoples have much in common. While
groups. In too many cases, these so-called important differences exist in experience, in
leaders have excited people to conflict on the access, in status, and in roles, it is also true that
basis of these identities, citing past wrongs and important samenesses prevail across human
injustices as the motivator of their warfare. But experience, struggles, and activities. If both are
in country after country (current Afghanistan, true, how might the development community
former Yugoslavia, southern Tajikistan, maintain its commitment to recognising
Somalia ... the list can be extended),5 the differences because they are central for
evidence is strong that such 'leaders' are really effective programme design and, at the same
only pursuing power and, by the techniques time, initiate programmes that encourage
they rely on, perpetuating inter-group injustice, recognition of common interests and shared
rather than creating systems for ensuring values? If, after all, people need to live together
broadly inclusive justice. in this world, what strategies may we discover
Has international assistance caused such by which to overcome injustice without, at the
conflicts? The answer is clearly 'no'. But it is same time, increasing inter-group hostilities
also clear that, in many places where wars have and creating anew the systems of dominance
recently broken out, these conflicts have not and oppression in which the actors only trade
been started by poor or marginalised people in places, but the actions continue?
a 'people's revolution' (though these are the As he led the movement for Independence
people most often enlisted into the fighting from Britain in India, Mohandas Gandhi
forces, because there are few other always instructed his followers to differentiate
employment opportunities in their societies). between oppression and oppressors. He
Though disadvantage and injustice are often enjoined people to fight with all their strength
cited as the 'root causes' of war, the evidence is against oppression, but to work with the
Understanding difference and building solidarity 15

oppressor to change the systems that entrapped this paper, I am referring primarily to issues
them both. Of course, not all oppressors want to which are pertinent to international assistance,
be worked 'with' to end their dominance. But because I, myself, belong to the 'international
the point is still salient. Again, I ask the reader aid body'. However, much if not most of what
not to misunderstand my point. As Gandhi said, is said applies, I believe, also to indigenous
oppression must be resisted and overcome. The NGO and other local aid efforts.
issue I am raising here is an issue of approach, 2 C. Overholt, M. B. Anderson, K. Cloud and
of strategy. How might we best engage in the J.E. Austin (eds): Gender Roles in Develop-
pursuit of justice to ensure that we do not create ment Projects: A Case Book (Kumarian Press,
or reinforce other injustices along the way? West Hartford, CN, 1995).
Given past experience and especially recent 3 Such methodologies include Gender
experience, we should challenge ourselves to Analysis, Rapid Rural Appraisal Techniques,
greater levels of creativity and exploration. Capacities and Vulnerabilities Analysis,
We must find ways to promote economic and People-Oriented Planning, and others. The
social well-being for those who have been left point of each of these approaches is to help aid
out ways that also appeal to the humanity of workers to identify those characteristics of
those who have benefitted from existing people in any community to be aided that
systems. We must develop programming matter the most in terms of affecting the design
approaches, and systems of economy and and implementation of aid efforts.
society, that acknowledge differences and 4 Some might argue that there were two
diversity and, at the same time, unite rather than exported development models: that of Western
distinguish people's interests. We must work to capitalism and that of Soviet socialism. My
empower marginalised groups not in own analysis is that these two approaches
relation to other people, but in relation to their reflect the same set of assumptions. While one
participation in decisions and actions that sees capital as primary in motivating growth,
affect their lives. We are on the steep rise of a and the other places labour at the centre of
learning curve about the impacts intended wealth, both were developed in the context of,
and unintended of development assistance. and in response to, the Industrial Revolution of
As we develop tools of analysis that help us to Europe, and they use the same units of analysis
see who is disadvantaged and how (viz. land, labour, and capital).
disadvantage occurs, we must also develop 5 I have personally been told this by people
new tools of action that undo these systems from the countries named, as well as Sri Lanka,
without pitting people, and groups of people, India, and Lebanon.
against each other. 6 Ethiopia is a case in point. Whereas this
country has been known for centuries as a
December 1995 multi-tribal entity, the current policy of
designating particular areas for specific sub-
groups and emphasising and honouring
Notes language differences leads some close
observers (including Ethiopians) to wonder
1 I use quotation marks to designate 'insiders' whether this will end by promoting fragment-
and 'outsiders', in order to reflect the fact that, ation rather than mutual appreciation and
very often, aid workers from inside the country fairness. Similarly, I have been told by Sri
where aid is given are perceived as, and exhibit Lankans that one major mistake made in that
qualities of, outsiders. Their experiences and country was the decision to drop a common
attitudes (often urban or educated) may be as language requirement in schools, so that now
'foreign' as those from other lands and few Sinhalese and Tamils who wish to do so
cultures, and may just as surely distance them have the ability to communicate with each
from the intended beneficiaries of their aid. In other.

Gender, development, and training:

raising awareness in the planning process

Naila Kabeer

Introduction parts of the world.2 These courses offer

In an important paper analysing how poor participants the opportunity to examine the
people have been marginalised in development ways in which women have been included and
efforts, Robert Chambers (1983) identifies excluded in past development efforts, and the
some of the biased procedures of researchers chance to develop new and more equitable
and practitioners during their visits to the frameworks for thinking about gender and
countryside. These include seasonal bias development.
(visiting during the dry, cool, and often less
hungry times of year); people bias (meeting
only the more influential members of a
Keeping women out: lessons from
village); and roadside bias (visiting only
development practice
villages which are conveniently located by the
tarmac road, and missing poorer villages in the In the true 'hunter-gatherer' manner of trainers,
interior). Of course, these biases are not simply I have made use of an extremely helpful
accidents or mistakes: they also reflect the checklist compiled by Marilyn Waring for the
social and conceptual distance between those Women and Development section of UNDP, in
who plan and the disempowered sections which she has summarised some of the well-
among those planned for. tried and tested ways of keeping women
More than a decade of research on the invisible in development planning the
problematic status of women in development gender equivalent of Chambers' poverty
has helped to uncover the many biases that biases.3 She covers both well-known, more
work to keep women marginal in the develop- blatant procedures (for example, insisting on
ment process. Some of this work points to male project officers who can be relied on to
gender biases in assumptions and procedures, 'mightily under-report' women's activities), as
equivalent to the poverty biases identified by well as other lesser-known and more subtle
Chambers. Others question the validity of techniques.
dominant notions of development. This article1 I find Waring's list an excellent training tool
sketches out some aspects of the former, in for three reasons. First, because it brings
order to give substance to the challenge of the together in a succinct fashion the critiques
latter. It represents the underlying rationale for made by a number of specialists in this field.
our training efforts in gender and development Second, because by expressing her list in the
at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at negative purportedly as a guide to those
the University of Sussex, where we run courses planners (presumably, but not necessarily
of varying duration for development male) who continue to believe that develop-
practitioners and researchers from different ment is by, for, and about men, it offers a
Gender, development, and training 17

humorous and thought-provoking route into prefer terms such as 'the people', 'the
discussion about these critical issues. Third, peasants', 'the community', 'the workers', 'the
because it provokes development practitioners masses', 'the proletariat', or 'the reserve army
in different cultural contexts to compile their of labour'. The main thing is not to get bogged
own local versions of the ways in which down by details such as age or gender. This
planners have ensured that men are the primary way you can maintain the illusion that you are
beneficiaries of the development budget. What dealing with a harmonious and internally
follows is a free and personal interpretation of undifferentiated category of people, all of
some of Waring's tips (she will be cited whose members have the same needs and will
specifically when these are used), together with be served equally well by the same set of
a few I have added from my own observations. projects; then you won't have to deal with the
vexatious issues of conflict and power.
These abstract and aggregative concepts are,
Things, not people
of course, frequently linguistic disguises for
Concentrate on things, rather than people. conceptual inadequacies. In reality, the poor,
Concentrate on getting roads, bridges, and the community, the labour force, etc. are
buildings built, and argue that it is up to internally differentiated categories of people,
someone else (the social adviser; the women's unified only by definitional fiat. Let me
ministry; the Women in Development (WID) illustrate this point by discussing three
unit; the welfare sector; the token woman in the particular variants of this 'fallacy of aggrega-
organisation) to take care of the human and tion', and demonstrate how they help to render
social implications. Alternatively you might women invisible.
argue that:
The poor'
Since you have not mentioned either men or Here the convention might be stated as: treat
women in your project plan, your project is 'the poor' as that anonymous mass of people
gender-neutral. who fall below an arbitrarily designated
threshold called 'the poverty line'. You need
That though you mention only men as know nothing further about them. Rely instead
beneficiaries, you are using the term to include on your preconceptions to design poverty-
women. alleviation strategies. Most popular are public
works programmes for men and handicraft
Or, finally, that 'women-walk-on-roads- schemes for women; the difference between
too'. This category of justification was the them is that one is believed to generate
creative invention of a field mission of the US employment, while the other generates only
Agency for International Development, which income.
included a road construction project as a WID The conventional way of conceptualising
activity on the basis that 'women walk on roads and measuring poverty has relied heavily on
too' (cited in Maguire, 1984). household income as the main indicator in
calculating the poverty line. However, this will
be an accurate measure only if all household
Fallacies of aggregation members have equal claim on household
If you have to plan for people as well as things, income and are therefore equally poor.
Waring's advice is: 'Always use non-specific Alternative measurements which do not rely
or generic categories such as labour force, solely on household income, but conceptualise
producers, consumers, holder, head of poverty in the broader sense of deprivation and
household, reference person, poor, homeless, vulnerability, and which measure the distribu-
malnutritive, illiterate, unemployed'. One tion of poverty within communities and
might add that if you are a radical, you might households, strongly point to gender as a factor
18 Development and Social Diversity

in explaining individual welfare differentials resources (Sen 1990). From sub-Saharan

(Kabeer 1991). Africa there is evidence that children are often
The simple insight behind this is that ultim- nutritionally better-off in households where
ately it is not households or communities which women have control over income or crops
are poor, but individual women, men, and (Longhurst 1988). Finally, research in the UK
children. Losing sight of the distribution of shows that many women report being
poverty among individuals carries the danger financially better off after leaving their
of ignoring the disproportionate presence of husbands, despite the fact that they have to
certain categories (particularly women and survive on state welfare (Pahl, 1984). The gist
young children) in the ranks of the deprived of these findings is that, in both First and Third
and disenfranchised sections of the World contexts, men frequently keep a dispro-
community. portionate amount of their incomes for their
own use, depriving their wives and children of
'The household' badly needed resources. Addressing power
Here the convention has been: treat the relations within the family is not about
household as a homogeneous and harmonious destroying the family, as some have alleged,
group of people. Then you can argue that the but about seeking to transform it into a more
head of household is the principal decision- equitable institution.
making authority in the household; you need to
consult only with him, since he has the best 'Women'
interests of other members at heart. You notice If you are pressured by some misguided do-
I refer to the head as 'he'; you must take this for gooder in your ministry or organisation into
granted: it will save you a lot of time and agreeing to take women into account in your
trouble later. You can even treat a male projects, then simply assume that (since you
member who is generally absent from the yourself personally know many women) you
household as its head, as this will protect you know what their needs are likely to be.
from any need to consult female household The absurdity of the assumption that you can
members. devise programmes for a social category
This variant of the 'fallacy of aggregation' labelled 'women' becomes clear when you
has been much criticised, but is alive and consider that few project planners would dream
thriving. A major household survey carried out of devising projects for an undifferentiated
by the World Bank in the 1980s in a number of category labelled 'men'. Women (as
African countries the Living Standards academics are fond of saying) are not a homo-
Measurement Survey offers limited inform- geneous group. They are differentiated by
ation on intra-household gender dimensions, class, religion, culture, age, and life-cycle, so
precisely because of this kind of assumption. that in any given context, their needs have to be
And it is still common to find planners taking it investigated rather than assumed.
for granted that once the benefits of Yet project after project has been devised for
development 'trickle down' to the head of the poor and assetless women in Asia and Africa
household (i.e. any adult male), they will then which has sought to teach them skills
'trickle across' to other members of the baking, sewing, knitting, home economics
household. Little notice is taken of the well- which are totally inappropriate to their
authenticated research findings from a number economic needs, but do conform to particular
of countries that egalitarianism is not a planners' views about appropriate feminine
necessary feature of households. occupations. Of course, acting on such precon-
In South Asia, there are data to show that ceptions about women's needs has the added
women and children, especially young girls, advantage that it saves planners the time and
are likely to be discriminated against in the effort that might otherwise be spent on finding
distribution of food and other life-preserving out about the actual needs of actual women.
Gender, development, and training 19

In a Bangladeshi NGOI once visited, its staff Asking only about 'primary' occupation.
complained that it was useless offering free Most women are likely to state 'housework' as
literacy classes for poor women, since they their primary occupation, but the term carries
refused to attend. Closer examination revealed very different implications for urban and rural
that literacy classes were held at a time of day areas, and for the wealthy and the poor.
when most landless women were earning their Housework in the countryside is more likely to
livelihoods in domestic and post-harvest include a variety of agricultural tasks (post-
labour for the wealthy. The NGO was operat- harvest processing and storage; fuel and water
ing with an implicit assumption that the collection; livestock and poultry care, etc.), and
opportunity cost of women's time was zero, housework among the poor more likely to
and yet they appeared to be irrationally contain a greater variety of income-stretching
rejecting a free good. In a different context, a activities, rather than management and super-
government official from Ghana at a recent visory functions. A classic example of bad
training course at IDS complained that he census practice comes from India, where the
found it was useless trying to involve women in priority given to 'primary occupation' in the
his projects, because they seemed to prefer 1971 census, compared with the 1961 census,
spending all their time in market trading. In partly accounted for the drastic decline of 28
both cases, it appeared that women were being million recorded for rural women workers.
planned for, but with little consultation or
indeed knowledge about their own perceived Asking only about 'current' rather than
needs and priorities. 'usual' work status. This way, given the greater
multiplicity of domestic and agricultural tasks
If it can't be counted, it doesn't count that women engage in, the census is more likely
If you have to turn to empirical information in to omit women who at the time of data
your planning efforts, protect your ignorance collection are engaged in domestic tasks. The
about women's lives by careful selection of the twenty-seventh round of the National Sample
kind of data you consult. Waring's tip here is Survey in India found little difference between
brief and to the point: 'Use national census data the two definitions as far as participation in the
whenever possible (on the grounds that other rural male labour force and participation in the
data collection is too expensive or urban male and female labour forces were
"conceptually difficult". This way you will be concerned. However, it netted in an additional
able to engage in all kinds of creative 6 million rural women under the 'usual status'
omissions, inclusions and definitions.' As she definition, compared with the 'current status'
points out, you will usually be able to omit one.
'unpaid family workers, seasonal workers,
subsistence production ... home-based crop Another form of bias is pointed out by Renee
processing ... all labour by children under the Pittin for the 1952 Nigerian census, which
age of 15 and all the labour, production and allowed for six categories of work for men and
consumption undertaken by the woman called only three for women, of which one category
a housewife'. Moreover, you will be able to call was 'other' (1987). In one district, Pittin notes
men and women's agricultural activities by that 90 per cent of women fell into the category
different names farming (men's activities) of 'other', and planners were none the wiser
and kitchen gardening (women's activities) or about what it was that women did. Not
use the simpler distinction of 'working' and surprisingly, the Department of Statistics was
'helping' thereby bestowing them with led to the conclusion that 'The three
unequal value in the national accounts. occupational groups for females have not
There are other forms of census practice that provided as useful an indication of primary
have ensured that women's productive occupations as the male groups' (cited in Pittin
contributions are effectively underplayed: 1987:32).
20 Development and Social Diversity

Finally, all activities whose products do not groups of planners to focus narrowly on single
enter extensively into the market are omitted aspects of people's lives and to plan their
from GNP accounts since they cannot be given projects with respect to that aspect alone.
a monetary value. Consequently, the labour of However, given the multiplicity of tasks that
child-bearing, child care, and care of the ill, the women, particularly poor women, have to
disabled, and elderly members of the family are perform in caring for their families and
all rendered invisible. As N.S. Jodha has contributing to their livelihoods, the result is
pointed out, there is a very thin line indeed that they are subjected to a battery of
between not counting in an activity in project contradictory signals from development
planning because you cannot measure it and initiatives.
then either denying that it exists, or seeing it as Early development efforts focused on
valueless and therefore a minus in GNP women as wives and mothers. This led to a
accounts, a drain on the national wealth. proliferation of projects which sought to give
them training in home economics and domestic
All these procedures of naming, counting, skills, nutritional education, and family
omitting, and including have very practical planning motivation. After much criticism of
implications, since they determine how 'welfarist' approaches to women, there has
resources are to be allocated by planners. If an been a recent shift to seeing women as
activity is not considered to contribute to the economic agents and to targeting them for
GNP, then any allocation of resources to it agricultural projects, export-oriented factories,
appears to be on the grounds of welfare rather and micro-enterprises. Much of the burden of
than efficiency, somehow second-best and first so-called community health care falls on the
to be dispensed with in times of economic main health carers at family level, again
scarcity. women. Using the aggregated concept of the
community often disguises the fact that it is
Sectoral planning for inter-sectoral realities women who will be required to respond to
Neatly dovetailing with my last point is primary health care messages. If this was more
Waring's next piece of advice: 'Adopt a openly acknowledged, the delivery of health
sectoral approach to development in general, care services could be designed to suit
and to each project in particular'. This has two women's existing work burdens and working
important advantages. First of all, you can schedule. More recently, with the new green
divide your sectors into those with efficiency agenda, there are proposals in the international
implications (agriculture, industry, finance, forums for 'primary environmental care'
and foreign trade) and those with welfare projects, with the great danger that women as
implications (health, family planning, poverty preservers of nature as has been argued by
alleviation, women, and children). This some will have yet another set of
immediately gives you a hierarchy of priorities, responsibilities to cope with.
with efficiency-related projects having first The problem is that all of these assumptions
claim as economic assets (otherwise, as you are generally and simultaneously true. Women,
argue, there would be no resources), and particularly in poor Third World countries, are
welfare-related projects mopping up residual primarily responsible for child care and
resources as economic liabilities. looking after the sick, disabled, and elderly;
Secondly, sectoral planning helps you to they are also producers of economic and
sidestep the problem of considering inter- financial resources for their families. In their
sectoral implications. By ignoring them, you roles as gatherers of wood and carriers of water,
make sure they become someone else's they have suffered from the commercial over-
problem. In fact, they are most likely to become exploitation of natural resources and they have
women's problem. Piecemeal and compart- demonstrated innovation and creativity in their
mentalised planning has allowed different responses. Not surprisingly, available data on
Gender, development, and training 21

time allocation show that women work much feature of relations between women and men,
longer hours than men almost everywhere in particularly those from the same family. As
the world. The seamless web of women's lives, Waring points out, this leads to the widespread
encompassing a variety of productive and assumption that 'the family is the place where
reproductive activities, is easily discounted women and children find their material
within piecemeal and sectoral planning existence guaranteed and their physical safety
processes. secure'. Yet growing documentation, not just
This lack of fit between the sectoral thinking of the discrimination we noted above, but also
of planners and the inter-sectoral spread of of the violence against women wife
women's activities is partly responsible for the battering, rape, child abuse, and enforced child-
failures of many projects which claimed to bearing suggests that not only is power a
address women's needs. Projects designed in widespread feature of gender relations, but that
one sector targeting women take little account it often takes a very coercive form.
of whom other sectors might be targeting. Even when planners are aware of these
Primary health-care projects, income- aspects of women's subordination, they find it
generating activities, public works poverty- politically safer and more expedient to focus on
alleviation programmes, and environmental those needs which will not threaten men's
projects are all set up, implicitly or explicitly power and privileges. They prefer to overlook
targeting the same category of the population to the strategic interests of women which arise out
participate in them. The result is conflicting of their subordinate position in society and
demands on women's time, intensified work would require a radical transformation of
burdens and, in the longer run, project failures. interpersonal relations between women and
And when a project fails, planners blame it not men so that women have greater power over
on their own myopic assumptions, but on the their own lives and men have less power over
hopelessness of planning for women. women's lives. They have successfully resisted
learning from increasing numbers of non-
Needs and needs governmental or political organisations which
Finally, if for some reason you have to have made women's empowerment and men's
demonstrate your gender awareness, incorpor- conscientisation their primary objectives. Yet
ate women's needs into planning objectives, unless these strategic advances are made, even
but use a selective definition of these needs. women's practical gains are likely to be
The point is that there are needs and needs, reversed when resources dry up. This was
some arising out of the day-to-day reality of observable during the 1980s as the inter-
women's lives, and others arising out of the national economic crisis forced many Third
goal of transforming an inequitable reality World governments to cut back on health,
(Molyneux 1985). Even in a situation where education and public sector employment.
women have been identified as important to the
development effort, real change can be resisted
by selectively focusing on their practical needs,
Concepts for gender training for
i.e. those requirements which help them to
development planners
fulfil their roles and responsibilities, as defined
by the existing gender-bound division of Highlighting the ways in which women have
labour. These may be related to their roles as been kept out of development is a useful
mothers, as family health carers, or even as starting point for raising awareness about
productive agents, but they are needs which gender. However, gender training has to go
arise from how women are defined within the beyond critiques of past project failures and
gender-determined status quo. beyond providing practitioners with check lists
It is much easier to think of power as a feature and guidelines within which to monitor their
of race, caste, and class relations than as a own performance. It must be about uncovering
22 Development and Social Diversity

all those hidden and taken-for-granted ideas defined attributes of masculinity and
about gender that are brought into play in femininity. While the process of acquiring
development planning. This section of the gender identitiesbecoming men and women
article provides some of the basic elements of may appear far removed from the concerns
an alternative approach to development: of development policy-makers and practi-
development with a gender perspective. tioners, it is in fact a critical starting point. It
I began with Chambers' list of planning challenges the notion that men and women are
practices which contain a bias against the poor. somehow naturally suited to certain tasks or
He attributes these biased procedures to the roles, and it starts to delineate those aspects of
values and preferences of development pro- social reality which can be changed because
fessionals, their distance from the poor, and the they are not biologically given.
inadequate modes of learning in which they Moreover, understanding how deeply rooted
have been educated. In many ways, the gender are these ideological assumptions in our con-
biases we have mentioned are more difficult to sciousness will help us to understand and
identify and acknowledge, because they are anticipate the hostility of some women and
concealed by deep-rooted ideologies about many men, and their resistance to attempts to
what is 'natural' and 'given'. There are of transform gender relations. Their opposition
course 'naturalising' explanations of poverty has included (a) appeals to culture and tradition
(the poor are inferior, have lower IQs, etc.), but as though culture and tradition were some-
they have ceased to be accepted as legitimate how frozen for all time, rather than in a constant
explanations, except among the very bigoted. process of change; (b) accusations of Western
Yet differences and inequalities between the cultural imperialism as though Third World
genders continue to be thought of as stemming women were somehow incapable of making an
from natural and biologically given differences autonomous analysis of their own situations;
between the sexes. These ideologies are (c) the fears that acknowledgement of power
something we have all grown up with, they are relations within the family puts the entire
part of the prevailing 'common sense' in many institution in danger rather than being a step
cultures, and we all have a stake in their towards greater egalitarianism; (d) and of
maintenance because they have taken deep course contemptuous 'humour' and outright
roots in our identities. To challenge, or merely hostility.
question, the prevailing divisions between The second component of our gender and
women and men can in some sense also development framework is to examine and
challenge one's sense of selfhood. analyse the different relations and processes
The aim of gender training is therefore to which construct gender in different cultures. A
distinguish between what is natural and key reason for treating gender difference as
biological and what is culturally constructed, socially constructed rather than naturally given
and in the process to renegotiate the boundaries is the cross-cultural diversity of its manifest-
between the natural and hence apparently ations. One of the mistakes of development
inflexible and the social and hence planning has been to assume that gender
relatively transformable. The first component differences are biologically determined and
of our framework is therefore the distinction therefore uniform in all contexts. Planners have
between 'biological' sex and 'socially therefore been guilty of operating with class-
constructed' gender; the distinction between specific, urban-biased, ethnocentric models of
the existence of sexual attributes and their gender relations, on the assumption that the
cultural interpretations. Gender is seen as the model they were most familiar with was the
process by which individuals who are born into sole possible model.
biological categories of 'male' or 'female' A relational approach to gender helps to
become the social categories of men and dispel these misconceptions. It examines the
women through the acquisition of locally- key social relationships which produce the
Gender, development, and training 23

division of gender attributes, tasks, respons- labour. We need to move away from defini-
ibilities, skills, and resources between women tions which privilege production for the market
and men (see Whitehead 1979). The domain of as a key criterion, or even production of
family and kinship is a primary site for the material resources alone. A new perspective
construction of gender relations. Clearly becomes possible if we step back to examine
marriage is an important example of such a the goals of development. There is an emerging
relationship, but all relationships which consensus that development requires enhance-
structure interactions between and among the ment of the human welfare and well-being of
genders (brother, sister, mother, father, all members of society, regardless of age,
mother-in-law) are implicated in the social gender, caste, etc. UNICEF's Adjustment with
construction of gender identities and gender a Human Face (1987), the UNDP's Human
categories. While the relationships in which Development Report (brought out for the first
men and women interact outside the familial time in 1990), and the Commonwealth
domain may not be intrinsically gendered, they Secretariat's Engendering Adjustment for the
become vehicles of the gendering process, 1990s (1989), and the World Bank's 1990
because they reproduce gender differences in World Development Report Poverty are all
the positions of women and men. Women and evidence of these concerns.
men enter markets, political organisations,
From the point of view of our conceptual
bureaucracies, and NGOs bearing the traits,
framework, the human factor is a critical
skills, resources, capabilities, and aptitudes
starting point for all development planning,
assigned to them on the basis of their gender;
since human labour and creativity are inputs
their experience within these institutions is
into the development process, and human well-
likely to reflect and reproduce these divisions.
being is the intended outcome. Activities
The third component of our framework is to which contribute to the everyday needs and
focus in greater detail on a critical aspect of generational reproduction of human beings and
gender relations, the division of labour, which to their health and welfare should be seen as
does not simply determine who does what productive activities to be counted as assets in
tasks, but also how tasks will be valued, how the national balance sheet, regardless of
skills and aptitudes are assigned to and whether they are carried out through family,
acquired by women and men, and the distribu- market, or bureaucratic agents. Such
tion of socially valued resources which results recognition will ensure that planners take
from this division. The objectives are, first of account of these activities, and their inter-
all, to make visible the inter-linkages and linkages, in allocating their priorities and
synergies between the tasks associated with resources. Expenditure on public provision of
production and reproduction and those who health and maternal and child care services will
carry them out; and secondly to point to the way be seen not as unproductive forms of expend-
in which different divisions of labour create iture, but as productive investments in the
different relations of interdependence and nation's human capital and the key pre-
exchange between men and women. The first condition to release female labour for other
step for any form of development planning is to forms of productive activity. As Elson points
build up information on locally prevailing out, expenditures on welfare services then
divisions of labour and the relationships of become complementary to, rather than com-
authority and control, on decision-making at petitive with, efficiency considerations (1991).
different stages of the production process, and Our fifth component shifts the focus from
on the distribution of fruits of labour embodied what is to what could be, from planning for
in different patterns of labour relations. practical needs to strategies for empowerment.
The fourth component is to rethink the While we do not offer blueprints for action
meaning of production in the light of our and do not believe that such blueprints are
analysis of the gender-linked division of useful in this context there are several
24 Development and Social Diversity

different ways of analysing the issue of power Notes

as it relates to gender. What is most striking
about the power dimension in gender relations 1 This article is based on a paper presented to
is the extent to which ideologies about gender the National Labour Institute/Ford Found-
difference and gender inequalities are interna- ation Workshop on Gender Training and
lised as a natural state of affairs by women as Development, Bangalore, December 1990.
much as by men. Empowering women must 2 While shorter courses are tailored to the
begin with the individual consciousness and needs of different constituencies, the main
with the imaginative construction of alternative gender training at IDS takes place on a three-
ways of being, living, and relating. However, to month short course entitled 'Women, Men
bring about social change, it must move from and Development', run every 15 months at
changing our personal ways of thinking and the Institute, and a one-year MA course in
doing to changing external realities; and here Gender and Development, which is co-
the lessons, victories, and setbacks of women's directed with the University of Sussex.
experiences in organising for their practical 3 Marilyn Waring was a Member of Parlia-
needs as well as their strategic interests become ment in New Zealand. She now works at
the raw material from which new strategies can writing and goat-farming. She has recently
be devised. published a brilliant and witty dissection of
To conclude, our aim must be to get away the United Nations System of National
from the abstract and aggregated concepts of Accounts in her book / / Women Counted
development that planners have worked with in (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989).
the past, and to work towards a more holistic
understanding of it. This requires an awareness
ofthe human and gender-linked implications of References
all forms of policy intervention, which is
informed by the multiple interlinkages Chambers, R., 1983, Rural Development:
between production and reproduction, between Putting the Last First, Harlow: Longman.
the creation of material resources as well as Elson, D., 1991, 'Male bias in
human resources; which gives as much weight macroeconomics: the case of structural
to process how things get done as to adjustment' in D. Elson (ed), Male Bias in the
outcome what gets done; and, finally, one Development Process, Manchester:
which recognises that gender equity in social Manchester University Press.
transformation requires the empowerment of Kabeer,N., 1991, 'Gender dimensions of rural
women and alliances with men if it is to be a poverty: analysis from Bangladesh', Journal of
sustainable achievement. This is an ambitious Peasant Studies, 18/2.
project, because such social transformation Longhurst, R., 1988, 'Cash crops, household
must operate on the intersecting and dynamic food security and nutrition', IDS Bulletin, 19/2.
sets of relationships which make up all our Maguire, P., 1984, Women in Development:
social realities. At the same time, for those who An Alternative Analysis, University of
feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task Massachusetts: Centre for International
of challenging the boundaries of what is Education.
considered natural and hence beyond our Molyneux, M., 1985, 'Mobilisation without
power to change, we can cite Paulo Freire emancipation? Women's interests, state and
(cited in Maguire 1984) in saying: revolution in Nicaragua', Feminist Studies,
Society now reveals itself as something PahI,J., 1984,'The allocation of money within
unfinished, not as something inexorably given. the household' in M. Freeman (ed.): The State,
It has become a challenge rather than a The Law, and the Family, London: Tavistock
hopeless situation. Press.
Gender, development, and training 25

Pittin, R., 1987, 'Documentation of women's The author

work in Nigeria: problems and solutions' in C.
Oppong (ed), Sex Roles, Population and Naila Kabeer has been a Fellow at the Institute
Development in West Africa, London: James of Development Studies at the University of
Currey, and New Hampshire: Heinemann Sussex since 1985, where she directs the course
Educational Books. 'Women, Men and Development'. She is an
Sen, Amartya, 1990, 'Gender and co- economist working on gender and develop-
operative conflict', in I. Tinker (ed.),Persistent ment, with a special interest in household
Inequalities, Oxford: Oxford University ress. economics, poverty, population, and health
Whitehead, A., 1979, 'Some preliminary policies. She is a member of the Feminist
notes on the subordination of women, IDS Review Collective and on the Board of
Bulletin, 10/3. Directors of the PANOS Institute.
This article first appeared in Development in
Practice, Volume 1, Number, in 1991.

Working with street children

Tom Scanlon, Francesca Scanlon, and

Maria Luiza Nobre Lamardo

Introduction Who are the street children?

The problem of street children in Belem, a When we refer to street children, we mean
Brazilian city of about 1.5 million people, is by children who spend all day on the street. Some
no means as great as in Sao Paulo, Rio de of them remain there at night, some have
Janeiro, and Recife. However, there is such a homes, others drift in and out of the houses of
dearth of information about a worldwide and families, relatives, employees, and friends.
ever-growing phenomenon that, while we With the constant movement from country to
make no claim to great expertise in the matter, town, the number of street children is
we believe that our material may be of use to increasing. Today, it includes not only
anyone considering this type of work. We were adolescent boys, but adolescent girls, young
able to become involved only thanks to children and, at times, whole families.
altruistic friends and understanding relatives in Nobody knows exactly how many there are:
Brazil, through whose help we were able to estimates vary widely. Some official bodies
work within what is termed 'the popular seek to cover up the extent of the problem.
movement'. Our experience owes everything Other groups involved in the provision of care
to the energy, ability, and commitment of many seek to shock by exaggeration, perhaps in the
different people. hope of alerting the public and pushing the
Our involvement was mainly with adol- authorities into more positive action. The
escent girls and young children (about whom situation is already very shocking and needs no
even less is known than about boys) through exaggeration.
our attachment to the Centro de Defensa do All parties agree that the problem is growing
Menor CDM (Centre for the Defence of the and a solution remains to be found. For many
Child). The CDM consists of student and reasons, social care is inadequate in coverage
graduate social workers, lawyers and psych- and structure. This, and the more recent
ologists; it is a branch of the Republica do appearance of justiceiros vigilantes and
Pequeno Vendedo (The Young Street extermination squads who, often with the
Vendors' Association), which in turn is allied approval of shopkeepers, businessmen, and the
to the national movement for street children police, are attempting to 'solve' the problem by
(Movimento Nacional de Meninas e Meninos murder, has added to the sense of alienation,
da Rua). fear, and mistrust felt by children who already
live on the edge of society.
Working with street children is frustrating;
goals are often poorly defined and results
Working with street children 27

nebulous. Even the removal of a child from the They tend to hang around in groups of six or
streets into a family environment does not so; and a degree of collective loyalty builds up,
constitute complete success. Such are the scars usually directed against external forces like the
of the past that it is arguable whether many of police. In Belem, street children are sought out
them can ever adapt and reintegrate themselves by the fundamentalist evangelical church and
into society. Many are rightly ambivalent about occasionally social services as well as by
whether they wish to return. They mostly left tourists who want photographs of them.
home because of parental violence and Virtually all the children have also been
rejection, and the precarious camaraderie, picked up by the police and suffered beatings
excitement, and independence offered by the and extortion. Some are released only on
streets bears no comparison to life as it was at condition that they return with more stolen
home. They have no role model for stability goods. A 1991 statute forbade the police to
and affection, and so find it hard to demonstrate arrest any minor simply on the suspicion of
these qualities. They are suspicious, incon- theft. But the police, who are poorly paid, and
sistent, and unreliable. One might ask: 'Who even more poorly trained, continue to do so.
can blame them?', but many obviously do. For example, we arrived once at the children's
Most street children have had little or no usual hangout to find that practically all males
formal education. In Brazil only 10 per cent of in the group had been taken into custody.
all children currently complete primary school Apparently, since the next day was Mothers'
education; and it was rare for us to find any who Day, and the streets were crowded with
had studied beyond the most elementary level. shoppers, these boys would be released only
After living on the streets, it is very difficult for after the shops had closed. Such action is very
a child to return to formal school teaching. The common and meets with approval from shop
strict discipline of many schools contrasts with owners and shoppers alike. Phrases like 'fine-
the volatile, disruptive nature of these children; toothed comb operation' are used when the
and habitual glue sniffing does not enhance police remove the 'lice' from the streets before
concentration on a curriculum which is at times any large festival, holiday, or the arrival of an
wholly inappropriate. If asked, most children important politician.
will glibly reply that they would love to study. It is not entirely surprising that a study by the
Others might reflect that they would like to Fundacao do Bern Estar do Menor found that
learn something relevant to getting a job. Many 30 per cent of street children had ambitions to
have already been expelled from school and be policemen, because they would then be able
would face the same fate if they ever got round to rob freely without fear of being caught and
to going back. beaten up (Dimenstein 1992). The reality is that
Small children of 4 or 5 usually go on to the 60 per cent of Sao Paulo's prison inmates were
streets with older brothers or sisters. Those who once street children. Such candid admissions
begin street life alone are usually between the pepper the street children's views on life. Most
ages of 7 and 15. The boys do occasional work, use glue and cannabis when they can. In a CDM
like watching and washing parked cars and survey,1 when asked what he thought of drug
shoe-shining although they can find addiction, one youth replied that he thought it
themselves competing with adults trying to do was great when you could finance your
the same job. The girls are more likely to be addiction, but a bit rough when you couldn't.
street vendors, selling sweets and chewing
gum. Many of the boys drift into theft and the
girls into prostitution. However, they almost
Survival strategies on the street
always express a desire to work, and do not
generally boast about stealing. Many have been Theft becomes a way of life especially for the
in employment on market stalls or as live-in boys, just as prostitution does for many of the
maids, but left due to exploitation. girls. When they don't make enough money
28 Development and Social Diversity

from washing or watching parked cars, shining coping, girls rarely display any despair or
shoes, or selling chewing gum, they look for for that matter joy when they realise that
alternatives. Yet the suspicion with which they are pregnant. These young girls are not
adults view them, often a consequence of mentally equipped for motherhood. The baby,
having been victims of petty and sometimes when it arrives, will be treated like the doll they
violent crime, is dwarfed by the fear these never had; cuddled and caressed and dressed up
children have of adults. We are the ones who prettily (if possible) and then discarded when
abuse them, force them into becoming boredom or irritation sets in.
unwilling sexual partners, deny them access to Street girls often return home or go to a
any rights they may have on paper. We can relative's or friend's house at the time of the
have them picked up, locked up, beaten up. birth. But they rarely stay off the streets for
Some of us can even have them killed. Mutual long. A couple of weeks after the birth, they
mistrust precludes any attempt to gain insight will be back, leaving the child in the care of a
and only serves to provide fertile ground for the relative or other children. They have no
vigilantes and their radical 'solutions'. appropriate role model for motherhood, and
rarely a good mother substitute. Breast-feeding
is a non-starter, vaccination unlikely. The street
Prostitution is a habit very difficult to kick.
Just as all street boys are presumed to be The girls' apparent acceptance of the
thieves, all street girls are generally presumed inevitable is reflected in their reaction if the
to be prostitutes. Girls of 12 and 13 will often be child dies. Few lessons are learned from the
offered money or gifts in exchange for sexual past. We met the mother of a street girl who told
favours. Customers will harass them, saying: 'I us how her second grandson had just died from
won't buy any of your chewing gum, but I'll measles. The vaccine is available in Brazil,
buy you.' If the girl reacts with a strongly- albeit on an irregular basis. 'That's funny,' she
worded rejection, this only serves to reinforce said. 'His big brother died of thattoo.' Another
the customers' belief that 'She's no virgin'. If girl of 8, whose mother came to the streets
they do eventually become prostitutes, albeit daily, organising the boys into theft and the
initially on an irregular basis, they will discuss girls into selling, told us of the recent death of
it in third-party terms: 'A friend of mine went her stepbrother just days before his first
with such and such...', or'... she wasn't selling birthday. 'We were going to have a party,' she
any sweets that day, so you can't blame her, said, 'but, well, there's no point in having it if
although I wouldn't go with a man for money the baby's already dead.'
...'. Though girls might earn more money, Boys, who have often fathered a couple of
prostitution is not seen as a positive step by children by the age of 16 or so, remain boys.
them. There is no sense of pride in their Although proud of this apparent virility, they
independence as prostitutes. These girls are not much prefer kicking a ball, or flying a kite
in control of their destiny. It is an act of made of old plastic bags, or larking around at
desperation, and they are (and see themselves the docks with their friends, to active
as) victims. parenthood. They are no more ready for it than
Coupled with the precocious sexual activity the girls are; in many ways, their ignorance
which takes place among the children them- makes them more immature than boys of their
selves is a high level of ignorance and mis- age in more privileged circumstances.
information about bodily functions, sexually Street children often express a romantic view
transmitted diseases, conception, contra- of family life as it is for others, with beautiful
ception, and abortion. Early pregnancy, some- caring parents, attractive loving children, and
times accompanied by misguided attempts at no arguments, let alone any violence. This
abortion, becomes inevitable. Perhaps because naivete is also expressed in other things like
of this inevitability, or simply as a means of their views on sexual relations. For example,
Working with street children 29

we were once reading through a picture book shining can bring in a similar income, but
on sex, a book written for middle-class requires a greater initial investment in a box,
adolescents which described a dreamy, polish, and brushes (plus or minus a chair),
romantic, and eventually orgasmic experience which puts it beyond the reach of many boys.
between two consenting adults. Knowing that Begging is another means of earning money or,
many of these children had suffered rape and more usually, food. Tourists and lunchtime
sexual abuse, one of us asked somewhat diners in cafes and restaurants are frequently
irritatedly, 'But is this what it's really like for accosted with pleas of 'Buy me a sandwich?' or
you? Is thisyour reality?' 'Of course it is,' they 'Are you going to finish that?'
replied. 'How else could it be?' This Subject to abuse, threats, and insults as they
romanticism may be another defence mechan- are, street children have very low self-esteem
ism; and, if so, very understandable. Such are and a low opinion of their peers or anyone else
the harsh realities of life on the street that if they who differs from society's perceived norm.
were constantly to confront them, in the Thus they can themselves be very racist,
knowledge that there is very little they can alter, reactionary, and bigoted. Once, to assist with a
these children would surely not last very long. discussion on contraception we used a
It was a mistake for us, with no such dilemma, flannelgraph which, being originally designed
to try and force them to do so. for use in Africa, had African figures. The
Although there are some loners, street street girls reacted with laughter and abuse at
children generally take part in many shared 'those weird, unfashionably dressed blacks'.
activities: glue-sniffing, cannabis smoking, Perhaps one of the reasons why we ourselves
playing, bathing, selling, and stealing. managed to get on well was that our fair-
Prostitution is sometimes, especially initially, skinned, fair-haired, middle-class, educated
carried out in pairs. Unless they have a steady gringo image was one to which, sadly, they
partner, girls who remain on the street at night aspired.
tend to sleep separately from boys, to avoid We made many friends among the street
unwanted sexual contact. children and grew to trust several. However,
we never wore watches when we went to meet
them and carried very little money. The 'live
Crime, peddling, and begging for today' urge in these children, built up over
We met some families, like the one mentioned many years, is so strong that it would be foolish
above, living a Dickensian existence the to expect them not to capitalise on a golden
mother usually in the role of Fagin. Theft is a opportunity. And anyway, why should they
grab-and-run affair from shops, or from trust us to be around for ever? We learned these
shoppers who are wearing watches and lessons from the best helpers in our group, who
necklaces. Some older girls organise their had learnt that the best results were based not
younger siblings into selling sweets and just on friendship, but on understanding.
chewing gum. The younger the child, the more Although these children share the same
likely she is to meet with public sympathy and, aspirations as other children, they say they
therefore, the more likely the sell to be enjoy life on the streets. They like to be able to
successful. Girls usually buy a large box of do what they want, to play football, to fish, fly a
sweets or chewing gum and go around the bars kite, hang around, laugh and joke. But they also
and restaurants selling the contents individ- say that they want to leave it for a proper family
ually. If they do well, they will make 100 per life, for support and help, for love and affection.
cent profit, half of which is used to restock. On The results of the first survey by CDM make
a good day they earn about 2.00. Since the disturbing reading.2 No doubt the results of the
minimum salary is currently about 30.00 per second survey, when completed, will be
month, if they manage 2.00, they are pleased. similar. We have quoted freely from these
But good days are few and far between. Shoe- surveys in the course of writing this article.
30 Development and Social Diversity

Our aims and methods 2 To make ourselves available to attend to the

tangible needs of the street girls such as first
The CDM was founded in the early 1980s by aid, legal problems, social and psychological
members of its parent organisation, The Young problems, inter-group conflicts and, if
Street Vendors' Association. It functions in possible, ante-natal care.
two ways: it deals with individual cases
referred for help; and it acts as an information 3 To begin an intensive programme of self-
centre on street children, street vendors, and the esteem building to counteract the downward
'popular movement'. This is done through spiral of these children.
regular literature searches, with updates of the
CDM library and self-initiated surveys, some-
times in conjunction with other groups. First contacts
Individual cases are referred by teachers and After extensive planning and meetings, we
educators, parents, the children themselves, the began the process of getting to know the street
courts and, sometimes, the police. Until this children. This involved regular visits to the
project began, most of the casework resulted areas where these children hang out (mainly the
from these referrals. Each case is discussed at a docks and markets), making ourselves known
case conference by a team of students and to them, buying them the occasional meal, and
practising sociologists, psychologists, and trying to gain their trust. In this we relied on
lawyers, who decide what each division should Maria Luiza Nobre Lamarao (Lu), who was the
do and the practical steps required: home visits, driving force behind the project and already
meetings with the police, etc. knew many of the girls; and Denise, an ex-
The staff realised that by dealing only with street girl who was, amazingly, just about to
referrals, CDM was attending to only a small enter university.
part of the overall need. This was confirmed by The first time we (Scanlon and Scanlon)
interviews with street children, many of whom stood around at the docks, after dark, trying to
did not know of the existence of CDM. Part of talk with glue-sniffing children, our mistrust
the problem was the location of the Centre itself (we too had been victims of petty crime) turned
which (because the building had been a into the considerable fear that we were being
donation) was situated a few miles from the very foolish and were just about to find out
city centre, in a middle-class neighbourhood. why. We felt particularly marked by being
Then a large interview-based study by CDM gringos. Many of the children eyed us up
identified a new, escalating problem of street suspiciously. Fortunately, we were spared any
girls who had little support and were often humiliation. 'You can take your hands out of
suffering the effects of prostitution, sexually your pockets, uncle,' one of them said. 'If we'd
transmitted diseases, and early pregnancy. This wanted to rob you, we'd have dome it long ago.'
study made a number of recommendations There were times when we moved away, or
which involved commencing outreach work. doubled back because an area became unsafe,
The particular project on which we worked was or there were some unknown children behav-
started with the intention of completing some ing threateningly. However, on the whole we
of the recommendations. These were: had few problems.
Our aim was to provide a setting where we
1 To make ourselves available on the streets could meet with the street children, initially on
and meet the street girls in an attempt to a minimum weekly basis for discussion and to
interest them in a programme of activities attend to their practical problems, most of
and discussions related to and chosen by which had already been clearly defined by the
them. girls themselves at a meeting held in the CDM
office the previous year. Our initial base was
Working with street children 31

small, cramped and hot, with too few chairs selves, if they perceived themselves as worth-
under a tin roof. This soon sapped any desire to less? The starting point had to be a specific
stay awake and talk. It was also too far away project to develop the children's self-esteem,
from where the children hung out. The enter- asking questions such as:
prising coordinator managed to obtain the use
of a large room and garden in a conference Who am I?
centre owned by the archdiocese, right on the What are my talents, my problems?
dockfront. This proved ideal, since we soon What makes me an individual, different from
discovered that we needed considerable space: everyone else, and a valuable part of society?
the children were noisy, boisterous, and liked
to move around. With adolescents we would often address the
We initially targeted the adolescent girls, and question 'Why is it so?', but with the younger
set about designing a programme of ones we stuck to who and what. We started this
discussions on street life, contraception, with child-to-child tactics using games,
pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. activities, drawings, discussions, and stories.
However, with food and first aid freely For example, to answer the question Who am
available, it soon wasn't just the teenage girls I?, we made a large poster with a section for
who came along, but their male friends and each young child. They each completed this
young children under their care. Adults some- section with their name and nickname (we
times came too. At first, we were unable to see wrote it for them), their hand print and
the value of having young children, and merely footprint, family details, likes and dislikes,
tried to keep them entertained with crayons and where they lived, and their job/what they did.
paper while we dealt with the adolescents. When a new child came along, s/he completed
However, it became clear that they were among her details.
the most regular attenders, and eventually we Another method was to make a large collage
woke up to the opportunity we had. with photographs of all sorts of people in it
beautiful, ugly, rich, poor, old, young, people
behaving with violence, people behaving with
Building self-esteem compassion and to encourage the children
Having already worked in schools with child- to pick out their favourites and least favourites,
to-child material, where older children explore and say why. In other words, trying to establish
through activities how to look after their an identity through positive and negative
younger siblings better, we had translated a identification with others.
good range of material on health topics like For continued use throughout the pro-
water, diarrhoea, personal hygiene, and so on. gramme, we devised games like 'Pass the ball',
However, this material was aimed at children with first of all each child shouting the name of
who had some semblance of ordinary family someone, then passing the ball to her. Then the
life. The young street children were not in that same game would be played using nicknames,
position and we realised that to address health then descriptions. Another game was a sort of
topics straightaway was premature. 'What's my line?' where the children had to
Since these children were victims of daily pretend to be one of their friends, while the
physical and verbal abuse, they had come to the others tried to guess their identity through a
conclusion that they did indeed make a series of questions. Before we left, we were
negative contribution to society. They viewed working on 'The Rights of the Child and
their plight as entirely the fault of themselves Adolescent', the recently-enacted statute, and
and their parents. They had come to believe how to introduce this to the children through
what people said about them. How could we stories and booklets.
conceivably hope to help them to help them-
32 Development and Social Diversity

Talking about health example in drawing. Due to lack of practice, the

motor skills of many of them were below
Having sown these ideas of self-esteem, it was average, and it was important that each child
not then so inappropriate to move on to other achieved and didn't lose face. If this involved a
topics such as the body and the changes that bit of cheating, so what? Each session was
occur at adolescence, personal hygiene (skin, designed to cater for the lowest level of skill.
teeth, eyes), food and drink, common illnesses, Competition was not encouraged, so as to
and habits (smoking, drugs and alcohol). Each avoid arguments, and once again to encourage
session followed the basic child-to-child a sense of achievement. We were quite happy
structure, starting with an objective/idea, to take small steps.
followed by some information, and ending
with activities. For example:
The children's response
The adolescent boys, like the young children,
Teeth had not been specifically targeted, and
Objective: To understand how to care for our therefore also took, us by surprise. They were
teeth and why it is important. the most irregular attenders. Our most frequent
personal contact with them was on the street
Information: The uses of teeth; eating, itself, or whenever we patched them up after a
speaking, attractiveness. Milk teeth versus beating, fight or stabbing. When they did come,
permanent teeth. (We did not discuss molars they usually chatted with the male law students
versus incisors, etc., viewing that as too of CDM, since their problems were often with
complicated). What dental caries is, what the police. We did undertake a programme to
causes it, and how to prevent it. make them more aware of their rights in the
light of the new statute, and how best they
Activities: Looking at each other's teeth; the might achieve them in practice. Due to the legal
children who sold and chewed gum complexities and the practical difficulties
invariably had the most caries. How to make involved, this was a longer-term initiative,
a home-made toothbrush and toothpaste. which was still underway when we left.
Defacing pictures of smiling soap-stars and The adolescent girls came regularly,
discussing their appearance before and after. although we always went to remind them
(This proved very popular.) Rewarding them before each meeting. When the Republica do
with a free toothpaste and toothbrush. (Not in Pequeno Vendedor carried out a survey of
contradiction to teaching them to make their street children in the mid-1970s, there were
own, since most were in fact nowhere near virtually no girls. Now they are almost as
being so well motivated.) numerous as the boys, although fewer of them
actually live on the streets. Many of them have
Each session was based on a common set of worked as live-in maids for middle-class
principles: they were informal, two-way, and families, but left due to ill-treatment. They
designed to be delivered in 30-45 minutes, share many of the same problems: drug abuse,
since the children's attention span was short physical and verbal abuse, victimisation, and
and they were easily distracted. Each session marginalisation. They have, in addition, their
was complete with a beginning, middle, and own particular problems: sexual abuse,
end: regular attendance was not guaranteed, precocious pregnancy, childbirth and
and so we couldn't rely on information retained motherhood, a higher risk of sexually
from the previous week's session. transmitted disease, and prostitution. Among
We made maximum use of activities and the street children of Belem, female
teaching materials, and often intervened to help prostitution is much more common than male
the children to achieve a good result, for prostitution.
Working with street children 33

The adolescent girls showed the same menstruation, contraception, vaginal dis-
feelings of worthlessness and poor self-esteem charge, and sexually transmitted diseases. We
as the younger children. Although we did not would also talk about general topics like drugs,
address this in the same direct form, it was the personal hygiene, street life, basic rights and
underlying theme of all the meetings. In how to deal with the police, or about the work
addition to the food and first aid generally of the National Movement of Street Children.
available, we offered these girls a basic ante- We used videos, slides, flannelgraphs,
natal service. It consisted mainly of the booklets and stories. The adolescent boys and
diagnosis of pregnancy, regular physical girls enjoyed drawing as much as the younger
examination, and a post-natal 'home' visit. We children did, so we employed this method too.
did on occasions arrange urine and blood tests, There was no set format to the discussions, but
but our resources were limited. However, we the same fundamental principles used with the
did have contact with a state-funded group younger children were also applied here.
helping young prostitutes. This group had Underlying each session was the theme of' I am
access to micro-biological laboratory analyses, an individual and a valuable asset to society',
which were useful to us, since many of the girls and the question 'Why is the situation we live in
suffered from sexually transmitted diseases. As like it is?' The videos from the National
an incentive, the group offered a free ante-natal Movement of Street Children made by children
service with a built-in reward system of themselves, with a specific focus on these
nappies, baby clothes, dummies, and feeding matters, made a particularly strong impression
bottles for regular attendance. on the girls, as well as on us.
Although providing good physical care, the
clinic did not provide much in the way of
support or education. Strongly-worded Street girls: two cases
directives to 'Breast-feed!' would be
accompanied by a free feeding bottle. In 'Success' in this work has to be measured in
fairness, breast-feeding was not favoured by very modest terms. A typical case is that of a
the street girls although it merited more 15-year-old girl who, with her brothers and
consideration than a sternly-delivered sisters, had been working on the streets for
instruction. We did discuss breast-feeding with several years. She was encouraged to do so by
the street girls, and came to the conclusion that her mother, who had several children by two
if the mother was determined to be back on the different fathers in two different houses, and
streets two weeks post-partum, then the best was consequently glad to see the back of some
solution was to encourage partial breast- of them. This girl would more often go home in
feeding and show them, preferably in their own the evening than remain on the streets.
homes, how to make up bottle feeds correctly. She became pregnant, stating that the father
The girls would not breast-feed because, was a street boy, and was encouraged to attend
they said, it was not practical: it wasn't the group for young prostitutes referred to
compatible with being on the streets all day, above. The baby's father actually attended with
and how else were they going to earn any her on some visits. She received at the same
money? And they believed that breast-feeding time advice and basic ante-natal care from
would result in flat, droopy breasts. Not CDM, and regularly attended our meetings.
surprisingly, given the circumstances of the She gave birth successfully, and we visited her
conception, pregnancy, and birth, there at home to congratulate her and to offer advice
appeared to us to be a lack of bonding between on child care. About ten days after the baby was
mother and infant and no doubt that was a born, she returned to the streets to resume
factor too. selling chewing gum, leaving the baby at home
Many of our discussions with these girls in the care of siblings and a grandmother who
centred around sexual matters such as puberty, was intermittently available.
34 Development and Social Diversity

When we left, she said that she was still We felt a mixture of guilt and sadness on
breast-feeding morning and night (three leaving Brazil. The work with CDM and the
months post-partum), and we knew that she street children was immensely rewarding,
was going home in the evenings. The father although it probably brought the fewest
continued to show an interest in his child, and concrete results of all the work we did. Our
often stayed with the girl at night. We met them confused feelings were compounded by the
both regularly on the streets. She continued to gratitude expressed by the children to their
attend our meetings, had learned something Uncle and Aunty Gringo; such is the economic
about contraception, and was just about to start reality of life in Brazil that we did after all leave
taking the pill. them in a worse state than they were when we
At the other end of the spectrum we had first arrived.
frequent contact with a pregnant 14-year-old, We were once asked if we thought we had
but only once persuaded her to come along to achieved anything of value in Brazil that is
our meeting place, where she had an ante-natal continuing in our absence. The short answer is,
examination. She had left home because of probably no. Our role was to give impetus and
parental violence, and remained for most of the momentum to the many Brazilians already
day with the baby's father. He was 16, and working in these areas and committed to years
every time we met him he was confused and of active participation. They are the ones who
sniffing glue. She slept on the streets. We will find their own solutions. We believe that is
arranged to take her to an appointment at the how it should be.
centre for young prostitutes, but before this we
visited her on the streets to confirm the date,
time, and meeting place with her.
On that occasion she was very tearful and
reluctant to speak. Tears are not a common 1 'Diagnostico sobre a Situacao dos
occurrence among street children. Her Meninos(as) que moram nas Ruas de
boyfriend was sniffing glue and unable to Belem.' An analysis of the current state of
enlighten us. While we were talking to her, she the street children of Belem. Centra de
excused herself, saying she wanted to use the Defesa do Menor (Coordinator, Katia
public toilets. She went there crying, and never Macedo).
came back. We never saw her again, and
although we heard that she had successfully 2 'Cotidiano de Miseria e Formas de
given birth, we were unable to trace her or to Exploracao Sexual de Meninas em Belem'
find out with certainty what had happened to (The Daily Catalogue of Misery and Sexual
her. Exploitation of Young Girls :in Belem').
Movimento Republica do Pequeno
Vendedor and Centra de Defesa do Menor.
By Maria Luiza Nobre Lamarao, Maria
On leaving
Bernadete Santos Oliveira, and Rosa
Working with street children can be very Elizabeth Acevedo Marin. Available from
depressing. The situation is not getting any the Institute of Child Health, University of
better, and it's easy to feel helpless and London, 30 Guildford Street,London.
hopeless. The real answer, of course, lies not in
programmes like the one we were involved
with, but in large-scale social changes resulting References
in greater equity worldwide. To achieve this,
we need first to develop a global vision. Dimenstein, Gilberto, 1992, Brazil: War on
Perhaps that is beginning to emerge. Children, London: Latin America Bureau.
Working with street children 35

The authors

Maria Luiza Nobre Lamarao is a sociologist

who works with a research and information
department of the University of Para in Belem.
One of the founder members of CDM, she is
coordinating a paper-recycling programme
with street children.
Tom Scanlon is a medical doctor with a
background in general practice, currently
working as a senior registrar in South West
Thames Public Health Medicine Department,
based at St George's Hospital in London.
Francesca Scanlon is a medical doctor
training in psychiatry and currently on the St
George's Psychiatric Registrar Rotation.
Together with her husband Tom, she spent two
years working in Brazil in 'popular health',
mainly through the Young Street Vendors'
Association. Specific projects involved child to
child work with schoolchildren, women's
health with women's groups, ante-natal care
with the state service, and latterly street
children with the CDM.
This article first appeared in Development in
Practice, Volume 3, Number 1, in 1993.

Older people and development:

the last minority?
Mark Gorman

Introduction children and a relatively low proportion of

older people in their populations. In
It is now well recognised that the populations developing countries as a whole, approx-
of the industrialised countries of Europe and imately 35 per cent of populations are under
North America inhabit an ageing society, as 15 years and about 10 per cent are over 55,
the numbers and proportions of older people while in the North the proportions are
grow rapidly. Major advances in medicine approximately equal, at about 22 per cent
and health care have improved nutrition and (Kinsella and Taeuber, 1993). It is, therefore,
reduced the incidence of infectious disease. not surprising that attention continues to
Rising living standards, together with better concentrate on the growth in numbers of
education, health care, and social services, young people, rather than on growth among
have contributed to dramatic increases in the older populations.
longevity over the past century. Because these However, evidence of the demographic
changes occurred first in the North, there is a transition is increasingly visible in the
tendency to associate 'population ageing'1 developing world. Many countries in Asia and
only with these countries. However, countries Latin America experienced substantial
of the South already account for more than declines in fertility during the 1970s, and the
half the world's population aged 60 or over. trends are projected to become stronger. Asia,
By the year 2025, this proportion will have for example, had 48 per cent of the global total
risen to about 70 per cent.2 The steady and of older people in 1985, and will have 58 per
sustained growth of older populations, which cent by 2025. By contrast, the corresponding
already poses a considerable challenge to figures for Europe are 20 per cent and 12 per
policy-makers in the North, also needs to be cent. In sub-Saharan Africa, the phenomenon
recognised as an important issue in the South, of ageing populations is still in its early stages;
one which will profoundly affect economies here too the pattern could be replicated
and societies. (Schulz, 1991), though the impact of the
AIDS pandemic will clearly affect this
process. Even in countries where life-
expectancy at birth remains relatively low,
The demographic transition life-expectancy at the age of 65 can be
A global demographic transition is thus surprisingly high. In Bangladesh, for
clearly under way, though it has reached a example, where life-expectancy at birth for
more advanced stage in the North than the women was recorded as 54.7 years in 1984, at
South. Non-industrialised countries of the the age of 65 the average woman's life-
South continue to have a high proportion of expectancy was a further 12.8 years. In Sri
Older people and development 37

Lanka in 1981, the comparable figures for now a global phenomenon, and is creating
women were 71.6 years at birth and a further large pockets of older people, either left
15.6 years at the age of 65. This compares behind in rural areas, or concentrated in urban
with the 1985 figure of life-expectancy for slums. Life for older people in both cases is
Japanese women aged 65 of 18.9 more years. often characterised by low incomes,
The common expectation for people in south substandard housing, and inadequate services
Asia is another 10 to 15 years of life from the (Sen, 1993).
age of 65 (Martin, 1990).
The demographic transition now being
experienced in the South differs in important Theories of ageing and
respects from the pattern of industrialised development
countries. In developing countries, reductions
in birth and death rates have been achieved Much of the debate in the small but growing
less by the socio-economic improvements literature on ageing and development has
which were a feature of Europe and North focused on the status of older people, and
America over the past century and more by hence the roles which they are perceived to be
technological innovations (such as mass assigned or denied in societies undergoing
vaccination campaigns) amid continuing change. In general terms, two broad theoret-
poverty. The prospect therefore is one of ical frameworks have been established.
rapidly increasing numbers of older people
who will live out their last years with few of
the social, economic, and health-care support Modernisation theory
systems available in the North.
Not only will the older populations of all Modernisation theory, so influential in other
countries rise dramatically, but they will areas of development thinking, has had a
become increasingly heterogeneous, in pervasive effect on comparative gerontology
common with the experience of the rest of the also. In summary, it propounds the view that
population. The oldest old (those over 80) are 'modernisation often sets in motion a chain
the fastest-growing component of older reaction which tends to undermine the status
populations all over the world, and the of the aged'. Features of this process are said
numbers of older people with a disability are to be the decline in importance of the extended
likewise growing rapidly. A recent pro- family and the decline in land ownership as a
jection for Indonesia shows a rapid increase in resource of high status; increasing social and
the numbers of people over the age of 45 with geographical mobility; and rapid changes in
a physical handicap,' as higher rates of social and cultural structures and values. The
prevalence over that age combine with family values and respect for old people found
population growth. Thus the number of in traditional societies are set against the
women over 45 with a handicap is projected to 'modernising' values of individualism, the
rise nearly fourfold, to 7.1 million by 2025 work ethic, and 'a cosmopolitan outlook
(Dowd and Manton, 1992). The increasing which emphasises efficiency and progress'
dependence of these groups will have a (Cowgill, 1986).
significant impact on family care-giving, Whether modernisation is viewed
particularly with the global decline in public- positively or negatively, this positing of
service provision. Given the propensity of opposing poles characterising 'traditional'
women to marry younger and to outlive men and 'modern' societies attracts much support
in nearly all societies, they are much more among writers on ageing and development.
likely to be living alone in old age, with On the one hand a nostalgic view of traditional
greatly reduced socio-economic support. societies is drawn: 'In our traditional social
Migration, both internal and international, is system, old age was considered wisdom
38 Development and Social Diversity

personified, the fruit of a well-spent life, and older people. If, as modernisation theory
commanded unquestionable power, authority implies, older people in the South lead secure
and respect. The security of the joint family and fulfilled lives because they still live in
was a reassurance for the elderly' (Kaur et al, extended family settings, there is arguably
1987). little need for intervention by governments or
In contrast, modernisation is seen as NGOs. However, if the forces of
undermining this golden age. Two comments modernisation are undermining traditional
on migration and urbanisation illustrate a cultural values and thus eroding family care,
recurrent theme. Migration, for example, 'has support for older people may be needed, but
helped to turn the economic modernisation of could concentrate on a 'welfarist' approach,
developing countries into a social nightmare particularly on the institutionalisation of those
for older people' (Tout, 1989). Again, 'It outside family care systems.
seems as though no tradition is able to resist If, on the other hand, the problems faced by
one generation of urban life. The disintegra- older people are seen in the context of
tion of the family along with urbanisation structural inequalities both between societies
especially when it is unmanaged weakens and within them, the concentration should be
religious sentiment and brings about the on care and support models focused at com-
disappearance of respect for elderly people' munity level, while developing a critique of
(Jacquemin, 1993). the unequal relationships which affect older
people in common with other vulnerable
social groups. It is, therefore, important to
Dependency theory examine the evidence for the validity of these
competing theories. Much debate has centred
Modernisation theory has not, however, gone on older people and the changing role of the
unchallenged. A number of critiques have family in the South, and this is where we start.
been made, notably that by Neysmith and
Edwardh. They argue from the perspective of
dependency theory, and say 'economic Older people and the family
dependency spawns an ideology which blames
underdevelopment on the characteristics of In most countries of the South (and indeed the
people, rather than on the economic relations North), the key socio-economic relationship
which bind the third world to the industrial for the great majority of older people is the
world' (Neysmith and Edwardh, 1984). They, family. Within the family, the mutuality of
and others, have argued that demographic obligations between the generations facili-
factors such as the number of surviving tates an exchange of support and care. Thus
children, and economic factors such as class, child-minding by grandparents for their
occupation, and ownership of assets play a far working children is exchanged for care and
more significant role than is assigned to them protection of the older family members. The
by a concentration on universal status or value idea of the family has a powerful, even
systems. Any loss of status on the part of older emotive influence on many. It is often
people is more likely to have been 'linked to asserted that the traditional extended family
ingrained structural inequalities experienced structure provides adequate care and support
by most people in most developing countries for the great majority of older people.
in earlier life. Impoverishment in old age may However, another commonly held view is that
be a common cross-cultural experience of the the extended family support mechanism is
ageing process, rather than simply resulting increasingly threatened by the transition from
from "modernisation"' (Sen, 1993). a traditional to a modern society.
This debate clearly has important practical The evidence, though so far partial, points
implications for development activity with to a more complex reality. It is certainly the
Older people and development 39

case that the extended family still plays a South. The inter-generational tension which is
major part in supporting older family frequently noted in multi-generational
members, even where rapid socio-economic families in the developing world is often
change is taking place. However, extended ascribed to changing cultural values arising
family support is often insufficient to from the transition from traditional to modern
guarantee a reasonable quality of life in old societies. However, it seems much more
age. In sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, the likely that it is poverty, not modernising
majority of older people still receive primary forces, which is the prime cause of this family
support from their families, both in rural and tension. Commenting on the family situation
urban areas. For example, surveys of four of migrant workers in one of the pueblos
West African nations conducted between jovenes (new towns) surrounding Lima, a
1985 and 1988 found that about 80 per cent of report notes that 'where elderly people live
respondents over the age of 60 were receiving with their adult children, the presence of an
help from children or grandchildren (Peil extra person strains the limited resources of
quoted in Cattell, 1990). the family, reinforcing the elderly people's
In south Asia too, most older people still view of themselves as a burden' (HelpAge
live within extended family settings, and International, 1993a).
again this is true in both urban and rural It is also important to recognise that care for
situations. Evidence from Bangladesh, India, older people in the extended family is not a
and Nepal indicates that most older South responsibility that is equally shared.
Asians live with their (usually male) children, Discussion of the enduring quality of family
and the same study provides clear evidence of care often ignores the fact that this duty falls
continued feelings of affection and duty disproportionately on younger female
which seem to contradict the idea that family household members. Throughout the world,
structures are necessarily undermined by the bulk of informal care of older people is
rapid social change (Martin, 1990). undertaken by women, in addition to the
However, it is equally clear that family responsibilities they undertake for their
relations are affected by a wide range of socio- husbands and children. This situation is
economic factors, and that these factors, worsened in the South (and increasingly in the
though they may be exacerbated by social North too) by the lack of external support
change, have not been caused by them. There through social and health services, and by
is, for example, evidence to indicate that the poverty, so that, even within families willing
social status of older people has always been to care for older people, there is a hidden crisis
linked to their economic power, whether in of care-giving.
'traditional' or 'modern' settings. A study of
older people within their family settings in
Nepal concluded that social and economic
Older people and their
changes have not caused a decline in the status
of older people, but simply brought to the
surface underlying inter-generational What is true of the experience of older people
conflict, by altering the balance of the in the family is also true of their relationship
powerful socio-economic forces which with the community. Again the belief that
traditionally acted as a restraint (Goldstein, chronological age traditionally confers an
Schuler and Ross, 1983). automatic status on older people is not borne
out by the evidence. A study of older people in
a Punjabi village found that fewer than one-
Conflict between generations third of men aged 60 or more were members
This situation is significantly worsened by the of the village organisations, and of these the
increasing poverty of many families in the overwhelming majority were under the age of
40 Development and Social Diversity

70. The conclusion that 'participation in better housing, or improved nutrition. Some
village organisation was influenced directly infectious diseases such as TB or dysentery
by economic factors and education', and not remain widespread, and intestinal and
by chronological age or wisdom, is echoed in respiratory infections experienced in earlier
other studies (Sharma and Dak, 1987). years are significant causes of morbidity and
The marginalisation experienced by older loss of active life in later years. The arduous
people is even greater for those who lack lifestyles of the great majority of people in the
substantial property, and therefore have no South significantly worsen this situation. A
resources to deploy to ensure care and security review of older people's health in the
from family or community in old age. This is developing world at the beginning of the
especially true for older women, often 1990s concluded:
widows whose property has been distributed
to their sons when their husbands die. For The broad international evidence seems clear
many women in developing countries, the that, from a health perspective, those over 60
descent into total dependency begins with the in Third and Fourth World nations are
death of the husband. This special unlikely to be living in geriatric Utopias.
vulnerability of older women is of particular Rather, they are more likely living in endemic
concern, not least because of their rapidly areas of debilitating diseases, where
growing numbers, since women are likely to inadequate housing and water supplies
form an increasing proportion of the older increase the likelihood of frequent
population, as life-expectancy increases at a reinfection, and inadequate diets lower
faster rate among women than men. Again, a resistance to illness-causing microbes.
high proportion of older women are widows, (Sokolovsky, 1991)
and this proportion increases with age. It has
been said that widowhood is a fact of life for Again the effects on older women are
women over 75 in the South. There were 21.5 particularly severe. The increasing debate
million older widows in China in 1990, far over the role of older women in the develop-
more than the combined total for the countries ment process has focused predominantly on
of the European Union (Kinsella, 1993). For the structural inequalities affecting women
women who have never married, or who are earlier in life, and ignored the increasing
childless, the situation is even more desperate, relative disadvantage which they experience
and in many societies an old age lived out in as they grow older. Yet it is precisely the
destitution is assured. accumulating disadvantage of earlier years
which makes older women in poverty
particularly vulnerable. A woman of 50 in a
developing country who has experienced a
Older people's health
lifetime of hard physical labour and multiple
A crucial measure of well-being for older pregnancies is already at the threshold of old
people is that of their health status. It has long age, and her later life, which may well extend
been recognised that, given the profound for another 20-30 years, will be profoundly
mutual effects of poverty and health status, affected by her greatly impaired functional
efforts to improve people's health play a capacity (Kalache, 1991, Rosenmayr, 1991).
central role in the development process. This The dependence of women in many
is again even more the case for the health of households (in matters of food allocation, for
older people. We have seen that the instance) is a characteristic example of this.
developing world is in effect experiencing a Much evidence bears out the findings of a
process of ageing because of the prevention of recent study of mid-life and older women in
premature death from infectious disease, not Latin America and the Caribbean. In Guyana
because of factors such as rising affluence, a study by the Pan American Health
Older people and development 41

Organisation (PAHO) of East Indian families status and their ability to control resources.
found that nutritional status was closely Today, as in the past, income for consump-
associated with the sex of the child, with boys tion needs has come predominantly from
being healthier. This establishes a lifetime work activities, and this remains true for most
pattern, in which chronic malnutrition and people, often into very old age, in many
anaemia combine to produce an old age of countries of the South. However, illness,
extreme debility (Sennott-Miller 1989). injury, and unemployment reduce older
Much of the developing world is still people's ability to rely on work as a prime
characterised by high levels of fertility, but source of income. Nevertheless, in the
also by significantly declining levels of mort- absence of comprehensive social-security
ality, and increasing life-expectancy. There is systems in developing countries, it is not
also evidence that health trends in the devel- surprising to observe relatively high rates of
oping countries are emulating those of the labour-force participation at older ages. Well
developed world. For example, cardio- over half of men aged 65 or more were still
vascular and cerebral diseases have markedly working in countries as widely dispersed as
increased in the industrialising countries of Jamaica, Mexico, Liberia, Pakistan, and
Latin America and South-East Asia (Tout, Malaysia during the 1980s (Kinsella 1993).
1989). Because most older workers are employed in
agriculture or other unregulated activity,
The implications for health-service
'retirement', in so far as it exists, is
provision in the South are profound, as the
characterised by a gradual withdrawal from
health-care needs increasingly diverge from
the work force, and increased reliance on
the services provided. For example, while
other resources. These are, as we have seen,
most older people live in rural areas, much
predominantly derived from family support.
health-service provision is located in the
A study of Fiji, Malaysia, the Philippines, and
cities. The relative lack of mobility and the
the Republic of Korea found that typically 40
poverty of many older rural dwellers
per cent or more of older people's income
effectively deny them access to these services.
came from the family (Andrews et al. 1985).
In the cities, where hospital-based facilities
With the growth in underemployment and
are concentrated, older people do indeed form
unemployment among younger people in
a large proportion of users. However, to some
many countries in the South, older workers'
extent this simply reflects the imbalance in
prospects of continued substantial partic-
provision between hospital-based and
ipation in the non-agricultural labour force do
community-based services, and it is the latter
not seem good. At the same time, lack of
which should provide the bulk of health-care
employment prospects will continue to reduce
to older people. But even where community-
the capacity of younger family members to
based services exist, their priorities rarely
support their ageing relatives, especially
include older people. There is an enormous
when difficult choices need to be made
dearth of knowledge of the special health
between providing for their parents or for their
needs of older people in the developing world,
own children. 'Given the already difficult
and, despite the introduction in recent years of
choice facing sons regarding the allocation of
a number of courses, mainly offered by the
their meagre income... and given the inability
NGO sector, a profound lack of trained health
of poor third world governments ... to mount
personnel to work with them.
substantial social service programs, it is likely
that more and more elderly people will be
unable to live their latter years in a secure and
Income security dignified setting' (Goldstein, Schuler and
Ross, 1983).
The critical variable in the well-being or
otherwise of older people is their economic
42 Development and Social Diversity

'Hidden' economic and social activities work in a Muslim community of northern

Nigeria describes a broad range of trading
Again, for older women the problems are activities undertaken by older women. These
compounded. Even the scale of older include small-scale trade, pawnbroking, and
women's work is unknown. The concen- preparation of food for sale. In addition, 'to
tration of older workers (women and men) in older women is reserved the practice of
agriculture and related sectors, and narrow particular occupations involving the exercise
definitions of what constitutes productive of ritual power and authority, such as
activity, obscure the true picture. Thus the midwifery, the preparation of girls for
enormous contribution of older women in marriage and of the bodies of women for
support of younger relatives through, for burial, and the making of herbal medicines'
example, child-minding and house-keeping is (Coles, 1991). Traditional birth attendants
not recorded in analyses of older people's throughout Africa and Asia, particularly in
economic activities. Yet these family-support communities where the mobility of women is
roles often play an important part in house- restricted by cultural norms, are over-
hold economies. In many rural communities whelmingly older women.
in various parts of the world, increasing
numbers of older people take care of the
children of a middle generation who have Social insurance provision
gone to urban centres (or in some cases Pension or income-support schemes which
emigrated) to seek work. A typical case is that cover any more than a small minority of work-
of a 73-year old woman in rural Botswana, forces in most developing countries seem
caring for four grandchildren on behalf of unlikely to be feasible, given their very low
sons and daughters working in South Africa. levels of economic development. Even in
They seldom come home, and the woman countries where social insurance systems
complains that 'There are no good sons have evolved, such as the People's Republic
nowadays' (Ingstadef al., 1992). of China, the coverage remains modest in
In times of crisis, this role can become scale. Programmes cover State-sector
crucial. A common, but again little-reported, workers, but not the nearly three-quarters of
phenomenon has been the care given by the the labour force who are rural workers. To
grandparent generation to children orphaned compensate for this limited coverage, family
by the AIDS pandemic in Africa. In some support of older relatives has been made a
rural communities in Uganda and Zimbabwe, legal requirement. Reforms such as a
for example, anecdotal evidence provides a broadening of the retirement policy and an
picture of almost literal decimation of the increasing emphasis on population planning
middle generation in some communities, have the potential to exert increasing econ-
leaving orphaned children totally dependent omic pressures, as the number of retired older
on the grandparent generation. Older parents people grows (Liu, 1982). This is also true of
also play a predominant role in care for people other developing countries, and the combina-
with AIDS. In one district of Mashonaland in tion of family and community support with
Zimbabwe, a study found that the carers 'were self-help remains the most feasible option for
all, without exception, elderly women who the great majority of older people.
were sometimes assisted by their younger
female relatives' (Jazdowska, 1992).
Emergency relief services for older
The participation of older people in the
economic life of developing countries is
surprisingly pervasive. A significant pro- The way in which economic and social
portion of city street traders in the developing circumstances affect the status of older people
world are older people. A study of women's is nowhere more starkly illustrated than in
Older people and development 43

situations of disaster or conflict. It has become the religious organisations whose objectives
a media cliche that the worst-affected victims are to succour the most needy, notably
of disasters are the young and the old. Catholic orders such as the Little Sisters of the
However, in contrast to the strong focus on Poor. In more recent years, there has also been
assistance to children from both within and a growing focus on the involvement of older
outside disaster-affected communities, older people as active participants in a development
people receive little attention. In part this is process. A wide variety of work, from income
certainly because they tend to be extremely generation to reminiscence projects, has
self-effacing. It is, for example, characteristic shown older people's potential for active
of older refugee-camp inhabitants that they participation in development. However, there
will give their food ration to the whole family is still much to be done in terms of developing
partly at least as a means of demonstrating an understanding of the special requirements
their continued role as providers and go of project work with older people. It is
without food themselves. The author has important, for example, at the beginning of the
witnessed a distribution of clothing to project cycle, to devise approaches to
displaced older people in Mozambique at analysing need which take into account the
which the queue which formed was entirely fact that older people often have a more
made up of children and young adults, while discursive approach to sharing information.
the older people sat together under a tree, Again, development workers should not
literally at the back of the queue. A recent underestimate the challenge of finding ways
report on the situation of older refugees in of including older women, who have, as we
Tanzania echoes this situation, noting that have seen, often suffered a lifetime's
older people were finding it difficult to walk to marginalisation. However, the rewards of
food-distribution points, or to stand for the effective development work with older people
required two or three hours awaiting food can be unexpectedly great. John Mbiizini, a
distributions (HelpAge International, 1993b). development worker who took part in a
workshop on participatory rapid assessment
techniques with a group of older farmers in
The NGO response Kenya, described how the use of a seasonality
calendar with the group enabled them to plan
NGO projects and programmes focused food production for a year ahead. In
primarily or exclusively on older people have describing his work with the group, he said:
been few and far between. The relatively
... the elderly: one thing, it is very interesting.
small numbers of older people, compared
Ifound I had company and it was less hectic, it
with overall populations, the existence of
was not tiring, because the elderly really
extended family support systems, or the
helped. I also found that they really
supposed coverage of older people in
appreciated my being with them to help them.
programmes serving whole communities are
It also helped them to feel that they are part of
given as rationalisations for this lack of
the solution that we are seeking for the
activity. There may also be a feeling that older
project. (HelpAge International, 1993c)
people are a lower priority than other groups,
such as children and those younger adults who
are seen as 'economically active', and thus
making a contribution to the development Conclusion
Within the community of organisations The development process has been defined as
which are working with older people, activity enabling the poorest 'to have more (partic-
has in the past concentrated on welfare work ularly in terms of food and health care) and ...
with the most frail: an approach derived from to be more, in terms of self-confidence, ability
44 Development and Social Diversity

to manage their own future, and improving people will not be an option but a necessity. In
their status in society at large' (Pratt and the same way that an issue like that of the
Boyden 1985). The central features of this conservation of the environment has, in the
conception of development are not only course of two decades, moved from the fringe
material improvement but also the to the centre of the development debate,
participation of all sectors of the population in questions raised by demographic changes will
the development process, as an act of become increasingly difficult to ignore.
empowerment in itself. What is true of However, it is unlikely to be easy to break
populations as a whole is yet more so for those down the barriers of prejudice which militate
who are most marginalised among them. " against the right of older people, in common
However, powerful factors militate against with the rest of the population, both 'to have
such involvement. One aspect of the more and to be more' through the process of
marginalisation of older people in all societies development. For any society,
is the negative imagery that is associated with
It is... the entire system of values that define
old age. Passivity, inflexibility, and hostility
the meaning and value of old age. The reverse
to change are characteristics typically
applies: by the way in which a society behaves
attributed to older people. The contributions
towards its old people it uncovers the naked,
made by older people in a wide variety of
and often carefully hidden, truth about its real
situations are either ignored or patronisingly
principles and aims, (de Beauvoir, 1972)
sentimentalised. This is also true of the
development context. Older people are not
usually considered to be part of the develop-
ment process, since the charac-teristics which Notes
they are considered to embody are seen as the 1 'Population ageing' refers to the increasing
antithesis of the development dynamic. They proportion of older people within a
tend to be seen as passive recipients of population.
welfare, with only a short life-expectancy. 2 Chronological age has many limitations in
Hence the almost complete absence of defining 'ageing', given the wide range of
references to the role of older people in the factors which affect the ageing process.
development literature. However, it continues to be widely used,
We have seen that older people are and is adopted here for convenience. The
particularly vulnerable to marginalisation and UN World Assembly on Ageing in 1982
social isolation, not simply because of focused on people aged 60 years or more as
features inherent in processes of change, but its main concern, and this is the threshold
primarily because of structural inequalities age used here, unless otherwise stated.
which development aims to transform. It is 3 The term 'handicap', as used in the study
therefore arguably a litmus test of this process quoted here, has a precise technical
that it enables and promotes the participation definition, distinguishing it from disability
of especially disadvantaged groups such as and impairment.
older people. Such participation of older
people is also desirable in terms of their References
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ledge and expertise. However, experience Western Pacific, Manila: World Health
indicates that the views of older people, unless Organisation.
they are in positions of influence and prestige, de Beauvoir, S., 1972, Old Age, London:
rarely gain a hearing. Andre Deutsch, Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
Over time, however, the adjustment of Cattell, M.G., 1990, 'Models of old age
development strategies to take account of the among the Samia of Kenya', Journal of
involvement of increasing numbers of older Cross-Cultural Gerontology 5:4.
Older people and development 45

Coles, C , 1991, 'Hausa women's work in a Liu, L., 1982, 'Mandatory retirement and
declining urban economy' in C. Coles and B. other reforms pose new challenges for
Mack, Hausa Women in the Twentieth China's government', Aging and Work 5:2.
Century, Madison: University of Wisconsin Martin, L.G., 1990, 'The status of South
Press. Asia's growing elderly population', Journal
Cowgill, D.O., 1986, Aging Around the of Cross-Cultural Gerontology 5:2.
World, Belmont, Ca.: Wadsworth. Neysmith, S.M. and J. Edwardh, 1984,
Dowd, J.E. and K.G. Manton, 1992, 'Economic dependency in the 1980s: its
'Projections of disability consequences in impact on Third World elderly', Ageing and
Indonesia', Journal of Cross-Cultural Society 4:1.
Gerontology 7:3. Pratt, B. and J. Boyden, 1985, The Field
Goldstein, M.C., S. Schuler, and J.L. Ross, Directors' Handbook, Oxford: Oxfam.
1983, 'Social and economic forces affecting Rosenmayr, L., 1991, 'Health of rural elderly
intergenerational relations in extended in Mali', Journal of Cross-Cultural
families in a Third World country: a caution- Gerontology 6:3.
ary tale from South Asia', Journal of Schulz, J.H., 1991, The World Ageing
Gerontology 38:6. Situation, New York: United Nations.
HelpAge International, 1993a, 'Improving Sen, K., 1993, Ageing, Health, Social Change
the Situation of Elderly People in the and Policy in Developing Countries, London:
Marginal Areas of North Lima', unpublished London School of Hygiene and Tropical
project report. Medicine.
HelpAge International, 1993b, 'The Sennott-Miller, L., 1989, 'The health and
Situation of Older Refugees from Burundi in socioeconomic situation of midlife and older
Tanzania', unpublished report. women in Latin America and the Caribbean',
HelpAge International, 1993c, unpublished Mid-Life and Older Women in Latin America
tour report. and the Caribbean, Washington DC:
Ingstad B. et al, 1992, 'Care for the elderly, PAHO/AARP.
care by the elderly: the role of elderly women Sharma, M.L. and T.M. Dak (eds), 1987,
in a changing Tswana society', Journal of Ageing in India, Delhi: Ajanta Publications.
Cross-Cultural Gerontology 7:4. Sokolovsky, J., 1991, 'Introduction to special
Jacquemin J., 1993, 'Elderly Women and the section on health, aging and development',
Family', paper presented at the NGO Forum Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology 6:3.
to launch UN International Year of the Tout, K., 1989, Ageing in Developing
Family, Malta. Countries, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jazdowska N., 1992, 'Elderly Women
Caring for Orphans and People with AIDS',
unpublished survey report for HelpAge The author
Kalache, A., 1991, 'Ageing in developing Mark Gorman is Deputy Chief Executive at
countries' in M.J. Pathy (ed.): Principles and HelpAge International. This article first
Practice of Geriatric Medicine, London: John appeared in Development in Practice,
Wiley and Sons. Volume 5, Number 2, in 1995.
Kaur, M. et al., 1987, 'Socio-economic
profile of the rural aged' in Sharma and Dak
Kinsella, K. and CM. Taeuber, 1993, An
Aging World II, Washington DC: US Bureau
of the Census International Population

Culture, liberation, and 'development'

Shubi L. Ishemo

these, and these alone, constitute progress. It
It has become a fetish to talk about traditions has been the dominant view since the age of
when referring to socio-economic processes European 'Enlightenment' in the eighteenth
in Africa. This is common not only among century and was popularised during colonial
Western 'development experts', but also times. It has, in various guises, dominated the
among some African intellectuals. 'Tradition' policies not only of the Western 'donor'
carries with it meanings of timelessness, of governments, some NGOs, and international
stasis, of being fossilised. For the society so financial institutions, but also of some
described, the notion of 'tradition' denies it a Southern governments. That dominant view is
history. The implications for such an Eurocentric, in that it assumes that the
approach are manifest in the economistic Western model is superior. It carries with it
ideology of 'developmentalism', which, as biases and lack of concern for the cultures and
Shivji (1986:1) has shown, has been 'the history of African and other Southern
dominant ideological formation in post- societies.
independence Africa'. The basis for this
ideology, he further notes, is as follows:

We are economically backward and we need National liberation as an 'act of

to develop and develop very fast. In this task of culture'
development we cannot afford the luxury of
It is important to remind ourselves of the
politics. Therefore politics are relegated to
historical dimension. Colonialism, in Africa
the background, while economics come to
in particular and the South in general, served
occupy the central place on the ideological
terrain. the need of the highly industrialised countries
in Europe and North America for capital
We might also add that, in this ideological accumulation. In spite of political independ-
formation, culture, like politics, is seen as an ence, this has not changed; in fact it has been
obstacle and therefore relegated to the back- consolidated, as capital restructures itself to
ground. This obsession with economistic resolve the crisis and to ensure continued
developmentalism is not new. It has histor- accumulation through a variety of mechan-
ically, and in various forms, served to isms. I shall come to this later. The
legitimate domination over working people in colonialists started from the premise that
every society. Historically, too, in the Africa had no history; their mission was to
relationship between the West and the South, bring the continent into history. Those ideas
it has been based on the belief that the therefore denied Africa a culture and served as
processes of Western socio-economic and an ideological licensing of exploitation.
political development are universal and that In the struggle for national liberation, the
Culture, liberation, and 'development' 47

issue of history and culture became central. society in question, by returning to that
Amilcar Cabral, a revolutionary theorist and society all its capacity to create progress.
leader of the PAIGC liberation movement in National liberation, therefore, is 'necessarily
Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde, wrote: an act of culture' (1973:43).
Cabral warned (1973:52) against natural-
Our countries are economically backward.
ising culture and linking it to supposed racial
Our peoples are at a specific historical stage,
characterized by this backward condition of
our economy. We must be conscious of this.
It is important to be conscious of the value of
We are African peoples, we have not invented
African culture in the framework of universal
many things... we have no big factories... but
civilisation, but to compare this value with
we do have our own hearts, our own heads
that of other cultures, not with a view of
and our own history. It is this history which
deciding its superiority or inferiority, but in
the colonialists have taken from us. The
order to determine, in the general framework
colonialists usually say that it is they who
of the struggle for progress, what contribution
brought us into history: today we say that this
African culture has made and can make, and
is not so. They made us leave history, our
what are the contributions it can or must
history, to follow them, right at the back, to
receive from elsewhere.
follow the progress of their history.

Cabral argued that the national liberation Cabral saw culture as a 'fruit of history', an
struggle was a way 'to return to our history, on integral part of historical processes. The most
our own feet, by our own means and through fundamental element for progress was the
our own sacrifices' (1974:63). Imperialist and regaining of people's creative capacity and
colonial domination was therefore 'the potential, which imperialism had usurped.
negation of the historical process of the This creative capacity has a democratic
dominated people by means of violently content, in that people determine what is best
usurping the free operation of the process of for themselves, and adapt new techniques and
development of the productive forces' knowledge to their concrete reality. So when
(1973:41). By 'productive forces', Cabral we speak about culture, we are referring not
meant the means of production (such as tools, just to customs, beliefs, attitudes, values, art,
premises, instrumental materials and raw etc., but to the whole way of life of a people,
materials) and labour power. He emphasised which also embraces a complex web of
that every society is an 'evolving entity', and economic and political activities, science, and
that the stage of its development can be seen in technology. These are not exclusive attributes
the level of its productive forces. Each of these of any single race or people. He referred to a
reacts to nature. Groups enter material scientific culture, a universal culture free from
relationships, relationships with nature and domination (1973:55).
the environment, and relationships among I have dwelt on Cabral's work at length,
individuals or collectives. To him, these because his analysis of the positive role of
components constitute not only history, but culture is relevant in the struggle against the
also culture. In usurping all these, imperialism most pressing problems of our time. His pro-
practises cultural oppression. Therefore, found work has been shamefully ignored,
national liberation aims at the 'liberation of especially by those in positions to exert a
the process of development of national positive influence on policy and strategies
productive forces' and consequently the that meet the needs and interests of the
ability to determine the mode of production working people.
most appropriate to the evolution of the
liberated people. It necessarily opens up new
prospects for the cultural development of the
48 Development and Social Diversity

'Development' policies and process of selective repossession of former

cultural dependency cultural components within the context of
technological and economic development'.
Much of the debate about 'development' has This explains the dynamism of economic and
been conducted from differing and contend- technological creativity of those societies. By
ing perspectives. It is not my intention to contrast, capitalist development in Africa was
consider that here, but I wish to dwell briefly imposed from the outside and confronted
on how some of these perspectives have dealt local cultures in a violent manner, with the
with the cultural dimension in 'development' result that 'Identity ..., rather than being
policies. gradually broken down and rebuilt to
Modernisation theories regard cultures of productive effect, is more or less ferociously
non-industrialised societies in the South as destroyed, without putting in place compens-
obstacles to development. Those societies are atory processes of production of new cultural
seen as being characterised by kinship (which components, capable in turn of supporting
apparently hinders individual enterprise), accumulation and innovation' (1990:98-9).
religious obscurantism and fatalism, stagna- The origins of Africa's problems lie in the
tion and resignation. In short, they are specificity of capitalist development and its
'traditional'. The opposite of this is a long-term effects on African societies. It is
'modern' capitalist sector. fair to state that the European model was
From a different source, another perspect- forced down their throats. African people had
ive, associated with Warren (1980), sees no say in this, because that was the nature of
underdevelopment as being internal to poor the Eurocentric project. It precluded all
societies of the South, and argues for a positive knowledge that African societies had
'progressive' mission of capitalist imperial- generated.
ism. With specific reference to Africa, this Colonial institutions inculcated Euro-
position is unrelentingly restated in the words centric values unremittingly. European
of John Sender and Sheila Smith (1987). They intellectuals served to legitimate the
see capitalist imperialism as having led to the Eurocentric project. As George Joseph
development of the productive forces and a (1990:3) and his colleagues have argued,
rise in living standards. Both perspectives
During the heyday of imperialism, the scholar
share the super-ficial nature of the dichotomy
was useful, not only in constructing a
between tradition and modernity; both dwell
conceptual framework within which colonial
purely on economic factors, and see the
ideology could be defended and extended, but
causes of the crisis in Africa as internal.
in helping to select problems for investigation
Recently, as Samir Amin (1990:96) has
which highlighted the beneficial effects of
pointed out, the cultural dimension has been
colonial rule.
embraced by researchers as an important
element in socio-economic processes. To my The purpose of colonial research institutes
mind, however, this is not new. For working like the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute in the
people in poor countries of the South, it has then Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) is too
always been at the heart of any initiative that well known to repeat here. In many colonies,
affects their lives. Central to the cultural ethnicities were invented; in the case of post-
dimension of socio-economic processes is the colonial Rwanda and Burundi, the cumulative
question of identity. Samir Amin further consequences of the invention of ethnic
draws contrasts between the development of identities by the successive German and
capitalism in Western Europe and Japan, on Belgian colonial administrations are all too
the one hand, and in Africa on the other. In the painfully apparent. The study of African
former he sees a longer process of social cultures served the needs of colonial
transformation with 'no break but a complex occupiers, particularly in the creation of
Culture, liberation, and 'development' 49

labour reservoirs and the segmentation of great inspiration for many. There were, in
labour along ethnic lines. It was not meant to those movements, some 'organic' intellect-
invigorate and energise those societies to uals like Amilcar Cabral who studied the
absorb and adapt new positive elements to reality of their societies meticulously. From
their own realities. This was reinforced by the such study they identified themselves with the
colonial education system. African intellect- aspirations of the masses and created popular
uals were colonised. The medium of structures in which the people participated in
instruction became European languages, devising strategies for economic, social,
whose cultural influences cannot be political, and cultural advancement. In some
underestimated. Cultural dependency has countries, progressive strategies, designed to
been the consequence of that process. meet the people's needs, were initiated
It is in this context that socio-economic, even if sometimes frustrated by a lack of clear
political, cultural, and intellectual processes reference to the cultural dimension, by
in post-colonial Africa must be understood. bureaucratism, and by populism. 'Organic' or
The penetrating analysis of Amilcar Cabral of politically engaged intellectuals played an
the role of culture in the processes of change is important part in opening up avenues for real
very relevant, not only in contemporary advancement. (There are some excellent
Africa, but also throughout the South. He essays on this subject in Diouf and Mamdani,
made a distinction between eds., 1994.) We know what happened to those
strategies and those intellectuals. External
the situation of the masses, who preserve their intervention and local reaction stifled them
culture, and that of the social groups who are and continue to frustrate them.
assimilated or partially so, who are cut off
and culturally alienated. Even though the
indigenous colonial elite who emerged during Corporate profits and the quality
the process of colonization still continue to of life
pass on some element of indigenous culture,
yet they live both materially and spiritually The current structural adjustment policies
according to the foreign culture. They seek to (SAPs), though they have their origins in the
identify themselves increasingly with this period dating from the early 1980s, are not
culture both in their social behaviours and new. What is new is the bold and shameless
even in their appreciation of its values. assertion of their neo-liberal ideological
(1973:61) underpinnings and the intensity and vicious-
ness of their implementation. SAPs have had
In identifying the latter group, Cabral made devastating effects on the living standards of
a further distinction between those who working people, including unprecedented
vacillated and those who identified them- increases in the levels of unemployment and a
selves with the masses. Post-colonial Africa decline in levels of pay. Emphasis on export-
has by and large been dominated by the led commodity production to service an ever-
vacillators. They have collaborated with increasing debt to the international financial
imperialism in determining the strategies for institutions (IFIs) has resulted in low
'development', by failing to challenge models productive capacity for the internal market
that do not address people's needs. Their and an increase in dependency on (often
strategies reflect an unthinking and uncritical subsidised) Western agro-industrial conglom-
imitation of the West. They are intellectual erates. As Samir Amin (1994:38) has noted,
and cultural captives of imperialism. This is IFIs like the World Bank have 'focused on
not to say that this model has not been destroying the autonomy of the peasant world,
challenged in post-colonial Africa. Some of breaking the subsistence economy by
the liberation movements were a source of supporting forms of credit designed to this
50 Development and Social Diversity

end, and promoting the differentiation of the people. Far from inaugurating a new epoch of
rural world through the famous "green progress, they have exacerbated inequalities
revolution'". The conditionalities imposed by and weakened social bonds and solidarity
the IFIs have led to a decrease in social through emphasis on the individual, rather
expenditure and the deterioration of health- than on society or communities.
care and education systems (Chossudovsky, Under empty slogans of a compressed
1991 and Committee for Academic Freedom world and a globalised economy, the
in Africa, 1992). Many studies show a sovereignty of the fragile nation states has
correlation between debt, SAPs, and been weakened. Decisions that affect millions
ecological deterioration. For the World Bank, are made in the boardrooms of the IMF and
pollution is a sign of progress. In a famous the World Bank, fully supported by the
observation, Lawrence Summers, the Bank's Western governments. 'Democracy' is
vice-president, recommended the transfer of imposed and regulated from the outside. The
'dirty' industries to the Third World: fall of authoritarian regimes has been a
welcome development, but the popular
/ think the economic logic behind dumping a content of that change has been hijacked by
load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country those committed to the neo-liberal project.
is impeccable and we should face up to that... The implications for people's participation in
I have always thought that under-populated determining their strategies for advancement
countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted, have been negative. Initiatives from below
their air quality is probably vastly have been constantly frustrated by obsession
inefficiently high compared to Los Angeles or with the laws of the market.
Mexico City. (Dore, 1992:85)

It is clear that, as Samir Amin (1994:38) has Acknowledging 'people as a living

argued, 'The Bank has never seen itself as a presence'
"public institution" competing or potentially
clashing with private capital (transnationals). In 1979, Adrian Adams wrote an excellent
On the contrary, it has viewed itself as an account of a peasant co-operative in Senegal.
agent whose task is to support their It is one of the most moving and inspiring
penetration of the Third World.' The SAPs are accounts that I have ever read. There is every
economistic. They are more concerned with reason to believe that there have been and
corporate profits than enabling the working continue to be similar experiences throughout
people to improve the quality of their lives. In the South. It is necessary reading for anyone
ignoring environmental issues, they who is serious about real 'development'.
downplay the cultural dimension; for, as Adams details the development of a peasant
Cabral (1973:42) noted, when we speak of farmers' initiative to improve their food
culture, we refer to 'relationships between production and to 'base rural development on
(humanity) and nature, between (humanity) existing communities and values'. The
and his (her) environment'. Thus, as Dore peasants' appeal for help to Western NGOs to
(1992:84) has observed, it is not surprising adapt irrigation technical inputs to their
that, in the Third World, contemporary farming methods attracted an array of NGOs,
struggles of the working people have reflected the Senegalese State bureaucracy, and
the 'fusion of ecological, economic and USAID, all vying to control and direct what
cultural struggles'. the peasants had initiated. What emerged was
SAPs have engendered a culture of a predetermined Eurocentric approach, which
unbridled consumerism, with sections of the ignored the peasants and brushed them aside
cities bristling with luxury commodities as ignorant of 'development'. Technical
which are well beyond the means of working 'assistance' was conditional on the peasants
Culture, liberation, and 'development' 51

dismantling collective forms of production of the peasantry. Examples of these, and the
and parcelling out land into individual family opposition they have generated, can be found
plots, growing rice instead of millet, having in India, where there has been a courageous
production targets imposed on them by the struggle by peasants to halt a dam project
State, purchasing fertilisers beyond their sponsored by the World Bank and supported
needs, and virtually surrendering control of by the Indian Government; or in Namibia,
their bank accounts to the State. The peasants where a government-proposed dam project
rejected this paternalism, clearly recognising which would have long-term effects on the
the peril that has befallen many poor Himba pastoral people has created
countries: 'You go into debt, and then you controversy and led some officials into
have to sell them your whole harvest to pay off scathing condemnation of those who defend
your debt. We don't want debts. We just want 'bare breasted' and 'primitive' people (The
freedom' (Adams 1979:458). The people Observer, 29 January 1995) standing in the
wanted 'peasant development' with 'a way of modernisation. And recently the
common fund, to give us strength. We, activities of Michelin, the giant Western
ourselves, decide what we want to do. We, rubber conglomerate operating in Nigeria,
ourselves, decide how many hectares we want have similarly shown the top-down approach
to plant. We are working for our own people' to 'development'. There, the company
(p.463). expanded a rubber plantation into the
protected Okomu forest without concern for
They rejected top-down 'administrative
the environment and the culture of the local
development'. The issue then was: what
people. It destroyed medicinal trees, shrines,
constitutes 'development'? Those so-called
and other symbols dear to the beliefs of the
'experts', as Adams correctly noted, were
inhabitants. In reply to protests, the company
unable to 'acknowledge the existence of a
pleaded ignorance and added, 'But we know
people here and now, having a past and a
the impact on the community can only be
future' or 'to acknowledge the people as a
positive. We are providing employment,
living presence'. Indeed, that 'living
schools, clinics, electricity and water
presence' is the culture of a people.
supplies' (Financial Times, 8 March 1995).
What emerges from Adams' account of the
struggle of the people in one Senegalese Of course, no local inhabitant objects to
village is the sheer arrogance on the part of the schools or clinics. But the company has a
self-appointed 'aid experts', compounded by different conception of 'development', which
the complicity of the State bureaucracy. Such involves destroying the symbols of the
arrogance in some 'donors', some political people's identity. The company, probably
leaders and bureaucrats, transnational with the complicity of State bureaucrats, does
corporations and their local agents has been not involve the local people in decision-
pervasive throughout the South. A catalogue making or incorporate their world-view into
of misconceived projects would be of biblical projects.
length. Those who initiate major infra- Some NGOs operate on the same basis. The
structural projects dams, for example case of their operations in Mozambique is
neither consult the local population nor take well documented in Joe Hanlon's study
into account their way of life, which includes, (1991). A number of African academics (such
above all, accumulated knowledge of the as Ayesha Imam and Amina Mama, 1994, and
ecological balance, their beliefs, and their Abdel Gadir Ali, 1994) have noted that some
sacred sites. This amounts to what Saleth NGOs and other 'donors' deliberately ignore
(1992) has termed 'bypassing and alienating locally funded research and wheel in 'experts'
economic development', which reinforces (from Europe and North America) whose
existing inequalities of access to land and the recommendations carry more weight than the
displacement of the most vulnerable sections work of the local intelligentsia. In an example
52 Development and Social Diversity

from Sudan, Abdel Gadir Ali (1994) notes consulted and involved in the development of
how the Sudanese economists who were new techniques, local artisans have become
critical of structural adjustment policies were de-skilled. Such technologies are useless,
deliberately excluded from an ILO mission because they are not specific to local
requested by the Sudanese government to techniques and they are not culturally
study the economic situation and advise on familiar. The starting point for the
long-term strategies. Ali (1994:112) details introduction of new technology must be to
the ensuing struggle which the local recognise, as Vandana Shiva (1991) has
intelligentsia waged, and how 'a donor noted, that all societies have 'ways of
community with substantial resources waging knowing' and 'ways of doing' and that
a media war on local research efforts
expressing reservations on the results of an all societies, in all their diversity, have had
established donor community's wisdom on science and technology systems on which
how an African economy should be their distinct and diverse development have
managed'. Consequently, as Mama and Imam been based. Technologies or systems of
(1994:86) have noted, African intellectuals technologies bridge the gap between nature's
are 'forced to take on board [Eurocentric] resources and human needs. Systems of
norms and waste time tilting at windmills to knowledge and culture provide the framework
find out why we deviate from these patterns, for the perception and utilisation of natural
instead of finding out what our own patterns resources.
and realities are'. Technology is therefore not culture-free. It
is central to the question of identity. Since it
constitutes 'ways of doing', it is one of the
Making cultural sense of principal elements of a people's identity. You
technology can have science and technology, but with no
'development'. The two must make cultural
Technology which is imposed on the people sense, to achieve true development. In their
can be ill-suited to local needs. Bina campaign to establish a just international
Agarwal's study (1986:79-80) of wood-fuel economic order, non-industrialised countries,
crisis in the South shows how new cooking- through the South Commission [1990:45-46,
stove technology, designed to save wood fuel, 80, 132], chaired by former Tanzanian
ended by doing exactly the opposite. In president Julius Nyerere, strongly argued for
Guatemala, one important function of the the centrality of culture in economic
'traditional' stove was to emit smoke, which processes:
killed mosquitoes and pests in corn ears hung
from rafters. This benefit was lost when the Capital formation and technical progress are
new stoves were introduced. When a new essential elements of development, but the
stove was introduced in Ghana, women found broad environment for their effectiveness is a
it technically cumbersome and ill-suited to society's culture; it is only by the affirmation
using many pots at once. Local artisans and and enrichment of cultural identities through
women had not been consulted in the design mass participation that development can be
of the stoves. These projects claimed to given strong roots and made a sustained
employ 'appropriate technology', but they process. For only on secure cultural
wholly failed to consider local needs and foundations can a society maintain its
cultures. They assumed peasants in their cohesion and security during the profound
ignorance to be responsible for the depletion changes that are the concomitants of develop-
of wood fuel, and presumed to import ment and economic modernisation.
European science and technology to resolve The Commission recommended that strat-
their problems. As a consequence of not being egies must be sensitive to cultural roots, that is
Culture, liberation, and 'development' 53

values, attitudes, and beliefs, and that cultural distorting effect on the cultures of Southern
advancement itself depends on people- societies. The West condemned the Third
centred strategies. It warned that strategies World moves as politically motivated,
which ignore the cultural dimen-sion could claiming that they amounted to an infringe-
result in indifference, alienation, social ment of the freedom of information. The
discord, and obscurantist responses. United States and Britain withdrew from
These warnings have not been heeded. As I UNESCO in protest. It is clear that the
have noted above, economistic approaches monopoly over the news media and the
that are central to the neo-liberal agenda have distribution of cultural products was linked to
unleashed social instability. Ethnic rivalries the Western monopoly over information and
and religious fundamentalism are a communication technology. Third World
consequence of a profound sense of attempts to link culture to the wider issue of a
deprivation unleashed by 'structural adjust- more just world economic order led to the
ment'. As Samir Amin (1990:98) has argued, West's campaign to weaken UN structures.
'fundamentalism emerged as a cultural These had been effective channels in a
protest against economies', and 'its growth collective struggle for a more just inter-
[is] largely conditioned by the forms of social national order. Their replacement, through the
and economic change'. strong-arm tactics of the Western govern-
ments and the transnationals, by the 'unholy
The obstinate reluctance of the donors and
trinity' of the IMF, World Bank, and the
Western governments to understand the
World Trade Organisation has implications of
atomising tendencies of 'structural adjust-
an economic, political and culture nature for
ment' is mirrored in new concepts such as
Africa and the rest of the South. It amounts to
'global culture'. These are based on the
restructuring of capital on a global scale; the
proliferation of consumerism, propagated by Traditional cultures and knowledge have
new communication technologies; and the also attracted attention from the pharma-
supposed irrelevance of national frontiers. ceutical and cosmetics transnationals. Some
Western governments, transnationals, and are well known for operating under hollow
their intellectual underlings harp on slogans of 'fair trade' and 'empowerment' of
'globalisation' without asking who gains and poor peoples. At the same time, the West
who loses (in economic, political, and cultural demands 'rights' of intellectual property over
terms). 'Global culture' is a Western construct Southern flora, fauna, and (increasingly)
(particularly dear to the Western media). It is a human achievement.
piece of ideological baggage designed to This is the civilisation, the globalisation,
legitimate 'structural adjustment'. It is an the 'development' that apparently will bestow
expression of cultural imperialism which benefits of the 'market' on working people in
particularly affects young people in poor Africa, Asia, and Latin America! That there
countries. has been a peasant uprising in Chiapas is not
Cultural penetration is linked to economic surprising. If more rebellions break out, they
exploitation and ultimately to political and will, under the circumstances, be justified.
military domination. During the late 1970s Maybe NGOs should look carefully at whose
and early 1980s, Third World countries side they are on.
waged a struggle within the framework of
UNESCO to establish a New World Com-
munication and Information Order. The References
principal issue of the debate was the ever-
increasing unidirectional flow of cultural Adams, A., 1979, 'An open letter to a young
products and 'news' from the advanced researcher', African Affairs 78:451-79.
capitalist countries to the South, and the Agarwal, B., 1986, Cold Hearths and Barren
54 Development and Social Diversity

Slopes, The Woodfuel Crisis in the Third Joseph, G., V. Reddy, and M. Searle-
World, London: Zed. Chatterjee, 1990, 'Eurocentrism in the social
Ali, A. G., 1994, 'Donors' wisdom versus sciences', Race and Class 31/4.
African folly: what academic freedom and Saleth, R. M., 1992, 'Big dams controversy:
which high moral standing?' in M. Diouf and economics, ecology and equity', Economic
M. Mamdani (eds), 1994. and Political Weekly, 25 July.
Amin, S., 1990, Maldevelopment. Anatomy of Sender, J. and S. Smith, 1987, The Develop-
a Global Failure, London: Zed. ment of Capitalism in Africa, London:
Amin, S., 1994, 'Fifty years is enough', Methuen.
Southern African Economics and Political Shiva, V., 1991, 'Biotechnology develop-
Monthly, November. ment and conservation of biodiversity',
Cabral, A., 1973, Return to the Source, New Economic and Political Weekly, 30 Nov.
York: Africa Information Service. Shivji, I. G., 1986, The State and the Working
Cabral, A., 1974, Revolution in Guinea, An People in Tanzania, Dakar: CODESRIA.
African People's Struggle, London: Stage 1. The South Commission, 1990, The
Chossudovsky, M., 1991, 'Global poverty Challenge to the South, Oxford: Oxford Univ-
and new world economic order', Economic ersity Press.
and Political Weekly, 2 November. Warren, Bill, 1980, Imperialism: Pioneer of
Committee for Academic Freedom in Capital, London: Verso.
Africa, 1992, 'The World Bank and
education in Africa', Race and Class 34/1.
Diouf, M. and M. Mamdani (eds.), 1994, The author
Academic Freedom in Africa, Dakar:
CODESRIA. Shubi L. Ishemo is a Tanzanian historian
Dore, E., 1992, 'Debt and ecological disaster teaching at Trinity and All Saints, University
in Latin America', Race and Class 34/1. of Leeds. His latest book, The Lower Zambezi
Hanlon, J., 1991, Mozambique: Who Calls Basin in Mozambique, 1850-1920: A study in
the Shots?, London: James Currey. economy and society, was published by
Imam, A. M., 1994, 'The role of academics in Avebury in 1995.
limiting and expanding academic freedom', in This article first appeared in Development
Diouf and Mamdani (eds.) 1994. in Practice Volume 5, Number 3, in 1995.

The politics of development in

longhouse communities in Sarawak,
East Malaysia
Dimbab Ngidang

Introduction Rationale for intervention

A variety of intervention strategies have been There is a limit to what poor people can do with
used to improve the standard of living of the resources at their disposal. Without govern-
Sarawak's rural population. They range from ment aid, it is impossible for the poor to over-
rural health services provided by the Medical come the constraints imposed by lack of
Department, and adult education conducted by financial and material resources. If the doctrine
the Department of Community Development of self-help is imposed on them and taken too
(KEMAS), to 'intensive' extension programmes far, the notion of self-reliance could work
implemented by the Department of Agriculture, against the interests of the poor. Furthermore,
and integrated agricultural development projects providing no outside inputs whatsoever, in
promoted under the National Agricultural order to avoid the dangers of paternalism and
Policy. the spurious authority of 'outside experts',
Although most people believe that govern- could do more harm than good. According to
ment intervention makes a critical contribution Khan (1975), priming the pump to trigger local
to assisting the rural poor, not everyone agrees initiatives may enable top-down initiatives to
on how it should be carried out. In government- promote bottom-up impetus for development.
sponsored projects, extension agents can find Despite the government's good intentions,
themselves expected to act as political agents, development efforts in Sarawak are often
while a participatory approach is seldom used in complicated by political conflicts and
rural development programmes. structural rigidities imposed by prevailing
This article discusses the role of communi- socio-economic and political systems. This
cation in government interventions to promote article explains how government-initiated
agricultural projects among the Dayak long- development programmes are usually charact-
house communities in Sarawak. (The term erised by 'centre-periphery biases' (Chambers,
'longhouse' refers to wooden houses, linked 1983:76).
together in a single row: the typical dwelling
place of Dayak tribes in Sarawak. Dayak com-
munities consist of several tribal groups: Iban, Development handouts
Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah, Murut, Kelabit, and One major challenge facing the Sarawak State
Penan. In this article the term 'longhouse government, since independence was gained
communities' is used interchangeably with through the formation of Malaysia in 1963, is
'Dayak communities'.) eradicating rural poverty, and improving the
56 Development and Social Diversity

standard of living by modernising the responses from the government. Secondly,

agricultural sector (King, 1987 and 1988). In since agricultural inputs are important
the past three decades, agricultural extension resources, supplying them will enable State
programmes have been used to reach out to the officials to exercise some control over them.
farming communities; they constitute the first This is commonplace, whether in developing
major step in bringing about socio-economic or developed countries, as far as subsidies are
transformation in the rural areas (Cramb, concerned: development is invariably political.
1988).1 A major goal of these extension
programmes in Sarawak is to 'domesticate' the
so-called shifting cultivators: mainly Dayak
rural dwellers, whose livelihood depends on
Maintaining the cycle of poverty
hill rice farming. It is a common belief that if the longhouse
Subsidy schemes the planting of rubber, communities abandon subsistence farming and
pepper, cocoa, and oil palm on a commercial pursue cash cropping planting of pepper,
basis to encourage cash cropping have been cocoa, oil palm, and rubber their farm
extensively employed as a tool for persuading productivity can be enhanced and so bring
the Dayak communities to abandon about capital accumulation and savings. This,
subsistence agriculture. In the late 1970s, these in turn, is expected to enable farmers to attain a
development 'handouts', or production state of economic 'take-off, enabling them
incentives, funded by the World Bank, were eventually to be self-reliant. It is argued that
packaged with 'training-and-visit' extension when farm productivity is increased, rural
services. poverty will be eradicated. This seems an
Incentives often constitute an important attractive theory, but the question remains:
policy instrument for achieving development 'Can it be effectively applied?'
goals. However, since agricultural inputs have In the past 30 years, government-sponsored
now been given to farmers as free 'gifts', these projects have produced mixed results.
material incentives have their shortcomings. In Government efforts have certainly had a
particular, a 'subsidy syndrome' has become positive impact on the adoption of cash
widespread in rural areas of Sarawak. cropping among longhouse communities and
Handouts have created dependency among an improvement in crop production, but these
farmers: because they have no obligation to efforts have not necessarily resulted in an
repay the government, they have little increase in income, let alone in self-reliance.
commitment to government-sponsored Three major forces have been identified as
projects, nor do they attach a socio-economic responsible for maintaining the status quo.
value to the 'incentives'.2 Firstly, the external factor: world-markets do
In addition, offering assistance to farmers as not take individuals or theories of develop-
an inducement to plant cash crops and adopt ment into consideration. Farmers are
new farm technology can be counter- constantly affected by the fluctuation in prices
productive and open to abuse. Free inputs can of agricultural commodities, which are indeed
be sold for quick cash: in other words, the vulnerable to changes in supply and demand on
resources required for improving productivity the world market.
can be sold for short-term benefits. Secondly, there are internal factors, of which
Development assistance cannot be evaluated there are two main categories: those pertaining
separately from the political purpose of rural to the environmental ecosystem and those
development. There are two interpretations of resulting from structural variables. An
this. Firstly, getting subsidies from the environmental ecosystem refers to the risks and
government indicates that rural people have uncertainties brought about by diseases, pests,
some political leverage. This implies that and climatic factors, all of which are beyond
bottom-up demand leads to top-down the farmer's control.3
The politics of development in Sarawak 57

The second category of internal forces which Sarawak. This has caused the longhouse
perpetuates a vicious circle of poverty among communities to be excluded from mainstream
longhouse communities are structural socio-economic development in Sarawak.
variables, which encompass an interplay of Perhaps the most important factor working
socio-cultural and political factors. For against the integration of longhouse
instance, longhouse communities are affected communities is political conflict among Dayak
not only by world markets, but also by internal leaders. Problems arise because the leaders are
markets, destabilised by the manipulative often affiliated to different political parties.
activities of well-established networks of There is always a tendency for different
middlemen. Since farmers' organisations are political orientations to create animosity and
still in their infancy, most agricultural products factionalism,5 which impede any development
are marketed by individual farmers efforts.
themselves. Cash-generating projects are only a partial
Dandot (1987) pointed out that one of the solution to eradicating poverty, since people
most critical internal constraints on agricultural are not developed through agriculture alone.
development is associated with a complex The government's current strategy of agric-
land-classification and land-tenure system ultural development is just an interim measure
Native Customary Rights (NCR) Land.4 As an to assist the very poorest of the poor.
editorial in the journal of the Society of A more feasible and logical approach to the
Progress (Journal AZAM) expressed it in development of longhouse communities is to
August 1987, 'Land is plentiful', but 'it is not educate the younger generation. Upward social
always readily available for development. This mobility for longhouse dwellers is virtually
is particularly the case with NCR land.' There impossible without a higher education. In other
is no doubt that unproductive use of Native words, the critical issue is the long-term
Customary Rights Land among Dayak development of human resources through
communities constitutes a major poverty- formal training, so that young people can join
related problem. Despite official assurance, the mainstream professions and have the
many longhouse communities are still opportunity to become managers, technicians,
sceptical about government policy concerning and professionals.
the design of land-development projects. Thirdly, the purpose of government-assisted
Most rural areas of Sarawak are served by self-help has certain internal contradictions.
insufficient roads and poor transport facilities. The original goal of subsidy schemes was to
As a result, access to markets is very limited, promote the cultivation of cash crops on a trial
and only those living in the vicinity of urban basis. The schemes are not intended to supply
centres are able to benefit from infrastructural all the farm production inputs required by
facilities provided by the government. farmers. However, the distribution of these
Another problem is farmers' lack of access subsidies has also created a social dilemma.
to institutional credit, explained by their Not only has it created the 'subsidy syndrome',
disadvantaged socio-economic position, which but, should these subsidies be disbanded, it
has caused them to rely primarily on may also jeopardise the political survival of
production credit provided by the local Chinese some politicians.
traders, or 'towkays'. More often than not, they
end up in debt after paying exorbitant rates of
Extension agents or government
High rates of illiteracy and the apparent lack agents?
of motivation for pursuing higher education are
two of the factors which impede rapid progress Extension agents play three important roles in
among longhouse communities, as compared promoting cash cropping among longhouse
with the Malay and Chinese communities in communities in Sarawak. These are:
58 Development and Social Diversity

transferring new technology to farmers; Village Development and Security

organising farmers involved in agricultural Committees
linking farmers to government agencies, One of the most important tasks of extension
through which they can gain access to agents in Sarawak is to elicit cooperation from
services and resources, information and farm community leaders. The State authorities
technology.6 believe that a major hindrance to the successful
implementation of development policies is
In recent years, extension agents' linking resistance from leaders of longhouse commun-
roles have been re-defined to include public ities. The official view is that, to bring about
relations: they are expected to promote the desirable socio-economic changes, the
government's political policies. According to structure of traditional leadership must be
Havelock's (1971) definition, the principal changed and community leaders' views
goal of such 'brokers' or intermediaries is to altered. In fact, it has long been recognised that
condition the attitudes and behaviour of it would be impossible to implement political
longhouse communities and prepare them to policies without the participation of longhouse
participate actively in government-sponsored leaders.
projects. The manner in which these agents Thus one way of winning support for
operate is discussed in the next section. government policies is to promote the
There is a major problem inherent in this participation of longhouse leadership in the
'brokerage' role in rural development. While administration of government-sponsored
extension agents may have farmers' interests at projects. For this reason, most rural
heart, it is difficult for them to portray development projects are implemented
themselves as being independent of through a Village Development and Security
government interests, and to avoid extending Committee (VDSC) in an effort to organise
the bureaucratic control imposed by longhouse communities.7
government agencies. It is not customary for Specifically, there are four reasons for
government agents to perform the empowering creating VDSCs:
role that most advocates of participatory
Extension agents are under official
development would like to see in rural
development. In addition, political elites directives to work through VDSCs.
usually seek some measure of social control Development programmes require
over the process and the agents of legitimisation from local leadership prior to
development. Thus, the only way for rural implementation.
populations to be free of external influence is to
rely on their own resources. Eliciting community cooperation is easier
when government agents are accepted by
People must make a choice: either accept
longhouse communities.
government funding or pursue 'self-help'
development. So far, no developing country A major assumption of grassroots
can prove that progress can be achieved only development is that, if rural people can be
through 'self-help'. In fact, 'self-help' devel- brought into some form of organisational
opment may even be detrimental to longhouse structure, their participation will be ensured.
communities, because it removes the govern- This leads to the common belief that rural
ment's political obligation to assist the rural people can organise themselves into action
poor. groups for articulating what they themselves
perceive to be fundamental needs and
The politics of development in Sarawak 59

In practice, the latter does not normally occur Linkages through co-option
when organisers represent powerful outside
interests. Local participation is imposed from Extension agents acting as government agents,
the top. In West Malaysia, for example, VDSC and VDSCs co-opted for political ends,
members are mainly party sympathisers or demonstrate that development efforts are
cronies of local politicians and government typically centred on patron-client relation-
appointees (Shamsul, 1989). The same applies ships. There is the link between extension agent
to longhouse communities in Sarawak. Even and VDSC, established under government
though VDSC members are elected by the directive, often with the specific motive of
longhouse dwellers, the committee is not free implementing the government's political
from official control. This government- policies in the form of development projects.
initiated committee is often designed as an And there is the link between VDSC and
appendage to the top-down system of politicians: a primarily political linkage
development administration and coordination through which politicians draw support from
(Shamsul, op. cit.): an extension of government local leadership.
administrative machinery (Rauf, 1992), Both kinds of link are established for
through which policies are implemented at a promoting a mutual interdependence among
community level. extension agents, politicians, and VDSC
The roles of VDSCs in development members. The result is co-option: a process of
programmes are prescribed by extension absorbing VDSC members into leadership
agents, following official top-down directives. positions. This process facilitates the partici-
This results in VDSC members playing two pation of longhouse leaders in collective local
major roles in agricultural projects: persuading decision-making processes. Also, it serves as a
longhouse dwellers to implement officially- means through which politicians avert
designed development plans, and organising resistance or opposition to government policies
activities for longhouse dwellers as required by from longhouse communities.
extension agents' official plans. Politicians use such linkages to serve their
VDSCs have very little political leverage to individual private interests, by garnering
influence policy matters when major decisions support from longhouse communities in return
are made beyond the boundaries of the for sponsoring development projects.
longhouse authority. VDSC members lack Simultaneously, local politicians are under
organisational, technical, and managerial tremendous pressure to lobby for government
skills, because they are almost always illiterate. projects in order to assist their constituencies. If
Development plans seldom incorp-orate they fail to reward their rural constituencies,
capacity-building for VDSCs in exten-sion their political survival may be at stake.
programmes. Occasionally, leadership training Similarly, VDSCs may be rewarded with more
may be provided; however, it is mainly focused political favours: promises of development
on the management of public relations. when their political patrons get re-elected into
This co-opted leadership can nevertheless be office. Thus, these development projects serve
beneficial as well as problematic to the as a powerful public-relations tool for the
longhouse communities. One main advantage government.
is that, when the longhouse leaders have made Extension agents create these linkages to
their commitment to support the government, elicit cooperation from longhouse partners in
their chances of obtaining development the development of grassroots leadership;
projects are very high. On the other hand, this although, despite the government's efforts,
may at times undermine a long-established very little progress has actually been achieved
solidarity among longhouse people. in this respect.8
While critics point out that this relationship
can lead to resource-dependency among long-
60 Development and Social Diversity

house communities and may stifle community establishing a continuity of leadership. Many
initiatives, it is unrealistic for resource-poor developing countries, although rich in natural
longhouse communities to reject government resources, are still struggling to consolidate
assistance. After all, VDSCs can use these links their efforts in rural development programmes.
to obtain material resources, demand better Part of the problem is due to poor leadership:
services, and request agricultural projects from there is no substitute for good political
the government. leadership in development.

The politics of development Conclusions

The government's intervention in rural Political intervention is a prerequisite to
development is explicitly stated in its policy of modernising socio-economic development in
the 'politics of development'.9 According to rural Sarawak. In the first place, there is no
the Chief Minister of Sarawak (Mahmud, short-cut along the road to development. It is
1992:4), 'the politics of development is a total impossible to run away from controversies
commitment to development by using the when development policies are directed to
power of polities'. The policy demonstrates a assisting different ethnic groups with
far-reaching assumption about what politics diversified interests and political affiliations.
can do, in either facilitating or hindering socio- While a political intervention may
economic and cultural development. From the sometimes provide short-term socio-economic
standpoint of political stability, the Chief gains, sustainable development is
Minister of Sarawak justifies the 'politics of unachievable as long as longhouse dwellers
development' by claiming that it works for the remain illiterate. Progress depends on people
good of rural beneficiaries. The policy has won themselves being developed.
widespread support among local media, However, development is basically the result
NGOs, community leaders, and politicians.10 of political choices: who gains and who loses
The 'politics of development' in Sarawak is depends very much upon the relative influence
intriguing, but not without a dilemma. of particular groups in the process of decision-
Rewarding political allegiance is not unusual: making (Leigh, 1988). When development
every government does it. Longhouse com- policies are heavily top-down, subordination to
munities which support government policy are political patronage is inevitable. But would it
rewarded with development projects, while not be better to adopt a participatory approach,
those which oppose it are consigned to rely on to elicit ideas, materials, and commitment from
self-help. It is commonplace, because it rural people in project planning and
follows the principle of reciprocity: a simple implementation, instead of relying exclusively
logic of mutual interdependence among on a conventional top-down strategy?
political affiliates.
However, this creates another problem
factionalism which is a major obstacle Acknowledgements
facing government efforts in modernising the
rural areas of Sarawak. One of the most import- I am very grateful to Professors John Fett and
ant sources of factionalism derives from Richard Powers, Department of Agricultural
different political allegiances. Community Journalism, Mr David Glendale, a PhD
conflicts are usually fuelled by the competing candidate of the Centre for Southeast Asian
interests of local elites, representing different Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
political parties in Sarawak. and Mrs Eileen Marcus, Universiti Pertanian
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing Malaysia Bintulu Campus, for their
the policy of 'politics of development' is that of suggestions and comments on this paper.
The politics of development in Sarawak 61

Notes (Sharifah Mariam Ghazali, 1986), and also

refer to Rauf's (1992) essay on the role of
1 As Melkote (1988:239) pointed out, Village Development and Security Com-
'agricultural extension has traditionally been mittees in Sarawak.
regarded as the most logical, scientific, and 9 'Politics means deciding who gets what. It
systematic method of dis-seminating new involves decisions about who is going to
knowledge and skills to farmers to aid them benefit, who isn't, and who is going to pay.
in successfully adopting innovations and Such decisions are never entirely rational.'
making a more efficient use of their land and (PASITAM, 1980)
allied resources'. 10 Outpourings of public support for the
2 See the Sarawak Tribune, 10 July 1993, p. 2, policy of 'politics of development' have
for an argument against financing full costs been published in local media (the Borneo
of Minor Rural Projects (MRPs). Post, 22 July 1993; the Sarawak Tribune, 22
3 See Ngidang et al. (1989:26) for a dis- July 1993).
cussion of why farmers abandoned their
pepper gardens.
4 The Land Code was introduced on 1 January References
1958 (Hong, 1987; Colchester, 1991). The
land law classifies all land in Sarawak into Colchester, M. (1991) 'A Future on the Land?
several categories (Foo and Lu, 1991). Logging and the Status of Native Rights in
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Zones. This category of land has document tion, pp 30/5/90:36-45
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non-natives. Native Area Land is land where holder Agriculture in the Development of
individual land titles have been given to Sarawak from 1963-88', paper presented at a
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natives hold land under customary tenure, Putting the Last First, London: Longman
includes such land within areas which have Dandot, W.B. (1987) 'Large scale land
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Native Area Land. 3-21
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Pertanian Malaysia Press Sanggin (1989) 'Common Features, Cultural
Khan, A.H. (1975) 'The Comilla Experience Practices and Problems of the Pepper Cultiv-
in Bangladesh My Lessons in ation in Sedan District, Sarawak', unpublished
Communication', paper presented on a report No. 3, Centre for Social Science and
conference on the Communication and Change Management Studies, UPM Bintulu
in Developing Countries, Honolulu: East PASITAM (1980) 'The politics of rural
West-Center development: some lessons on the design
King, V.T. (1987) 'Land settlement schemes process in development', Program of
and alleviation of rural poverty in Sarawak, Advanced Studies in Institution Building and
East Malaysia: a critical commentary', Technical Assistance Methodology, Indiana
Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science, 14: University, Bloomington,Afews/etter, 1:1-2
71-99 Rauf, Abang Hj. A. (1992) 'The roles of
King, V.T. (1988) 'Models and realities: Village Development and Security
Malaysian national planning and East Committees in Sarawak', Journal AZAM 8:71-
Malaysian development problems', Modern 111
Asian Studies, 22:263-98 Shamsul, A.B. (1989) 'Village: The Imposed
Leigh, M. (1988) 'Socio-political Dimension: Social Construct in Malaysia's Development
Development in Sarawak', paper presented at a Initiatives', working paper No. 115 in
Seminar on the Development in Sarawak, Southeast Asia Programme, Faculty of
Kuching, Sarawak Sociology, University of Bielefeld, Germany
Mahmud, Hj. A. T. (1992) 'The politics of
development: roles of and challenges for the
elected representatives', Journal AZAM, 8:1- The author
Melkote, S.R. (1987) 'Biases in development Dimbab Ngidang is head of the Planning and
support communication: revealing the Management Programme in the Faculty of
comprehensive gap', Gazette, 40:39-55 Social Science at the Universiti Malaysia
Ngidang, D. (1992) 'Only in principles but not Sarawak.
in practice: a dilemma of inter-agency This article first appeared in Development in
coordination in extension', Journal AZAM, 8: Practice Volume 5, Number 4, in 1995.

What is development?
Hugo Slim

In hazarding a guess at what most of us in forward from what they considered to be the
NGOs mean by development, I will try to failure of development in the 1950s and
sketch out the ideal as it has emerged in recent 1960s. They produced the Cocoyoc Declara-
years and identify some of its essential tion, in which they made a basic distinction
ingredients. In so doing, I want to emphasise between priorities relating to the 'inner limits'
the following key principles: and those relating to the 'outer limits' of
development (Cocoyoc, 1974, pp.170-1).
that genuine development is much more The inner limits cover 'fundamental human
than a matter of economics and economic needs' like food, shelter, health, and human
growth; rights. The outer limits relate to aspects of 'the
that development is a universal goal for all planet's physical integrity' like the environ-
societies and not just a 'Third World ment and population. This distinction is still a
problem'; useful one and identifies the two great
that development depends on the just concerns of development: human develop-
interaction between different groups and ment and protection of the planet, and their
different nations, and that at the heart of the inevitable inter-dependence.
struggle for development is the struggle of
Some basic ingredients
Having looked at the ideal of development and
glimpsed a near-perfect world, I will then look In recent decades, development theorists and
briefly at the reality of the development agenda practitioners have come to recognise that a
today, as it is dominated by the so-called certain number of basic ingredients are
'Washington Consensus'. Finally, in the light required, if effective development is to take
of this reality I want to suggest that the right place within each of these two spheres.
role for NGOs is one which continues to Listing some of these ingredients may help to
question current orthodoxy and, where give a picture of what development is and how
appropriate, to seek alternatives to it. it comes about.
Development is essentially about change:
not just any change, but a definite
What is development trying to improvement a change for the better. At the
do? same time, development is also about
continuity. Because if change is to take root, it
In 1974, a group of ten of the world's must have something in common with the
development experts (all men) met at community or society in question. It must
Cocoyoc in Mexico to try to set a new agenda make sense to people and be in line with their
of 'alternative development', to move values and their capacity. Development must
64 Development and Social Diversity

therefore be appropriate culturally, achievement of other key development

socially, economically, technologically, and ingredients like choice, control, and access.
environmentally. At the end of the day, development is
But appropriate does not means old- judged as successful by whether or not it lasts.
fashioned. Genuine development has an air of Sustainability, self-reliance, and independ-
originality about it, but it is original not just by ence are seen as vital ingredients in effective
virtue of being novel. In the strict sense of the development: the eggs that bind the mixture of
word, genuine development is original the cake. Sustainability is particularly
because it has its origins in that society or important, because it guarantees a future for
community, and is not simply an imported the improvements brought about by a
copy or imitation of somebody else's community or society. Sustainability is
development. It is well known that 'imitative therefore described as intergenerational
development' is often doomed to failure. At equity, because the benefits of development
best it does not take root; at worst it imposes will be equally available to future genera-
itself and distorts or destroys a society. tions, and not all used up by the present
Genuine development, therefore, is not about generation. Effective development is about
similitude and making everything the same. change for the better for future generations
Instead, real development safeguards and too, and not just at their expense.
thrives on difference, and produces diversity. If these are some of the ingredients of
At the heart of any change for the better are development, the oven in which they are all
the twin ingredients of equity and justice. baked is time. Development takes time, and
Change will not be an improvement if it is built time is something of which Western culture in
on injustice and does not benefit people particular has very little. Most people agree
equally. A quest for justice and equity usually that the pressure for quick results has been the
meets resistance from some quarters, and this cause of many of the world's most
means that struggle, opposition, and conflict of inappropriate development initiatives. It is a
some kind are also essential ingredients of pressure which stems from a widespread
development. This is because relationships are naivety in the world's major development
a major factor in determining develop-ment. institutions over the last 50 years, a naivety
Relationships between individuals, commun- founded on an over-confidence in techno-
ities, the sexes, the social classes, and power logical and economic development, without
groups combine with international relation- sufficient regard for social and environ-
ships to dictate the equity of development mental realities.
throughout the world. Effective development
will inevitably challenge some of these
relationships in the process of changing them. Development is more than
Participation is a critical aspect of equity. If economics
development is really to belong to people, it
must be shared by them. This means involving Recognition of these various development
them. It is now a well-known maxim that true ingredients has made it increasingly clear that
development can be achieved only by people there is more to human development than
and cannot be done to people. Representation economic development. Real human develop-
and involvement in decision-making, action, ment concerns more intangible factors that
and outcome are therefore regarded as relate to the quality of change in people's
essential. Many development theorists use the lives, as well as to the quantity of change. This
word 'democracy' to describe this process. view that human development is more
And the idea of empowerment is increasingly complex than economics alone is clearly
used to describe the fulfilment of a participat- expressed by John Clark in his 1991 book
ory process, the consequence of which is the Democratizing Development (p. 36):
What is development? 65

Development is not a commodity to be rank, showing their enormous potential for

weighed or measured by GNP statistics. It is a
improving the lives of their people.
process of change that enables people to take
charge of their own destinies and realize their
The conclusion is that rich countries are not
full potential. It requires building up in people
always the most developed, and poor
the confidence, skills, assets and freedoms
countries are not always the least developed.
necessary to achieve this goal.
Irresponsible economic growth super-
development can act as a force for under-
Economic growth is not a simple engine for development in and against many societies.
human development. Development is not just Civilisation (the old nineteenth-century word
about having more, but also about being more for development) is more than economic
(Pratt and Boyden, 1985, CAFOD et ah, growth and is by no means a monopoly of the
1987). It is about developing the human rich, but common to all societies.
person, human society, and the environment.
One major trend in recent development theory
and practice has been the merging of the
A universal issue, not a Third
human rights and environment agendas with
World' issue
the development agenda. This merger recog-
nises that development must be valued in This de-linking of economic growth and
terms beyond simple economic analysis, and human development brings the realisation that
that poverty is as much about a loss of rights, human-development strategies are required in
freedom, culture, dignity, and environment as response as much to over-development and
about low income. In his book Empowerment: super-development as to under-development.
The Politics of Alternative Development The extreme urbanisation, pollution,
(1992), John Friedman outlines a new model environmental degradation, unfair trading
of economic growth which takes human rights practices, and economic expansionism in
and the environment into account: European, North American, and South-East
Asian societies are as much a form and cause
An appropriate economic growth path is of mis-development as the hunger, conflict,
pursued when market measures of production and poverty in some African, Asian, and Latin
are supplemented with calculations of the American societies.
probable social and environmental costs, or
Every society rich or poor has a
costs to third parties, that are likely to be
development problem, and the old develop-
incurred in any new investment.
ment geography of north/south, east/west, and
The creation of UNDP's human develop-ment of first, second, third, and fourth worlds,
index (HDI) in 1990 was a further bold misses the point that fair and sustainable
attempt to recognise that human develop- development is a global issue. As Friedman
ment is more than economics, and is about the makes clear (1993, p. 131), human develop-
quality of human life as well as the quantity of ment is a challenge for world society:
economic growth. This point is well made in
UNDP's 1993 Human Development Report: Rich and poor countries constitute a single
world system, and the overdevelopment of the
There is no automatic link between income first is closely linked to the misdevelopment of
and human development. Several countries the second. Neither 'development' is sustain-
have done well in translating their income into able in the long run; and both fail to meet the
the lives of their people: their human develop- equity test. A vision of alternative development
ment rank is way ahead of their per capita is thus as pertinent for the countries central to
income rank. Other societies have income the world economy as it is for those on the
ranks far above their human development periphery.
66 Development and Social Diversity

Development is about Measuring development

The fact that development is an issue for every
Human relationships are one of the main society, and that it is as much about human
determinants of human development. A great rights, the environment, and relationships as it
deal of the world's misdevelopment is the is about economics, makes it an increasingly
result of unfair or dysfunctional relationships complex phenomenon to measure. The last few
at an international, national, or community years have seen an enormous effort to move
level. At national and community levels, beyond traditional economic indicators (of
power relations, gender relations, and ethnic production, income, consumption, debt, etc.)
relations play a major part in shaping or epitomised by the World Bank's world-
distorting genuine development. At an development indicators, to a new broad range
international level, unjust economic relations of indicators which capture the personal,
ensnare poor countries into debt and social, cultural, and environmental dimensions
commodity-pricing traps, while political of development.
imbalances prevent many countries from Of this new generation of development
enjoying a full stake in global governance. In indicators, the World Bank's programme of
this context, much of what is offered as social indicators of development currently has
development aid is in fact a catalyst of 94 indicators and UNDP's Human
misdevelopment, either because it is environ- Development Index (HDI) has 253 human-
mentally or socially inappropriate, or because development indicators (UNDP, 1993). These
its 'giving' represents the extension of a range from infant mortality rates to air quality,
dysfunctional power relationship between through human rights, to TV ownership and
nations. Because of this, Pope Paul VI wisely population per passenger car. The HDI also
urged poor countries to 'choose with care claims to be gender-sensitive.
between the evil and the good in what is It is hard to gauge the accuracy and
offered by the rich' (CAFOD, 1967). The relevance of new development indicators like
dysfunctional way in which the 'First World' the HDI, which the British newspaper the
projects so much of the shadow side of its Daily Mail described with typical tabloid
psyche on to images of a 'weak and helpless precision as 'a happiness index'. However,
Third World' also places huge cross-cultural they are at least evidence of the wider recog-
obstacles in the way of healthy and just nition that a purely economic model of devel-
relationships between peoples. opment is not sufficient, and that in reality the
Just human relationships are therefore one quality and scope of development are more
of the keys to development, and dialogue complex than the creation and distribution of
needs to be at the heart of the development wealth.
relationship to encourage exchange, agree-
ment, and partnership. For NGOs and other
development organisations in particular, this The reality of development today
question of forming just relations is crucial.
As Charles Abrams has observed, effective Much of the above has described the ideal
co-operation between development pro- recipe for genuine development. In reality,
fessionals and the communities with which however, the development menu today is
they work depends on recognising a place for dominated by one main dish, which is known
the 'expert' from outside the community as 'the Washington Consensus', served up
alongside the 'inpert' from inside it, and from the policy kitchens of the White House,
achieving the right balance between the two the World Bank, and the IMF in Washington,
(Abrams, 1964). and garnished with the policies of the
European Union.
What is development? 67

With the end of the Cold War, the Western informal voluntary sector is a peculiarly
economic and political view has come to European (possibly even Anglo-Saxon)
dominate the global scene. From living in a bi- phenomenon which may not travel well.
polar world which set out two main models of There are, therefore, grave dangers in a
political and economic development, we single prevailing developmental model,
currently exist in an essentially uni-polar particularly when as is the case today
world, where the tenets of Western liberalism there is also a distinct lack of alternatives. The
go unchallenged and dictate international NGO sector, in particular, has always been the
policy. For the most part, the world now tends forum for opposition and alternative
towards this view, which is therefore regarded development strategies. Today it finds itself
as a consensus. Its motto is 'good govern- courted to an unprecedented degree by the
ance', which has both economic and political establishment often with echoes of its own
aspects. Economic good governance refers to words and is in danger of being co-opted.
notions of free markets and a limited and But, as yet, it has no real alternatives to the
enabling State. Political good governance is Washington Consensus beyond a vague
about human rights and the development of a suspicion that the new blueprint of good
vibrant society. governance cannot be any better than
The Washington Consensus has much to previous ones. This is not enough on which to
commend it, and indeed co-opts a great deal of make a stand, however, and in the meantime
the language and ideas of previously any debate about development seems to be
progressive NGOs, especially relating to suspended, with the argument temporarily
human rights, which somewhat takes the wind won.
out of their sails as radical organisations. But The case of Eastern Europe and the new
in its ideals lie all the dangers of prescription States of the former Soviet Union adds a new
and of a single model, because its whole financial urgency to the question. With
platform hinges on the principle of Western aid budgets being reduced in real
conditionality. The Washington Consensus is terms, it is alarming for development agencies
a set menu, and it is now impossible for any concerned with Africa, Asia, and Latin
aid-dependent country to order its America to see these dwindling budgets now
development a la carte. being shared with the countries of Eastern
Europe and the new independent States,
especially when foreign policy is bound to
dictate a priority for the former communist
The set menu
countries over and above other (most notably
The majority of Western aid is now African) countries.
conditional on the rigorous pursuance of good
governance in its prescribed form. While
there is little doubt that human rights are a
So what is development?
given good and an ethical model to be applied
across the world (although there is even some The first part of this article sketched out a
dispute about that), the same may not relatively positive picture of what principles
necessarily be the case for economic models might be considered to contribute to genuine
and notions of the perfect State and society. development. The ingredients it identified are
For example, the enormous trust which the complex and not easy to come by. Among
Washington Consensus places in civil society them, the principles of diversity and
and a thriving NGO sector as a panacea for originality were identified as essential, but the
efficient service-provision may prove prospect for these two ingredients in
unfounded in the many different cultural and particular appears even more distant in the
historical settings around the world. The light of the development realpolitik described
68 Development and Social Diversity

above. The prevailing consensus prizes References

uniformity and only really allows for one road
towards a single and over-prescribed model of Abrams, C. (1964) Man's Struggle for
development. It is perhaps ironic that a Shelter in an Urbanizing World, Cambridge,
consensus which champions choice and the Mass: MIT Press (quoted in N. Hamdi:
market in its economics tends not to Housing Without Houses, van Nostrand
encourage a market-place for developmental Reinhold, 1991).
alternatives. CAFOD (1967) This is Progress, translation
It seems fair to conclude that the main of the Encyclical Letter of Paul VI
priority for the NGO community today is to Populorum Progressio, paragraph 41,
continue to explore alternatives, and to London: CAFOD.
question the current blueprint where it proves CAFOD et al. (1987) Social Concern: A
to be flawed, from the basis of experience and Simplified Version of the Encyclical
partnership. These alternatives should be used Solicitudo Rei Socialis of John Paul II,
to influence and challenge current trends and, London: CAFOD.
if not to change the model, at least to shape the Clark, J. (1991) Democratizing Develop-
best possible variations. Genuine universal ment: The Role of Voluntary Organizations,
development is indeed an ideal, a holy grail. London: Earthscan.
But, as a general rule, it may be more creative Cocoyoc Declaration (1974), quoted in
to have several knights errant roaming the Friedman (1992).
world in search of it in different ways and Friedman, J. (1992) Empowerment: The
different places, instead of one white knight Politics ofAlternative Development, Oxford:
leading the whole band in one direction, in the Blackwell.
belief that he knows where it is hidden. Pratt, B. and J. Boyden (1985) The Field
Directors' Handbook, Oxford: Oxfam (UK
and Ireland).
Notes UNDP (1993) The Human Development
Report, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This article is based on a Discussion Paper
prepared for a Save the Children UK regional The author
meeting in Thailand in December 1993.1 am
indebted to Douglas Lackey of SCF for setting Hugo Slim is co-director of the Centre for
me such a direct question as the subject of my Development and Emergency Planning
session a question that I had been happily (CENDEP), Oxford Brookes University.
dodging to date. Previously he was Senior Research Officer at
Save the Children Fund, and he has also
worked in Morocco, Sudan, Ethiopia,
Bangladesh, and the Occupied Territories.
This article first appeared in Development
in Practice Volume 5, Number 2, in 1995.

Research into local culture:

implications for participatory development

Odhiambo Anacleti
Subjects or objects of by which rural people avail themselves of an
development? opportunity to upgrade their way of life,
moving from mere strategies for survival to
People in Africa are rarely asked what kind of challenging the physical and social environ-
development they want. They have always ment in which they find themselves. It is a
been the objects of various models, though process that enables them to become aware and
these have rarely increased their supplies of to analyse the constraints to which they are
food, or improved their state of health. Indeed, subject. It is also a process that gives them
the poor in Africa have rarely been considered access to the resources required for removing
to be humans in their own right. They have such constraints; and which acknowledges
always been the ones whom others would like their right to plan and control their destiny in
to see changed, whether through Christianity, accordance with the resources available to
civilisation, research, or development projects. them. To create equity, it must be appreciated
They are seldom thought to have a religion, a that people, including rural people, do not wish
culture, or even a trading system of their own. others to define their needs for them. They can
They have to be initiated in all of this. They do it for themselves.
have to be helped, assessed, and given aid. To recognise this implies a change in
If the hope of a more equitable order is to be attitudes towards development; and, in turn, a
realised, attitudes towards the rural sector and need for information to identify the underlying
rural people in developing countries need to causes behind the continued subservience of
undergo radical changes. It must be recognised the rural sector to the towns and cities. Such
that the rural sector (which is referred to here as information will provide the basis for creating
' local') has a dynamism of its own that does not alternative solutions to critical problems in the
have to be explained by comparison with, and developing countries.
in contrast to, external events and history. Rural This is the only way open to us to reverse the
people have their own concept of development, extreme economic difficulties of the last three
and have always been engaged in some kind of decades, which have had such devastating
exchange of material goods and ideas with the effects on the development potential of African
outside. This already gives them a perception rural people, and so undermined their political,
of the merits and demerits of such exchange. economic, and cultural integrity and even
Such perceptions do not depend on how the their identity. Collecting such information
world perceives and defines the concepts entails research into existing systems and
but instead on how those concepts actually institutions, and the possibilities for using these
affect them. as the stepping stones towards development
Rural development must be seen as a process relevant for the people.
70 Development and Social Diversity

Why research into local culture? negatively when they are expected to implem-
ent the research findings of development
We might question why anybody should theorists: it often seems to them that the
recommend more research, given the amount proposed solutions would alienate them from
of information available on practically every the very culture which they value.
aspect of our lives! After all, increasing It is ironic, but true, that colonial govern-
knowledge about the 'developing' countries ments (for example in the case of Tanzania
and their poverty does not seem to have mainland, and other former African colonies)
provided solutions to it. Is it because the were more conscious of this than independent
information is irrelevant? Or is it because the governments. Colonial officials were very
solutions proposed are the wrong ones? aware of the importance of knowing the culture
Whatever the reason, I tend to the view that the of the people, presumably reasoning that if they
researchers are asking the wrong questions.1 did not control people's cultural behaviour,
Community development is a process and they would never rule them. Speculation aside,
a rather slow one. It will be even slower if they did quite a lot of work in trying to
development agencies ignore Julius Nyerere's understand the native systems, and even
dictum that 'People are not developed, they applying them in day-to-day administration.
develop themselves'.2 But for people to One such example is Hans Cory's study3 of
develop themselves, they have to be convinced the Kuria of Tanzania's Tarime district, which
that the changes envisaged will not be a mere was used in establishing the system of chief-
experiment with their lives, but will actually taincy which transcended the traditional clans,
mean a change for the better. and is still in use today. As one Tanzanian
People participate in what they know best. At Regional Commissioner told me: 'The colonial
present, and for the foreseeable future, at least DC travelled more miles per year in his district
70 per cent of Africans will continue to be rural than the current Tanzanian DCs do in their
and semi-literate. Their knowledge will con- Land Rovers.'4 This gave the colonial author-
tinue to be parochial, but specific to the realities ities a close insight into the culture of local
of their daily lives. Most of this knowledge will communities, which they would then apply in
continue to be transmitted through tradition organising their rule over the people. Could the
from one generation to another. The tradition current administrators not imitate this?
will continue to be guided mainly by cultural The success of any effort to do so would
principles and values. Hence the need to study depend on two factors. First, understanding
local culture as the starting point for dialogue people's culture requires some degree of
about people's development and their humility on the part of the researchers, since
participation in bringing it about. they are required to confess ignorance about
Practically all rural communities still cherish the subject of their research. Many would-be
their culture, as manifested by their traditional researchers fear exposing their ignorance of the
knowledge, skills, values, customs, language, specific systems. It is easier, after all, to assume
art forms, organisation and management that all rural areas are similar, and whatever is
systems, and institutions: these are what have true for rural Malawi will apply to rural Kenya.
enabled them to survive as communities in a The second factor militating against research
physical and social environment that is some- into local culture is the assumption by
times very hostile. It seems obvious that indigenous researchers that because they are
research should be focused on developing this natives, they already understand the culture.
culture. The tendency, however, has been These people forget that their socialisation
towards finding alternatives to what people process in their own communities was not
already have, rather than on identifying where completed, because of the short spans of time
the inadequacies lie and improving on them. It they spent there once they began attending
is no wonder that communities often respond school. Besides, being indigenous usually
Research into local culture 71

limits the kinds of question they may ask, as is still great faith in the imposition of develop-
they will be supposed by the communities to ment models, supposedly successful else-
know the answers already. Being indigenous where, on other people without their consent.
can be more of a hindrance than a help to This happens despite people's resistance to
cultural research; and the researcher needs to such imposition. We should reflect on the
be conscious of this fact. example of Minigo village in Tarime district,
Tanzania, where in 1986 the men refused
/ know you do not know what I know, but why manually powered grinding mills because
do you not want to know that I too know what (according to the Chief) 'it would make their
you do not know? You may have quite a lot of wives lazy'. In fact, they were trying to convey
book knowledge, but I still believe (olul ok their feeling that the time of manual grinding
puonj dhok mil Memo) that the anus does not mills had passed. They were hoping that if they
teach the mouth the sweetness of food.5 refused them, then the donors would give them
a diesel-powered grinding mill which would
Such was the exasperation of Mzee Joel not only help the women but would also bring
Kithene Mhinga of Buganjo village in north revenue to the village.
Tanzania, expressed after a long discussion in For people to participate in decisions that
which I tried to prove to him that he had got his affect their lives, they must start from where
historical facts wrong about the genesis of the they are and with what they know. What most
Baganjo clan. It reminded me of another argu- people know is their own culture and values.
ment in a workshop held in Dodoma to train Hence in order to liberate people from
traditional birth attendants. The village women imposed, impractical, and often unproved
were protesting at being called 'traditional' and systems and institutions, they need to be
'attendants'. They wondered why the formally involved in integrating those systems into their
trained midwives wanted to monopolise the culture, in the search for alternatives within
word 'midwife', when they were sure they had their cultural milieu.
delivered more live children than any nurse
present. As a compromise, they agreed to be
called 'traditional midwives', provided that the
hospital midwives agreed to be called 'pen
The relevance of participatory
It is not often that rural people will express 'Participatory development' implies develop-
themselves so candidly. But the truth remains ment which involves all the people, especially
that the traditional knowledge which has those whose basic needs and aspirations are
enabled the communities to survive has often affected by the decisions concerning the avail-
been ignored in preference to book learning. ability of resources and entitlement to such
Researchers and development agents have needs. Participatory development, therefore,
presumed to know the inner thinking and includes equitable sharing of the control,
behaviour of illiterate rural people, even when division, and use of the resources and of the
they do not know enough. And because they ultimate benefits of development in a commun-
fail to understand what rural people know, they ity. It also involves taking responsibility and
tend to compensate for this with something being accountable to the community at all
new, rather than proving the inadequacy of the levels. This will be just wishful thinking if the
existing knowledge, systems, and institutions. decision-making structures remain alien,
Local knowledge has been undervalued for too bureaucratic, and elitist. Rather, they must be
long to the detriment of the development of made more comprehensible and acceptable to
the rural people and their countries. the people. The best way of doing this is to look
Although history has proved that alien ideas at existing cultural systems and integrate the
imposed on people always end in failure, there decision-making structures into them.
72 Development and Social Diversity

In 1973, the Tanzanian government decided of the people, on the arrogant assumption that
to settle its population in villages. The aim was their particular techniques are the exclusive
to make Tanzanians live like a traditional domain of trained academics and elites. This
African family which 'lived together and ignores the fact that they depend on local
worked together', to achieve the objective of people to achieve their goals.
building 'a society in which all members have People, in the last analysis, are the repository
equal rights and equal opportunities; in which of local knowledge. In order to help them to
all can live at peace with their neighbours develop, they must be enabled to tap that
without suffering or imposing injustice, being knowledge. The best way to do this is to help
exploited or exploiting; and in which all have a them extrapolate from what they know best,
gradually increasing basic level of material their culture. In doing so, they will able to relate
welfare before any individual lives in luxury.'7 their deeply felt aspirations to the surrounding
If the plan had been implemented properly, it social reality. This connection is so rarely made
would have come very close to achieving what by development agents that people are usually
is implied by participatory development. What seen as just another resource for development,
actually happened was that cultural implica- rather the subjects of their own development.
tions were not taken into consideration. For
instance, there was no local research to find out
what forms of working together were still in
existence, and how they fitted into a pattern in Notes
which individuals were producing their own 1 An idea explained very well by Michael
individual cash crops. The type of 'Ujamaa' Edwards, Oxfam's former Representative in
living envisaged would have been possible Zambia, in his paper 'The Irrelevance of
only under the communal system of land Development Studies' (mimeo 1979).
ownership which was no longer extant in 2 J. K. Nyerere: Freedom and Socialism
Tanzania. An examination of the way in which (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978).
people had adopted and organised new patterns 3 This study, written in 1948, is stored in the
of land ownership would have helped to Tanzania National Archives.
increase the social and economic acceptability 4 P. Syovelwa, visiting Hadzabe village, 1979.
of the whole operation. As this was not done, it 5 Personal communication,, 1979.
was no wonder that 'villagisation' was 6 Training workshop for Traditional Birth
regarded as coercive behaviour on the part of Attendants, Mvumi Hospital, 1986.
the government, in its attempt to show that it 7 Nyerere, op. cit.
ruled over (rather than belonged to) the people.
This is a good example of a situation in
which concern for and awareness of people's The author
culture and customs would have gone a long
way to achieving participatory change. No Odhiambo Anacleti works for Oxfam (UK and
wonder that 20 years ater people are going back Ireland) as Communications Officer (Africa);
to their old homesteads and re-creating their previously he was the Area Coordinator for
own structures, which could have informed the Africa South, and the Country Representative
authorities of 20 years ago. What a waste! in Tanzania. Before that, he was Director of
Involving people in discussing their own Research and Planning at the Tanzanian
development, and arriving at decisions, leads to Ministry of National Culture and Youth, and
an understanding of why engagement in the lectured at the University of Dar es Salaam
whole process of problem-solving is necessary Institute of Development Studies.
to bring about lasting and worthwhile change. This article first appeared in Development in
The current process is that researchers and Practice, Volume 3, Number 1, in 1993.
development agents claim to be representatives

An education programme for peasant

women in Honduras

Rocio Tdbora

Now I feel I have the inner strength, the belief are, along with ordinary people themselves,
that I am capable, and that what I think will be having to rethink their own aspirations. We are
taken seriously. When I think now, I do so in the having to redefine our roles as support
confidence that I am a person in my own right. institutions, and look again at how we engage
(Honduran peasant woman) with grassroots communities. We have to learn
how to value and draw on the significant
experience in teaching and learning which
Introduction people have already developed, for
themselves, with or without our help. A
Over the last ten years, the social and economic particularly encouraging example of such
situation in Honduras has worsened in every educational and organisational work is being
respect. Many of the political models so undertaken by a women's education
faithfully adopted in the past have become programme (PAEM) in north-west Honduras.
obsolete in today's context. At the same time,
the neo-liberal truths and certainties currently
fashionable are every day belied by their own
failure to resolve basic social problems and
by the increased wretchedness, delinquency, PAEM is a programme which has developed
and suffering which make us feel so confused among Christian women in the rural parishes of
and powerless. Santa Barbara, Colon, Comayagua, Intibuca,
Against this background, and given the and Lempira Departments. Its overall aims are:
authoritarianism of our cultural heritage, we
urgently need to develop a culture of demo- To bring together women who are already
cracy, in which differences are respected and involved in activities run by the Roman
where solidarity is encouraged. As Ibanez, the Catholic church, as well as any other
Peruvian educationalist, writes: disadvantaged women from nearby peasant
What we are talking about is a new way of To create an alternative approach to
living; new social relations, ways of working, educational and organisational work with
thinking, feeling, celebrating... social change women which is responsive to their specific
requires us to change our own daily lives ...we problems, needs, and concerns.
can't divorce one plane from another.1 To contribute to establishing a distinctive
sense of what it means to be a woman in
The various centres and NGOs in Central Central and Latin America.
America which work with the 'popular sectors' To engage in discussions on the subjects of
74 Development and Social Diversity

gender, social class, and ethnicity, as well as tant to begin by looking at how people actually
the specific rple of women in bringing about communicate, than to make elaborate
social change, both with the Church assumptions from the outside about how they
authorities and with the leadership of the ought to communicate.
popular movement. Communication and everyday life are, in
To create a space for women, based on their reality, on a continuum. But we so often distort
own identity and equality as human beings, this when we come in from the outside and
as the basis for them to contribute fully and insist on our way of doing things. For example,
autonomously to creating a society marked we have a quite different notion of time and
by justice, humanity, and solidarity. space, or of what constitutes appropriate
behaviour. We have tight schedules: we don't
allow for long silences, for changing the baby's
PAEM's methodological contribution nappy, or trying to do three things at once. We
In COMUNICA (the NGO Centre for take advantage of being articulate and tend to
Communication and Training for Develo- dismiss the immediacy of life, or of just being
pment) we aim to develop a clear methodology together: we dichotomise training and
for strengthening communication work within recreation.
the social organisations with whom we work. At the same time, the cultural repression of
We have been enriched by our working contact women, our marginalisation in society and
with PAEM in every way, both personally and throughout history, have had (and continue to
professionally. Over the last three years, have) many consequences. One of these is that
COMUNICA has been able to draw on the women have been inhibited and so prevented
strength of the women in PAEM; and to learn from developing the ability to communicate as
something about how academic and practical effectively as they would like. Women have
ways of understanding the world can difficulty in expressing themselves; in
complement each other. We have been able to experiencing and communicating, whether in
live at first hand, through PAEM, some of the words, feelings or physical expression.
theoretical debates that are shaping new ideas Women have been denied the right to be
about popular education in Latin America: creative, thus limiting the role they could be
namely, the crucial importance of the playing in putting forward their own
individual or person: seeing his or her alternatives in the process of social change.
subjectivity and feelings as part of our culture,
To reverse this process of marginalisation,
and what that means.
we women have to look deep inside ourselves
In the case of the peasant women in PAEM, in order to unravel the threads which tie us
we have seen repeatedly how their feelings down and keep us subordinate. We have to
impinge on all the educational work. In fact, the recognise the subjectivity and feelings which
teaching materials themselves revolve around criss-cross the decisions and beliefs which
three basic questions: How do we live?How do predominate in our minds at a rational level. In
we think? What do we feel? other words, it is crucial that we get to know
ourselves as women.
For peasant women, already facing so much
Women, communication, and insecurity and uncertainty, economically
culture dependent on men and with relatively few
employment opportunities, this process of self-
With PAEM, we have come to see how assertion is immensely harder. Yet for
traditional forms of expression dance, six years, PAEM has been working from the
poetry, customs, story-telling can premise that, for women, self-esteem has to be
themselves be woven into an authentic form of the inspiration or starting-point for any genuine
popular communication. It is far more impor- educational work.
An education programme for peasant women in Honduras 75

These women have gradually reclaimed the In both the content and the methodology of
right to laugh, to talk, to have fun, to share, to PAEM's work, unexpressed emotions are seen
have self-esteem and dignityin short, to live. as being the key to women's being able to
The emphasis on human, democratic values revalue themselves. We would do well to adopt
marks PAEM out as a space where women can this approach in other educational work, given
lose the fear of making a mistake or being that our feelings do in fact underlie our values,
wrong. Here, they can learn to take on a more our expressions of solidarity with others, and
assertive role in their communities and to our sense of human dignity. We need to see
participate in, and run, their own social ourselves as thinking and feeling beings.
organisation; and they can recognise the Giving recognition to our emotions in the
resistance and barriers which they all educational work we do is the way to make it
experience for what they are. both more human and, paradoxically, more
PAEM's starting point for action is the self- objective. Given the exaggerated form of
denigration and self-marginalisation which masculinity, machismo, which dominates us,
women have to overcome in order to speak, put to accord a proper place to so-called femininity
forward ideas, and genuinely participate in the is actually a way for us all to make our everyday
search for a different future. In Latin American social relations more democratic.
societies, which are so profoundly patriarchal, Today, NGOs which are involved in
authoritarian, and non-participative, our feel- education are having to be much clearer about
ings are constantly denied: their theoretical assumptions, and about the
specific needs of the children, women, and men
We live in a culture which devalues emotions in with whom they aim to work. In view of the
direct proportion to the over-valuing ofreason, crisis affecting the popular education
in our wish to distinguish ourselves from other 'movement', we need more than ever before to
2 analyse, order, and interpret our practical
animals, as rational beings.
experience. Patience in this task is crucial.
What we have to remember above all is that
people already have their own experience,
Challenges and perspectives
knowledge and understanding, gained from
Even in the field of popular education, their daily lives or involvement in social
emotions are, more often than not, seen as organisations. We need to look afresh at the
getting in the way of understanding, or people we claim to help, and see how we can
constraining our rational thought-processes. build on their existing experience in
Feelings are generally identified as falling developing, validating, and strengthening our
within the feminine realm. As Burin argues, methodologies.
As we in COMUNICA have worked
Women, through the experience of mother- alongside PAEM, we have seen how
hood, develop the capacity to care for others, democracy is constructed at the micro-level.
using our communication skills as a means to Discovering their own voice is what allows
resolve disagreements. These are in fact women to participate in an authentic way. The
qualities which every human being needs; echoes are to be heard in the everyday sphere:
however, within our culture, they are not seen husbands and partners learning to see their
as something which has to be learned the hard wives as thinking human beings, with their
way, but rather as something 'naturally' own rights, and so taking on some of the
feminine. Since these qualities are not socially domestic chores; priests and lay-workers
valued, they are not fully included in our allowing themselves to be interrupted by
understanding of what constitutes emotional women; women who will fight for and defend
maturity and mental health? their space, their autonomy, and their identity.
All these are encouraging signs in a world of
76 Development and Social Diversity

poverty and despair. their creative potential, their appreciation and

Such minute expressions of change are the enjoyment of language and imagery through
basis for grassroots alternatives in which men education, is reduced.
and women participate fully. And, in the The use of traditional forms of story-telling
overall process of democratisation in Central helps us to unravel, examine, and re-order the
America, people who have always been threads which bind our consciousness and
relegated to an inferior position must now which condition the way in which we see, feel
begin to demand the power they have and respond to the world. It can help us to
historically been denied. Women, especially consider our prejudices and analyse the myths
peasant women, need to start by insisting on and beliefs which can divide or unite us: we can
their own 'space' in every quarter: the family, recognise our own richness and so strengthen
the community, the cooperative, the trade our identities.
union or social organisation, and so on. Only if If we look at the contents of many narratives
women, along with all the other disadvantaged within the peasants' own story-telling
groups, begin to do this will we really be able to tradition, we can easily identify those elements
build a viable alternative to the authoritarian which stereotype women and reinforce their
social structures which have successfully self-deprecation. These images become the
dehumanised us for so long. daily reality for women who are oppressed and
subordinated. None the less, we can develop
practical insights from reflecting on these
Oral tradition and gender issues stories along with peasant women. For
example, some of the exercises we have used in
In our own work with women, we at our work with PAEM have been based on the
COMUNICA has made great use of videos in following approach:
building on our oral tradition as a means of
raising gender-related issues. These are my A woman tells a story.
particular areas of expertise, but it is also well The group recreates the story, perhaps
known that ours is a pre-eminently oral adding their own version of it.
tradition. In the rural areas and poorer town We discuss what we think and feel about the
districts, as soon as the sun goes down, the narrative, and what identification with the
streets, patios, and pavements are meeting characters has taken place.
places: places to laugh, and share anxieties, We talk about the symbols and beliefs
anecdotes, and jokes. Our oral tradition is rich represented in the story, including their
in magical stories, fantasies, and legends. But theological significance. (This is especially
we should not ignore the fact that these relevant, given the strong Christian influence
creations are also a means by which ideas, in oral peasant tradition.)
beliefs, and stereotypes are transmitted. As We analyse the social implications of what
such, they tend to reflect prevailing attitudes to took place in the story: what kind of human
those disadvantaged by our society: ethnic relations are depicted, and whose interests do
minorities, disabled people, women. they serve?
In general, popular education programmes We draw conclusions and consider what
have been incapable of drawing on the richness practical application they might have in our
of our narrative traditions, their evocative and lives and work.
inspiring strength. In just the same way, formal
education has disregarded literature as a source In COMUNICA, we are now increasingly
of knowledge. Once again, life and education drawing in this way on the oral tradition in our
are dichotomised. Imagination, fantasy, and own thinking on popular education and
feeling are seen as pointless and a waste of communication work. For myself, my own
time. Hence the chance for people to develop subjective experience of working with
An education programme for peasant women in Honduras 11

Honduran peasant women has enabled me to The author

recreate my own vision of Utopia, and helped
me more fully to engage with a country which Rocio Tabora is a psychologist and currently
(in the words of the Peruvian writer Arguedas the Director of COMUNICA (Centra de
and the Cuban poet-singer Rodriguez) 'keeps Comunicacion y Capacitacion para el
us hovering between terror and hope ... Desarrollo), Honduras. She is the author of
between fear and tenderness'. Fotografia y educacion de adultos: Algunas
reflexiones sobre la comunicacion visual,
COMUNICA-CEAAL, 1991; and Democrat-
izando la vida: La propuesta metodologica de
las mujeres delPAEM, COMUNICA-PAEM,
1 Alfonso Ibanez, 'Alcances politicos y 1992.
culturales de la educacion popular', This article was translated from Spanish by
Contexto y Educao, Number 23, July-Sept. Deborah Eade, and first appeared in Develop-
1991, p.10. ment in Practice, Volume 3, Number 1 in 1993.
2 Humberto Maturana R., Emociones y
lenguaje en educacion ypolitico: Educacion
y comunicacion, (2nd edition), Coleccion
Hachette-Comunicacion, Chile, 1990, p.14.
3 Mabel Burin, Estudios sobre la subjetividad
feminina: Mujeres y salud mental, Grupo
Editor Latinoamericano, Coleccion Contro-
versia, Buenos Aires, 1987, pp. 397-8.

Challenging gender stereotypes in training:

Mozambican refugees in Malawi

Lewis B Dzimbiri

Background ensure that the process of development is

fruitful as well as gender-fair.
The phenomenon of Mozambican refugees in
Malawi dates back to the time of Portuguese
colonial rule. However, it is the spectacular
Women in development and relief
magnitude of today's influx which has
attracted national and international attention.
By the close of 1992, Malawi whose The socio-economic role of women
national population is about nine million throughout rural Africa and elsewhere is
was hosting over one million Mozambican crucial. It is estimated that women are
refugees in 12 of the 24 districts. responsible for about 70 per cent of staple
This paper grew out of an ethnographic food production, as well as for household
study conducted by the Universities of Oxford management, child-care, gathering wood,
and Malawi, with the overall objective of drawing water, and pounding grain, among
examining the motives for and the impact of other household tasks.
the provision of humanitarian assistance on Despite this, women are conspicuously
the refugees and host-country populations neglected in development and relief initiatives,
(Zetter 1991). The writer, whose focus was with most benefits tending to accrue to men.
the organisation and management of the Women are marginalised in education, skills-
refugee regime, held extensive discussions training, and decision-making. According to
with representatives of the entire range of the famous African leader, Dr Aggrey, when
government and NGO agencies involved, as you educate a man, you have educated an
well as with refugees, in two camps individual; but when you educate a woman,
Chifunga in Mwanza and Tengani in Nsanje you have educated a family (Castle 1965). For
and two self-settled areas of Ntcheu and development to be realistic as well as
Dedza, all focused on skills-development significant, women should be central to any
among refugees, to promote sustainable development strategy.
socio-economic development. Worldwide, women and children constitute
The central argument of this paper is that by approximately 80 per cent of the global
applying traditional ideas about men's and refugee population (Meier-Braun 1992). For
women's roles to the recruitment of trainees example, at Muloza Camp in Mulanje District
for income-generating activities, women's in Malawi, Machika (1992) found that of the
development potential remains largely total population of 32,430, 52 per cent were
untapped. Alternative approaches to working children and 26 per cent women, while 22 per
with women have to be actively sought, to cent (6,907) were men. Of the women,
Challenging gender stereotypes in training 79

evidence shows that most are single: widows, of gender in the allocation of projects and the
divorcees, or deserted wives (Kalyati 1990), recruitment of beneficiaries?
with children.
Paradoxically, in spite of their numerical
majority among the adult population, women Refugee women and projects: an
refugees are marginalised. The failure to overview
recognise either their pivotal position in the
household economy or their specific needs This section presents a selected typology of
has led not only to putting refugee women at a women's involvement in various income-
disadvantage, but has meant also that whole generating projects, using data supplied by
programmes have gone awry. Thus, policy project coordinators and field supervisors.
makers and field workers alike unknowingly Two NGOs illustrate the case of Chifunga
or deliberately contribute further to the Camp in Mwanza, and three illustrate the case
weakening of women's position (Harrell- of Tengani Camp in Nsanje.
Bond 1986).
Chifunga Camp
Refugee women and the camp context
1 Save the Children Fund (Malawi):
Before seeking refuge in Malawi, about 90 per vegetable growing
cent of Mozambican refugees were involved
Beneficiaries Men Women
in some kind of agricultural activity, in which
women participated in cultivation, planting, 300 240 60
weeding, and harvesting (Kotch 1990,
Machika 1992). Unfortunately, the expanded 2 Christian Council of Malawi: poultry and
agricultural programmes are not possible in carpentry
the camp context. So in order to strengthen the
spirit of self-reliance among refugee Project Beneficiaries Men Women
populations, emphasis is put on non- Poultry 12 9 3
agricultural income-generating activities, Carpentry 14 14 0
such as tailoring, carpentry, tin-smithing, Totals: 26 23 3
bread-making, mat-making, shoe repairs,
sewing, and knitting. This is not to suggest
that there are no agriculture-related activities. Tengani Camp
Far from it. There is, for instance, some
vegetable growing and small-animal 1 Evangelical Alliance for Relief and
husbandry. However, the strategy of focusing Development (EVARD): tin-smithing and
on non-agricultural activities raises many home economics
questions. To what extent are refugee
populations achieving self-reliance? How Project Beneficiaries Men Women
many people overall are involved as
beneficiaries? Further, given that such Tin-smithing 240 240 0
activities may not absorb everyone, because Home economics 30 0 30
of the 'narrow gate' through which Totals: 270 240 30
beneficiaries are recruited (Dzimbiri 1992), 2 Save the Children Fund (Malawi):
what is the ratio between men and women in vegetable growing
various projects? If the role of women is
central to the livelihood of a household, how Beneficiaries Men Women
much is done to enhance the earning
912 703 209
capacities of refugee women? What is the role
80 Development and Social Diversity

3 Christian Council of Malawi: various smiths, it does not commission table mats or
cloth made by refugee women. If the objective
Project Beneficiaries Men Women
of these activities were just occupational,
Poultry 15 10 5 rather than to make money for survival
Mat-making 20 20 0 beyond 'hand-outs', then this might cause less
Tailoring 7 7 0 concern. But should we condemn refugee
Radio repairs 5 5 0 women to activities which cannot strengthen
Rabbit-rearing 6 6 0 their self-reliance?
Shoe repairs 1 1 0 The picture of the narrower gate for women
Totals: 54 49 5 on the path towards self-reliance becomes
increasingly clear when one observes the
Thus, of a total of 1,562 beneficiaries in the statistics of women beneficiaries in activities
various income-generating activities in the that are truly income-generating.
two camps, only 307 women refugees It is against this scenario that the writer
participated, less than 20 per cent of the total believes that emphasis should be shifted
adult population. Furthermore, while no deliberately across traditional lines to give
women took part in tin-smithing, carpentry, women increased participation in meaningful
mat-making, tailoring, and radio or shoe economic activities. We must match practice
repairs, there were no men participating in with theory in promoting equal opportunities
'home economics' activities. Are NGOs just for men and women.
reinforcing the 'traditional' division of labour
among men and women?
In the writer's experience, these two camps The Norwegian Refugee Council
are by no means unique. If recruitment of (NRC)
beneficiaries is based on preconceived
traditional (or archaic) notions of a gender- The overall objective of NRC is to enhance
stereotyped distinction between men and self-reliance through skills development
women, many refugee women will fall into a among Mozambican refugees and Malawians
state of helplessness and enforced idleness, affected by the influx of Mozambican
since the camp environment severely restricts refugees. In Ntcheu, NRC has two project
farming activities. Among married women, sites, Biriwiri and Kambironjo, where it has
one can speculate that their husbands may be taken a decision to involve women in
incorporated in other projects. But the traditionally male-dominated skill areas as
situation bears hard on the majority of single illustrated below:
or unaccompanied women, not all of whom
are beneficiaries even of the so-called
Biriwiri Project Site
'women in development' projects such as
knitting or sewing. Project Beneficiaries Men Women
Worse still, even if women are included in
them, these activities are not in great demand, Tin-smithing 22 5 17
given the real-life situation of the refugee Tailoring 25 10 13
population. Do they really need table mats, or Bricklaying 8 5 3
cloths? If not, then there is no demand for Carpentry 10 5 5
them hence they cease to be income- Bee-keeping 32 0 32
generating! For instance, while UNHCR Totals: 97 25 72
places large orders for school uniforms made
by tailoring groups, school desks and chairs
made by carpenters, and pails made by tin-
Challenging gender stereotypes in training 81

Kambironjo Project Site Conclusion

Project Beneficiaries Men Women
There is an urgent need to shift the traditional
Tailoring 22 8 14 gender-biased approaches in allocating
Carpentry 16 10 0 projects among beneficiaries among long-
Fish-farming 14 4 10 stay refugees. Since the camp environment
Bee-keeping 104 34 70 restricts agricultural activity, skills-
Tin-smithing 20 12 8 development among refugee women should
Mushroom- focus on real income-generating activities,
growing 0 8 even if these are considered the traditional
Totals: 184 68 116 domain of men. The example of the
Norwegian Refugee Council in Malawi is a
Here, women represent over 74 per cent and good starting point.
63 per cent of the total project beneficiaries
respectively. It is fascinating to learn how
projects can be designed to increase the
involvement of women in key or lucrative
activities, in spite of deep-rooted cultural Castle, E.B., 1965, Principles of Education
norms and expectations. How did the NRC for Teachers in Africa, London: Oxford
make this important breakthrough? University Press.
Originally, women were reluctant to join Dzimbiri L.B., 1992, 'Managing Refugees in
male-dominated trades such as carpentry, tin- Malawi An Overview', unpublished
smithing, and brick-laying. However, a Research Report, Zomba: Chancellor College.
systematic awareness-raising process helped Harrell-Bond, B.E., 1986, Imposing Aid:
to shift women's values and beliefs. Teaching Emergency Assistance to Refugees, Oxford:
aids included posters or newspaper cuttings Oxford University Press.
showing women in trades such as engineer- Kotch A.B., 1990, 'Refugee Women in
ing, carpentry, welding, architecture, tin- Malawi: Their Role in Household Food
smithing, and so on. This created a great stir Security', EGM/RDWC/1990/BP2 Vienna
among Mozambican refugee women and their June 28.
Malawian counterparts. Since then, these Machika, M.R.E., 1992, 'Income Generation
projects have never been starved of new Activities among Camp Refugees the Case
recruits. According to Norman Tembo, the of Muloza Camp', Blantyre: conference
field supervisor at Biriwiri, 'Our problem now paper.
is how to accommodate the many women Meier-Braun K.H., 1992, 'The new mass
refugees on the waiting list, which is quite migration', Scala Magazine, September/
substantial all the time.' It is also pleasing to October 1992.
note that UNHCR creates markets for these Zetter, R., 1991, 'Governments, NGOs and
beneficiaries by placing large orders for water Humanitarian Assistance for Refugees in
buckets, school uniforms, and desks. Southern Africa: Handbook for Researchers',
Is this approach not worth emulating and Oxford University.
improving? It is not too late. After all, as
Robert Chambers (in Harrell-Bond 1986)
remarks, the intractable problem of millions The author
of refugees, displaced persons, and victims of
famine in rural Africa and elsewhere will not Lewis B. Dzimbiri is a Lecturer in Public
go away. Administration at the University of Malawi.
This article first appeared in Development in
Practice, Volume 5, Number 2, in 1995.

Defining local needs:

a community-based diagnostic survey in Ethiopia

Yezichalem Kassa and Feleke Tadele

Introduction quality and quantity of domestic water supply.
Oxfam is still funding both programmes.
Oxfam in Ethiopia has long been concerned The current phase of the MCH programme
that community-based development pro- covers 18 peasant associations (PAs) from
grammes should reflect local felt needs and five health posts, with a total eligible
priorities. Particularly where there has been a population of 5,620 children under five years
long history of engagement in a given area, a of age. The programme works closely with the
diagnostic survey has proved to be a valuable regional and district offices of the Ministry of
and flexible self-monitoring tool to re-assess Health. Health assistants from the District
development objectives with community Health Centre at Areka accompany Dubbo
groups. MCH staff to outreach sites and also vaccinate
A diagnostic survey uses Rapid Rural all children under one year of age. Serious
Appraisal techniques in a series of dialogues cases and high-risk pregnant women are
and interactions. The intention of the survey referred by programme staff to Areka Health
described here was to determine whether the Centre.
development programmes of Dubbo Catholic During 1993, administrative changes
Mission (mother and child health services and within the Bolosso Suri wereda resulted in the
water supply) were appropriate development Areka Health Centre taking on responsibili-
activities for communities which had not ties for Dangara Salata and Dangara
previously been involved. Madelcho PAs. The two communities were
incorporated into the Dubbo MCH pro-
gramme from January 1994, following a
Background diagnostic survey. This was undertaken by
Dubbo Mission staff as a training exercise,
The Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady at and was facilitated by Oxfam.
the Catholic Church Mission, Dubbo have
been running a Mother and Child Health
(MCH) outreach programme with the rural Survey findings
com-munities in Bolosso Suri wereda
(district) in Wollayita Region for 23 years. Dangara Salata and Dangara Madelcho PAs
Oxfam has provided funding and institutional are situated some 15km north-west of Areka,
support for various programme components the principal town of Bolosso Suri wereda.
since 1974. Alongside this, a rural water- Apparently they were inhabited 150 years ago
supply programme was established in 1984, by a chief named Dangara. When the PAs
aimed at protecting springs to improve the were formed with their present boundaries,
Defining local needs in Ethiopia 83

they were named after the chiefs two older Constraints on agricultural production
sons: Salata and Madelcho.
The current population of Dangara Salata Groups of men and women identified their
and Dangara Madelcho PAs is estimated to be main problems as follows:
9,537 and 8,600 people respectively, with an
average household size of seven. Most High population pressure
inhabitants are of Wollaita ethnic origin and Community groups pointed out that the
are Christians who have affiliations with number of families depending on available
Ethiopian Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant land resources is greater than the carrying
Churches. capacity of the land. Most young men have
Considerable change has occurred in the limited opportunities for farm employment.
socio-economic patterns of the people living Out-migration, which was possible in the past,
in the PA areas. There is now dense human is now hampered both by limited employment
settlement, severe shortages of cultivable prospects in urban areas, and by lack of
land, and few opportunities for off-farm confidence to move from one region to another
activities. This was illustrated by the local because of the government's ethnically-based
people through a line history exercise. regionalisation policy.

High rainfall variability

Transect walk and work patterns
The PAs have experienced uncertain rainfall
Alolla river, which is the main water-source patterns in the last two years, when the
for both livestock and domestic purposes, seasons have started and finished earlier. The
forms the western boundary of the two PAs. community groups stated that this has caused
Maps of the physical environment were a change of crops planted, and in their view a
drawn with groups of men and women. waste of agricultural inputs. Farmers have
Available water sources, gullies, crop lands, adjusted to the changes by planting drought-
trees, roads, offices, and residences of tolerant crops of enset, sweet potato, banana
Traditional Birth Attendants and circum- and coffee, by inter-cropping, and by relying
cisers were indicated on the maps. on more early-maturing crops which require
An analysis of the agricultural production fertilisers.
systems practised by farmers and the work
patterns and labour requirements of Limited land holdings
cultivation was also compiled with groups of The average land-holding in the PAs does not
men and women. Four seasons were clearly exceed half a hectare per household. When a
identifiable, according to the work pattern of male family member marries, family land-
the predominantly farming households. holdings are re-apportioned. Out-migration to
Most families tend to build their grass- seek seasonal farm-labouring work is used to
thatched houses on their private farm land. supplement production on the small land-
Their landholdings do not usually exceed half holdings.
a hectare, which is apportioned to up to 18
types of crops. For example, one farmer grows Crop pests and diseases
enset (false banana), taro, sweet potato, Sweet-potato butterfly is a scourge of one of
cabbage, sugar cane, banana, orange, the staple crops in the two PAs. Pesticides
avocado, hops, coffee, haricot bean, maize, have to be purchased to control the larvae.
teff, sorghum, barley, and various herbs.
Livestock herds of limited size graze on Loss of soil fertility
common land. Small stock and calves were The farmers can neither expand their land-
tethered around some homesteads. holdings nor exploit them. There is a general
understanding that better production could be
84 Development and Social Diversity

achieved if land could be left fallow. Poor diarrhoea, amoebic dysentery, pneumonia, and
extension services, insecurity of land tenure malaria were common. Traditional practices
and ownership, and the tripling in the common in the area are female circumcision
purchase price of fertiliser following the (that is, female genital mutilation), cutting of
devaluation of the Ethiopian Birr were all the uvula (an extension of the soft palate, above
cited as constraints on land fertility. the throat), and tooth extraction.
Malnutrition and diarrhoea were the main
Lack of oxen diseases affecting infants. The disease calendar
A draught animal is the biggest asset for a which was produced by women's groups also
household, as confirmed in the wealth- included scabies, respiratory infections, and
stratification exercise. Only five per cent of dysentery. The women participating in
farmers in Dangara Salata and Dangara discussions understood the significance of
Medalcho PAs were estimated to have a pair inadequate household and environmental
of oxen for traction, and 45 per cent of farmers hygiene, poor sanitation, and limited diet as
have no livestock of any kind and use hand causes of these diseases.
tools for cultivation. Hand tools are not Most people in the PAs want to use modern
efficient for digging out weeds, and the prices health services when they fall sick, but the
of these implements are rising all the time. closest clinic is at Areka, about two hours'
Farmers without oxen either exchange two walk away. In addition, people could not
days' labour for use of one pair of oxen from a afford the high cost of drugs.
neighbour, or rent their lands to share-
croppers, or use mutual work groups (Debbo)
Mother and child health care
to work with hand tools on a number of land-
holdings on a rota basis. Mothers usually deliver at home with the help
of friends and relatives. It is only when they
face a prolonged labour, or complications are
Wealth stratification expected, that the Trained Traditional Birth
The community groups set three criteria for Attendant (TTBA) is called. There is only one
wealth stratification: oxen, livestock, and land TTBA for both Dangara Salata and Dangara
size. On this basis, households in the two PAs Madelcho PAs.
were categorised into three groups. During discussions about health, most of
Rich households comprised five per cent of the women's group (10 out of 15 members)
all the households of the area. They own a pair said that they did not attend ante-natal
of oxen, a pair of cows, and three timad of land services. The distance to Areka Health Centre
(one timad = one-fifth of a hectare). Middle- was the main reason. Few women knew much
ranked households own an ox for share, a cow about family-planning services; and most
to share, a donkey to share, and one timad of want to have more children, primarily to
land. Fifty per cent of the households in the replace those who died in infancy.
PAs were judged to be in this category. Women's groups stressed the problems of
Poor households had no livestock and no fetching water from the river, which is some
farm land, except for a homestead and distance from most villages in the PAs.
'garden' plot. Forty-five percent of all house- Grinding was also mentioned as a heavy part
holds in the PAs fell into this category. of their workload.

Health problems Problem ranking and analysis

Various communicable diseases were After collating ranked problems from men's
mentioned as having a major effect on people's and women's groups in Dangara Salata and
health. It was indicated that typhoid fever, Dangara Madelcho PAs, it was clear that
Defining local needs in Ethiopia 85

Based on the results of this survey, we realised

clean water (17 points), a health clinic (15
the greatest needs of the people a safe and
points), and fertiliser (13 points) were the
priority needs. adequate water supply and a health facility,
as they were completely deprived of both.
Analysing the ranking by gender, we found
that the women's priorities were associated A Health Committee at Dangara Salata was
with their heaviest work: fetching water and formed on 19 January 1994, which was
grinding. An accessible health institution was chaired by the Head of the Wereda Health
also a priority. The men's groups felt that Office. On 1 February 1994 a meeting was
water and health were major problems, after held with the Regional Administrator on the
fertiliser. [needs of] the local community at the
Dangara Salata site. They [the community]
Both PA communities fetch water from the
have worked and repaired the most
Alolla river, which is contaminated and a long
dangerous parts of the roads leading into the
distance from most villages. Many of the
common diseases could be minimised by the area. Also the Dubbo Mission Fathers have
provision of safe drinking water. repaired the bridge and made it safe for us.
The Health Committee provided a large and
The clinic at Areka town is too far away for spacious tukul [local thatched house] for our
mothers, children, the elderly, and sick work.
people, so strengthening local MCH services
and health-education programmes was seen Communities are dynamic, and development
as a real priority. programmes must reflect this dynamism. Only
by this means can development workers hope
Installing a grinding mill for the two PAs
to make a lasting improvement in the quality of
(and possibly for neighbouring PAs as well)
life of the community with whom they are
could reduce women's work in processing
food, but it was recognised that this would be
a major capital input.
The high price of fertiliser was not easy to The authors
address, as there is no strong local institution
which could supply it, or run a credit and loan Yezichalem Kassa is the Health Adviser and
scheme to assist the farmers. Feleke Tadele the Community Development
Officer in the Programme Support Unit (PSU)
of Oxfam UK/I's Addis Ababa Office. The
PSU is involved in all aspects of the develop-
ment activities undertaken within Oxfam's
The diagnostic survey undertaken with programme in Ethiopia and provides advice,
Dubbo Catholic Mission is an example of how training, and support where necessary.
the determinant factors of development in a This article first appeared in Development
particular locality can be pinpointed through in Practice, Volume 5, Number 3, in 1995.
the use of diagnostic techniques.
The Dubbo Mission MCH team made the
following comment concerning the diag-
nostic survey exercise in the two PAs in their
Annual Report of 30 April 1994:

Empowerment examined

Jo Rowlands

Power and empowerment power', 'economic power', and 'integrative

power'; or 'the power to create such
The often uncritical use of the term relationships as love, respect, friendship,
'empowerment' in development thinking and legitimacy and so on'.2
practice disguises a problematic concept. Most frameworks for understanding power
Many development practitioners and policy- appear to be 'neutral': that is, they make no
makers will have come across the term in mention of how power is actually distributed
Caroline Moser's work (1989) on gender within a society. There is no consideration of
analysis. However, development is not the the power dynamics of gender, or of race,
only context in which it is used. We now hear class, or any other force of oppression. This
about empowerment from mainstream absence is tackled by a number of feminist
politicians such as Bill Clinton and John theorists.3 Conventionally, power is defined in
Major. Its use in some disciplines adult relation to obedience, or 'power over', since
education, community work, and social work some people are seen to have control or
in particular is relatively advanced, though influence over others. A gender analysis
here too there is room for greater clarity about shows that 'power over' is wielded
the concept and its application. predominantly by men over other men, by
Some of the confusion arises because the men over women, and by dominant social,
root-concept power is itself disputed, political, economic, or cultural groups over
and so is understood and experienced in those who are marginalised. It is thus an
differing ways by different people. Indeed, instrument of domination, whose use can be
the person invoking 'empowerment' may not seen in people's personal lives, their close
even be aware of the potential for relationships, their communities, and beyond.
misunderstanding. Power has been the subject Power of this kind can be subtly exercised.
of much debate across the social sciences.' Various feminist writers have described the
Some definitions focus, with varying degrees way in which people who are systematically
of subtlety, on the availability of one person or denied power and influence in the dominant
group to get another person or group to do society internalise the messages they receive
something against their will. Such 'power' is about what they are supposed to be like, and
located in decision-making processes, how they may come to believe the messages to
conflict, and force, and could be described as be true.4 This 'internalised oppression' is
'zero-sum': the more power one person has, adopted as a survival mechanism, but
the less the other has. Other definitions becomes so well ingrained that the effects are
differentiate between various kinds of power, mistaken for reality. Thus, for example, a
which can then be understood as serving woman who is subjected to violent abuse
distinct purposes and having different effects when she expresses her own opinions may
in or on society. These include 'a threat start to withhold them, and eventually come to
Empowerment examined 87

believe that she has no opinions of her own. since they go beyond formal and institutional
When control becomes internalised in this definitions of power, and incorporate the idea
way, the overt use of 'power over' is no longer of 'the personal as political'.6 From a feminist
necessary. perspective, interpreting 'power over' entails
The definition of power in terms of dom- understanding the dynamics of oppression
ination and obedience contrasts with one and internalised oppression. Since these affect
which views it in generative terms: for the ability of less powerful groups to
instance 'the power some people have of participate in formal and informal decision-
stimulating activity in others and raising their making, and to exert influence, they also
morale'.5 One aspect of this is the kind of affect the way that individuals or groups
leadership that comes from the wish to see a perceive themselves and their ability to act
group achieve what it is capable of, where and influence the world around them.
there is no conflict of interests and the group Empowerment is thus more than simply
sets its own collective agenda. This model of opening up access to decision-making; it must
power is not a zero-sum: an increase in one also include the processes that lead people to
person's power does not necessarily diminish perceive themselves as able and entitled to
that of another. And, as Liz Kelly (1992) occupy that decision-making space, and so
observes, 'I suspect it is "power to" that the overlaps with the other categories of 'power
term "empowerment" refers to, and it is to' and 'power from within'.
achieved by increasing one's ability to resist These interpretations of empowerment
and challenge "power over".' involve giving full scope to the full range of
human abilities and potential. As feminist and
other social theorists have shown, the abilities
What is empowerment? ascribed to a particular set of people are to a
large degree socially constructed. Empower-
The meaning of 'empowerment' can now be ment must involve undoing negative social
seen to relate to the user's interpretation of constructions, so that the people affected
power. In the context of the conventional come to see themselves as having the capacity
definition, empowerment must be about and the right to act and have influence.
bringing people who are outside the decision- This wider picture of empowerment can be
making process into it. This puts a strong seen to have three dimensions:
emphasis on access to political structures and
formal decision-making and, in the economic Personal: where empowerment is about
sphere, on access to markets and incomes that developing a sense of self and individual
enable people to participate in economic confidence and capacity, and undoing the
decision-making. It is about individuals being effects of internalised oppression.
able to maximise the opportunities available Close relationships: where empowerment
to them without or despite constraints of is about developing the ability to negotiate
structure and State. Within the generative and influence the nature of the relationship
interpretation of power, empowerment also and decisions made within it.
includes access to intangible decision-making
processes. It is concerned with the processes Collective: where individuals work
by which people become aware of their own together to achieve a more extensive impact
interests and how these relate to those of than each could have had alone. This includes
others, in order to participate from a position involvement in political structures, but might
of greater strength in decision-making and also cover collective action based on
actually to influence such decisions. cooperation rather than competition.
Collective action may be locally focused
Feminist interpretations of power lead to a
for example, at village or neighbourhood level
still broader understanding of empowerment,
88 Development and Social Diversity

or institutional, such as national networks empowerment must be used in the context of

or the United Nations. oppression, since empowerment is about
working to remove the existence and effects of
The profound but often unrecognised unjust inequalities (Ward and Mullender,
differences in the ways in which power is 1991). Empowerment can take place on a small
understood perhaps explain how it is that scale, linking people with others in similar
people and organisations as far apart politic- situations through self-help, education,
ally as feminists, Western politicians, and the support, or social action groups and network
World Bank have embraced the concept with building; or on a larger scale, through
such enthusiasm. community organisation, campaigning, legis-
lative lobbying, social planning, and policy
development (Parsons, 1991).
Empowerment in practice The definitions of empowerment used in
education, counselling, and social work,
The idea of empowerment is increasingly although developed through work in
used as a tool for understanding what is industrialised countries, are broadly similar to
needed to change the situation of poor and Freire's concept of conscientisation, which
marginalised people. In this context, there is centres on individuals becoming 'subjects' in
broad agreement that empowerment is a their own lives and developing a 'critical
process; that it involves some degree of consciousness' that is, an understanding of
personal development, but that this is not their circumstances and the social environ-
sufficient; and that it involves moving from ment that leads to action.
insight to action. In practice, much empowerment work
In a counselling context, McWhirter (1991) involves forms of group work. The role of the
defines empowerment as: outside professional in this context becomes
one of helper and facilitator; anything more
The process by which people, organisations
directive is seen as interfering with the
or groups who are powerless (a) become
empowerment of the people concerned. Since
aware of the power dynamics at work in their
life context, (b) develop the skills and capacity facilitation skills require subtlety in order to be
for gaining some reasonable control over effective, this has usually meant that
their lives, (c) exercise this control without professionals must to some extent re-learn how
infringing upon the rights of others and (d) to do their jobs, and develop high-level skills of
support the empowerment of others in the self-awareness. In some cases, the professional
community, (my emphasis) facilitator has to become a member of the
group, and be willing to do the same kind of
She makes a useful distinction between 'the personal sharing as is encouraged from other
situation of empowerment', where all four of participants.
these conditions are met; and 'an empowering The outside professional cannot expect to
situation', where one or more of the control the outcomes of authentic empower-
conditions is in place or being developed, but ment. Writing about education, Taliaferro
where the full requirements are not present. (1991) points out that true power cannot be
Through all these definitions runs the theme bestowed: it comes from within. Any notion
of understanding: if you understand your of empowerment being given by one group or
situation, you are more likely to act to do another hides an attempt to keep control, and
something about it. There is also the theme of she describes the idea of gradual
acting collectively. McWhirter's definition empowerment as 'especially dubious'. Real
makes clear that taking action is not about empowerment may take unanticipated
gaining the power to dominate others. Writers directions. Outside professionals should
on social group work also insist that therefore be clear that any 'power over' which
Empowerment examined 89

they have in relation to the people they work synonymously. It is often assumed that power
with is likely to be challenged by them. This comes automatically through economic
raises an ethical and political issue: if the strength. It may do, but often it does not,
reality is that you do have 'power over' as depending on specific relations determined by
is the case with statutory authorities or gender, culture, class, or caste. Economic rela-
financially powerful organisations, such as tions do not always improve women's econ-
development agencies it is misleading to omic situation, and often add an extra burden.
deny that this is so. Often, development work is still done 'for'
women, and an exclusive focus on economic
activities does not automatically create a space
for women to look at their own role as women,
Empowerment in a development
or at other problematic aspects of their lives.
How can the concept of empowerment be most
usefully applied in a development context? Economic activities and the
Most of the literature about empowerment, empowerment process
with the exception of Freire and Batliwala, Economic activities may widen the range of
originates from work in industrialised options for marginalised people, but do not
societies. Do poor or otherwise marginalised necessarily enable them to reach a point where
women and men experience similar problems they can take charge of creating for
in developing countries? In both cases, their themselves the options from which they get to
lack of access to resources and to formal power choose. To do that, a combination of
is significant, even if the contexts within which confidence and self-esteem, information,
that lack is experienced are very different. analytical skills, ability to identify and tap into
McWhirter's definition of empowerment available resources, political and social
seems equally relevant to either context. Any influence, and so on, is needed. Programmes
difference is more likely to show up in the way that build on the demands and wishes of the
in which it is put into practice, and in the people who participate in them are a step
particular activities that are called for. This is towards empowerment, but they do not in and
confirmed in one of the few definitions of of themselves tackle the assumptions that
empowerment which has a specific focus on those people (and the people around them) are
development (Keller and Mbwewe, 1991), in already making about what they can and
which it is described as: cannot do: the point where the internalised
oppression works in combination with the
A process whereby women become able to particular economic and social context to
organise themselves to increase their own restrict the options that people perceive as
self-reliance, to assert their independent right available, and legitimate. An empowerment
to make choices and to control resources approach centred on economic activity must
which will assist in challenging and pay attention to more than the activity itself.
eliminating their own subordination. The processes and structures through which
Srilatha Batliwala, writing about women's an economic activity operates need to be
empowerment, has made a detailed analysis of deliberately designed to create opportunities
women's empowerment programmes, looking for an empowerment process to happen.
at Integrated Rural Development (IRD:
economic interventions, awareness-building,
and organising of women) and at Research, The role of outsiders
Training, and Resource Support.7 She notes The role of the professional or the outsider in
that in some (especially IRD) programmes, the the development setting is just as important as
terms empowerment and development are used in the social-work contexts described earlier.
90 Development and Social Diversity

Price describes the crucial role played by is necessarily time-consuming. It is a process

women staff of an Indian NGO, giving an for each individual to do at her or his own
example of an occasion when a key worker pace. Because of this, there is a temptation to
talking about her own personal experience work with people who have already a degree
enabled other women to do likewise. This is in of self-confidence. This is one reason why
stark contrast to the tendency in many even empowerment-focused programmes
development projects, as in Ngau's account often fail to engage with the poorest and most
(1987) of the Kenyan Harambee movement, marginalised. Even to participate in a group,
for professional-client relationships to be you require a certain minimal sense of your
fostered by para-professionals, fuelling own abilities and worth, as well as being able
resentment and withdrawal among local to overcome the obstacles to making the time
people. This has implications for the way in to participate.
which personnel in development programmes
and projects as well as in aid agencies
perform their work. A process of Collective empowerment
empowerment that seeks to engage poor and In the context of development, while
marginalised people cannot be effective if the individual empowerment is one ingredient in
methodology is 'top-down' and directive, or achieving empowerment at the collective and
encourages dependency. Empowerment is a institutional levels, concentration on individ-
process that cannot be imposed by outsiders uals alone is not enough. Changes are needed
although appropriate external support and in the collective abilities of individuals to take
intervention can speed up and encourage it. It charge of identifying and meeting their own
calls for a facilitative approach and an attitude needs as households, communities,
of complete respect for and confidence in the organisations, institutions, and societies. At
people being worked with, or accompanied.8 the same time, we must recognise that the
It therefore makes great demands on the effectiveness of such group activity rests also
change-agents, and may require (and feed on the individual empowerment of at least
into) their own empowerment. Furthermore, some people.
since most professionals are trained to work in Professionals involved in such
ways that disempower and which tell other empowerment work should repeatedly ask
people what they should do and think it how the development intervention is affecting
requires conscious and sustained efforts to the various aspects of the lives of the people
modify that pattern of behaviour and to clarify directly involved. A monitoring and
mutual expectations. evaluation process that reflects the
empowerment process is essential. People
need to be involved in the identification of
Individual empowerment appropriate indicators of change, and in the
In discussing empowerment through setting of criteria for evaluating impact. As
awareness-building and organising of the empowerment process proceeds, these
women, Batliwala highlights an aspect of an will inevitably need to be modified and
empowerment approach that poses a revised. Clarity about the dynamics that push
difficulty for many agencies working in poor and marginalised people to stay within
development: it can be desperately slow. Most what is safe and familiar is vital, in order to
funding agencies are understandably ensure that the empowerment process is kept
preoccupied with showing results. Yet the well in focus. Qualitative indicators are, self-
work needed for raising levels of confidence evidently, central to the evaluation of
and self-esteem among poor and margin- empowerment.
alised people in such a way that will enhance
their ability to take charge of their own needs
Empowerment examined 91

Conclusion describe an outside agent's sense of

solidarity and willingness to share risks
'Empowerment' has much in common with with poor and marginalised people, and a
other concepts used by development practi- willingness to engage with the processes of
tioners and planners, such as 'participation', social change in which they are directly
'capacity-building', 'sustainability', or involved. It contrasts with the position of
'institutional development'. There is, outside agents whether these are church
however, a worrying temptation to use them workers, development NGOs, or funding
in a way that takes the troublesome notions of agencies which maintain a greater sense
power, and the distribution of power, out of of distance.
the picture. For in spite of their appeal, these
terms can easily become one more way to
ignore or hide the realities of power,
inequality, and oppression. Yet it is precisely
those realities which shape the lives of poor Bachrach, P. and M.S. Baratz (1970) Power
and marginalised people, and the commun- and Poverty: Theory and Practice, New
ities in which they live. York: Oxford University Press.
The concept of 'empowerment', if it is used Batliwala, S. (1993) Empowerment of
precisely and deliberately, can help to focus Women in South Asia: Concepts and
thought, planning, and action in development. Practices, New Delhi: Asian-South Pacific
However, when its use is careless, Bureau of Adult Education and Freedom from
deliberately vague, or sloganising, it risks Hunger Campaign.
becoming degraded and valueless. Boulding, K. (1988) Three Faces of Power,
London: Sage.
Foucault, M. (1980) Power/Knowledge:
Notes Selected Interviews and Other Writings, ed.
Colin Gordon, Brighton: Harvester.
1 See, for example, Bachrach and Baratz Giddens, A. (1984) The Constitution of
(1970), Lukes (1974), Foucault (1980), Society, Cambridge: Polity.
Giddens (1984), Hartsock (1985 and 1990), Hartsock, N. (1985) Money, Sex and Power:
and Boulding (1988). Towards a Feminist Historical Materialism,
2 These distinctions are from Boulding Boston: Northeastern University Press.
(1988) p.10. Hartsock, N. (1990) 'Foucault on power: a
3 See, for example, Hartsock (1985, 1990), theory for women?' in L.J. Nicholson, (ed):
and Starhawk (1987). Feminism/Postmodernism, New York and
4 See, for example, Pheterson (1990), and London: Routledge.
Jackins(1983). Jackins, H. (1983) The Reclaiming of Power,
5 Nancy Hartsock (1985) draws on the Seattle: Rational Island.
writings of Hannah Arendt, Mary Parker Keller, B. and D.C. Mbwewe (1991) Policy
Follett, Dorothy Emmett, Hannah Pitkin and planning for the empowerment of
and Berenice Carroll in her analysis. Zambia's women farmers', Canadian
6 I do not wish to imply here that there is one Journal of Development Studies 12/1:75-88.
'feminist' model of power. Space Kelly, L. (1992) 'The Contradictions of
constraints have led me to generalise and Power for Women', paper presented at the
leave out important variations in analysis. NFHA Women and Housing Conference.
7 Batliwala (1993). 1 had access to the second Mimeo.
draft and not to the final version. Lukes, S. (1974) Power: a Radical View,
8 Acompahamiento, or accompaniment, is a London: Macmillan.
word widely used in Latin America to McWhirter, E.H. (1991) 'Empowerment in
92 Development and Social Diversity

counselling', Journal of Counselling and Starhawk [pseud. M. Simos] (1987) Truth or

Development 69: 222-7. Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority and
Moser, C. (1989) 'Gender planning in the Mystery, San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Third World: meeting practical and strategic Taliaferro, M.B. (1991) 'The myth of
gender needs', World Development, 17:11. empowerment', Journal of Negro Education
Ngau, P.M. (1987) 'Tensions in 60/1:1-2.
empowerment: the experience of Harambee Ward, D. and A. Mullender (1991)
(self-help) movement, Kenya', Economic 'Empowerment and oppression: an
Development and Cultural Change 35/3:523- indissoluble pairing', Critical Social Policy
8. 11/2:21-30.
Parsons, R.J. (1991) 'Empowerment:
purpose and practice principle in social work',
Social Work with Groups 14/2:7-21 The author
Pheterson, G. (1990) 'Alliances between
women: overcoming internalised oppression Jo Rowlands has worked for over ten years as
and internalised domination' in A. Albrecht a trainer and consultant for cooperatives and
and R.M. Brewer (eds): Bridges of Power: NGOs in Britain and Latin America. She is
Women's Multicultural Alliances, Co-director of Manantial Women's Inter-
Philadelphia: New Society. national Link, a British NGO that brings
Price, J. (n.d.) 'Women's Development: together women from industrialised and
Welfare Projects or Political Empower- developing countries.
ment?', presented at Amsterdam conference. This article first appeared in Development
Mimeo. in Practice Volume 5, Number 2, in 1995.

Some thoughts on gender and culture

Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay

In an article which appeared in Development in audience were from India, Pakistan, or

Practice, Volume 5, Number 3, Mike Powell Bangladesh.
raised many issues about subjective percep- The discussion that followed my talk was
tions, mainly those of 'outsiders' who interfere lively, to say the least, and abusive at its worst.
in cultures they do not fully understand. Such My book criticised the Indian model of
dilemmas have implications for 'insiders' as development for working against women's
well as 'outsiders', because all practitioners are interests, and Indian society for its treatment of
in some way intervening in processes of social women. I was initially taken aback by the
transformation, and are involved in the reaction, until it dawned on me what was
business of allocating resources. happening. The Indians, Pakistanis, and
I want to explore the issue of gender and Bangladeshis had united (leaving aside, for the
culture: areas where the ways in which time being, their bitter differences on the sub-
development practitioners understand and continent) in a vigorous defence of culture and
intervene in a situation can further entrench tradition: a tradition which respected its
gender-based inequality, or demonstrate the women, a tradition which was protective of its
possibility that such inequalities are open to women, and one in which women were the
challenge. centre of families which, in turn, were collect-
In India, I operate within my own society and ivities of co-operation, love, and sacrifice. In
culture, and so am an 'insider'. But in my work fact, they were drawing a simplified picture of
for gender equity, I have often experienced gender relations which amounted to a fiction of
allegations from different quarters that this is a monolithic, timeless culture: an immutable,
against our culture, violates our traditions, and 'South Asian' culture.
(the worst criticism of all in the Indian context) I had offended my audience, first by 'turning
that it is 'Westernised'. It is common for gender traitor' to my own culture, and raising doubts
and development practitioners to be labelled in about women's position in Indian society.
this manner, though the precise allegations Secondly, I had done so in a Western country
may differ from one place to another. Gender which they had decided to perceive, in the
relations are viewed as among the most interests of preserving their own separate
intimate aspects of our cultural traditions, and cultural identity, as a culture full of 'loose'
challenging them seems to challenge the very women, and broken families.
basis of who we are. There was a sequel to this experience: a Paki-
In 1984, I published a book about women stani woman followed me out of the hall, and
and development in India, and undertook a thanked me for my presentation. She had been
publicity tour in the United Kingdom. Among working with Asian women facing domestic
many presentations I made, the most memor- violence, ever since her daughter committed
able for me was at the Pakistan Centre in suicide, unable to endure further harassment
Liverpool. Most of the predominantly male and torture in her marital home.
94 Development and Social Diversity

I am often asked, usually by expatriate There are no hard and fast distinctions
development workers, whether by intervening between the material world and the world of
on women's behalf we are upsetting the gender ideas, values, and beliefs. We must work at
roles and relations characteristic of the culture. both levels to bring about the changes that are
The fear that we may be imposing our own supposed to be the purpose of development. I
cultural values by promoting gender equity in end with a plea for development practitioners
our development work is a real one. However, to use culture as a way to open up intractable
it is real largely because we allow our own areas of gender relations, and not to regard it as
culture-based assumptions about women to a dead end which prevents us from working
colour our response to alternative visions of towards more equitable relations between
gender equality. And we fail to recognise the women and men.
everyday forms of resistance put up by
subordinated groups, because these do not
correspond to our experience.
The author
If gender relations are equated with the most Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay is a Gender and
intimate aspects of our cultures, and if culture Development Adviser for Oxfam (UK and
and tradition are assumed to be immutable, Ireland), focusing on South Asia and the
rather than the site of resistance from Middle East. Her book, Silver Shackles, was
subordinated groups, gender relations soon published by Oxfam (UK and Ireland) in 1984.
become a 'no-go area'; and allocating This article first appeared in Development in
resources in order to redress the imbalance of Practice, Volume 5, Number 4 (1995). The
power between men and women is made ideas in it are developed more fully in a paper
politically difficult. by the author, published in Gender and
But cultures are not fixed or immutable. Development, Volume 3, Number 1, pp. 13-18.
Contests to 'fix' the meanings of social entities
take place all the time, leading to changes in
social practices. Development practitioners
have to take sides in those contests which help
to dismantle hierarchies of gender and class. By
failing to recognise that these are going on, and
listening only to the voice of the powerful in
society, we are in fact taking the side of the
fundamentalists, who render religion uniform
throughout the world by enforcing traditions of
hierarchical gender roles and relations, and
presenting them as unchanging and

Who is the expert?

Valerie Emblen

Advisers: part of the problem, or tempted to search for the magic answer: the
part of the solution? methods and materials that are perfectly
teacher-proofed. This is a delusion, but the
In 1990, I flew to Lao People's Democratic myth seems to be promoted by governments
Republic (Lao PDR) to work as Pre-school and funders alike.
Adviser to the Ministry of Education. It was I was the latest in a long line of advisers to
my first time on extended work overseas. The the Teacher Training Department: in the
Ministry of Education had asked for help in previous ten years they had had a Russian, a
developing teaching methodology in Cuban, and Vietnamese. I discovered only
kindergartens and training colleges for pre- after a long time in Laos that there was a very
school teachers. The project was planned and ambivalent attitude to foreign advisers. I
supported by the Save the Children Fund heard comments like: 'They get paid huge
(SCF/UK). When I arrived, I discovered that salaries and we have to do the work' ... 'We
the Ministry expected me to write training had to rewrite the project completely after
manuals, which they would translate into Lao, they went' ... 'They don't know about our
and then we would set up training courses on country: they've never been outside
how to use them. I had never had to consider Vientiane, what do they know?' NGO
how to 'package' teaching methods, or even if advisers don't escape scepticism, and there
there were any 'proper' teaching methods that was the feeling that they are not always very
everyone should know. Above all, I was well qualified: 'Advisers should have real
concerned about the relevance of my English expertise in their own countries.'
knowledge in this very different context. I had Attitudes to new projects are ambivalent:
an uncomfortable few months while I re- they are started with high hopes and often
negotiated my role, all the time aware that I unrealistic expectations, while, at the same
was not the adviser that was expected. time, years of failure have made people
In the Lao language, seosan means adviser sceptical about the possibility of success.
or expert; the word conveys a general respect They can be defensive and unwilling to
for learning. Both words, seosan and expert, commit themselves in case of another failure.
convey the notion that a person can possess But advisers keep coming, and each new one
valuable knowledge that is independent of represents a new start, while previous work is
any particular context. Those trying to swept away. The stream of advisers has had
develop an education system may well the effect of disempowering local teachers.
believe that there is something that they don't Curriculum documents are glossier now that
know, some secret that they lack, which is the Eastern bloc experts have left and Western
hampering their development. I saw how, in organisations have taken their place, but they
an under-confident system, people are are beginning to stack up high, the edges
96 Development and Social Diversity

turning yellow. Meanwhile, children still go lives. Soon after I arrived, the head-teacher of
to school without books, and teachers go on the Dong Dok kindergarten, who had been
teaching until the last bit of chalk is used up supported and trained by SCF (UK), was
and, two years behind in their salary, they go unceremoniously removed from her post by
back to work in their fields. the Dong Dok Teacher Training School. They
I have had constantly to remind myself that felt that preference had been given to her over
advisers can be the problem as well as the more senior people; she had been sent on
solution. Simply transferring knowledge from training courses, and had been given a
one place to another will not help, as was motorbike. The last straw was when her
made clear to me one day when I was husband was seen riding the bike to town. It
approached by a Lao teacher trainer who seemed a trivial incident and, from the
taught the Child Health Course. She asked me outside, an unreasonable and bizarrely self-
if we really feed babies with big spoons in destructive decision. But this is the reality in
Europe and, 'If so, how do you do it?' Her which people live and work. Foreign advisers
teaching material, written by the Russian can be very egocentric, and fail to see that
adviser, said 'Take three table-spoons of ..." their work is located in a social context; power
and she had never used table-spoons as games, jealousies, and battles to maintain
measures. She is an intelligent, professional status are common everywhere. Difficulties
person, and the story shows how it is possible for foreign advisers are magnified, because
to get people to mistrust their own they are not a part of the cultural context and
commonsense knowledge. do not understand the social dynamics.
In Vientiane, it is all too common for Ignorance is not blame-worthy, but lack of
foreign developers to express poor opinions sensitivity to the importance of social
of their Lao colleagues. One Ministry official meanings is.
felt the need to start a discussion with the Lao PDR is a non-confrontational society,
comment: 'I don't know if you know, but not and politeness demands that advisers are not
everyone in Lao Ministries is lazy.' An contradicted. Many outsiders are frustrated by
NGO's report on its work in Indo-China the fact that apparently agreed actions do not
argues that more than usual numbers of go ahead; but the Lao people have developed
expatriate advisers are needed, because of techniques which allow them to make their
'low-calibre counterparts' (SCF 1992). A views known subtly, without overtly
myth is being built that 'under-development' challenging the adviser. They will avoid
(whatever that may be) is caused by gaps in doing things they think inappropriate;
skill and understanding, and that those gaps foreigners then accuse them of being lazy or
can be plugged by bringing in people from lacking interest. And the frustration is two-
places where they know more: a simplistic way. I also know that my style of commun-
analysis, which allows us to avoid much more icating (I seldom answer questions directly)
difficult issues of respect, equality, and caused problems. For example, a Ministry
justice. Fortunately, my work in London had colleague quite uncharacteristically burst out
made me aware of the ways in which negat- at a meeting: 'The adviser won't tell us all she
ive views of other cultures are generated. knows.' I had to recognise that neither side
would fully understand the other's
communication style in the short space of a
Social reality and cross-cultural two-year contract, but we could learn to
communication minimise the importance of misund-
erstandings and to laugh at them.
Interventions are designed to bring about Cross-cultural communication is challeng-
changes, but changes do not happen in a ing, but I don't want to exaggerate its
vacuum: they have an impact on people's difficulty: we all have resources of human
Who is the expert? 97

knowledge and empathy to draw on. Most understand the content of the curriculum; and
importantly, I have seen how easy it is, when some said they couldn't allow students to ask
you misunderstand others' intentions, to questions, because they didn't know the
attribute poor motives to them. answers themselves. It took a degree of trust to
reveal these things. From there, we could
identify strengths on which we could build,
Addressing the issues and taking and plan how to acquire the new knowledge
risks and techniques that were needed. The process
A Lao colleague quoted a proverb to me: You was slow and hard for those involved:
showed us how to prepare the fish, but you learning in this mode is not a comfortable
didn 't cook it for us. She was comment-ing on process; people are required to commit
the ways we had worked together. We, Lao themselves, to challenge some dearly-held
counterparts and I, had to plan a way to initiate beliefs, and to take risks. Perhaps the
change. During this time in Lao PDR, I had to reluctance to take risks is the most significant.
accept that some of my fundamental beliefs Governments want certainties: measurable
were, in fact, the product of a Western outcomes in measured time-scales, to repay
conventional wisdom. Counterparts also had the time and energy they have invested. To
their own cherished beliefs and conventional want success is normal. But in the effort to
wisdom. To illustrate differences in ensure it, officials may narrow their focus to
perceptions, I quote from the findings of leave nothing to chance, with the result that
research I am currently undertaking in Lao the new is practically indistinguishable from
PDR and England. Teachers of young the old.
children are being asked what are the most The processes were agreed with the
important things for young children to learn. Ministry and for some time were welcomed,
In England, teachers stressed autonomy, self- as trainers' and teachers' confidence and
expression, and independence, whereas Lao competence developed. However, other
teachers put social values at the top of the list: projects, with much bigger funding, including
politeness, caring, and respect for others. The one financed by the Asian Development
challenge was to listen carefully to what Bank, were the responsibility of the Ministry.
others felt was real and important, without The Bank employed expatriate 'experts' on
relinquishing the right to suggest other six-month contracts, one to write each subject
interpretations and possibilities. of the Primary Teacher Training Curriculum.
In the training colleges, teacher-trainers They were offering certainties the correct
would teach by reading out the curriculum percentage of theory in proportion to practice,
documents for the students to write in their comprehensive lists of teaching methods,
own notebooks. We set out to find out from proper formats for lesson plans while the
the trainers why they did it this way, what sort Pre-school Project was still posing questions.
of teaching methods they wanted to achieve, I am convinced that our way of working is
and what they saw as the constraints. It equally likely to produce long-term change,
emerged that they, like all professionals, but the 'experts' had an aura of authority
wanted to develop their teaching, but they felt conferred by their international status and,
disempowered by many circumstances, some since the Lao government is paying the
real and some imaginary. Recently one of the Bank's advisers astronomically high salaries
teacher-trainers reminded me that she had from loan money, it is quite understandable
argued that students couldn't be allowed to that their work was accorded high credibility.
discuss ideas, because 'They are too stupid'. We are fortunate that we have had time to
She was happy to admit she had been proved show progress and that enough Ministry
wrong. The trainers said their only teaching officials are convinced of the benefits of our
aid was the blackboard; they could not always way of working that the project will have the
98 Development and Social Diversity

opportunity to carry on. What the long-term change, such change must be deeply rooted.
outcomes will be, I don't know. Everyone must really want change, and
realistically face the problems involved. In a
poor country, financial constraints are an
The place of overseas advisers
integral part of the work. The system has to be
Is there a place for the overseas adviser? I built with what there is. Anything which
think there is. I have, throughout my career, suggests that change can come about without
welcomed help from those with relevant love, commitment, hard work, and pain is
experience. We all need new ideas, new unrealistic. A passionate commitment is
challenges and stimulation; but the way in needed, for there will be few intrinsic rewards,
which the advice is offered is important. I am either in pay and prestige or career prospects.
convinced that outside knowledge should be Working with a Ministry where the approach
carefully negotiated and interlinked with local is inevitably 'centre-out' if not 'top down',
expertise, and that local expertise should be there is the possibility that change can be
given greater respect. brought about quickly; but there is the real
A story current in Vientiane, which is possibility of introducing unworkable models
probably apocryphal, concerns a primary- if they are not well matched to the reality of
school science curriculum recently prepared the country. Maybe the 'top-down' or 'centre-
by an Australian adviser which requires a out' system remains unchallenged because
beaker of ice and a thermometer. Mis-matches blame can always be passed downwards: the
are seldom so blatant, but bias can be curriculum is good and the methods modern,
exceedingly powerful. To illustrate this, I so problems must lie with the teachers or
quote a passage from a recent survey of Lao worse still with the students or children.
children (Phanjarunti 1994) carried out for There is, of course, a tension between the
UNICEF, who are using it to plan their Early desire for change and the fear of it, but
Childhood programme: bringing in an outsider is a strong statement
about the former. However, the conditions of
Overall ... the level of [Lao children's]
overseas employment for NGO staff do not
cognitive development appeared slow at each
always give the security and confidence
age around 76% of the international
needed to risk a really developmental
standard norms. Children cannot tell their
age or last name, or know maths concepts approach. Short-term contracts, no proper
(calculating) or colours as they should career structure, poor opportunities for
according to standard norms. Children have training, and no opportunity to test your own
slow responses to stimulation. perceptions against those of others under-
taking similar contracts can make one feel
I suspect that questions more closely related to isolated and unsupported and that is
their lives and interests might have evoked without all the additional difficulties of being
more enthusiastic responses from the a woman in development work.
children. Sadly, their supposed deficiencies I am aware of the many things I failed to
can easily become the focus of programme resolve; the role of adviser demands a balance
planning, and the good things which their between giving people what they ask for and
family and community provide are lost. offering alternatives, and I don't know if the
balance was right. The group I worked with
Sustainability: desiring and fearing directly feel good about what they have
change achieved. On the whole, the Ministry supports
the work, though some officials wanted more
Everyone involved in an intervention must definite rules and formats. The voices of
hope that it will have a long-lasting impact. If teachers, parents, and children have been little
a programme is to bring about long-term heard, and they are the most closely affected.
Who is the expert? 99

I will not be in Lao PDR in ten years' time to References

see what remains of what we started, but I Phanjarunti, S., 1994, 'Traditional Child
loved the experience for the friends I made, Rearing Practices among Different Ethnic
and for the opportunity to live in another Groups in Houaphan Province, Lao People's
society and find out how it works. I developed Democratic Republic', Vientiane: UNICEF.
great respect for most of my Lao colleagues, Save the Children Fund, 1992, Report of
and their ability to develop in the face of many Regional Planning Meeting, January 1992.
difficulties. The experience has been very
challenging. I have been faced with the limits
The author
to my own tolerance, my prejudices, and
sticking points. I have had, above all, to think After her work in Lao PDR, Valerie Emblen
about what it is that makes people want to returned to her position as Senior Lecturer in
learn and change, and what the role of an Education at the School of Teaching Studies,
outsider can be. University of North London.
This article first appeared in Development
in Practice, Volume 5, Number 4, in 1995.

Annotated bibliography

This is a selective listing of recent English-language publications relating to social diversity in

the context of development and emergency relief work. It was compiled and annotated by
Deborah Eade and Caroline Knowles, Editor and Reviews Editor respectively o/Development
in Practice.

Anderson, Mary B. and P. J. Woodrow: Blaikie, Piers et al: At Risk: Natural

Rising from the Ashes: Development Hazards, People's Vulnerability and
Strategies in Times ofDisaster Disasters,
Paris: UNESCO//Boulder: Westview Press, London: Routledge, 1994
Building on several case-studies, this book This book reminds the reader that, for most
shows that relief programmes are never neutral countries, 'natural' disasters are a much more
in their developmental impact. It presents a consistent threat than high-profile conflict or
deceptively simple framework for understand- 'complex emergencies'. These disasters need
ing the dynamic relationship between different not be major many occur on a local scale
people's needs, vulnerabilities, and capacities. but are just as disruptive to local populations
Analysing most current relief practice, the and economies. The other important premise of
authors show various practical ways in which it the book is that the roots of vulnerability to
might be improved. disaster do not lie in the intensity of the hazard
solely, but rather in prevailing social and
Bangura, Yusuf: The Search for Identity: economic conditions in combination with the
Ethnicity, Religion and Political Violence, intensity of the hazard. The book usefully
Occasional Paper 6, Geneva: UNRISD, 1994 models the complex economic and social
This paper examines the complex ways in arrangements and interactions that relate to
which ethnicity and religion shape social vulnerability, identifying areas where action to
identities, and how people mobilise in support reduce vulnerability can be taken, and presents
of movements based on such distinctions. It principles and guidelines to steer this work.
also reflects on the role of violence in social
conflicts, on why certain types of violence are Coleridge, Peter: Disability, Liberation, and
preferred by social movements, and on the way Development,
in which violence structures the identities of Oxford: Oxfam (UK and Ireland), 1993
group actors and the dynamics of conflicts. The situation of disabled people provides a
Finally, it examines a range of policy issues microcosm of the whole development debate
relating to the resolution or management of and process. Disabled people are oppressed
ethnic and religious conflicts, and political and marginalised in every country of the world,
violence. both North and South. Their lives are
Annotated bibliography 101

constrained by social attitudes which stem inform all development and relief work. These
from fear and prejudice. By probing these include gender; ethnic, racial, and cultural
prejudices and studying cases where they have identity; childhood and old age; and disability.
been overcome, we gain an insight into the The practical relevance of these issues is
processes of liberation and empowerment that demonstrated in further chapters on Principles
lie at the heart of any development process. of Development and Relief (including Human
This book provides an overview of the subject Rights), Capacity-building (encompassing
and outlines the social, political, and develop- education and training, as well as advocacy,
mental aspects of disability in general terms, and institutional development), Production,
illustrating these through case studies from Health, and Emergencies. A 500-entry annot-
selected countries in Africa, Asia, and the ated Resources Directory comprises the third
Middle East. volume. The Handbook is written for policy-
makers, practitioners, and analysts.
Cook, Rebecca J. (ed.): Human Rights of
Women: National and International Ennew, Judith and Brian Milne: The Next
Perspectives, Generation: Lives of Third World Children,
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania London: Zed Books, 1989
Press, 1994 This book examines the ways in which
This book asks how human rights can make a children's rights are protected or violated. The
difference in the lives of women, given that the first part focuses on the Rights of the Child,
very idea of human rights implies universal featured in the 1989 UN Declaration, and the
application to both men and women, across the frequent disparities between policies and their
world. The authors argue that any attempt to implementation. Inequalities between children
address the human rights of women must in rich and poor nations and in different groups
consider how they can be protected in the within particular national settings are also
context of their own culture and traditions. The considered. The second part of the book
book looks at how international human-rights comprises a series of 12 case studies, drawing
law applies specifically to women in various on a wide range of information, and considers
cultures worldwide, and seeks to develop the issues raised in the first part.
strategies to promote equitable application of
human-rights law at the international, regional, Gurr, Ted Robert: Minorities at Risk: A
and domestic levels. Global View ofEthnopolitical Conflicts,
Washington: United States Institute of Peace
Eade, Deborah and Suzanne Williams : The Press, 1993
Oxfam Handbook ofDevelopment and Relief, Possible bases for communal identity include
Oxford: Oxfam (UK and Ireland), 1995 shared historical experiences or myths,
This three-volume reference book offers a religious beliefs, language, ethnicity, region of
guide to current thinking, policy, and practice residence, and, in caste-like systems,
in all areas of development and relief work in customary occupations. The key to identifying
which Oxfam works in over 70 countries such groups is not the presence of a particular
around the world. A central principle is that trait or set of traits, but the shared perception
people's social identities and hence their that these set the group apart. This book
perspectives, capacities, and needs are surveys over 200 politically active communal
influenced not only by their economic status, groups, with comparative case-studies from
but also by the ways in which social roles are Eastern and Western Europe, North Africa and
defined in relation to others; and by how the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and
society values the individuals comprising it. Japan. Examining their disadvantages and
Chapter Two, 'Focusing on People', explores grievances, the author asks: what communal
those aspects of human identity that should identities and interests are most at odds with the
102 Development and Social Diversity

structures and policies of existing states, and This book documents the human and
why? Answers may suggest strategies to environmental consequences of globalisation.
reduce ethnic conflict, such as autonomy, The globalisation of economic activity has
pluralism, and formal power-sharing. hugely increased the profits and power of
multi-national corporations and financial
Jahan, Rounaq institutions which have superseded old
The Elusive Agenda: Mainstreaming Women institutional structures based on the dominance
in Development of nation states. Rootless and largely
London: Zed Books, 1995 unregulated, they are free to pursue their
This book reviews the progress achieved in financial aims regardless of the consequences
making gender a central concern in the for society. The author also examines why, and
development process. It evaluates selected how, people all over the world are acting to
leading bilateral and multilateral donor reclaim their political and economic power
agencies, including the World Bank, which from these forces, and he presents a policy
have played a critical role in shaping the agenda for restoring democracy and rooting
development agenda. It suggests an innovative economic power in people and communities.
conceptual framework for analysing Women-
in-Development objectives and strategies, and Miller, Marc S.: State of the Peoples: A
establishing indicators for assessing progress. global human rights report on societies in
Policies and measures to promote gender danger,
equality and women's advancement are Boston: Beacon Press, 1993
reviewed in a variety of development contexts. A resource book listing hundreds of indigenous
The book argues that, in spite of significant peoples, listed by geographical region, together
advances, the fundamental objective of with articles on the critical issues facing
transforming social and gender relations and different indigenous peoples, especially
creating a more just and equitable world is very human rights and environmental concerns.
far from being achieved. Why has progress Compiled by Survival International, a research
been so elusive, for women in particular? It is group based in the USA.
this question that becomes the central issue
explored in this study. Moghadam, Valentine: Identity, Politics and
Women: Cultural Reassertions and Feminism
Kabeer, Naiia: Reversed Realities: Gender in Perspective
Hierarchies in Development Thought Boulder: Westview, 1994
London: Verso Press, 1994 'Identity politics' refers to questions of
The author traces the emergence of 'women' as religious, ethnic, and national identity. This
a specific category in development thought and book looks at political-cultural movements that
examines alternative frameworks for analysing are m aking a bid for state power, for funda-
gender hierarchies. The household is identified mental judicial change, or for cultural
as a primary site for the construction of power hegemony. In particular, the contributors
relations and compares the extent to which explore the relations of culture, identity, and
gender inequalities are revealed in different women, providing vivid illustrations from
approaches to the concept of the family unit. around the world of the compelling nature of
The inadequacies of the poverty line as a Woman as a cultural symbol and Woman as a
measuring tool are assessed, and an overview political pawn in male-directed power
of the issue of population policies is given. struggles. The discussions also provide
evidence of women as active participants and
Korten, David C : When Corporations Rule active opponents of such movements. The
the World book offers theoretical, comparative, and
London: Earthscan, 1995 historical approaches to the study of identity
Annotated bibliography 103

politics, together with 13 case-studies spanning poor people in general, and women in
Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim particular. Women's contributions are central
countries and communities. to the ability of households, communities, and
nations to survive, and a much-needed
reorientation of developent analysis can be
Moody, Roger: The Indigenous Voice: Visions achieved by starting from the perspective of
and Realities poor women. The authors also emphasise the
London, Zed Books, 1998 diversity which exists among women, and
A reader in two volumes containing hundreds argue that it is necessary and legitimate to
of testimonies from indigenous peoples define feminism so that it includes the struggle
(mainly from North and South America, and against all forms of oppression.
Australasia), providing an overview of the
issues which they face, such as invasion,
genocide, militarisation, mining and multi- Stavenhagen, Rodolfo: The Ethnic Question:
nationals, pollution, tourism, and racism. Conflicts, Development, and Human Rights
Tokyo: UN University Press, 1990
Sen, Amartya: Inequality Re-examined This book presents a comprehensive picture of
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992 contemporary ethnic issues as manifested in
A monograph in which Sen poses philo- most of the world's major regions. Following a
sophical and moral questions about the notion discussion of ethnic issues in relation to the
of equality and inequality. He suggests that the theories of nation, State, modernisation
wish for equality is common to virtually all processes, and class, and from the point of view
theories of social ethics, but considers that the of several social science approaches, the case
central question is 'equality of whatV. The of Latin America is presented as an example of
importance of this question derives from the the preceding theoretical considerations. The
diversity of human beings: our individual author also examines the extent of ethnic-rights
characteristics (such as age, sex, general protection in the United Nations and other
abilities, particular talents), as well as our international systems: the special problems of
circumstances (social backgrounds, ownership indigenous and tribal peoples, increasing
of assets, environmental predicaments, and so racism in Western Europe, and, finally, the
on). Diversity, he argues, is no secondary factor cultural and educational policies of govern-
to be ignored, or introduced ('later on'): it is a ments in relation to ethnic minorities.
fundamental aspect of our interest in equality.
Contains an extensive and impressive Stiefel, Matthias and Marshall Wolfe: A
bibliography. Voice for the Excluded: Popular Participation
in Development Utopia or Necessity?
Sen, Gita and Caren.Grown: Development London: Zed Books/UNRISD, 1994
Crises and Alternative Visions Participation, Ijke sustainable development,
DAWN, 1987 has become a catchword widely advocated,
A brief introduction to development econ- seldom defined, and rarely put into practice.
omics, written from a Southern feminist After reviewing various conceptions of
perspective, which examines why strategies participation, this book pulls together the
designed to achieve overall economic growth findings of original field studies. In addition to
and increased industrial and agricultural prod- focusing on the organised efforts of the
uctivity have proven to be harmful to women. 'excluded', it analyses other relevant actors
The authors argue that many long-term NGOs, the State, and international agencies
economic processes have been indifferent (if as they encourage, co-opt, or undermine
not damaging) to the interests and needs of participatory struggles and initiatives.
104 Development and Social Diversity

Tinker, Irene (ed.): Persistent Inequalities: countries, and the same trend is now evident in
Women and World Development developing countries. The essays in this book
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990 give examples of ageing programmes from all
This collection of essays introduces the field of over the world, with studies from nearly 40
women in development and offers an overview countries, covering a wide range of subjects
of debates that have challenged many earlier including care at home, community support,
assumptions about development and the reality elders' empowerment, elder participation,
of women's work and lives within and outside income generation, environment, and
the household. In addition, the book shows the women's ageing.
connection with the global women's move-
ment and the impact of these advocates and UN Centre for Human Rights, The Human
new scholarship on the policies and manage- Rights Fact Sheet series
ment of development policies. The authors (Available free of charge in English and
come from both developed and developing French, on application to the Centre for Human
countries; among them are practitioners, Rights, UN Office at Geneva)
development economists, and feminist This series deals with selected questions of
scholars and each one has in a different way human rights that are under active consid-
addressed the question that runs throughout: eration or are of particular interest. The series
why do inequalities persist? (with over 20 titles) offers an informed account
of basic human rights, what the UN is doing to
Tout, Ken: Ageing in Developing Countries promote and protect them, and the international
Oxford: Oxford University Press with machinery available to help realise those rights.
HelpAge International, 1989 Titles include The Rights of Indigenous
This book aims to set out the available facts Peoples, The Rights of the Child, The
about forecast increases in longevity and to Committee on the Elimination of Racial Dis-
present a positive view, based on a number of crimination, Contemporary Forms of Slavery,
pilot programmes, of the ways in which Minority Rights, Discrimination Against
potential problems associated with ageing can Women: The Convention and the Committee,
be met. It therefore proposes a new approach to and Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting
the problems of older people in developing the Health of Women and Children.
countries: the intention is to build structures for
the future, which means stimulating awareness UNDP: Human Development Report
of this incipient but rapidly developing Oxford: Oxford University Press (available in
problem, and providing local communities several languages including Arabic, English,
with the resources to take their own actions. French, Spanish), 1995
The author also stresses the importance of Established in 1990, the Human Development
mobilising and maximising the many talents Report is an annual publication focusing on a
and the wealth of experience o^ elderly people critical area of human development, such as the
themselves into productive programmes. concept and measurement of human develop-
ment, people's participation, and human
Tout, Ken: Elderly Care: A World security. The 1995 Report addresses gender
Perspective disparities (in education, health, and employ-
London: Chapman and Hall, 1993 ment), the nature and extent of male violence
At a time when the population of almost every against women, and the inadequate represent-
country is ageing rapidly, new approaches are ation of women in public life. Building on its
called for to meet the problems of caring for the Human Development Index (HDI) (the
elderly. Many older people can no longer average achievement of a country in basic
depend on extended family support. This is a human capabilities), the 1995 Report intro-
problem of current concern in industrialised duces the Gender-related Development Index
Annotated bibliography 105

(GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure Emphasis is given to children's developmental
(GEM), in order to disaggregate the HDI by needs, their cultural context, the special
sex. These dramatically demonstrate the extent requirements of unaccompanied minors, and
to which women systematically fall below issues arising from repatriation and
average achievement in terms of human reintegration.
development, throughout the industrialised
and developing worlds. The findings of the UNICEF: The State of the World's Children
Report also demonstrate that gender equity Oxford: Oxford University Press
depends not on wealth, but on political An annual report on development through its
commitment. The 1995 Report is unequivocal impact on children. Supported by charts and
in placing gender equity at the heart of statistical information, the report is not only a
development: 'human development must be valuable source of information, but also offers
engendered. If development is meant to widen critical analysis of development practice and
opportunities for all people, then continuing policy from the perspective of children and
exclusion of women from many opportunities their needs. Recent issues have focused on the
of life warps the process of development.' need to eradicate 'the apartheid of gender', and
on the devastating effect of 'pain now, gain
UNESCO: The Cultural Dimension of later' macro-economic policies on the health
Development: Towards a Practical Approach and well-being of children and their families.
Paris: UNESCO Culture and Development
Series, 1995 UNRISD: Ethnic Conflict and Development
This book explores what UNESCO considers Research Paper series, Geneva: UNRISD
to be the 'one important imponderable' in the Includes case-studies of 14 countries, in many
development process which has yet to gain of which ethnic diversity has been a component
general recognition. This has to do with of violence. It examines the various forces that
collective motivation of a community, which shape ethnicity, including economic factors;
is, to a large extent, culturally determined, and and shows the ways in which ethnicities are
which has to be mobilised if a development 'constructed', 'invented', and 'imagined'
programme is to achieve more than mere under specific circumstances.
economic growth and modernisation. The
book represents a significant step towards UNRISD: States ofDisarray: The Social
developing some basic knowledge about the Effects of Globalisation
cultural factors that determine development. It Geneva: UNRISD (available in English,
is an attempt at a state-of-the-art presentation, French, and Spanish), 1995
based on experience gained both inside and An examination of critical social problems
outside the UN system, as well as afirstoutline such as poverty, unemployment, inequality,
of a possible methodology for integrating the crime and drugs, and the themes of identity
cultural dimension into development crisis, violent conflict, weakening of social
programmes and projects. solidarity, and the declining responsibility of
public institutions. Part I discusses global-
UNHCR: Refugee Children: Guidelines on isation, in terms of its impact on impoverish-
Protection and Care ment, inequalities, work insecurity, weakening
Geneva: UNHCR, 1994 (available in English of institutions and social support systems, and
and French) the erosion of established identities and values.
Fully revised to reflect the 1989 Convention on Part II explores these developments in relation
the Rights of the Child, and UNHCR's 1993 to crime, drugs, ethnic conflicts, and
Policy on Refugee Children, the Guidelines reconstruction of war-torn societies. Part III
outline principles and practice for the looks at the policy environment and the impact
protection and assistance of refugee children. of the principal forces shaping contemporary
106 Development and Social Diversity

societies on a variety of institutions, stressing disabled children, especially those who live in
the links between misery and insecurity and rural areas or are involved with community-
social conflicts, including the rise of extremist based programmes. It gives a wealth of clear,
movements. simple, but detailed information covering the
most common disabilities of children. It also
gives suggestions for simplified rehabilitation,
UNRISD: Technical Co-operation and low-cost aids, and ways to help disabled
Women's Lives: Integrating Gender into children find a role and be accepted in the
Development Planning community. Above all, it stresses that most
Geneva: UNRISD, 1995 answers for meeting these children's needs can
A research programme focusing on two critical be found within the community, the family, and
themes: inequality in women's access to and in the children themselves.
participation in the definition of economic
structures and policies and the productive Williams, Suzanne et al.: The Oxfam Gender
process itself; and insufficient institutional Training Manual
mechanisms to promote the advancement of Oxford: Oxfam (UK and Ireland), 1993
women. A series of ten papers by leading This resource book for gender and develop-
scholars assesses the efforts of major donor ment trainers draws on the work of gender
agencies (such as the World Bank, the ILO, and trainers all over the world. It offers tried and
UNDP) and governments to integrate gender tested activities and handouts, gathered from a
issues into their activities; including case- wide range of sources in Africa, Asia, and Latin
studies of Bangladesh, Jamaica, Morocco, America and shaped into a coherent training
Uganda, and Vietnam. programme. The manual includes activities
which explore gender-awareness and self-
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights awareness; gender roles and needs; gender-
(1948) sensitive appraisal and planning; gender and
(Available free of charge, in several languages, major global issues, strategies for change.
from the UN Department of Public Informa-
tion, New York) Women and Development Series (1989-95)
Adopted and proclaimed by the General London: Zed Books
Assembly of the UN on 10 December 1948, Prepared under the direction of the UN NGO
this is the clearest and most authoritative Liaison Service, a series consisting of ten
statement of the principle upon which most volumes which focus on women and each of
development and humanitarian relief work the following: human rights; empowerment;
rests: that all human beings are born with equal refugees; employment; literacy;." the family;
and inalienable rights and fundamental health; disability; world economic crisis; the
freedoms. The Declaration is legally binding environment. Provides a detailed overview of
on member states of the United Nations. women's exclusion from the benefits of
Subsequent Conventions, such as the development, and of ways in which women's
Indigenous and Tribal People's Convention organisations and NGOs around the world, as
and the International Convention on the well as the UN system, have attempted to
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination 'mainstream' women's rights.
Against Women, have to be ratified
individually by each member state.

Werner, David: Disabled Village Children

Palo Alto: Hesperian Foundation, 1987
This is a book of ideas and information for all
who are concerned about the well-being of
Annotated bibliography 107

Journals International Children's Rights Monitor

(ISSN: 0259 3696)
Ageing and Society (ISSN 0144-686X) Editor: Paulo David
(published quarterly by Cambridge University A quarterly publication of Defence for Children
Press) International, an independent NGO which
Editor: Peter G Coleman, University of seeks to ensure systematic and concerted
Southampton, UK international action to protect the rights of the
An international journal devoted to publishing child. International Children's Rights Monitor,
contributions to the understanding of human produced in three language editions, is DCI's
ageing, particularly from the social and behav- major tool for making known problems and
ioural sciences and humanities. Its interpreta- responses in the children's rights field.
tion of ageing is wide and includes all aspects
of the human condition, whether they relate to IRED Forum
individuals, groups, societies, or institutions. Editors: Laurence Dumay and Fernand
Ageways A quarterly bulletin containing information
Editor: Alison Tarrant and resources from the worldwide network
A quarterly news pack produced by HelpAge IRED (Innovations et reseaux pour le
International, covering the organisation's work developpemenf). Published in English, French,
around the world, and issues relating to ageing and Spanish.
and development.
ISIS International
Gender and Development (ISSN 1355-2074) An international non-governmental women's
(published three times a year by Oxfam (UK organisation, founded in 1974 to promote the
and Ireland) empowerment of women through information-
Editor: Caroline Sweetman, Oxfam (UK/I) sharing, communication, and networking. Isis
Each issues focuses on a specific theme International in Asia publishes the quarterly
relevant to gender and development issues, magazine Women in Action. ISIS International
exploring the links between gender and devel- in Latin America coordinates a health network
opment initiatives, and making links between for Latin America and the Caribbean, for which
theoretical and practical work in this field. it publishes the Women's Health Journal. ISIS
in Africa publishes Women's World and
Journal of Cross-cultural Gerontology coordinates the Women's International Cross
(published quarterly by Kluwer Academic Cultural Exchange. All three offices run an
Publishers, The Netherlands) s information and documentation centre.
Editors: Cynthia M. Beall and Melvyn C.
Goldstein, Case Western Reserve University, Minority Rights Group
Cleveland, USA Publishes well researched and authoritative
An international and interdisciplinary journal reports on particular minority groups all over
providing a forum for scholarly discussions of the world, and on key issues, such as Minorities
the ageing process and the problems of the aged and Human Rights Law; International Action
throughout the world. The journal emphasises against Genocide; the Social Psychology of
discussions of research findings, theoretical Minorities.
issues, and applied approaches dealing with
non-Western populations, but also invites Race and Class (ISSN 0306-3968)
articles that provide comparative orientation Editor: A Sivanandan
for the study of the ageing process in its social, A journal for Black and Third World liberation
economic, historical, and biological published quarterly by the Institute of Race
perspectives. Relations, UK.
108 Development and Social Diversity

Signs (ISSN 0097 9740) Hesperian Foundation, PO Box 1692, Palo

Editors: Ruth-Ellen Boetcher-Joeres and Alto, CA 94302, USA
Barbara Laslett
A journal of women in culture and society, Institute of Race Relations, 2-6 Leeke Street,
published quarterly by the University of Kings Cross Road, London WC1X 9HS, UK
Chicago Press.
IRED, 3 rue de varembe, 1211 Geneva,
Survival International Switzerland
Publishes a number of reports, documents, and ISIS International, PO Box 1837, Quezon
regular reviews on the situation of indigenous City, Main Quezon City 1100, The Philippines
peoples and ethnic minorities around the
world. ISIS International, Casilla 2067, Correo
Central, Santiago, Chile
Newsletter/journal published quarterly by ISIS-WICCE, Box 4934, Kampala, Uganda
Disabled People's International, in several
languages, including Arabic. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Spuiboulevard
50, PO Box 17,3300 AA Dordrecht, The
Publishers' addresses
Minority Rights Group, 379 Brixton Road,
Beacon Press, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA London SW97DE.UK
02108-2892, USA
Monthly Review Press, 122 West 27th Street,
Cambridge University Press, The Edinburgh New York, NY 10001, USA
Building, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2
2RU, UK Oxfam (UK and Ireland), 274 Banbury Road,
Oxford OX2 7DZ.UK
Centre for Human Rights, UN Office at
Geneva, 8-14 avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva Oxford University Press, Walton Street,
10, Switzerland Oxford OX2 6DP, UK

Chapman and Hall, 2-6 Boundary Row, Routledge, 11 New Fetter Lane, London,
London SE18HN, UK EC4P 4EE.UK

Defence for Children International, PO Box Survival International, 11-15 Emerald Street,
88,1211 Geneva, Switzerland London WC1N 3QL, UK

Disabled People's International, 101-7 UN Department of Public Information, United

Evergreen Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Nations, New York, NY 10017, USA
Canada R3L2T3
UNESCO, 7 place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris,
Earthscan, 120 Pentonville Road, London Nl France
UNHCR, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de
HelpAge International, St James's Walk, Lausanne, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland
London EC1R0BE, UK
Annotated bibliography 109

UNRISD, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva, University of Pennsylvania Press, 418 Service
Switzerland] Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6097, USA
Verso Press, 6 Meard Street, London W1V
UN University Press, Toho Shimei Building, 3HR, UK
15-1 Shibuya 2-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
150, Japan Westview Press, 5500 Central Avenue,
Boulder, Colorado 80301-2877, USA
United States Institute of Peace Press, 1550 M
Street NW, Washington DC 20005, USA Zed Books, 9 Cynthia Street, London Nl 9JF,
University of Chicago Press, Journals
Division, 5720 S. Woodlawn, Chicago, IL
60637, USA
Oxfam Publications

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