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Edited by Caroline Sweetman

Oxfam Focus on Gender

Editorial 2
Caroline Siveetman
Passing the buck? Money literacy and alternatives to credit and savings schemes 10
Helen Pankhurst
Challenges for integrating gender into poverty alleviation programmes: lessons
from Sudan 22
Abdal Monium Khidir Osman
Alive and kicking: women's and men's responses to poverty and globalisation
in the UK 31
Jo Rowlands
Women's oral knowledge and the poverty of formal education in the SE Peruvian
Amazon 41
Sheila Aikman
Poverty, HIV, and barriers to education: street children's experiences in Tanzania 51
Ruth Evans
Gender, poverty, and intergenerational vulnerability to HIV/AIDS 63
Mohga Kamal Smith
Resisting austerity: a gendered perspective on neo-liberal restructuring in Peru 71
Maureen Hays-Mitchell
Gender budgets: what's in it for NGOs? 82
Debbie Budlender
'Engendering' Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs): the issues and the
challenges 88
Elaine Zuckerman
Resources 95
Compiled by Ruth Evans
Publications 99
Journals 99
Electronic resources 99
Organisations 100
Videos 101
Conferences 102

This book converted to digital file in 2010

Caroline Sweetman

illions of dollars and working days macro-level neo-liberal restructuring,
have been expended over the past poverty reduction strategies, gender budgets,
50 years in the cause of the education, HIV/AIDS, and globalisation
'development' of countries in Africa, Latin and poverty in the North. Together, they
America, Asia and the Pacific. The alleviation give new insights into the impacts of
of poverty is the primary concern of many, gender-blind development policies from
but not all, organisations working in the the macro- to the micro-levels. Gender
development sector. Some, notably the equality forms an integral part of develop-
international financial institutions, including ment, and must be mainstreamed into all
the IMF and the World Bank, have focused poverty alleviation programmes and
primarily on promoting economic growth development initiatives.
at macro-level, in the belief that increasing
wealth at national level will, in the medium-
Understanding poverty
term, alleviate poverty throughout entire
populations. Grassroots poverty alleviation First, how do we define poverty?
strategies fit into this vision as shorter-term Individuals and organisations informed by
activities, to complement appropriate different understandings of development
macro-economic policies. In contrast, some have very different definitions and under-
development organisations - often NGOs - standings of poverty. Narrow definitions
disbelieve that wealth will ever trickle focus on economic want to a greater extent
down to women or men in poverty; they than broader definitions, and lead to a
see community development initiatives programme of action which focuses on
seeking to support people in poverty as wealth creation without much emphasis on
part of an alternative development social context. Broader definitions emphasise
approach. the connections between economic want
The writers of the articles here examine and social - and sometimes political -
the complex links between poverty and marginalisation or exclusion. This exclusion
inequality between women and men. They is seen as both a symptom and a cause of
show how gender inequalities impact on economic want.
men, women, and children's experiences of The Oxford Dictionary of Current
poverty, and demonstrate the importance English (1995) gives a broad definition very
of integrating gender analysis into every simply: poverty is described as 'want of the
aspect of development initiatives. The necessities of life'. What the 'necessities of
articles cover a range of issues including life' are actually deemed to be is obviously

highly subjective. However, a useful list focus of debate and dispute (Marcoux 1997;
comes from the Beijing Platform for Action, King and Mason 2001). However, even
in which poverty is described as follows: sceptics admit that a general trend towards
'Poverty has various manifestations, the 'feminisation of poverty' is 'real and
including lack of income and productive growing' (Marcoux 1997,4).
resources sufficient to ensure a sustainable More generally, statistics like this need
livelihood; hunger and malnutrition; ill to be used with care. First, it is difficult to
health; limited or lack of access to education estimate the number of women in poverty
and other basic services; increasing morbidity because of biases in the way statistical
and mortality from illness; homelessness analysis is carried out. As stated, poverty
and inadequate housing; unsafe environ- statistics tend to look at households, rather
ments; and social discrimination and than at the individual women and men
exclusion. It is also characterized by lack of within households. They also use narrow
participation in decision-making and in definitions of poverty, focusing on
economic want, typically measured through
civil, social and cultural life. It occurs in all
countries - as mass poverty in many income or consumption. Second, quantitative
developing countries and as pockets of data oversimplify complex issues. They
poverty amidst wealth in developed cannot explore the social context of
countries' (UN 1996, para. 47). economic want, which is all-important in
understanding the significance of the data -
not only to women themselves, but to
Exploring men's and development policymakers. They also mask
women's experiences of wide variations in women's experience of
poverty poverty. While they are useful rallying cries
for international activism, they can also
Both women and men in poverty would alienate development workers who find
recognise the key elements in the description they are facing a very different reality on
of poverty given above. However, it is the ground (El-Bushra 2000).
widely held that women's experience of
poverty is quantitatively and qualitatively Female-headed households can be
different from that of men. How true is counted, and there has been much debate
this? on the extent to which this status correlates
with poverty (Chant 1997). In most societies,
Do poor women outnumber poor men? women living without a man are more
Women are widely believed to outnumber likely to lack some of life's basic necessities.
men in the ranks of the poorest people on This is due to multiple demands on their
earth. Because poverty measures focus on time which limit the time they can spend in
households, not individuals, accurate productive activities, as well as social
figures are impossible to obtain. In 1995, the norms which govern their behaviour in the
UN Human Development Report estimated public sphere, and gendered prohibitions
that of the 1.3 billion people in poverty, on certain kinds of work. Most institutions
70 per cent were women (1995, 4). In the which determine the economic and social
same year, UNIFEM stated that 'women environment in which women and men in
constitute at least 60 per cent of the world's poverty live are unlikely to allow anyone in
poor' (1995, 7). These high figures have poverty to shape their decision-making.
been quoted often because of their obvious Men in poverty are clearly excluded from
power in persuading development participating equally in decision-making at
policymakers of the need to address gender international and national levels, and this
inequality. But they have also been the has a profound impact on how they live
now, and their chances of escaping poverty Not all female-headed households are
in the future. Yet the majority of men in economically needy relative to those
poverty are able to participate with their headed by men. In fact, the context in
peers in formal decision-making bodies at which a woman has chosen, or been forced,
the community level. If there is no male to head a household is all-important in
household head, women's participation in determining whether or not she is poor.
these bodies may be difficult or impossible. Some women married to abusive men may
In addition, social norms governing the opt to leave if they have an independent
sexual division of labour may mean that a income. In addition, since poverty is not
household with no adult men is not able to only a lack of economic necessities, women
take advantage of the full range of heading households could be seen as less
livelihood opportunities. In farming disadvantaged socially than wives who are
communities in parts of sub-Saharan forced to continue living unhappily with
Africa, for example, some parts of the abusive or cruel men.
cultivation process cannot be undertaken
by a woman, and access to credit and other Is poverty 'different' for women?
inputs is targeted at men. Land sometimes Poverty is qualitatively different for women
has to remain fallow, leading to destitution than men. Poor men face social and economic
for women and their dependants. AIDS is exclusion from government bodies and
aggravating this situation in many African other institutions which shape their lives,
countries, since it leads to dramatic on the grounds of their poverty. Women
demographic change, in which female- are excluded twice over from public
headed and child-headed households are institutions, on the grounds of sexual
becoming common. In this issue, Mohga discrimination as well as poverty. The fact
Kamal Smith discusses how poverty that public institutions are male-dominated
intersects with gender stereotyping and means they are likely to reflect men's
discrimination to make young girls priorities and interests, assuming these to
disproportionately vulnerable to infection, be shared by both sexes.
whilst elderly women carers who become In addition to this exclusion in the
household heads face ostracism because of public sphere, women in poverty have to
stigma when they care for their sick cope with the effect of their relative lack of
children and grandchildren. power in the household. A poor man's
In the very different context of poverty experience of exclusion from decision-
in Northern Europe, women heading making is likely to end once he crosses the
households face a greater likelihood of threshold of his home. Men in most
poverty than men because they are less societies are still viewed as household
likely to command a wage sufficient for heads, even while they may not be the only
family survival. Women's wages in or the most important breadwinner.
industrialised and post-industrialised Gender stereotypes and cultural norms
settings are depressed by old stereotypes of mean men are likely to have the final say in
women's wages being secondary to those of decision-making about the use of the scant
a male breadwinner. In her article, Jo resources available to their families.
Rowlands looks at the ways in which They may well be able to get away with
stereotypes and expectations of women's socially-condoned violence if women
economic role disadvantage poor women disagree with their decisions. Women's
and their families. lives are, too often, shaped by relative
Despite the above, it is important to note powerlessness to determine the way in
that the link between female household which livelihoods are made and money is
headship and poverty is not automatic. spent; the size of their families; or the way

in which the food they cook is divided This does not necessarily lead to choices of
among family members. In societies where which policymakers approve. Moreover,
men own assets, where women are not female education does not necessarily lead
confident that they can make an independent to a greater say in marital decision-making
living, and where being a female head of (Jeffery and Jeffery 1998).
household carries social stigma as well as A second, and compelling, rationale for
practical difficulty, the bargaining positions supporting gender equality as a means of
of husbands and wives are markedly delivering better poverty alleviation
different. programmes comes from ideas of 'maternal
altruism' (Whitehead 1984). Compelling
evidence can be invoked by gender and
Getting gender equality development researchers and workers to
onto the anti-poverty prove that lack of equality between women
agenda and men aggravates and perpetuates
The promotion of women's rights and economic want. Women are more likely
gender equality is a prerequisite to grassroots than men to identify their own interests
poverty-alleviation and, ultimately, to with those of their dependants, an attitude
national economic growth. Many of the which is essential to the welfare of children
arguments in support of this point of view and other household members (Jiggins
stress the ways in which gender equality 1989). Increasing women's role in budgeting
benefits not just women themselves, but and decision-making is desirable, since
their families as well. evidence exists that improved nutritional
One rationale for promoting gender status and family health correlates with
equality as a means to poverty alleviation female control of budgets (Whitehead 1984).
focuses on the idea that there is a direct Is there a problem inherent in
correlation between girls' education, female emphasising the benefits to families and
empowerment, and contraceptive usage. In society of gender equality? Some would say
fact, the evidence for this is not completely yes; women deserve to be supported in
clear. First, to be empowering, education their struggle for emancipation, because
needs to be appropriate. In her article, this is a worthy end in itself. Others would
Sheila Aikman gives an example of an say, from a pragmatic perspective, that it is
inappropriate, colonial-style education acceptable to adopt this strategy since
which is closely linked to a process of development organisations will not adopt
impoverishment for the Haramkbut society the cause of gender equality otherwise.
in the Peruvian Amazon. Integration into A third perspective, based on the daily
the global economy has radically altered realities of women in poverty, is that
ways of life, and women's traditional forms gender equality and development cannot be
of education and knowledge-management conceptualised separately; if you can
have been marginalised. The second reason envisage such a separation, your vision of
to be cautious when assuming connections development is fundamentally flawed.
between education, female empowerment Families in poverty are living in contexts
and development goals is that empower- of constant insecurity and uncertainty.
ment may not lead to the outcome assumed Women who have borne children and
by development policymakers. Education at watched them suffer from curable illnesses
its best is a process through which the and malnutrition do not see a separation
learner becomes aware of the possibilities between their own interests and the
which surround her, and grows in confidence interests of the family. What they would
about her ability to make informed choices. like is the freedom to use their wits and
abilities to strategise a way to escape Freeing women to contribute to
poverty. The ability of all family members development: anti-poverty and efficiency
to pool their learning, identify opportunities approaches
and cut their losses often signals the These approaches were more attractive to
difference between further impoverishment development organisations and to
and greater stability. Some households governments, since they were based on
depend on the decision-making of a single economic arguments. Ester Boserup's
adult man, or on the so-called 'joint' research (1970) was influential in high-
decision-making of people who are lighting the true nature, extent and worth of
intimidated by the greater power (overt or women's contribution to Third World
hidden) of one of the group. Others depend economies. Evidence from many countries
on the pooled expertise of two or more showed that women's extensive economic
confident women and men, who both/all role in production was ignored by planners,
have a voice in determining the best way who assumed producers to be male. This
forward. It is obvious which strategy is resulted in a model of development which
most likely to be valuable. undermined women's activities and status,
relegating them to economic dependency
on their husbands, fathers and sons. It was
Integrating gender equality fundamentally inefficient, since it wasted
into development: the women's potential for production.
strategies so far The anti-poverty approach was the
Over the past 30 years of gender main- earlier of the two that emerged from this
streaming in development organisations, analysis. It sought to support women as
various different rationales have been income-earners for their families. Women's
employed to 'sell' the need to work on work in growing food crops, looking after
equality concerns as part of development children and other family members, and
and poverty alleviation. Caroline Moser cooking and cleaning has been recognised.
created a typology of different underlying Technical support is sometimes offered by
rationales used by development organisations development projects, aiming to cut the
for beginning work to address women's time women spend on onerous tasks.
and gender issues (Moser 1993). However, the impact of this support is very
mixed, and, ultimately, production is
Promoting equality as an end in itself: prioritised over other work. The implicit
the equity approach assumption is that women will cope with
The equity approach called for develop- any additional workload.
ment organisations to support women's In the 1980s, as economic crisis gripped
demands for equality, on the grounds of many countries and structural adjustment
their inherent right to this. With its policies led to cutbacks in state spending on
emphasis on changing laws and challenging health and education, projects based on the
cultural practices, it was unpopular with efficiency approach began. The main goal
governments. Voices from the international was to 'harness women's efforts to make
women's movement challenged develop- development more efficient and to alleviate
ment organisations to adopt a commitment poverty in the wake of neo-liberal
to promoting women's right to equality restructuring' (Chant and Gutmann 2000, 7).
with men. The challenge was first heard at a Part of the poverty alleviation function of
time when feminism was transforming the women has been to substitute for health
relationship between women and men, and and education services, which were
women and male-dominated institutions, in dwindling due to austerity spending by
the 'developed' world. governments.

In her article, Maureen Hays-Mitchell Southern women living in poverty are

discusses the impact of structural supported by development organisations to
adjustment on women and men in Peru. take collective action to challenge unequal
She provides a case-study of women power relations with men (Moser 1993).
mobilising of their own volition to ensure At best, women's groups have had
the day-to-day survival of their families. major and minor successes in challenging
Hays-Mitchell argues that this action forms discrimination at home, in the marketplace
a part of 'a broader movement of resistance and further afield. Their views have been
to neo-liberalism as a prescription for heard and have had an impact on the
economic recovery and development' development organisations which fund
(this issue). them and the local institutions which
Ruth Evans gives an example of what govern them. In her article on women
happens when women can no longer shore organising to monitor government
up a crumbling social support system in the expenditure on gender issues, Debbie
face of poverty and ill-health. In Tanzania, Budlender provides an example of this
women's ability to provide health care and work. Over the last seven years, there has
economic support for family members has been increasing interest in gender budget
stretched to breaking point. Levels of work, in which the expenditure of govern-
poverty have been pushed up by ments is monitored to gain a picture of the
'cost-sharing' in health and education impact of government policy on women's
sectors, and the economic and social needs and gender equality. This information
impact of the AIDS epidemic. As families is used in advocacy to ensure greater future
disintegrate under the pressure, increasing impact. Over 50 countries have had gender
budget initiatives of some sort or another.
numbers of girls and boys are seeking a
living independently on the streets of The development of the role of
towns and cities. Evans argues that political development organisations in supporting
will is required, as well as resources, to women's groups and organisations has
ensure street children receive vital care. been chequered. In contrast, the terminology
The efficiency and anti-poverty approaches of empowerment has been co-opted easily
have tended to be supremely inefficient, by many governments and development
and have failed to alleviate poverty. They organisations. It often masks a prescriptive
have, to varying degrees, focused on the style of working and an efficiency approach.
importance of production for cash at the Phrases such as 'economic empowerment'
expense of the household economy as a have become common usage concerning
whole. At best, these approaches have projects which are fundamentally about
enabled women to earn and control money; harnessing women's energies without
however, there is much evidence to show challenging inequality. In some quarters,
that the money they earn more often passes if you say you are giving micro-credit to
to men. Ultimately, the approaches contribute female heads of household, no further
to more unequal workloads for women and questions are asked about your work on
men. Women grow ever more exhausted, gender and poverty. Credit has become a
and essential work is either done at night, proxy for women's empowerment, just as
female heads of household are a proxy for
performed by daughters or grandmothers,
women in poverty.
or ignored altogether, if this is possible.
In her article, Helen Pankhurst critically
Changing the rules? Empowering women assesses widespread claims that women are
in poverty empowered through taking credit. Credit is
The final approach identified by Caroline not empowering in poor communities
Moser is empowerment, through which where markets for goods are saturated and
loans can never be repaid. The idea that Parallel to this, during the 1990s the UN
micro-credit is a 'magic bullet' with which has called for a renewed attack on poverty
to end poverty is also false. Pankhurst at all levels, which begins with re-thinking
argues that development workers need to the nature of development itself. Drawing
develop complementary strategies for on the thinking of celebrated economist
addressing poverty at macro-, meso- and Amartya Sen, it stated in its first Human
micro-levels. Sustainable poverty alleviation
Development Report that: 'Recent develop-
at grassroots level cannot occur without ment experience is thus a powerful
policy change at the top. reminder that the expansion of output and
wealth is only a means. The end of
development must be human well-being'
A new vision of (UNDP 1990,10).
development with equality Over the 12 years since the first UN
Parallel to gender mainstreaming in Human Development Report, the concept
development organisations, a new approach of human development has been refined,
to development has grown up, in the wake and the thinking behind it has been
of the 'lost decade' of the 1980s. The adopted by other organisations. Renewed
economic crisis during this decade, and the consideration of the nature of poverty,
subsequent economic 'reforms' imposed by and its relation to national economic
the World Bank and IMF, provided ample growth, is underway at the international
evidence that focusing solely on national financial institutions. In her article,
economic growth does not guarantee Elaine Zuckerman discusses the process of
poverty alleviation. Rather, international integrating gender perspectives into the
markets can negate plans for growth, while World Bank's Poverty Reduction Strategy
social inequality within a country means Plans (PRSPs). PRSPs, which are national
the weakest go to the wall. Small-scale plans to reduce poverty, began in 1999 after
projects in communities cannot succeed in widespread advocacy efforts on the part of
eradicating poverty if the national NGOs, including women's organisations.
economy is in free-fall. Initially, the World Bank and IMF
In the lead-up to the Fourth World introduced PRSPs as a prerequisite for
Conference on Women at Beijing in 1995, countries in the Highly Indebted Poor
the international women's movement Country (HIPC) initiative to have their
grouped around demands for a different national debts reduced. Now, PRSPs are
kind of development, which was sustainable being introduced in non-HIPC countries
and based on commitments to equality too.
between men and women and between It is too early to tell whether the PRSP
North and South. A major feminist critique process can deliver real benefit to people in
of current models of development poverty; but in the absence of widespread
was mounted by Southern women's commitment to more radical macro-
networks and coalitions, including DAWN economic policy reform, this is doubtful.
(Development Alternatives with Women It is not adequate for international
for a New Era). Their goal is a new development institutions to state a
paradigm of development, focusing on commitment to poverty reduction, and
power-sharing, universal human rights, discuss ways in which promoting gender
and poverty-alleviation through sustainable equality could improve economic efficiency
development. They link male domination (King and Mason 2001), in the absence of
of women with the North's domination of using their power to reform the macro-
the South, causing growing human and economic agreements which determine the
environmental crisis (Sen and Grown 1988). choices available to poor women and men.

For example, a commitment to equal King E. and A. Mason (2001) Engendering

treatment for all involved in producing Development through Gender Equality in
cash crops for export would lead to reform Rights, Resources and Voice, Oxford:
to international trade rules, including Oxford University Press
abolition of the tariffs which support Marcoux A (1997) 'The feminisation of
unsustainable agriculture in the North at poverty: facts, hypotheses and the art of
the expense of producers in the South. advocacy', SD Dimensions, FAO
This would reduce economic want
dramatically in developing countries htm (last accessed 20 September 2002)
(Oxfam 2002). As the UN states, 'Human Moser, C. (1993) Gender Planning and
well-being rests on economic prosperity, Development: Theory, Practice and
and equal social and political participation Training, London and New York:
for all. People are the real wealth of nations. Routledge
Development is thus about expanding the Oxfam (2002) 'Eight Broken Promises: Why
choices people have to lead lives that they the WTO isn't Working for the World's
value. And it is thus about much more than Poor', Briefing Paper No. 9, available
economic growth, which is only a means - from Policy Department, Oxfam GB,
although a very important one - of enlarging 274 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7TZ, UK
people's choices.' (United Nations, Sen, G. and C. Grown (1988) Development,, 16 September 2002). Crises and Alternative Visions: Third World
Women's Perspectives, London: Earthscan
UN Department of Public Information
(1996), Beijing Declaration and Platform for
Boserup, E. (1970) Woman's Role in Economic Action, New York
Development, New York: St Martin's UNDP (1990 - present) Human Development
Press Reports, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Chant, S. (1997) 'Women-headed households: Whitehead, A. (1984), in Young, K. (ed.)
poorest of the poor? Perspectives from I'm Hungry, Mum: The Politics of Domestic
Mexico, Costa Rica and Philippines', Budgeting, London and New York:
IDS Bulletin 28(3): 26-47 Routledge
Chant, S. and M. Gutmann (2000)
Mainstreaming Men into Gender and
Development: Debates, Reflections and
Experiences Oxford: Oxfam GB
El-Bushra, J. (2000) 'Rethinking gender and
development practice for the twenty-first
century', Gender and Development 8(1):
Jeffery, P. and R. Jeffery (1998) 'Silver bullet
or passing fancy? Girls' schooling and
population policy', in Jackson, C. and R.
Pearson (eds.) Feminist Visions of
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Jiggins, J. (1989) 'How poor women earn
money in sub-Saharan Africa and what
works against them', World Development
17(7): 953-63

Passing the buck?

Money literacy and alternatives to credit
and savings schemes
Helen Pankhurst
Credit and savings schemes have much appeal for many different actors involved in development.
They offer one of the few economic blueprints for tackling poverty. However, there is a growing
consensus that their gains are highly exaggerated. They do not address structural issues such as
intra-household relations of power and rights, or inequalities created at the global level, which have a
detrimental impact on equitable development. These schemes are also unsustainable, seldom
managing to cover costs and increase their capital base. If future credit and savings schemes are to be
effective in poverty alleviation, they need to make stronger linkages between the macro- and micro-
economies, and understand economic interventions as part of a wider programme of women's
empowerment. This article draws on examples and lessons learned by Womankind Worldwide and
its international partners, to illustrate these points.

A short critique of the pros and cons of

he visibility of women in a particular
development sector, and, even more credit and savings schemes follows, before I
unusually, the existence of some move on to discuss Womankind Worldwide's
gendered rationale for increasing their approach to women's poverty, and work
involvement, makes a refreshing change in which has been undertaken with
development practice. Women's economic Womankind's partners to achieve
poverty is highlighted by the oft-quoted sustainable livelihoods for women in
statistic that women represent 70 per cent poverty, from micro- to macro-level.
of the poor (UN 1995), and this is a common
justification for targeting women in credit
A critique of credit and
provision. However, there is another reason
for women's greater visibility in credit and saving schemes: the pros
savings schemes: their involvement in and cons
income-generation is believed to be a more With few other forms of alternative micro-
effective path to poverty alleviation in economic initiatives on offer, credit and
households and communities. Women are savings schemes are seen as a useful
said to be more 'prudent' and 'trustworthy' support for many poor people. It is argued
in terms of repayment, and they are easier that the key benefit is that they can provide
to find if they fail to repay their debt. The a resource to people otherwise left out of
link between mothers' income and family the loop, who would have to resort to less
welfare is also made - that is, the fact that favourable lending and savings possibilities;
women are more likely than men to being forced, for example, to bear the very
prioritise spending income on the needs of high rates of moneylenders, or having to
their family. put their savings under the bed. These
Alternatives to credit and savings schemes 11

schemes can allow people to pursue and The arguments against

protect their livelihoods, and repeat loans Credit and savings schemes currently play
can be given, so that the schemes become a very visible role in poverty reduction
part of a long-term support system that strategies in the developing world.
reduces vulnerability. Access to loans of However, critics maintain that all they
increasing size provides the possibility of amount to is a banking service. Credit and
stepping up the economic ladder. Proponents savings schemes, when offered on their
of credit and savings argue that the schemes own, ignore the structural roots that make
also avoid creating dependency; rather, poverty stick. They do not tackle the under-
they are premised on a business relationship, lying causes of poverty and vulnerability.
hence the focus on repayments with interest. Instead they assume that individuals can
Credit and savings schemes are widely escape, by 'pulling themselves up by their
understood to be a springboard for other bootstraps'.
forms of individual and communal capacity- Credit schemes only offer an advance
building: a means to a much greater end. on earnings. The money is not a grant, but a
Joining a credit and savings scheme may loan which carries risks. Basic economic
increase levels of self-esteem and self-worth theory highlights the fact that a desire to
for individuals, whilst the process of avert and minimise risk is a key element
coming together in groups, developing a of human behaviour. Despite the clear
system of group management, and so on, association between poverty and particular
can open doors leading to wider change reluctance to be exposed to risk, credit
and empowerment. schemes are being heralded worldwide as a
Credit schemes are assumed to be a method of poverty alleviation.
form of economic development which is Ensuring the sustainability of credit and
cost-effective, efficient, and relatively easy savings schemes is often a goal as elusive as
to administer. A group of clients can be poverty reduction. Torn between the goals
inducted, trained, and monitored together. of organisational financial sustainability
Group collateral, guarantors and group and poverty reduction, compromises are
management systems can be adopted, and often made. In true capitalist spirit, the
credit and savings operations can be direct economic activity for which credit
consolidated into single accounts to is given tends to be decided upon by
maximise returns. individuals who are motivated to work in
The combination of group structure and private endeavours. Schemes supporting
individual reward fits well with the joint income-generation activities are the
predominant global neo-liberal economic exception rather than the rule. In a model of
ideology and the importance attached to working within groups for individual
community initiatives and active civil financial gain, the issue of inter-household
society. Credit schemes therefore offer the relations of power and rights are rarely
best of both worlds, seeming to meet addressed. The way that these individuals
both financial backers' and development and groups relate to other socio-economic
practitioners' ideological and financial structures, particularly to the household
interests: ideological interests because of and to other kinship structures, is ignored.
long term development goals, and financial Yet it is these other structures that centrally
interests in the sense that a single injection affect people's access to key resources such
of capital - if managed 'properly' - can be as land, labour and capital. The real costs of
seen to continue working by rotating this form of economic support include the
indefinitely. This kind of development work stresses and strains of maintaining group
is therefore seen to be good value for money. cohesion and the issue of people, often the

most vulnerable, dropping out. Problems with repayment. The bulk of the effort of
within groups and issues of exclusion from such organisations turns to issues of
them are rarely brought to the fore in ensuring high repayment rates, and the
assessments about credit and savings difficulties of making the scheme work
schemes. profitably. The reasons for women
In practice, few credit and savings encountering problems with repayments -
schemes manage to cover costs and that is, constraints to individual women
accumulate capital. However, most brought about by culture, tradition, laws,
measure their success primarily in these and much else besides - can cease to be the
terms - as if there are no other valid central concern.
measurements of success, and despite the At the level of service delivery, there is
fact that the financial sustainability a lack of co-ordination which almost
measure is rarely applied with such rigour amounts to a culture of individualism
to many other forms of development between various micro-credit schemes
assistance. NGOs, bilateral agencies and (whether NGO- or government-led).
governments have, in my view, focused on The result is confusion for potential users of
the issue of financial sustainability in ways the services, with different rules and
that respond first and foremost to their own regulations to consider, patchy coverage
financial constraints. The gains of such (some communities, or groups within them
schemes are invariably romanticised, and offered a range of options, and others
there is a silence around the costs. none at all) and people being able to play
Although women are increasingly one scheme off against the other.
targeted in credit and savings schemes and Issues of limited markets, and saturation
the language used is sometimes that of of markets are a key constraint for almost
empowerment, the rationale behind the all schemes. Poor women are likely to have
interest in women's involvement is a narrow choice of economic activities
problematic. By increasing the burden on because of lack of resources, their existing
women, and making them responsible for reproductive and social roles, and cultural
repayment, such schemes use women as prohibitions on women doing particular
instruments to achieve efficiency and kinds of work. The markets for activities
sustainability, while actually exacerbating that are open to them tend to get saturated,
their poverty and vulnerability. Promoting and profit margins are driven down. Unless
women's involvement is rarely seen in these issues are addressed and market
terms of promoting their economic rights analyses made to identify new options,
and the schemes fail to engage with the more money borrowed by groups of
root causes of women's subordination. women in the same areas can yield limited
At different points in their life, women's benefits.
rights to property are subsumed by those of Credit schemes operate at the micro-
their husbands, fathers, or sons. Likewise, economic level without giving attention to
options open to them in terms of choice of the macro-level reasons for poverty and
economic activity are often narrowed down inequality, and the ultimate goal of
by traditional perceptions of the sexual removing the need for such schemes. Work
division of labour. Credit schemes that fail at the micro-level must be undertaken with
to look into these realities fail to address the a full realisation that action for change to
need for a more fundamental change in national and international policies is
ownership rights in society. required. Many service delivery-oriented
NGOs and women's organisations NGOs do not engage in dialogue with
involved in credit and saving schemes often policy-makers, and rarely consider economic
become involved in a policing role associated issues within the wider context of the
Alternatives to credit and savings schemes 13

community as a whole. The contradictions approach through which people can gain
between micro- and macro-level policies knowledge and information, and hence
are thus ignored, and the potential to change power.
macro-policy lost. The conceptual framework of the 'four
To sum up, although saving and credit literacies' can be summarised as follows:
schemes provide banking services that can Each 'literacy' represents one component
be useful to millions of poor people, they of women's rights. Work with partner
do not engage centrally with the reality of organisations and with women themselves
poor people's experiences of making aims to overcome barriers to women
money. Questions remain; for instance, attaining the literacies. The fact that the
in whose interest are these schemes? Are framework recognises the existence of
development organisations 'passing the linkages between the literacies means it
buck'? A poverty-eradication strategy provides an integrated approach to women's
related to people's struggles and needs empowerment, which links development to
requires a more holistic approach, based on social and political change. Although this
a more grounded overview of the article is most immediately concerned with
constraints that people face. money literacy, the issues it raises are also
connected in various ways to the other
Women's poverty and the Womankind places its efforts on four
'literacy' approach levels: awareness-raising; individual- and
Womankind Worldwide is a UK-based community-level support; capacity-
international women's rights and building of local organisations; and policy
development organisation which, together work. We have found that the most
with its local partner organisations, has effective work relies on interventions at all
been grappling with many of the issues levels, creating a momentum which can
outlined above. Our approach to the issues lead to real change. Womankind and its
of women's rights has evolved over the partners aim to look at women's position,
13 years of Womankind's existence, taking addressing the interconnectedness of
into account lessons learned in the process. constraints. We aim to bring NGOs
Two key strategies that have emerged are together, supporting and valuing the direct
the concept of the 'four literacies', and the work they do with particular communities,
concept of the 'four tiers of activism'. but also looking for opportunities for 'peer
Both of these shift the attention away from learning' with other organisations, in the
the resource provided to an individual or form of joint awareness-raising, lobbying,
group - for example, provision of credit - or policy work.
to focus on a holistic and integrated

Table 1: WOMANKIND'S four literacies

Word literacy Money literacy Body literacy Civil literacy

Reading & writing Numeracy Understanding your Knowing and using your
physical and mental legal rights
Gaining access to Basic economics
health needs
information Improved livelihoods Participation in
Confronting taboos decision-making
Expanding horizons Entrepreneurship
Making decisions Human rights
Unleashing creativity Entitlements based on facts not fear

Figure 1: Peer-level learning



1 1 1
Capacity Capacity Capacity
Building Building Building

Direct work with CBOs/
Direct work with CBOs/
Defined community and Defined community and
beneficiaries beneficiaries

I Wider community level

General awareness raising

Our vision of peer-level learning is Using individuals' stories to raise

summarised in Figure 1. Starting from the awareness and advocate for policy
bottom of the diagram, the four tiers of change (in person, and via briefing
activism include in practice: papers), and looking at ways in which
Facilitating joint awareness-raising existing policies can be made more
events (for example, demonstrations) or useful to individuals.
materials (for example, posters)
Providing services and supporting
capacity-building of individuals, and
Using the four literacies
community-based groups approach
Facilitating exchange visits for
community members Training in money literacy
As with most other credit and savings
Supporting individual NGOs
schemes, the ones administered by
Forging programme links between a Womankind's partners tend to include
group of NGOs (joint funding, joint training and explanations about the
training) conditions before loans are provided,
Forging links between bodies at macro- usually through a group-lending scheme.
level, for example, NGO and govern- One element of the training is around basic
ment policy-makers procedures, including how much can be
Alternatives to credit and savings schemes 15

borrowed for what, at what interest rates, Making Cents, called the BEST game which
repayment schedules, grace periods, and simulates business environments. The
penalty costs. Another conventional game is based on creating a virtual market
element of the training for group-lending of producers, buyers, sellers and consumers,
schemes is a focus on group dynamics and and involves participants in making
issues of transparency and accountability. business decisions and then experiencing
Womankind and its partners are giving the consequences of those decisions.
attention to improving these two forms of The reaction amongst the different
training, as well as exploring and addressing organisations to the usefulness of the
additional issues which we feel constrain training has ranged from those who have
women's ability to access funds effectively. become complete converts, regularly using
The idea is to go beyond training NGO an adapted version of the board game
staff and community in the rules of called Making Cedis (the Ghanaian currency)
credit and savings delivery, by providing in the training of non-literate communities,
information as to what is needed to make to some who have found the game
the money yield a safer profit, which unwieldy and abandoned it altogether.
women can control. Women themselves are Box 1: Outline of a workshop on money
encouraged to express what they think they literacy
need to arrive at these goals. Sometimes
women express a desire to be given some What is money
basic maths skills. Others request basic Attitudes to money
banking and economic training, including Different functions of money
knowledge of notes, coins, banking Time value of money
procedures and options, inflation, and so
on. These are often issues women want to
understand better. This training is based on Interest rates
experiential learning - that is, learning by Banking options and procedures
doing, and based on people's own Comparisons with informal sector options
experiences rather than learning through Social capital
formal standardised courses. As appropriate,
Labour and money
the training moves on to focus on more
complex areas of economics, finance, Opportunity cost
business, marketing and entrepreneurship.
The aim is to expand women's under- Overall, however, both at community and
standing of the transactions they are at NGO level the importance of increasing
involved in and their choices and their economic literacy as a crucial step in
constraints, so as to maximise the chances economic empowerment is clearly valued.
of their being able to succeed in the How best to achieve this remains a
economic exchanges undertaken to make a challenge.
Information exchange on micro-finance
Once again, we have had mixed results In its Ghana Money Literacy Programme,
in practice. However, the main lessons Womankind tried to facilitate a process of
learned about these training sessions were information exchange, encouraging six
concerned with over-ambitious agendas local organisations in Ghana to share their
and poor follow-up. experiences around micro-finance.1 The
We have also tried using a highly idea emerged out of a consultative process,
interactive business-simulation board game and aimed to encourage best practice
developed by a USA-based organisation, around micro-finance-related activities, and

to provide more effective use of resources. The feedback from those involved in the
Over a three-year period, significant process was that the event was a great
sharing of information at NGO level (and success for lots of very different reasons.
to a lesser extent at community level) It was a way of celebrating excellence at the
was achieved. However, the overall goal of level of community groups, and the
a more effective and rationalised economic women selected were very proud, as were
support system for women remains as husbands and the wider community.
elusive as ever. Differences between each It brought together the different NGOs in
of the NGOs in size, resources, history, the organisation of the event, whilst also
location, ideology and culture, as well as introducing some element of competitive-
personal and political differences at the key ness. Common weaknesses as well as
levels of decision-making, have defied the comparative strengths were identified, and
simple logic of closer integration. these have informed future programming.
Perhaps even more telling has been the Overall, despite many practical and
difficulty that Womankind itself has faced logistical difficulties and the far from
in trying to encourage collaboration from a perfect record, the realisation that a more
distance, with limited resources. Practical 'joined-up' approach to alleviating women's
problems have included that of recruiting poverty, promoting sustainable livelihoods
and retaining an effective co-ordinator, and addressing women's rights is the only
difficulties in agreeing a system around way to go is increasingly endorsed by all.
joint use of a vehicle, poor planning and Lessons about how to improve planning
communications systems, problems around and communication have been fed
the contracting of facilitators and trainers, back into the programme, and into
and staff changes at Womankind. Womankind's other partnerships. Having
now got our own house in better order,
A relatively successful one-off event
current work is concerned with developing
was a collaborative awards scheme for a focus on challenging power relations in
CBOs supported by all of the different the household, and at community and policy
partners in the three regions of Northern levels. Better links are also being developed
Ghana. The objectives were: with government at the policy level, both
To recognise, celebrate and promote to lobby and influence, but also to access
grassroots community groups that have funds available through government-led
come together successfully with initiatives for HIPC countries2 to fund our
initiatives to support each other and the work, rather than relying on rotating funds
wider community; and contributions from international NGO
To encourage NGO staff to define the donors.
reasons that they have short-listed
groups as excellent, and explain the Micro-finance plus: integrated
factors that have contributed to success; micro-economic initiatives
and, from this, to compile a joint As well as providing training for and
document which identifies criteria for, support to micro-finance schemes,
and examples of, development and Womankind's partners support a range of
economic and livelihoods-related activities
social transformation;
in an effort to address poverty and
To bring together different NGOs and vulnerability in more direct ways. These
community groups, to learn from one include support to appropriate agriculture
another and to share positive experiences; and livestock rearing. An example is
To pilot-test the idea of an award scheme. support for organic agriculture that tends
Alternatives to credit and savings schemes 17

to need little cash investment and is based ITWWS has, over time, transformed its
on self-sufficiency and sustainability. own attitude to the forestry department
It reduces dependence on imported agri- and, in turn, the forestry department's
cultural inputs and is therefore particularly attitude to the tribal community. Whereas
valued by women. Another kind of support this was initially characterised by hostility
to livelihoods is that given for methods of born out of the department's view that the
food-processing and transport which tribal community was trespassing on
enable women to enter new markets - for forestry land, the situation is now one in
example, food-presses and mills, donkey which tribal communities are becoming
carts and ploughs. Women can also enter partners in re-forestation and forest
new markets through skills training in maintenance. The economic benefit lies not
economic ventures relevant to the local only in increasing access for women to
economy. In some cases this enables forestry land where they can gather forest
women to move away from occupations products for their own needs, but also in
which are detrimental to themselves or the the fact that they can find a source of
wider community. income in employment by the forestry
A case-study which supports the points department as nursery and conservation
in the last paragraph is provided by Irula workers.
Tribal Women's Welfare Society (ITWWS), ITWWS has also learned to be
an NGO in Tamil Nadu, South India. It increasingly accountable and open to the
focuses on developing and using the community it represents, rather than to
traditional skills and knowledge of Irula donors and other external bodies. It plays
tribal women in the area. Activities include this openness and accountability out in
a tree nursery, watershed management, ways that are very impressive. Its work is
reforestation and a revival in income integrated, in that the income generation
generation and employment through work links in to the promotion of
traditional Irula occupations, including adivasi culture and identity. The work is
medicinal-herbal product preparation and undertaken at all levels from general
sale. The Society initiates village women's awareness-raising, direct community and
groups, and provides training for adivasis individual support, and capacity building
(traditional birth attendants), to support a of its members, to policy work in alliance
process of empowerment for them. Women with other organisations.
leaders have emerged from the process,
Less successfully, ITWWS has looked at
and have successfully lobbied for ration
ways of improving the packaging and
cards, for improved access to education
marketing side of the forest products.
and housing, and to improved water and
However, since this always seems to take a
electricity provision. ITWWS has also
back seat to all the other activities, the
created an Adivasi Tribal Solidarity Council
business has not been able to grow despite
covering four southern states in India,
a sense that it has economic potential.
which is linked in an alliance to other social
movements, including those on land rights
and women's political participation. It has Linking grassroots
influenced the government to frame new experience to policy and
legislations for tribal protection, to form a
separate ministry and directorate for tribal
affairs, to allocate more funds for tribal Examples of advocacy work on economic
development, to update research and issues at policy-making level, and awareness-
studies on tribal empowerment, and to raising work at the level of the general
work more closely with NGOs. population, are numerous. They include

work to integrate a gender perspective into Influencing policy and legislation was
the following areas: difficult. At times, submissions would be
International and national macro ignored, and at other times laws were
policies, including Poverty Reduction successfully changed, yet implementation
Strategy Papers (PRSPs) was clearly such a big hurdle that
disillusionment with policy dialogue
Trade, including terms of trade and
would creep in. Another problem in Malawi,
trade agreements
in common with many other countries,
National and local budget allocations was the dual legal system, consisting of a
Workers' rights, for example, issues formal/statutory legal structure, and a
facing women farm labourers, or customary system. The justice individuals
women working in transnational receive varies depending on which system
corporations they can access. Family and civil cases are
Rights in family law, for example, generally referred to, or dealt with by,
women demanding that men pay child customary law, while the formal courts are
maintenance used primarily for criminal cases. It was
always difficult to decide what to lobby for
Rights in the home, for example,
to ensure real change, and who the target
divisions of labour and entitlements
should be.
Land and property rights, including
inheritance laws, and rights of widows. Countering globalisation's reliance on
social inequality
Countering legal barriers to women's Another example of policy work by
livelihoods Womankind which is based on our
An example of this kind of work, which experience of gender, poverty and
shows the importance of tackling the legal livelihoods was our response to the British
framework around women's experiences government's second policy paper: the
and economic position, is provided by White Paper on International Development
WILSA (Women in Law Southern Africa) entitled 'Eliminating World Poverty
in Malawi. WILSA was involved in making Globalisation Work for the Poor'
national research on women in relation to (2000). Our submission focused on the
justice. The problem of property grabbing view that globalisation and equitable
by in-laws following widowhood was development were separate issues.
found to be a major concern. In-laws In some cases, trade liberalisation and
could threaten the widow and take away globalisation will lead to equitable
household goods, land and the family development, whereas in others, they will
home, as well as, in some cases, access to lead to increasing inequality. We argued
children. WILSA documented the problem that there was no simple cause-and-effect
and became involved in a campaign to relationship between globalisation and
raise awareness of women's rights in these equality, and that globalisation is built on
situations, which included TV and radio foundations of social inequality.
work. WILSA also provided legal advice Our submission was partly based on
to individuals, and training within evidence from the Women on Farms
communities on inheritance rights; (WOF) Project in South Africa, an
collaboratively made submissions to the organisation with which Womankind
Ministry of Gender; and assisted in works. WOF is a women's organisation in
drawing up amendments to the Inheritance Stellenbosch that supports women
Act. involved in wine production. The
Alternatives to credit and savings schemes 19

experience of men and women working in since the coloured community are losing
the Stellenbosch vineyards sheds light on their jobs.
the conflicting effects of globalisation in This case study shows how attaining
relation to the extent to which it relies on equitable development requires more than
social inequality. opening up to the benefits of globalisation
Historically, white owners of the which many international and national
vineyards employed people from the bodies assume exist. It requires critical
coloured communities 3 as tied labour. interrogation of social inequality, and a
African people were not involved in wine willingness to analyse particular situations
production. The white farmers hired whole to show how globalisation is built on a
families of men, and women and children, myriad of economic and social inequalities,
rather than individuals. This system had just like previous stages of development.
advantages and disadvantages for the WOF set up as an organisation
workers. On the plus side, people were supporting women living on farms, with
hired on long-term contracts. On the the aim of securing their individual labour
negative side, their jobs and housing were rights using a gendered approach. This
tied, so they could not easily leave abusive agenda included working with men. The
employment conditions. This system was types of activities involved included
particularly difficult for women. They working with farm management on
worked on the vineyards, but because they women's rights; setting up mixed farm
were hired as part of the family, they had workers' committees which would prioritise
no individual employment rights. The women's concerns by raising awareness
system functioned on a male-breadwinner about violence; gender training with men;
model which gave few opportunities for and life-skills training with groups of
women. young boys and girls. However, the
In recent years, employment patterns in growing preference for seasonal and casual
the vineyards have changed. In an attempt workers (predominantly black women) and
to compete in the global market place, farm the retrenchment of permanent tied
owners have cut production costs. They workers (coloured men and women)
have stopped hiring tied labour, partly presented some dilemmas for WOF: whose
because of the costs of meeting the interests was the organisation supporting?
increasing employment rights of on-farm Were those interests compatible? During
workers. Instead, they have moved to its work, WOF's target group, approach,
hiring individuals on short-term contracts, and activities all changed in response to
often through contractors, who have little the altered local context, itself a result
job security. of global and national economic forces.
Like the old model, this has advantages Coloured men found that their work
and disadvantages. On the plus side, was under threat with the influx of
women, including black women, historically seasonal women workers. It was getting
the poorest group, have an added more difficult, therefore, to convince them
employment opportunity. Also women are to support women workers and there was a
being hired as individuals, thus giving danger that coloured men's needs were
them personal income. On the negative taking over field-staff time. At the same
side, nobody now has any security of time, the already weak position of women
labour and the jobs are poorly paid, and in agriculture was deteriorating rapidly:
involve long hours and difficult working seasonal and casual labour was insecure
conditions. Finally, tensions have increased and poorly-paid, with few if any rights.
between coloured and black communities, As such, it represented the last resort for

many women. In addition, the needs of interest repayment rates are very high.
seasonal off-farm workers were very For women trading in services and
different, requiring practical inter- processing, it is very difficult to make
ventions such as alternative employment successful use of small loans. In fact,
opportunities. women can become indebted, and credit
After much critical reflection, WOF now facilities intended to reduce poverty can
find themselves increasingly sceptical of significantly exacerbate it.
the gendered strategy of working with By contrast, women in Togo involved in
men in community groups, and they are micro-credit seem to be better able to plan
now facilitating rural women's organisations financially, can repay the low repayment
that support both permanent on-farm and rates, and find it easier to make credit work
seasonal off-farm women workers. to their advantage. Because the economy in
Ironically, the organisation that started out Togo is linked to the French franc, the
protecting labour rights is also now economy is shielded from some of the price
exploring ways in which women workers fluctuations of the global market and,
can generate additional income, and the relatively speaking, inflation is not felt to
possibility of credit provision. be a problem in credit schemes. As a result,
women in Togo seem more able to use
Women, poverty and globalisation: a credit as a tool for human development.
money literacy programme This case study highlights the fact that
The Womankind submission on global- free trade and greater linkages to the global
isation argued that above all, it is market do not necessarily lead to poverty
important to liberalise trade in a way eradication. Ghana, according to the free
which promotes human development, market orthodoxy, is doing the 'right'
rather than economic growth, as the thing, but women operating in the informal
ultimate goal. Economic growth is not sector in that country are having a harder
intrinsically good for humanity. Accepting time. Togo, on the other hand, has a
this argument means being honest to protected economy and is hence missing
ourselves when macro-economic recipes out on some of the gains of trade
for growth do not produce human develop- liberalisation, yet women in that country
ment. As the White Paper itself states, seem to be better able to use micro-credit
'The reality is that all profound economic to escape poverty. Without a nuanced and
and social change produces winners and detailed analysis, we risk overlooking the
losers'. We cannot afford to be resigned to differing impacts of globalisation.
the fate of the losers, on the knife's edge of
survival. Womankind's submission urged
policy-makers to allow room in the free Conclusion
market orthodoxy for critical reflection Solutions to women's poverty which come
about its costs, and appropriate responses. from a rights perspective need to address
A comparison of the experience of our women's lack of entitlement to resources,
partners in Togo and Ghana was used to and to strengthen women's capabilities.
illustrate this point. Women in Ghana have Credit and savings schemes on their own
found it very difficult to use micro-credit as can provide opportunities; however, they
a tool for poverty eradication. In Ghana, exist in wider domestic, local, national and
one of the prime export goods is cocoa. international contexts, all of which may
Recently, high inflation rates and currency exert negative force. Battle must be done
devaluation have occurred, as cocoa prices against these forces if access to micro-
have fallen. As a result of high inflation, finance can bring about significant change.
Alternatives to credit and savings schemes 21

Support needs to be given to attempts to Notes

investigate more holistic approaches to
livelihood assistance that addresses the 1 AgaoKodep, Amasachina, Bewda, Maata
constraints on the poor, including n Tudu, WAT & Zazilari.
ownership and access to resources. The 2 Assistance linked to the World Bank
capacity of civil society to speak out and debt relief initiative for Heavily Indebted
demand pro-poor policies is part of this Poor Countries which involve integrated
agenda, as is the need to work with local poverty reduction and economic reform
women's groups in identifying ways in programmes.
which they can be most successful in social 3 'Coloured' is widely used in South
transformation and in warding off poverty. Africa to refer to a long-established
However, all this will come to nothing if ethnic group of varied racial origin,
the macro-economic system remains differentiating this from black (African)
unequal. and white communities.
Womankind's experiences suggest that
micro-finance programmes can appear to
be - and often are - tokenistic and based on
a scattergun approach. Our experiences
suggest that getting the right balance in
terms of what to tackle, with what
approaches and with whom is difficult. In
general, the difficulties encountered in
more innovative and targeted approaches
to micro-finance lie in the massive need for
money, and in the time-consuming nature
of well-targeted support. The result is that
organisations develop work-plans that they
know can only touch the surface.
In tackling poverty and women's rights,
a more 'joined-up' approach is needed,
which links the macro and the micro
economic context as well as the economic
agenda to social and political change.
Micro-finance can be incredibly strategic,
if awareness-raising, community micro-
interventions and policy work are linked
together in a tactical approach.

Helen Pankhurst was born and brought up in

Ethiopia, has an economics and development
background and is currently Head of the
International Programmes Department at
WOMANKIND Worldwide, 32-37 Coioper
Street, London EC2A 4AP.

Challenges for integrating

gender into poverty
alleviation programmes:
lessons from Sudan
Abdal Monium Khidir Osman
Integrating gender into poverty alleviation programmes requires a thorough understanding of
gender relations, and well-crafted strategies by development organisations. This article discusses
some of the strategies used to promote gender-fair development in the context of Sudan, with specific
reference to Oxfam's work in Sudan during the 1990s. The gender dimensions of poverty in rural
communities of Sudan limit women's entitlements and capabilities. An understanding of these is,
therefore, critical in creating development strategies that transform social and political processes to
enhance women's capabilities and rights. These strategies need to be found for every aspect of
organisational functioning, from the management structure to methods and approaches used in
working with communities.

programmes have focused on men's roles

n understanding of gender relations
is central to poverty analysis, since and male-dominated institutions, and assume
gender equality is essential for that women and men benefit equally from
poverty eradication and a sustainable development. As such, they effectively
development process. The reasons for this ignore women and fail to address the
were well put during the International specific needs of women living in poverty.
Conference on Population and Develop- Consequently, they reinforce women's
ment (1994): ' women are generally the subordinate position within their house-
poorest of the poor, eliminating social, holds and communities.
cultural, political and economic discrim- The author was associated with Oxfam
ination against women is a prerequisite GB from 1990-98. This article relates my
of eradicating poverty in the context understanding of gender inequality and
of sustainable development'(UN ICPD poverty to Oxfam's work in Sudan during
1994). that time. Oxfam GB has adopted a
However, it has been widely commitment to eradicating inequality
demonstrated in numerous studies that between men and women, as in order to
many policies and strategies for poverty meet the organisation's purpose of combating
eradication are not based on a clear poverty and suffering, it has to challenge
understanding of the gender dimensions of unequal power relations between women
poverty. Consequently, the formulation and men in different social contexts.
and implementation of such policies and Oxfam's Gender Policy was agreed in 1993,
programmes most often fail to improve the on the grounds that 'Oxfam believes that
lives of women and their families, and may unless gender-related inequalities are
worsen their situation. Many policies and addressed, it will not be possible to achieve
Integrating gender into poverty in Sudan 23

sustainable development and alleviate and low educational levels, which are well-
poverty' (Eade and Williams 1995,1). documented determinants of women's
A primary challenge for organisations poverty (UNDP Khartoum 1998; Beneria
such as Oxfam GB is that gender-sensitive and Bisnath 1996; Kabeer 1994).
poverty eradication policies and strategies Social and cultural expectations and
are context-specific. Accordingly, responses norms constrain women from exercising all
should be sensitive to local circumstances their capabilities. Women primarily perform
and respect the space, capacity for change, unpaid household work. A few work as
and strategies of local women. Below, I paid labourers, to varying degrees among
discuss some of the strategies used to the agro-pastoral communities, such as the
promote gender-fair development in the Mundari, in the south, and agro-pastoral
specific socio-cultural context of Sudan. The groups in the east and west of the country.
first part provides a brief background on Social constraints on women cause poverty,
gender relations in Sudan. The second part through restricting women's rights to
discusses some of the organisational entitlements, and preventing them from
strategies and the third part reviews some exercising and developing their capabilities.
structural strategies. The division of labour between women
and men, and the constraints placed on
women, vary from culture to culture, and
Gender relations in Sudan from one economic grouping to another.
Oxfam GB's strategic analysis of the In eastern Sudan, a very strict code of
situation in Sudan was undertaken to behaviour for women exists compared to
inform Oxfam's work from 1995-2000. western and southern Sudan, where it
It identified rural communities of eastern, would appear to be less rigid. However,
western and southern Sudan as targets for even here women face conservatism. Some
poverty alleviation interventions in the common features underlie gender relations
country. in all three areas. The outer public sphere of
Poverty in Sudan is caused by factors commerce, trade and decision-making is
such as unequal distribution of resources restricted almost exclusively to men.
between communities. Within communities, Men also provide the bridge between the
there is unequal access to, and control of, private and public spheres of society, and
resources, and limited participation in with the wider world outside the
political and economic institutions. Men community. Women's activities and
and women are not affected equally by influences are seen as belonging to the
these factors: ideas about gender roles and private sphere of the family and household.
relations lead to women being more Women's household activities have little
disadvantaged than men, and constrain perceived economic or social value: they
women's participation in development. are not seen as 'real' work, but as part of
The gender dimensions of poverty in the natural role women perform. Women's
rural communities can be seen usefully in activities are considered to have less
terms of the different entitlements and cultural and social value than those
rights conferred upon men and women. performed by men. Women's productive
These shape their capabilities to participate work, such as agricultural labour or petty
in all aspects of life. Poor women have trading, tends to be perceived as an
relatively low entitlements, including extension of their household duties.
restricted access to land ownership, credit In other words, the importance of the work
and other productive resources. They also changes according to whether it is done by
have limited capabilities such as illiteracy women or men, and large parts of women's

work are ignored. Women in general are This poses a great challenge to organi-
perceived, and perceive themselves, as sations to find an entry point which will
having less social and economic value in allow them to demonstrate quick benefits to
every respect than men. The traditional the community, and which could lead to
men's view of women has been summed trust between the organisation and the
up as 'women are men's assets; they are community. Livestock projects have
tools for men to do with as they wish' provided such an entry point in pastoral
(Strachan and Peters 1997, 4). This is a and agro-pastoral communities. An example
reflection of deeply-held patriarchal beliefs. is Oxfam's work in the Red Sea area,
Trekeka and Sobat basin of Sudan.
When Oxfam GB began implementing
Programming strategies to its development intervention in Tokar, in
address women's poverty the Red Sea area of eastern Sudan, it first
As well as the above social perceptions and started to establish links with women.
constraints, which adversely influence This, however, proved not to be the right
women's participation in the economy, choice for an organisation working with a
there are other reasons why it is difficult conservative society like the Beja.
for the majority of women to participate It resulted in tensions between the
in development work. Lack of time, low community and the organisation, to such
educational attainment, and physical an extent that female staff were asked to
distance are significant practical factors leave the village. As a result, the organi-
preventing women from getting involved sation had to rework its strategy. It decided
in development work. Organisations which to focus on a livestock intervention as the
try to address gender-based inequality in new entry point, to build trust with the
their poverty alleviation programmes in local groups, and then to shift smoothly to
Sudan's rural areas face real challenges in include other projects: in particular, to
programme implementation. promote programmes including a gender
It is critical to be innovative about component.
strategies to pursue in implementing The livestock project, which included a
programmes within communities. These community-based animal health component
strategies need to be considered carefully and a restocking component, re-established
and worked out as part of any organi- trust between the organisation and the
sation's planning. This section discusses community. One year later, the same
some of the strategies that in my experience Oxfam staff who had been rejected by the
are likely to be useful to women in Sudan. community were able to tour the different
villages in the area, talking to both men and
Find an entry point which brings quick women. During the next year, Oxfam was
benefits able to train more than 20 women as
As described above, gender roles are paravets. Surprisingly, the community
embedded in cultural traditions, and hence agreed to allow women to participate in the
programmes which seek to address all paravets' training even though it was
aspects of women's poverty present a great organised in a town some distance away
challenge to the cultural norms of the from the women's villages. This was in
target community. It should come as no itself a breakthrough in the history of the
surprise that there might be serious area, as women's mobility is traditionally
resistance to such interventions - and restricted outside their villages. In order to
especially in communities with the strictest be trained, the women had to leave their
gendered codes of behaviour, causing villages for the first time. This was an
a narrow definition of women's roles. outcome of the trust established with the
Integrating gender into poverty in Sudan 25

community through the livestock inter- and useful, they are small in scale and have
vention. After this, Oxfam was able to limited effect beyond the few women
actively address other needs of women, directly involved. Another criticism is that
and promote changes to gender relations women's projects and women's components
through supporting women's participation have a limited impact on the position of
in decision-making at village and district women, and even less on the social and
levels. economic processes which structure gender
A different entry point which Oxfam also equalities. Others have pointed out that
used, this time in western Sudan, was women's components in larger projects
through a water programme which included often have little relation to the main
digging of haffirs (ponds) and renovation of concerns of the project. In short, the
other water resources. In this project, food critiques of such initiatives tend to stress
for work was successfully used to ensure that they do little to prevent women from
community participation and organisation, being bypassed in the allocation of most
and to gear the community up for a wider development resources and opportunities.
community development intervention. These criticisms are useful in that they
point out the need to address the issues
Do a thorough gender analysis of the additionally at a higher or broader level.
context in which you work However, they overlook two important
Gender analysis - that is, the collection and facts. First, the issue is not women's
processing of information to explore participation in development projects as
gender roles and relations in a community such, but the terms of their participation in
- is a critical step not only for identifying the wider life of the community. Women
entry points, but also for the pursuit of are already integrated into society and
sound, culturally-sensitive strategies. The the economy, and their work (including
purpose of undertaking gender analysis is domestic and unpaid work) is critical to
to assess whether the needs and priorities sustaining the economy. Increased partici-
of women, as well as men, are reflected in pation in an unequal development process
the policy and programme initiatives is therefore not an effective means of
contemplated; whether steps are needed to achieving real change in the position of
enable women to participate or benefit, and women, particularly when women have so
whether opportunities exist to reduce or little influence on the development choices
prevent 'gender gaps' (the different extents and directions being pursued at national
to which particular interventions benefit and local levels. What that means at the
women and men). grass-roots level is that it is vital to work
Consider setting up women-specific with women to enhance their capabilities
projects and confidence, strengthen their public
Another strategy to address the various voice, and increase their participation and
aspects of women's poverty and begin to influence in societal decision-making.
challenge inequality is to formulate separate In this regard, and taking into account the
projects for women, or include women's context, women-specific projects can help
components within larger projects. In many build women's capabilities, knowledge,
cases, women's projects and components skills, approaches and confidence.
have helped to facilitate and enhance Second, women-specific initiatives
women's capabilities to participate in should be seen within a development
development. approach that advocates for change at
Many people have argued that, even community, regional and national level in
when these separate projects are innovative policies, institutional practices and

planning processes, so that a gender It should be noted that in gender

perspective is integrated into all these. awareness training for the community
This advocacy work is necessary because of members, the role of the organisation's staff
the broader impact it has in setting the (trainers) should be to provide smooth
conditions under which communities, guidance and facilitation of the discussion
households, and individuals function. among the trainees. The training should be
This doesn't mean that women-specific an opportunity for the community members
projects should be blindly advocated, but to discuss, reflect on and challenge their
if they are linked with a broader strategic experiences, perceptions and behaviours.
framework that reflects and works towards The fact that alleviating poverty means
gender equality goals they can amount to gender-based inequality has to be
a strategy of critical importance for challenged may also be a challenge to the
mainstreaming gender. organisation's own staff - and especially
for local staff from the community targeted
Conduct gender awareness training
by the organisation. Staff may be prevented
among community members and staff
by their cultural perspective from seeing
As discussed earlier, development which
the existing discrepancies in the way
promotes equality between women and
women and men are treated and valued in
men poses a cultural challenge to the
their community. Not only does gender-
targeted community. Training can play an
important role in helping to change the equitable development represent a
perceptions and behaviour of community challenge to the culture of each individual,
members, and especially leaders. but it may also be seen as promoting a
An essential aspect of gender training is Western model of gender relations. If this is
community gender awareness training. the case, staff need to be equipped with the
This involves raising awareness of gender necessary knowledge, approaches and
issues among men and women, using tools skills to help them to challenge their
of gender analysis. These tools highlight perceptions and change their behaviour, so
the differences in gender roles, the under- that they can become advocates for gender
lying gender stereotypes which result in equality in their community. Otherwise,
these gender roles, and gender-based work on gender issues may be resisted and
differences in term of access to and control constrained by staff. Gender training has
over resources. proved to be a very effective means of
Trained community members can assist improving, and potentially transforming,
in disseminating awareness of power gender relations. Gender awareness
between men and women in ways relevant training can be achieved not only through
to their particular context. Where possible, conventional training, but through net-
men and women from the target groups working and cross-learning visits to other
can be brought together for a mixed areas and projects. Gender training represents
training session. This is very successful in an investment by the organisation in
providing insights into the respective work developing its institutional competence
patterns of women and men, and into ways and scaling up its developmental impact.
to address problems related to them. In To have an impact, the training process
other situations, this kind of training needs should be regular, up-to-date and include
to be organised for women only. As stated all staff at the different levels of the
earlier, women-only groups can help organisation.
women build up their confidence and To cite an example, Oxfam experienced
overcome their fear of expressing their a problem with staff attitudes in Oxfam's
views in public. work in North Tokar, discussed earlier in
Integrating gender into poverty in Sudan 27

this article. The Beja staff were very and leadership skills, before bringing them
reluctant - even resistant - to develop gender to public roles. This is a transition strategy,
sensitivity and promote gender equality in the ultimate aim being to have one
Oxfam's work among their community, in community development committee.
the first years of the Oxfam intervention. In UNDP's Central Buttana Programme in
Above, I argued that it is critical for Sudan, different strategies are adopted for
organisations to commit resources and time different villages. In some villages, two
and adopt a good starting strategy to different communities are formed, one for
enable it to integrate a gender perspective men and one for women, with the intention
in its work. Training was tailored for the of forming a single development committee
staff and, after participating in this, the Beja composed of 50 per cent male and 50 per
staff were able to integrate women fully in cent female membership in the future.
the programme's main activities. Moreover, Despite the fact that there is a role for
they were able to play the role of gender particular types of women-only groups,
resource persons and as gender trainers for these should remain part of a coherent
Oxfam in other projects. Interestingly, strategy aimed at promoting gender equity
Oxfam has since used them to train the as a prerequisite for poverty alleviation.
staff of other local and international
organisations. As this example clearly Promotion of female leadership
demonstrates, gender training represents a Another strategy is to encourage women
development of institutional competence, to take on management responsibilities
and an increase in development impact. and to enhance their skills and knowledge
through all other initiatives and strategies.
Female development groups versus This enhances their confidence and status,
community development groups promoting them as leaders. Successful
There are no universal strategies or women leaders are encouraged and trained
mechanisms to achieve gender equity to serve as model leaders for other women
goals. Strategies used by development both in the wider community and at home.
workers should be flexible to suit their
context, and need to be linked to the aim
of integrating women in development Transformation and the
activities. This is because integrating structural level of
women into development activities enables
women as well as men to influence
institutions and policies so that they By 'structural level', I mean the procedures,
actively promote gender equity. As such, it activities and regulations that translate an
is more than just ensuring equal numbers organisation's purpose into outcomes.
of women and men as beneficiaries, or in Achieving social transformation in
the structures which manage the develop- development work can be derailed at this
ment activity. level: verbal and paper commitments to
In some instances where organisations a vision of gender equity have a tendency
push for mixed committees, women sit to evaporate when the procedures,
silently behind the men. Care should mechanisms and rules of the organisation
always be taken that enthusiasm does not give workers reasons for resisting the new
obscure the critical need for a realistic and agenda (Longwe 1997). There is a need to
achievable strategy. In such situations, understand and combat such policy
starting with women-only groups enables 'evaporation' (ibid). Angela Hadjipateras's
women to articulate their interests and (1997) case study of ACORD points out that
strengthen their capabilities, confidence many development organisations have

adopted a gender policy statement were a development sector like water or

detailing goals and principles, but without agriculture. However, gender equality is an
the clear guidelines that are needed to end goal of development work in all
implement the policy. sectors. All staff should therefore be
The section below discusses some areas involved in furthering gender equality in
that need to be taken into account at the their work. If certain staff only are
structural level of organisations working to perceived as being responsible for
promote gender equity within the context integrating gender issues into the
of a place like Sudan. organisation's work, other staff may not be
enthusiastic and interested in pursuing a
Gender focal points versus the generalist gender perspective in their own work,
approach believing it to be the responsibility of
The degree to which gender awareness is somebody else. Instead, all staff should
integrated into all aspects of programme develop the skills and knowledge necessary
activity is related to where responsibility for the integration of gender perspectives
lies for implementing the gender policy. in all development and emergency work.
ACORD, for example, found an effective For example, a good health officer should
staff structure in its work in Gulu be a good gender officer. In this way,
(Hadjipateras 1997). Here, a gender gender can be integrated rapidly and
committee was set up, comprising a professionally in all programme sectors.
cross-section of staff who were responsible However, there is still a need for
for developing a gender strategy in line catalysts to spark off and support good
with the organisational policy. This development work which integrates a
responsibility was reinforced by its commitment to gender equality. The
incorporation into staff job descriptions. process of integrating gender is still not
A gender officer co-ordinated this work. well developed in organisations, and
During the mid-1990s, Oxfam's Sudan gender equality does not exist within the
programme opted for a structure in which institutions themselves, or in the societies
a gender co-ordinator was employed at in which they act. The critical thing is that
senior management level, with gender focal gender integration in development work is
points at each programme level. This undermined if all questions and priorities
structure was not sustained long, as it was concerning women are seen as the
not linked with a gender strategy or an responsibility of one person.
overall plan. The female staff who were
recruited to be focal points were not Recruitment and promotion of women
supported in developing their knowledge staff
and skills on gender in order to face the There is a clear link between ensuring that
new programme challenges. A crucial gender concerns are fully integrated in
underlying assumption in this case was organisations' programmes and the gender
that the recruitment of female officers for balance of the organisation's staff. When
this job would automatically lead to the development organisations are working
formulation of a gender-sensitive strategy. with communities which have strong
In addition to the problem of assuming beliefs and customs relating to women's
that women are the right people to work on visibility and mobility, as in the case of
gender inequality, there is a problem in Sudan, it is essential that female staff
perceiving gender as a specific area of members are employed. This is because
work. Many staff have argued that this they are needed if the organisation is to
approach treats gender equality as if it gain access to women in the community.
Integrating gender into poverty in Sudan 29

This represents an important and culturally over the last two years. Oxfam, similarly, is
sensitive approach, especially at the early beginning to use a set of criteria drawn up
stages of programme implementation. by the Zambia Association for Research
In this regard, the case of Tokar area cited and Development. Finally, promotion of
above is very instructive. gender work requires the allocation of
A very important aspect of an organi- resources and time. Lack of resources will
sation's gender strategy is ensuring that have a negative effect on the pace of progress,
female staff are found at senior manage- particularly with respect to progress
ment level, as their participation here training needs.
should help to ensure that issues of
equality are always on the agenda.
Moreover, it brings the concerns and Conclusion
dilemmas of the female staff within the Development work which seeks to end
organisation to the attention of senior gender inequality is not only concerned
management, and facilitates networking with analysing the different roles and
between female staff on the issues they relationships of men and women and
face as employees. In Sudan, Oxfam GB asking whether this division of labour is
recruited a female gender advisor at senior in the best interests of individual women
level. ACORD opted for a female staff and household livelihoods. It is also
member as Country Director to their concerned with challenging the unequal
programme in Sudan. The World Food power structure inherent in the relationship
Programme, on the other hand, committed between them. Women have less power
itself to recruiting and retaining women than men. They face enormous barriers to
throughout the organisation with the participating in decision-making, and have
aim of achieving a gender balance of less access to, and control over, resources
professional staff within the organisation. upon which they depend. Social and
Having said this, of course, it is not cultural expectations and norms constrain
necessarily the case that women staff will the exercise of women's capabilities, and
champion gender issues in the organisation. result in women primarily performing
This will only happen if the recruitment is unpaid work in the household. Men, on the
focused also on the degree to which the other hand, are born into a set of privileged
appointee is committed to promoting roles and rights, which gives them power
gender equality. in the private and public sphere, and over
the lives of women. The origin of women's
Monitoring and evaluation subordination is in the patriarchal
It is important that all projects and structure.
programmes aiming to eradicate poverty
be monitored and evaluated from a gender An understanding of the processes that
perspective. The effectiveness of these limit women's entitlements and capabilities
procedures depends on the quality of the is critical to inform development organi-
baseline data - i.e. the extent to which data sation's analysis and understanding of
has been acquired in a gender-sensitive poverty. It allows the organisation to opt
manner. However, a main challenge here is for context-specific and appropriate entry
the lack of performance indicators relating points, and enables it to develop strategies
to gender equality, and a strategic gender to transform social and political processes
framework within which the organisation in ways that enhance women's capabilities
can work. It seems that organisations are and rights. These entry points and strategies
still struggling to fill these gaps. ACORD need to be found for every aspect of
has been trying to address this problem organisational functioning, from the

management structure to methods and Kabeer, N. (1994) Reversed Realities: Gender

approaches used in work with communities. Hierarchies in Development Thought,
London/ New York: Verso
Abdal Monium Khidir Osman is a Ph.D. Longwe, Sara (1997) 'The evaporation of
candidate at Tufts University School of gender policies in the patriarchal
Nutrition Science and Policy, USA. Previously cooking pot', in D. Eade (ed.)
he worked with the UNDP in Sudan as a Development and Patronage: a Development
Deputy Program Manager for the Area in Practice Reader, Oxford: Oxfam, 41-9
Development Scheme, Central Buttana, fromStrachan, P. and C. Peters (1997)
1998-99. From 1990-98, he worked for Empowering Communities: a Case Book
OXFAM/UK (Sudan) in various capacities. from Western Sudan, Oxford: Oxfam
Address: Feinstein International Famine UNDP Khartoum (1998) 'Towards Poverty
Center, 11 Curtis Ave, Somerville MA 02144, Eradication in the Sudan: An Analysis of
USA. Human Capability, Failure, and a
Foundation for a Strategy', UNDP / engdoc98 / poverty
References _eradication_in_the_sudan/poverty_in_
Beneria, L. and S. Bisnath (1996) 'Gender sudan01.htm (last checked by author
and Poverty: an Analysis for Action', August 2002)
UNDP, / gender / resources United Nations International Conference
(last checked by author: August 2002) on Population and Development (1994)
Eade, Deborah and Suzanne Williams 'Program of Action', 5-13 September
(1995) The Oxfam Handbook of Development 1994, Cairo: UNICPD
and Relief, Vol.1, Oxford: Oxfam linkages/ Cairo / program / p03005.html
Hadjipateras, A. (1997) 'Implementing a (last checked by author: August 2002)
gender policy in ACORD: Strategies,
constraints and challenges', Gender and
Development 5(1): 28-34

Alive and kicking:

women's and men's responses to poverty
and globalisation in the UK
Jo Rowlands1
Globalisation is a process that affects people in the North as well as the South. Its negative effects are
felt by people living in poverty in wealthier countries, as well as by those living in poorer ones.
Drawing on experience from the work of Oxfam's UK Poverty Programme, this article explores some
aspects of how changing labour markets affect men and women living in poverty in the UK. People's
sex is a key determinant of who is poor. Women and men have different experiences of poverty,
different livelihood options, and different potential routes out of poverty. Government attempts to
eliminate poverty, whilst laudable and to some extent successful, have been hampered by the
gendered complexities of poverty.

This article will explore what it means

lobalisation has been defined as
'the process through which an to be poor in a country generally perceived
increasingly free flow of ideas, as wealthy, and how poverty itself is
people, goods, services and capital leads to shaped by people's gender identity and
the integration of economies and societies' their relationships to a changing labour
(Kohler 2002). It is not news to say that market. Some of the issues raised will also
globalisation is a major influence on the have resonance in other contexts where
breadth and depth of poverty around the paid employment has in the past been
world. Nor is it news to say that it has perceived as a predominantly male preserve.
affected the North as well as the South.
That globalisation affects the nature of Experience in two poor
poverty in the North is something which
perhaps fewer people are aware of. communities in the UK
Similarly, it is now well-known that Oxfam has been working in partnership
people's daily experience of poverty is with the South Bank Women's Centre, in a
defined and shaped by their sex, as well as very deprived area in Teesside in north-east
by other variables. This is as true in the UK England. This region has 27 per cent of
as elsewhere.2 The intersection of gender- people living on a low income,3 the highest
based discrimination, poverty, and the proportion in England outside London.4
forces of globalisation in the UK, however, At a workshop, women involved with the
is less familiar. Increasingly, the reasons for centre were asked to describe the changes
some women and some men being, becoming they had seen over the past decade. Jobs for
or remaining poor, and why this happens, men in steel and ship-building had gone.
are to do with their relationships with the A very small number of men had taken
labour market of a global economy. over the housework to enable women to

undertake paid work, but men were not community services working with
willing to take part-time work. The people here. No-one was dealing with
government had put resources into the problems on the estate. There was
economic development in the area, and this nowhere for people to meet. We had
had attracted small businesses, mostly environmental problems. There was no
foreign-owned. More women had entered street lighting, and people were doing
the workforce on a part time basis, often on drugs in the derelict buildings. There are
short-term contracts. There was a constant massive drug problems here and massive
challenge to juggle low and intermittent problems with anti-social behaviour. So
income with state welfare benefits. Women nobody left their houses.
had increasingly taken on responsibility for 'Then we targeted the youth annoyance
household budgets, and described the way problem. The kids said they wanted
in which this left their menfolk feeling somewhere to play football. We didn't
inadequate. Older men became depressed, have any youth schemes on the estate -
and frustrations were often taken out on every other estate had them, but there
the women; there were many arguments. was nothing for kids to do here. So we
There was also an increase in the number of kept asking and asking the authorities to
lone parents, with women being less start a youth scheme here. Now nearly
willing to put up with the increased levels every child on the estate is involved in
of abuse that followed when the men lost the Foundation's youth activities. We've
their jobs. Sue Andersen, the Centre's got teams for under 18s, under 16s,
Director, expressed it in this way: 'There under 10s... Even a game of football can
aren't the jobs that the men want. No big make a big difference to people on this
companies are coming in bringing traditional estate....
work. We're getting part-time and short
contract work, and more women are 'Before, there was no lighting in the
interested in doing those jobs. Yet the men middle of the estate, behind the shops.
aren't involved in the regeneration of our People didn't want to walk past the
area, it's the women taking leadership in derelict buildings at night - they were
the community. The men don't seem to frightened. People used to hang out
want to do the work.' there doing drugs. Now the Council has
put a street light in. Before, people here
Another Oxfam partner in the UK is a didn't have anyone to represent them, so
community organisation in the ex-mining the estate was forgotten.
communities of south Wales,5 which have 'The main employer here was a light
been greatly affected by the switch from a bulb factory at the end of the road. It
national policy of sourcing of coal within closed ten years ago and then there was
the UK to importing cheaper coal supplies, massive unemployment on the estate.
largely from eastern Europe. The following Things died completely when the social
account from the co-ordinator of the project club closed seven or eight years ago.
illustrates the poverty that the organisation Nobody had anywhere to meet and
is fighting, and mentions some of the work there was no focus for the community. It
it is undertaking: made me so sad to see people just
shutting their doors. Years ago, if
'One of the first things we did was send
someone was ill, the community would
around a questionnaire to everyone on
have all chipped in to help.
the estate. We asked people what they
thought about living on the estate. 'It's been very difficult to get the men
People said the best thing about the involved. When we wanted to interview
estate was the road out. We had no people about their views on the estate,
Poverty and globalisation in the UK 33

we couldn't get any men to participate. employment. If they did work at all, they
We get a few men interested through the said they preferred it to be on a casual
football but we have to work out other basis, and therefore able to be picked up
ways to get them more involved.' and dropped around childcare needs.
(Project co-ordinator) Women saw life on welfare benefits as a
struggle, in which they could expect to
A detailed participatory needs assessment deprive themselves for the needs of their
was undertaken, with Oxfam support, in families, and expressed the view that it is
January and February 2001. It was carried hard to manage if there is no other income
out by two local people, one man and one or support. Women spoke of the increased
woman, who work for the local community likelihood of going into debt in these
organisation. Men and women were circumstances, which was not something
interviewed separately. The results reveal a highlighted by men.
wealth of detail about men's and women's Men on the estate expressed the belief
experience of poverty, and the livelihood that academic qualifications are needed as
options available to them. Some of the the workforce is now very competitive -
findings are outlined below. and this is a particular problem perceived
On the estate, family is the centre of by older men, with men over 40 tending to
women's world. Although they are willing see themselves as unemployable. These
to take up training, the needs assessment men expressed willingness to undertake
suggested that women's horizons are training if they could see a direct connection
determined by the boundaries of the estate, with better jobs, because their world-view
and by what will be useful to them in means they live day to day for the necessity
getting jobs which mean they can support of bringing in money. They see the training
their children, or give them help of other that is currently on offer as slave labour, in
kinds: for example, with homework. that it is inadequate in the present, because
Women tend to recognise that the lack of the work it would prepare them for is
training is a barrier which holds them back badly paid, and inadequate for the future
from reaching their full potential. They see because it doesn't improve the quality of
everything through the lens of childcare jobs actually on offer.
responsibilities, and work is an additional The fact that women see caring as their
rather than a central concern for many of job, and men do not, is a critical factor
them. The raising of children is seen by holding women back from better training
many as a life choice; when their children and employment, and men from greater
are grown up, then they can think about a involvement with their families. Women
job. Their concern is less with the state of focused on the practical difficulties of
the local employment market, and more undertaking training (for example, in
with the practical difficulties that prevent information technology) which might open
them earning enough to support them- up new employment possibilities. The cost
selves and their children. They said that the of materials and transport, course fees,
jobs on offer are few, low-paid, and offer combined with training not being flexible
limited opportunities. Formal child-care is around school hours, childcare and part-
inflexible and scarce, and takes up a big time work, prevents them from taking it up.
percentage of the wage. They did not see Women automatically accept responsibility
the jobs which are available as an attractive for childcare. Many women said they
option: they do not bring in enough money would prefer to leave their children with a
to replace the state benefits that would member of their family, who they feel they
be lost as a result of entering paid can trust. Finding childcare is a particular

problem for lone parents if they cannot callgroups where women are predominant
on family members - for them, the costs stand out in the figures experiencing
and emotional ties of having to have a persistent poverty:9 lone parents (27 per cent
childminder mean that it is difficult for of this group - a figure that is falling but
them to go out to work or to undertake still significant, since lone parents are only
training at all. The vicious circle of getting
8 per cent of the general population), and
into high interest debt, and then not takingsingle pensioners (21 per cent of this group,
up employment because of increased and increasing). The largest group of
repayments once off benefits,6 impacts on persistently poor people which can be
women's self esteem. discerned from statistics is the group living
Women on the estate mentioned other within workless households. As well as
personal barriers that men do not. They formally unemployed people, this figure
highlight the problem of ill-health and includes people who do not do paid work
disability. They mention the personal because of caring responsibilities, illness
isolation which comes from the lack of and disability. So although the figures
support and facilities for ill and disabled available are not transparent on gender, it
people and their carers. The fact that men is clear that poverty is a condition that
do not mention them may be because of affects women in greater numbers than
men's reluctance to admit to problems and men. Poverty in the UK also has an ethnic
stresses, rather than because they don't dimension, with 62 per cent of households
suffer from them. Men do highlight one headed by people of Pakistani or Bangladeshi
problem, though, that may be particular to origin being in the bottom 20 per cent
a male response to crisis - they say that income bracket.
alcohol and drugs offer a way out for many The recent context within which
men when faced with the social and poverty exists in the UK is that of an
economic climate. economy which has been growing faster
than other European economies, and which
Gender and poverty in the is becoming more and more 'individualised',
with the individual increasingly taking the
UK: the wider picture place of the household or the community as
How do the two situations discussed above the 'building block of the economy'.
measure up against men's and women's However, in practice, one income is no
gendered experiences of poverty in the longer generally seen as sufficient for
UK? Some basic statistics show that the household survival. Another change has
experience of poverty outlined above is not been in the structure of the benefits system,
unique. The measure of people living in whereby the Conservative government of
poverty most commonly used by govern- the 1980s moved from linking increases in
ment in the UK is that of people falling long-term benefits to earnings levels, to
below the 'low income threshold' of 60 per linking them to prices - thereby ensuring
cent of median household income, after that, as the economy grows and some get
deducting housing costs. This relative wealthier, the poorest get left behind, and
measure of poverty7 is based on the actual the gap between them gets wider. The
disposable income8 of households, gained current Labour government, elected in
from any legal source. Some 23 per cent of 1997, has selectively increased some
the population of the UK is poor by this benefits at a higher rate than prices, which
measure (New Policy Institute 2002). It is has particularly benefited young children
not straightforward to break this statistic and pensioners, but the general principle
down by gender (see note 7), but two has not been reversed.
Poverty and globalisation in the UK 35

There is a strong regional dimension to A trend toward the individual being

poverty in the UK, with great inequality called upon to support him or herself
between regions in terms of contribution to economically is very hard on anyone who
GDP.10 There is a strong overlap between is not able to generate income - for example,
the poorest regions and the areas of decline because of severe disability or long-term
of heavy industry. sickness. It is also hard on the people who
As stated earlier, change in the structure care for the people who cannot generate
of the UK economy over the past two their own income, most of whom are
decades has brought a significant shift women, as it has the effect of placing
away from heavy industries, which stresses on their time and energy, and
generally employed full-time, mostly male constraints on their own capacity to earn.
labour, both skilled and unskilled. Heavy
industrial processes have moved to parts of
the world where labour and raw materials The gendered context of
are cheaper, and the environmental effects poverty
associated with them are less effectively
controlled. The move has been towards There continues to be a disparity between
light industry and the service sector, where the earnings of men and women in the UK,
employees are more likely to be skilled, but with female full-time employees earning
employed part-time, paid low rates and an average of 82 per cent of the salary of
generally female. A significant proportion their male equivalents. Women's gross
of this new economic activity has been individual income (including not just
developed with direct foreign investment. employment, but also benefits, pensions,
investments, and so on) is on average only
The present government in the UK has
52 per cent of that of men (EOC 2002). This
placed significant emphasis on employ-
'gender pay gap' is largely the result of the
ment as the best route out of poverty. There
fact that women continue to enter employ-
has been some accompanying concern on
ment in the ghettos of the service and
the part of the government to ensure that
caring sectors, where their work continues
the income from employment is sufficient
to ensure that poverty is left behind, to be undervalued because of its gendered
through a system of tax credits for low paid nature. Women get this work because it
workers. Tax credits and schemes to resembles forms of work they carry out
support people into employment have had unpaid within their homes, and it commands
a high profile, and have mostly been a low wage because our society under-
targeted at the main earner. This has had values work associated with women.
the effect, in many cases, of channelling The gap between women's and men's
resources to men - a difficulty that has earnings also rests on the time commitment
been recognised and addressed in the new the majority of women make to their
Child Tax Credit, which from April 2003 gendered role as primary carer for family
will go instead to the main carer who is still and household, which continues to be
usually a woman, and who is more likely to generally unquestioned. Recent research
use the resources for family maintenance. into women's and men's incomes over a
These approaches, however, still fail to lifetime shows that for highly-educated
address the problem of significant numbers women without children, the gender pay
of jobs not being paid a living wage.11 Nor gap has significantly reduced (Rake 2000).
are they adequate to address the power But for all other groupings of women, the
relations within the household which can picture remains one where women lose out.
subvert the best-intentioned policy The combined factors of women having to
instrument, and can lead to hidden poverty. spend time out of the labour market raising

children, and receiving lower earnings caring, is far less common than it used to
when they are in the labour market have a be. Despite specific tax measures designed
dramatic effect. The link between lifetime to support families with children, which
earnings and women's caring responsi- have been introduced with some flexibility
bilities, particularly for children but about who claims them, state welfare
increasingly for others, is unmistakable - provision continues to be broadly formed
but it is not just a question of earnings and around a gendered division of labour, with
income: mothers have higher outgoings women as carers and men as breadwinners.
because of the need to pay for childcare Much of the gender-disaggregated data
and other child-related expenditure. most commonly seen refers to the position
For lone mothers, finding this money is of women as disadvantaged, which continues
frequently impossible. to be the dominant gender concern for
This inequality between women and many analysts. But what of the gender
men in terms of the earnings they command context as it relates to men who are poor?
is by no means a new phenomenon in itself, Why are some men poor? This relates in
and certainly cannot be blamed on global- large part to their changing position in the
isation. It is, however, a force which labour market and its consequences, which
contributes in a critical way to the are not just about loss of income, but also
availability of a workforce willing to accept about loss of power. We have already seen
part-time employment on whatever in relation to women that poverty is not
terms are offered. It is, therefore essential just about low income levels, but also about
to the introduction of the kind of industry access to other kinds of resources including
attracted to the UK by the forces of social capital, and ultimately is an issue of
globalisation. powerlessness.
Women have been entering the The decline of heavy industry has left
workforce in increasing numbers over the men in some parts of the UK with the
past two decades. More than two fifths go challenge of re-training in order to have a
into part-time employment (EOC 2002). For skill that is needed in the current labour
some women, this has meant an improve- market. Some men have successfully made
ment in their household income; but it has the transition, but for many, particularly
not brought with it any significant men in the second half of their working
reduction in the hours of work they put in life, this has been a major challenge. A man
as unpaid labour in the home: caring and who has worked for many years in mining,
household tasks still fall predominantly to steel or ship-building, for example, not
women. For many women, particularly if only earned his living that way, but did so
they have children, there is little if any within a culture of a particular masculinity,
financial benefit in taking low paid part-time being seen by society as 'the breadwinner',
work without freely available childcare and with his idea of himself as a man very
provision, and many women are still better closely linked to his occupation. With the
off if the household remains in receipt of demise of that occupation, his whole
welfare benefits. Anyone on low income identity as a man comes into question. If
during their working life will be unable to his wife becomes the breadwinner, as has
make sufficient provision for their own been seen in many of the areas most
pension, and will therefore continue to be affected by industrial decline, his identity
poor in retirement in a context in which the as a man is further put in question. It is
pattern of extended families living in close small wonder that many men in this situation
proximity, and its attendant pattern of become depressed. As Colette Carol from
inter-generational mutual support and CREST, a New Deal for Communities
Poverty and globalisation in the UK 37

project in Salford currently supported by activities, and the social relationships that
Oxfam's UK Poverty Programme, put it: go with them, less frequently have to be
'older men don't make a fuss, and their abandoned - a cup of tea and a chat with
needs therefore get ignored' (Ruxton 2002). friends is usually still within reach. Many
Sandy Ruxton observes: 'It appears that men find themselves having to deal with
older working-class men in particular are unanticipated isolation that women do not,
unwilling to enter training schemes. One on the whole, experience.
central factor is that the self-image of older The discussion above has shown that
men (50+) is closely connected to paid the experiences of women in poverty and
employment rather than training. Another men in poverty are very different. Women
is that they are also apprehensive of in poverty are generally exploited because
involvement in education, and fear that their caring responsibilities limit their
more training could result in renewed access to the labour market and they end
failure.' (ibid). Large numbers of men in up in low paid jobs or workless; they also
traditional industrial areas do not feature in very often have high levels of dependence,
the figures for employed or unemployed and therefore a lack of autonomy. Men in
people: long-term sickness and disability, poverty are generally exploited because
sometimes as a result of their previous they are unable to adapt to the new types
employment, affect up to 30 per cent of of labour market, and they therefore
25-64 year old men in some areas remain unemployed, or take significant
(Fothergill el al, 1999). cuts in income in order to get work. This
Younger men in the poorer and more can affect their self-identity and standard of
disadvantaged communities are also facing living, but is less likely to undermine
challenges which arise from the interface autonomy and relative independence.
between masculine identity and the kinds Some (mostly white) men's refusal to take
of employment opportunities now available poorly paid and part-time work could be
to them. In particular, in addition to the viewed positively as a refusal to be
generic high levels of unemployment exploited, where male immigrant men are
among men of Pakistani and Bangladeshi more likely to opt for a poorly paid job.12
origin, young men of African-Caribbean
heritage face high levels of unemployment.
For example, a study by Berthoud found Addressing the needs of
that young Caribbean men are more than men and women in poverty
twice as likely to be unemployed as young What can be done to address the poverty
white men, and they also had lower that exists within the apparent plenty of a
earnings (Berthoud 1999). Whereas the Northern industrialised country? There is a
number of suicides among women has big challenge here to think more clearly
decreased, the number among young men about the complexity of gender and
has more than doubled in the last 25 years. poverty. As stated earlier, government
There is also a growing concern over the initiatives have tended to focus on promoting
level of boys failing at school compared participation in paid employment, which
with girls. clearly presents a problem in the light of
Being poor and male in a society where the strongly gendered nature of people's
leisure activity for men has often revolved actual experience. For example, the 'New
around work-mates and spending money Deal for the Long-Term Unemployed' (1998)
(often on alcohol or sport) brings a different and the 'New Deal for Lone Parents'(1998),
dimension to poverty for men. For women and other similar programmes developed
who become poor, traditional female leisure since, are packages of support and benefits

available to anyone who qualifies, real picture of the issues and needs, and
regardless of sex. The former is by far the designed to fit together more effectively.
bigger pot of resources, yet only 27 per cent We need frameworks to guide policy
of people accessing it have been women. and action that enable all the work that is
This is because generally, a male partner required to sustain human life and
will apply on behalf of the household, and endeavour to be visible and valued.14 They
will therefore be eligible for the support need to enable action to be taken that is
scheme, which makes work compulsory. relevant to different stages of life for both
The female partner can access the 'New men and women. We also need frameworks
Deal for Partners of the Unemployed' that enable gender analysis to reach within
scheme, which was set up in 1999 to offset the household unit to examine relation-
the disadvantage experienced by partners ships between individual men and women,
of unemployed people who, since they do and to see the many ways in which
not claim benefit in their own right, cannot individuals, households, families and other
directly participate in the other scheme. social groupings interact with the wider
This brings advisory support, but not the society and economy. Poverty is an issue of
bigger range of training resources. Gender power as well as resources, and this is as
issues are also raised by the 'New Deal for true in the UK as it is in other parts of the
Lone Parents'. Most lone parents are women, world.
and the scheme is perceived widely as a In Oxfam, we are beginning to use a
scheme for women. Few lone fathers apply sustainable livelihoods framework that
for it, but when they do, they can be faced encompasses both income-generating/
with incomprehension and may even be turned economically valued work and unpaid/
down.13 It would make a big difference if car i n g / r e p r o d u c t i v e / e c o n o m i c a l l y
the various initiatives being taken to uncounted and undervalued work and
address poverty could be more 'joined-up' recognises the relationship between them.
- that is, based on a more complete and It is a model that recognises the value of

Figure 1: Combining livelihoods and gender analysis

Family food
production Income from >,
'the market' )
Domestic work
community The State
(health, education,
ocial securit
Social networks
Community work
(Kidder (2002), diagram from Oxfam internal presentation15)
Natural ^ N
resources )
Poverty and globalisation in the UK 39

social relationships and social assets to the people to cross the threshold. Obviously, we
survival and well-being of individuals and need to make it possible for them to go
households. This can be coupled with a through the door if they so choose - but also
gender analysis that looks at how men and for society to value what is on their side of
women have differing access to and control the door more highly. Then more men will
of resources, only some of which have choose also to transverse the boundary and
recognised financial value. engage in caring activities as well, with all
We think that strategies are more likely the positive benefits that brings.
to succeed if they recognise the ways
people living in poverty constantly juggle Jo Rowlands is Policy and Learning Adviser
and negotiate different elements of the (Gender and Participation) with Oxfam's UK
whole, in order to get by or improve their poverty programme. She previously worked
position. Strategies that continue to focus with VSO as the manager of the programme
rigidly on one or two aspects, or focus on development and evaluation unit. Her book
one side of the equation, are not likely to 'Questioning Empowerment' was published by
work. Oxfam in 1997.
In the UK, gender is not yet a concept
embedded in the thinking of policy-makers
or those charged with implementing policy. Notes
This can be seen in the continuing focus on 1 With thanks to Gina Hocking, Sue Smith
'equality of opportunity', where policy and Fran Bennett.
focuses on access to equal pay, equal 2 See, for example, LINKS, Oxfam GB,
opportunities for employment and equal May 2001.
rights under law. This puts an emphasis on 3 The measure of poverty used is explored
legislation and policy instruments that will, later in the article.
in theory, mean that women and men have 4 Department of Work & Pensions 2000/1:
the same chances, making it illegal to 'Households on Below Average Income
discriminate, for example in the process of 2000/1'.
recruitment for jobs, in favour of one sex or 5 The partner organisation prefers to
the other. Equal opportunities is an remain anonymous.
approach that fails to address the fact that 6 There are two aspects to this: direct
in many cases women have had less access deductions are made for some debts
to certain kinds of experience, perhaps when the debtor is on benefits, making
because of spending time raising a family, them easier to manage; then when
and therefore will tend to be less well- people get into work, direct deductions
qualified for the job. stop and creditors often demand
As discussed above, despite decades of repayment of the whole debt.
initiatives to close the gender pay gap, 7 The unit of measurement for poverty is
there is still a long way to go. We would the household, which is a problem if we
argue that the inequalities will continue, wish to understand the gendered nature
and the effects of undervalued caring and of poverty, as it does not allow for the
reproductive work will continue to possibility that unequal power relations
negatively affect the lives of both men and within households may mean that even
women, until a shift of focus is made onto in some households with incomes above
achieving equality of outcomes, based on a the poverty line there may well be
re-valuing of caring and reproductive hidden female poverty.
work, so that women's double burden is 8 Adjusted to allow for size and
reduced. It is not enough to unlock a door composition of the household in order to
and invite women and other disadvantaged allow comparisons to be made.

9 Below 60 per cent median income for References

three out of four years, 1996-9. Statistics
from DWP: 'Households Below Average Berthoud, R. (1999) Young Caribbean Men
Income 2000/1'. and the Labour Market: a Comparison with
10 The UK ranks second only to Mexico in Other Ethnic Groups, Joseph Rowntree
the industrialised world for regional Foundation, YPS, York
inequality (OECD Territorial Outlook Department of Work & Pensions (2001)
2001). 'Households on Below Average Income
11 The introduction of a minimum wage 2000/1', London, Crown copyright
has caused some incomes to rise, but is (
set too low. Equal Opportunities Commission (2002)
12 Thanks to Caroline Sweetman (pers. 'Facts about Men and Women in Great
comm.) for this point. Britain', Manchester: EOC
13 I am not aware of any systematic Fotheringill, S., P. Alcock, C. Beatty, and
research on this, but the phenomenon is S.Yeandle (1999) Economic Inactivity and
described to Oxfam by a UK partner, Unemployment Amongst Men in the UK,
One Parent Families Support and Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University
Information Network in York: 'The Kohler, H. (2002) 'Working for a Better
isolation, loneliness, displacement from Globalisation', IMF conference on
society and anxiety that is experienced Humanising the Global Economy,
by many if not all the participants is Washington DC, January 28 2002.
shocking. The joy and pleasure that Unpublished conference paper
these fathers take from their fathering LINKS (May 2001) 'Still the Second Sex',
is obvious and the success that they Oxford: Oxfam GB
achieve in creating warm loving safe New Policy Institute (2002) 'What do the
environments for their children is clear. Poverty Numbers Really Show?', London:
What is also clear are the barriers they NPI
face in their fathering, from social OECD (2001) Territorial Outlook, Paris:
services who expect them to be OECD
substitute mothers to family and friends Rake, K. (ed.) (2000) 'Women's Incomes
who expect them to fail and are Over the Lifetime', Women and Equality
surprised when they don't.' Unit, Cabinet Office, London, Crown
14 The UK now has a 'Household Satellite copyright
Account, which estimates the value of Ruxton, S. (2002): Men, Masculinities and
unpaid work including childcare, but it Poverty in the UK, Oxford: Oxfam GB
remains separate from the main
accounting systems.
15 My thanks to Thalia Kidder for permission
to use this very helpful diagram here.
Thalia works for Oxfam as Policy
Adviser Livelihoods (Economics and

Women's oral knowledge

and the poverty of formal
education in the SE Peruvian
Sheila Aikman
Formal education is often assumed to be a positive force for change, enabling people to find a route
out of poverty. However, this is not always the case. The Haramkbut community in the Peruvian
Amazon are now questioning the widespread assumption that schooling can provide knowledge and
skills for establishing alternative livelihoods. Indigenous knowledge and traditional forms of work
have been devalued through economic changes forced upon the Haramkbut by ecological destruction
and environmental degradation. The result of this has been a process of impoverishment, which Ms
been worsened by missionary education and an adherence to the national Spanish-language
curriculum. In contrast, the indigenous model of intercultural bilingual education which is
currently being 'rolled out' to the Harakmbut puts indigenous knowledge and practices at the centre
of its curriculum, pedagogy and philosophy. This in turn contrasts with the education reform
measures currently being implemented nationally through the Ministry of Education. Education
could and should be a positive force in the lives of the Harakmbut people, and Harakmbut women in
particular, and in their fight against an impoverishment of their way of life.

an estimated 30,000 (Gray 1996) to

n the Peruvian Amazon, education is
generally thought by parents and approximately 1,500 in the early 1980s.
education providers to be important for From the early 1980s to the present, I have
children's acquisition of key skills and carried out several extensive periods of field-
knowledge, which will help them later in work, investigating Harakmbut indigenous
their pursuit of livelihoods. Schooling is learning and bodies of knowledge. I have
considered to be a key means of bringing also worked in collaboration with their
about modernisation and economic develop- indigenous organisation, the Federation of
ment. However, there is less concern with Natives of Mad re De Dios (FENAMAD), in
what kind of education might contribute to their search for educational alternatives
this goal, and what kinds of livelihoods are (see Aikman 1999a). This paper is based on
appropriate and valued by different people. my understandings of the changes they
The Harakmbut are an indigenous have experienced over this period and on
people who live on their ancestral territory my insights as a privileged 'outsider'.
in the south-east Peruvian Amazon. When I
first lived with them at the end of the 1970s
they had a mixed economy and semi- Economic poverty and the
settled way of life, comprising hunting,
fishing and swidden agriculture. At the
changing Harakmbut
beginning of the twentieth century, their livelihoods
population had been decimated through At the end of the 1970s, the Harakmbut of
disease and the ravages of the rubber the community of San Jose1 de Karene were,
boom, and their numbers dropped from in addition to hunting forest game, fishing.

practising slash and burn agriculture, and purchase Andean produce - cabbage, dried
gathering edible forest fruits and plants. meat, potatoes and carrots - transported at
Harakmbut men panned for gold on the great cost down the Andes. This situation
banks of the rivers on their legally was the result of a vicious circle of demand
recognised and delimited territory, using for money and market goods, which could
buckets and a sloping draining board to only be met by continued and intensified
wash alluvial stones and trap the tiny gold panning. The gold could be exchanged
deposits of riverine gold dust. During the for money, and also functioned as a hard
1980s, game became more scarce, due to currency along the south-east Amazon
the growing numbers of small-time rivers.
entrepreneurs who transported landless Throughout the 1990s, the effects of
Andean peasants down the Andes to the under-nutrition were obvious among
Amazon region. These newly arrived workers children and the elderly, as were diarrhoea
provided cheap labour in squalid camps on diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria. Young
the banks of the rivers, and ever deeper in men either completed primary schooling or
the forest, where old riverbeds held finite dropped out to take part in gold panning,
amounts of gold dust. They used slightly either in their villages or in migrants' gold
more technologically sophisticated gold- camps, while some young women chose
panning practices, involving noisy motor to leave their communities and work as
pumps and, in some places, diggers and cooks and cleaners in the same camps,
dredgers. Over time, game and birds fled to or in the growing informal settlements in
more remote areas, and severely curtailed the region.
Harakmbut hunting (Gray 1986). The impact of ecologically destructive
During the 1980s, when the price of economic practices, such as gold panning
gold was relatively high and the beaches and timber extraction, had subtle and
yielded gold-bearing sediments, the pervasive effects on the status of women's
Harakmbut dedicated more and more agriculture. Access through gold panning to
of their time to gold panning. They used the money market allowed the Harakmbut
the money earned to buy pasta, rice and to purchase foodstuff, where previously
other staples, as well as tinned fish and women had produced all that was needed
occasionally fresh eggs. Women continued to complement the meat and fish brought
to grow manioc, maize and plantains, but in by the men. Senior women with large
other more specialised and labour-intensive and numerous gardens ceased to cultivate
crops such as dry rice were supplanted by quantities of manioc to make masato beer,
commercial products bought easily at since bottled lager, which men now drank,
colonists' riverside shacks which sprang up could be bought at every river bank stall.
throughout Harakmbut territory. The Young women growing up through the
women spent increasing amounts of time 1980s and 1990s did not have the time or
cooking at the gold camps on the beaches the incentive to work with their elders and
or deep in the forest, and time for intensive learn about the diversity of crops and
care of their gardens was limited. With types: the 17 different types of pineapple,
increasing dedication to gold panning, men each with a different colour, taste or
had less time to work with the women to texture; the different types of sweet potato
fell and clear new gardens each year. and manioc, which were suited to different
When Harakmbut men began to employ soils and resistant to different pests and
migrants to work with them on their gold predators; the chants and songs to protect
placers, the women found the labourers seeds as they were being planted; and the
refused to eat plantains, sweet potato and rituals and myths to ensure that the spirits
fruits from their gardens, preferring to of the forest helped the crops grow.1
Women and formal education in SE Peru 43

Women's knowledge is oral, and it is While gold production was becoming a

personal. It is not public, written down in a more entrenched part of the Harakmbut
book for anyone to read should they want 'way of life' through the 1980s, there was
to. Instead, it belongs to the individual also growing access to formal community-
women, who, over their lifetimes, have based primary schooling. For some years
built up their knowledge and under- there were high rates of dropout and
standing of the environment, the crops and attrition, especially amongst girls. But by
the spirit world. This is their wisdom, the mid-1990s, girls were not only
which they used to pass on to their completing six years of primary schooling,
daughters and granddaughters as they but often out-performing boys. Much of
grew up. But this is not happening as it this success, which has been documented in
used to. Now there is less demand for the community of San Jos (Aikman 1999a),
women's garden produce, and their status can be attributed to the tireless efforts of
as agriculturalists, gardeners and guardians two teachers. The latter lobbied and
of biodiversity are considered less chivvied parents to send their children to
important than the ability to pan gold and school, using their powerful positions as
exchange it for hard currency. Women's lay-missionaries.
complex understandings and knowledge Success in primary school, however, is
are valued less. As the women themselves measured in terms of the attainment of
get drawn into the new economic activities narrow literate academic education, which
and roles, they are ceasing to cultivate their provides few practical outcomes for
rich diversity of crops, and knowledge of Harakmbut students. Students successfully
how to cultivate these is disappearing. completing primary schooling in San Jos6
They find themselves in a new dependency were groomed for more schooling and by
on men for access to money, with which to the early 1990s many Harakmbut students
buy the products - pasta, rice and maize were leaving home to attend missionary
flour - which they use in place of their boarding secondary schools. Girls board
garden produce. under the strict control of Dominican
missionaries, and are held in virtual
confinement behind convent walls. The
Educational poverty and teaching that these schools promote is
the 'growth of ignorance' mostly carried out in ignorance of the
The Harakmbut have welcomed formal knowledge children develop in their home
education in the shape of primary schooling environment. Girls' growing knowledge of
in their communities since the 1950s, and, biodiversity and agricultural practices
more recently, secondary schooling in remain beyond the bounds of the school
mission stations and urban centres. These and the teachers, whose ignorance amounts
forms of education are seen to provide to another pernicious influence on girls'
access to new bodies of knowledge and sets and women's status and knowledge.
of skills; in particular, to the Spanish With increased participation in schooling,
language, which the Harakmbut need for girls (and boys too) have less time to spend
the increasingly complex interactions with their elders, less time to participate in
they have with colonists, representatives of agricultural activities, less time to learn
local and national government, and other about the intimate spiritual links between
indigenous peoples. However, schooling - crops, their growth and the nutritional
with a Spanish-language national curriculum well-being of the community. Harakmbut
- is taught predominantly by Dominican children learn from their elders, from the
lay-missionaries. spirit world, and experientially. Children

'learn by doing' in the safe presence of elders secondary schools were ad hoc and
and kin, who guide and support. Learning experimental, under the guidance of
also takes place through listening to elders teachers with little or no knowledge of the
and interacting with the spirit world.2 Amazon environment, whose agricultural
By contrast, school educators teach and experience - if any - was with Andean or
preach in a way which strengthens existing coastal crops and animals in Andean or
unequal economic, political and social coastal contexts. This curriculum denies the
relations. The school as an institution diversity and interrelatedness of women's
functions independently of Harakmbut productive and reproductive activities, and
space and time. Formal education takes ignores their position as guardians and
place within the four walls of the school custodians of the biodiversity. On the
building, usually the only concrete, contrary, gendered roles from other
'high status' building in the community. cultural and social contexts - boys become
The school timetable and calendar force farmers and girls look after the home
Harakmbut time into the rigid strictures of and children - are imposed. Girls are
institutionalised learning, and secondary marginalised from activities which the
boarding schooling removes pupils completely teachers and missionaries associate with
from their indigenous environment. 'men's work' (i.e. agriculture, physical
Schooling is about reading and writing, labour of different types and cattle herding)
faithful memorisation, and obeying teacher and steered towards home-based repro-
authority. ductive activities. This schooling contributes
While the primary school curriculum is to a disempowerment of girls and women,
exclusively focused on literacy and and to a new sexual division of labour
numeracy in Spanish, secondary schooling based in non-indigenous norms and
offers a gender-differentiated curriculum. practices. As Shiva has noted in another
Secondary schooling for indigenous children context, women's work is often discounted
usually follows a vocational curriculum, by economists because of the limited
which has lower status than the academic concept of economics they apply (Shiva
curriculum offered in certain urban centres. 1993).
Agricultural secondary schools aim to
produce peasant farmers and, in the Indigenous challenges to
Dominican missionary secondary school of
Shintuya, Harakmbut boys gain practical
the poverty of education
experience in the mission vegetable garden The Harakmbut have not been alone in
where, under plastic awnings, the priest questioning the quality of education. Many
attempts to grow tomatoes, lettuce and of the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian
other crops not indigenous to the rainforest. Amazon have found formal education,
Harakmbut girls, on the contrary, spend i.e. primary schooling, to be severely
much of their time outside academic classes impoverished: it is gender-blind, ethno-
carrying out domestic chores, usually in the centric, mono-cultural, monolingual
boarding school kitchens, dormitories and (Spanish) and assimilatory (ISP/AIDESEP
sewing-room. The way of life of the 1987). At the national level, civil society
boarding school and the curriculum it organisations are also criticising the general
promotes, is therefore one that encourages quality of schooling throughout the
girls' domesticity and reproductive work country, and have condemned it as
(Aikman 1999b). bureaucratic, authoritarian and irrelevant
The agricultural lessons being carried to most pupils' needs (Ramirez et al. 1997).
out in the mid- to late 1990s in agricultural Their directions for change and qualitative
Women and formal education in SE Peru 45

improvement, however, follow different range of indigenous schools where the

concepts and principles. programme's graduates worked.
In the late 1980s, the Amazon-wide The Harakmbut have recently had the
organisation, Interethnic Association for opportunity to join this programme in its
the Development of the Peruvian Amazon expansion to the central and southern
(AIDESEP) focused its attention on formal Amazon regions, with funding from the
education and the need to ensure that EU. With the increasing pressures on their
indigenous students received a relevant, way of life, and the slow but relentless
quality education which reinforced the undermining of Harakmbut as children's
principles of the indigenous movement and first language, in favour of Spanish,
the struggle for recognition of rights to land FENAMAD now considers indigenous-run
and way of life. AIDESEP is an umbrella intercultural bilingual education an
organisation that brings together indigenous important and necessary dimension of
associations and federations, such as the
strengthening Harakmbut society and
Harakmbut organisation FENAMAD, to
exercising its self-determination.
lobby nationally, regionally and inter-
nationally for recognition of indigenous
rights to land, way of life, cultural practices Harakmbut self-
and education. development
Aware that schooling was not
The Harakmbut want formal education
respecting indigenous values and priorities,
because they believe it offers a means of
AIDESEP began an innovative collabor-
acquiring knowledge and skills from the
ation with a group of non-indigenous
educationalists, anthropologists and wider society, which can be used to
linguists. They aimed to develop a new provide alternatives to halt the pauper-
approach to training indigenous primary isation of their lives. They want schooling
school teachers. This programme is a re- to value and positively reinforce learning
conceptualisation of schooling based on the and knowledge about the Harakmbut way
concept and principle of interculturalism, of life, and its beliefs and practices, because
which recognises cultural diversity as a these underpin a Harakmbut concept of
positive force to create a viable and self-development. They also want their
cohesive society (Avalos 1997). Inter- children to access what they see as the
culturalism implies a culturally and benefits accruing to the migrants and
ethnically diverse society, in which colonists living around them: access to
bilingualism, or plurilingualism, is the clean drinking water, participation in the
linguistic expression of this society market economy, and other trappings of
(Chavez, cited in Camacho 1995,155). 'modern' society, such as television.
The programme starts from an analysis In their vision of self-development,
of indigenous history and social change. the Harakmbut reject state-oriented growth
It strengthens understandings and valuing models and the blatant extraction of
of indigenous identity, while at the same resources from indigenous territories which
time ensuring that indigenous students threaten the integrity of their physical and
have the knowledge and skills necessary to spiritual environment. They do, however,
participate as citizens in the wider national recognise that aspects of 'development' can
and global arenas.3 By the early 1990s, the also provide badly needed resources to
new trainee teachers had produced a new protect and promote indigenous rights.
primary school curriculum. This was These include new ways to manage forest
recognised by the Ministry of Education, resources, new technologies to extract gold
and began to be implemented in a limited dust without the use of mercury, and

management, negotiating and admin- culture, history and identity, but also
istrative skills. If allopathic medicines from through alliances and collaboration with
the national society can cure diseases indigenous peoples and non-indigenous
introduced into Harakmbut society, such as people around the world.
tuberculosis, they are welcomed. If roads The AIDESEP intercultural bilingual
are built so that they do not undermine the education programme has been established
long-term sustainability of indigenous in Madre de Dios, in collaboration with the
lands and resources, then they are regional teacher training college and the
welcomed. But first and foremost, the Ministry of Education. It is focusing on
Harakmbut believe they should have the training Harakmbut teachers according to a
right to consent to their use or introduction new curriculum and pedagogy, based on
(Gray 1997). Indigenous peoples have been indigenous principles and practices and
discussing an alternative development developed by indigenous teachers and
based on the ability of indigenous peoples trainers in the northern rainforest (ISPL/
to become self-supporting, and based on AIDESEP 1997). Indigenous teaching
their collective rights. Henriksen explains: training develops indigenous trainees'
'Too often, development is seen in understanding of not only their cultural,
economic terms. Indigenous self-develop- social and linguistic heritage and practices
ment has to be seen as a whole, covering but also helps them analyse the nature of
many areas. Unless the terms of develop- change in indigenous and national society
ment are defined by the people themselves,
and their participation in the global society.
then there is no self-development'
It is also based on rights frameworks:
(Henriksen, in Gray 1997, 252).
indigenous collective rights (Committee on
When applied to schooling, this self- Indigenous Education 1998) and education
development approach implies an education as a human right and embedded in the
which respects indigenous beliefs and 2015 international development target on
values, and also facilitates the learning of 'Education For All'.
important skills and knowledge, which
enable the Harakmbut to interact with
wider society, and make informed Poverty of learning
decisions about their lives. 'Education outcomes: national reform
is important for our peoples', states of education
FENAMAD President, 'so that we can
defend our lands and not be cheated' Indigenous organisations and NGOs have
(personal communication, 1998). But this been struggling for many years now to put
implies a qualitative and relevant bilingual indigenous basic education on the national
education, which values the Harakmbut agenda. The expansion and contraction of
language while providing good skills in staff and resources dedicated to indigenous
Spanish, the national language, and the basic education within the Ministry of
'language' of government, media and Education over the past fifteen years
bureaucracy. The Haramkbut need the reflects a fluctuating acknowledgement of
ability to utilise effectively a range of genre its importance. It is only since the middle of
to serve self-development ends; for example, the 1990s that there has been strong
in the defence of their lands. They need to government commitment to education and
lobby government, to give radio interviews, a resurgence of interest in education.
to negotiate with colonists, to write project Diagnostic studies carried out in the late
proposals, and much more (see Aikman 1980s and early 1990s, especially by civil
1999; 2001). The strength of their self- society organisations such as the
development should come from their own Foro Educativo, have highlighted high rates
Women and formal education in SE Peru 47

of grade repetition, dropout and poor and pedagogy (see also Torres 2000).
learning achievement, and the serious need Constructivism is understood as the
for attention to qualitative aspects of process whereby learners construct their
primary education throughout the country. knowledge and understanding through
Government statistics have painted a bleak active learning and their active engagement
picture of poverty, malnutrition and poor with the social and natural environment.
living conditions for 90.1 per cent of the This approach contrasts starkly with the
rural population (Ramirez et al. 1997). passive, didactic, teacher-dominated
While enrolment was high, in global terms, approach hitherto promoted in schools.
the quality and relevance of education was It implies a new focus on communication
poor and, as Ramirez' study indicates, and a new set of teacher-pupil relationships
'children leave primary school without the and pupil-pupil interactions, whereby
competencies to understand what they teachers are to be facilitators of children's
read, unable to communicate verbally or learning, and activities are varied and
produce writing, follow instructions or graduated.
apply what they have memorised' This approach relies heavily on the
(Ramirez et al 1997, 80). And for many ability and willingness of teachers and
rural children, such as the Harakmbut, schools to adapt the nationally prescribed
this is an education in and through a content to local cultural, social and geo-
second language with no reference to their raphical contexts so that competencies can
maternal culture. be acquired through activities which are
While the indigenous analysis of quality relevant to the children. However, while
and relevance of education in the 1980s teachers are exhorted to make the
led to the development of the AIDESEP curriculum flexible to local realities, the
intercultural bilingual education pro- support and training they receive to do this
gramme, based on self-determination is negligible. When teachers are not from
and self-development, the government or part of the local reality, it is impossible
approach to educational change was for them to do so in a meaningful way.
unco-ordinated and sporadic until the mid- The new Curriculum Framework for
1990s. This reflected a lack of prioritisation Children 2000 (Ministry of Education 2000)
of education in national policy-making. also states that 'interculturalism' (the
However, large-scale reform began to defining concept and principle of the
gather momentum through the late 1990s, indigenous AIDESEP programme), is an
and policies were implemented which were important part of the Peruvian curriculum.
similar to many other basic education However, it makes no attempt to explain
reforms in Latin America over the last two what this means, or how it can be
decades (Torres 2000). A meeting of 'facilitated' in the classroom - which means
UNESCO and the Economic Commission that is it most likely ignored by teachers, or
for Latin America (CEPAL) reported on the at best misunderstood (see Aikman 1999a
need for education for citizenship and to for discussion of interculturalism).
generally improve international economic The Curriculum 2000 is part of a reform
competitiveness, by linking education designed by experts at the national and
closely with sustained economic develop- international level to be implemented by
ment and participation. The reforms poorly-trained teachers. Knowledge is
echoed the discourse of efficiency and packaged in terms of competencies and
decentralisation (Camacho 1995). lists of what children at different 'key
The Peruvian reform process took a stages' should know and be able to
'constructivist approach' to curriculum demonstrate - and by which they can be

measured. In contrast, the indigenous and who decides what competencies and
programme begins with the teacher. The how they should be taught. It strives to
curriculum is constructed by teachers and develop an intercultural awareness in
trainers together, through a collaborative children, and recognise those whose
and iterative process. The curriculum knowledge is excluded from the top-down
focuses on the interface between different education reform process. The national
ways of doing and knowing, local, national reform is being implemented in accordance
and global processes and knowledge, and with international agendas and demands
an analysis of the children's and teachers' for measurable outcomes and indicators of
context. In the national approach, knowledge efficiency and effectiveness. The indigenous
is uncontested, and unchallenged by programme, which takes different definitions
teachers and by students; it is, moreover, of efficiency and effectiveness, is struggling
usually written and measurable. In the to make its voice heard in national debates.
former, knowledge is problematised, And the marginalisation and disappearance
contested and challenged, and it is of indigenous women's knowledge and
overwhelmingly oral. The national focus is wisdom, as we have discussed here with
on improving quality through active and the Harakmbut, continues throughout
child-focused pedagogy, and learning/ many parts of the Amazon.
teaching processes involved in the acquisition
of a pre-defined (and clearly written down)
set of competencies. Conclusion
What does this mean for indigenous This article has documented some of the
education and the Harakmbut in their processes by which women's rich know-
rapidly changing environmental and socio- ledge of their biodiversity has been eroded
cultural context? It means that the national by changes in economic practices, primarily
education reforms have no space for the introduction of gold panning. With
indigenous knowledge - of the rainforest, increased activity around servicing the
of the spirit world, of the biodiversity, of gold production, knowledge of crops and
the impact of changes over the last 50 years their diversity is not being passed on to
on the indigenous social, cultural and younger generations. As men increasingly
physical worlds. Harakmbut knowledge control access to money and to purchased
and skills in managing the biodiversity for foodstuffs, women's power and status in
future generations lies outside the frame of society as primary producers and decision-
school knowledge. It is not considered makers has decreased.
valid knowledge. It was not considered This process has also intensified through
valid by the missionaries and their the increased participation of girls and
'content-oriented' education, nor is it boys in formal education: not only at
considered valid by the national 'competency' primary school level but, through the 1990s,
oriented reforms. increasingly at boarding schools far from
The momentum of national-level reform their home communities. Girls who attend
is gathering pace today, supported by secondary boarding schools are channelled
international policies and funding from into a narrow concept of home making and
multi-lateral agencies such as the World domesticity, far removed from their home
Bank. This seems to be happening at the environment and the sphere of wisdom
expense of a serious examination of and knowledge of their elders. Boys'
Peruvian indigenous initiatives, such as schooling encourages them to venture into
that of the AIDESEP programme. This what was formerly the female domain of
indigenous education programme questions agriculture, but this is a non-indigenous
whose knowledge underpins the curriculum, model of agriculture and the 'farmer'.
Women and formal education in SE Peru 49

For the Harakmbut, intercultural References

bilingual education appears to offer a
means of their exerting some control over Aikman, S. (1999a) Intercultural Education
formal education and its definitions of and Literacy, Amsterdam: John Benjamins
what is knowledge in order to develop a Aikman, S. (1999b) 'Schooling and
curriculum oriented to their self-develop- development: eroding Amazon women's
ment, inclusion and self-determination. knowledge and diversity', in C. Heward,
However, the indigenous intercultural and S. Bunwaree (eds.) Gender, Education
and Development, London: Zed Press, 65-82
programme is struggling for the right to be
heard in the face of more powerful agendas Aikman, S. (2000) 'Bolivia', in D. Coulby,
set by national elites and international R. Cowan and C. Jones (eds.) Education
in Times of Transition, World Yearbook of
funding agencies. The intercultural bilingual
Education 2000, London: Kogan Page
education programme being implemented
by the FENAMAD and the Harakmbut has Aikman, S. (2001) 'Literacies, languages
to ensure a strong voice and a strong place and developments in Peruvian Amazonia'
for women's knowledge and skills, not only in B. Street (ed.) Literacy and Development:
Ethnographic Perspectives, London:
for their self-development but also for the
Routledge, 103-20
enrichment of education and development
more broadly. Avalos, B. (1997) 'The Modernization of
Education Systems: Contents and Issues
Sheila Aikman has worked with the Harakmbutas seen in the case of Chilean and
and their Federation, FENAMAD, since the Bolivian reforms', paper presented at the
early 1980s and has carried out ethnographic Oxford International Conference, 11-13
research into indigenous education and September 1997
intercultural bilingual education. She has a Camacho, A. (1995) 'Intervenci6n', in V. R
PhD from London University and was a Edwards and J. V. Osirio (eds.)
lecturer in Education and International La Construccidn de las Politicas Educativas
Development at the Institute of Education en America Latina, Lima: CEAAL/Tarea,
before joining Oxfam in 2001 as Education CEPAL-UNESCO
Adviser in the Policy Department. Committee on Indigenous Education (1998) 'Our Children, Our Future', draft
working document presented to the UN
Working Group on Indigenous Peoples,
Notes Geneva, July 1998
1 See Aikman 1999a for more details of Gasche, J., L. Trapnell and M. Rengifo
Harakmbut women's knowledge and (1987) 'El Curriculo Alternativo para la
use of biodiversity. Formacidn de Maestros de Educaci6n
2 See Aikman 1999a for a discussion of Bilingiie Intercultural y su Fundament-
Harakmbut learning. aci6n Antropol6gica y Pedag6gica',
3 ISP/AIDESEP 1997 provides a detailed Centro e Investigaci6n Antropologica de
discussion of the nature of this la Amazonfa Peruana and the National
programme. See for example the University of the Peruvian Amazon.
discussion of a 'Latin American' model Unpublished manuscript
in relation to the Bolivian reform in Gray, A. (1986) 'And after the Gold Rush?
Aikman 2000. Human Rights and Self-determination
among the Amarakaeri of South-eastern
Peru', International Work Group for
Indigenous Affairs, Document 55,

Gray, A. (1996) Mythology, Spirituality and Ministry of Education (2000) 'Programa

History, Oxford: Berghahn Books Curricular de Primer Ciclo de Educacidn
Gray, A. (1997) Indigenous Rights and Primaria de Menores', Direcci6n Nacional
Development: Self-determination in an de Educaci6n Inicial y Primaria, Lima:
Amazon Community, Oxford: Berghahn Ministry of Education
Books Ramirez de Sanchez-Moreno, E. L., S. Sume
ISPL/AIDESEP (1987) 'Proyecto de Poma, E. Cueto Caballero, Miranda
Formaci6n de Maestros Bilingiies de la Morillo and A. Miranda Blanco (1997)
Amazonia', Iquitos, Instituto Superior Hacia una Propuesta de Educacion Primdria
Pedag6gico Loreto/Asociaci6n Interetnica para el Peru: Alternatives Pedagdgicas y de
de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana. Gestion, Lima: Foro Educativo
Peruana, unpublished document Shiva, V. (1993) 'The impoverishment of
ISPL/AIDESEP (1997) 'Lineamientos the environment', in M. Mies and
Curriculares: Formacion Magisterial en V. Shiva, Ecofeminism, London: Zed Press/
la Especialidad de Educaci6n Primaria Fernwood
Intercultural Bilingiie', Iquitos, Instituto Torres, R. M. (2000) One Decade of Education
Superior Pedag6gico Loreto/Asociaci6n for All: The Challenge Ahead, Buenos
Interetnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Aires: International Institute for
Peruana Educational Planning

Poverty, HIV, and barriers

to education:
street children's experiences in Tanzania
Ruth Evans
This article discusses the links between poverty, HIV/AIDS, and barriers to education, based on the
first-hand experiences of 'street children' in northern Tanzania. Within the context of national levels
of poverty, 'cost-sharing' in health and education sectors, and the AIDS epidemic, poor families in
Tanzania are under considerable pressure, and increasing numbers of girls and boys are
consequently seeking a living independently on the streets of towns and cities. My research with
street children shows that some children orphaned by AIDS are subject to rejection and exploitation
by the extended family after the death of their parent(s). They are exposed to considerable risks of
abuse, sexual violence and HIV within the street environment. Here, I discuss the links between
poverty, HIV and barriers to education, which compound young people's vulnerability, and offer
some policy recommendations in response to the young people's experiences.

terms of human care - are stretched very

he socio-economic and political
context within which children live thin. It has been consistently demonstrated
has a considerable impact on family that the cost of structural adjustment is
life, in Tanzania as elsewhere. Levels of disproportionately borne by the poor,
national poverty in contemporary Tanzania and by women and children (Taylor and
strain the relationships between household Mackenzie 1992). Even before structural
members, and, in particular, relationships adjustment, there were few, generally
between adults and children. The World lower paid, employment possibilities open
Bank estimates that 43 per cent of the rural to women. One of the features of structural
population and 19 per cent of the urban adjustment is to reduce the size of the
population live below the poverty line public sector, which sheds lower-paid, less
(Bendera 1999, 118). The global economic permanent jobs first, where more women
recession, and subsequent structural are clustered. Family livelihoods are
adjustment processes, have been felt by therefore increasingly dependent on casual
both the agricultural and urban sectors, income-generating opportunities in the
each of which is increasingly unable to informal sector.
provide a livelihood for most households Children are also increasingly engaging
(Koda 1995). This has led to 'a great exodus in income-generation activities in both rural
of human labour from the agricultural to, and urban areas, and especially in the
predominantly, the service sector', with informal sector. They bring in cash to meet
young girls and boys, in particular, the needs of their families and themselves.
migrating to urban areas in search of wage Children's own needs include school
labour (ibid, 141). uniforms, pens, exercise books, school fees,
The resources currently available to and even food and clothing (Koda 2000).
Tanzanian children - both material and in A recent study in Bagamoyo revealed that

55 per cent of boys and 37.5 per cent of girls The current AIDS epidemic is
were contributing to schooling costs compounding many of the economic
through casual work (Bendera 1999, 124). pressures facing Tanzania. There are an
Children are used on both a part-time and estimated one million AIDS cases in
full-time basis as casual farm workers, Tanzania, and 940,000 people have already
hawkers of food stuffs, clothing, and died (Appleton 2000, 20). According to the
miscellaneous items, house-girls, assistants Tanzanian Demographic and Health
in home beer brewing, and also in manu- Survey in 1996, 64.6 per cent of the total
facturing and the mining industry, while population was under 25 years of age, with
the feminisation of child labour is mostly 47.2 per cent under 15 years of age, a
found in domestic labour and commercial situation which places an enormous burden
sexual exploitation (Koda 2000). Researcher on the economically active working pop-
Bertha Koda concludes that, in contemporary ulation, now being gradually diminished
Tanzania: by illness and death due to AIDS (UNICEF
Depending on the degree of poverty, the 1999a, 50). The majority of the 730,000 AIDS
educational level of parents and the generalorphans in Tanzania are being cared for by
policy environment, most children are forced extended family members. However, many
to sacrifice much of their recreational, guardians are either too old or too young to
schooling and social needs in order to meetmeet the orphaned children's material and
the broader needs of the family unit emotional needs, and many older children
(domestic chores, child care, productive workleave their adoptive homes and make their
etc.) way in the informal sector on the streets
(Koda 2000, 250). (Karlenza 1998).
The introduction of cost-sharing measures This article is based on my doctoral
for health and education has had a research with street children1 and former
devastating effect on social services in street children in northern Tanzania. Field 2
Tanzania. Cost-sharing in the education work began in 2000, and is continuing. In
sector has resulted in sharply declining the next sections, I will explore young
primary school enrolment rates, accom- people's vulnerability to HIV infection and
panied by high drop-out rates and very low the linkages with education, showing how
performance, particularly of girls, because poverty, HIV/AIDS, gender inequalities
of the inability of parents and guardians to and barriers to education all intersect to
pay school expenses, combined with their severely limit the potential of vulnerable
need for children's labour at home young people in Tanzania. By way of
(Bendera 1999, Kuleana 1999). Access to conclusion, I offer some policy recom-
medical care is also now reduced. The mendations to address the inequalities and
Tanzanian public health service has also vulnerabilities discussed.
become conspicuously under-funded in
absolute terms, spending about US$3.50 per The impacts of poverty and
capita per annum, well below what is
normally acceptable (Koda 1995, 142). This
AIDS on children
has led to a deterioration in staffing, It is clear from the discussion above that
infrastructure and availability of drugs and poverty severely constrains families'
equipment in basic health care, reflected in abilities to provide for their children, and
increased mortality rates for children under places great pressure on adult-child
five, high maternal mortality rates and relationships within the family. In my
AIDS deaths (Bendera 1999, 118; Koda research with street children, abject poverty
1995,142). affected the majority of the participants'
Poverty, HIV and education in Tanzania 53

households. Indeed, 75 per cent of the Members of staff at all three street
young people interviewed cited the children projects involved in this study cited
family's inability to meet their basic needs extreme poverty as a major factor causing
as a major factor forcing them to leave children to leave home. However, many of
home. In over half the homes I visited, the children's stories tell of other problems
poverty was a major constraint on the within the household which compounded
household's ability to care for the children. their experiences of poverty, and triggered
The young people's drawings also their decision to move to town.
illustrated their experiences of poverty: Orphaned children living in households
Sophia3 was a former street girl, aged 17, in which one or both parents have died
who had a young baby. She lived with her would appear to be particularly vulnerable
mother and sisters, one of whom also had a to poverty and insecurity, and as the AIDS
baby. Her drawing (below) shows herself at epidemic attacks the prime age adult
home cooking food outside on a charcoal population, the particular difficulties faced
stove, with the words, 'Here I'm cooking by 'AIDS orphans' have come to the
food. We live with many problems. We attention of non-governmental organisations
don't have enough beds, we sleep on the and international development agencies
floor, sometimes we overcome our hunger, such as UNICEF. Women and girls often
other times we go to sleep hungry, we rely bear the greatest costs of adult ill-health
on selling fish so that we can eat. When we and death, 'primarily because of the
don't sell any we go to sleep hungry' significant opportunity costs to them of
(31/03/00). Her sister Halima's explanation their traditional roles as carers and nurturers
of her picture reiterated Sophia's message, of the ill or dying' (Godwin 1998,3).
before adding, 'We play at home without However, whilst women and girls may
any happiness' (interviews, 31/03/00).4 suffer most from the 'opportunity costs' of

Figure 1: Sophia's (a 17-year-old mother) drawing of herself at home: 'We rely on selling fish so that
we can eat. When we don't sell any we go to sleep hungry' (UCSC shelter, 31 / 03 / 00).

their carer role and increased domestic receive little education, and are poorly
burden, orphaned children and the elderly equipped for adult life. Many older children
are identified by Barnett as the most leave their adoptive homes and seek a better
vulnerable to the long term impacts, as the life on the streets.'
survivors of AIDS-afflicted and/or AIDS- (Karlenza 1998, 5)
affected households (Barnett 1998).
The experiences of two of the street
Experience in many African countries has
children participating in my study revealed
shown that a large proportion of orphan
that running away to the streets represents
caregivers are extended family members.
a survival strategy adopted by some
However, capacity and resources are
children orphaned by AIDS when their
stretched to breaking point, and those
families and communities fail to support
providing the necessary care in many cases
them. Due to the stigma of the disease,
are already impoverished. Most are
people rarely mention AIDS. The
widows, who may themselves be ill, elderly
experiences of children ostracised by their
grandparents, or even siblings running
relatives following the death of their
child-headed households (Karlenza 1998).
parents are likely to be linked to the stigma
Orphaned children experience loss, surrounding AIDS. The experiences of
sorrow and suffering long before the Simon,3 a fourteen year-old boy living on
eventual death of their parents, due to the the streets at the time of the interview,
psychological trauma of a long-term fatal illustrate the rejection and stigma AIDS
illness that afflicts their parents, combined orphans may face:
with the increasing domestic burden of
nursing their dying parents, caring for their 7 used to live in Babati with both my parents.
siblings or elderly grandparents, and My mama became ill with pneumonia and
increased work in the fields (UNICEF died in Babati. We moved to Arusha with
1999b). The distress and social isolation my brother. Then my brother went away to
experienced by children, both before and Nairobi, and my sister got married and went
after the death of their parent(s) is back to Babati. Then my father too became
exacerbated by the shame, fear and ill, with TB, his lungs were rotten and he
died. Then my [paternal] uncle treated us
rejection of the AIDS stigma. As a result,
badly, I mean, we didn't have anywhere to
children may be denied access to schooling
stay. We had to leave. We left, the two of us,
and health care, and their rights to
we went to a woman's house. We worked for
inheritance and property may be denied,
her in her house but she refused to pay us.
particularly in the case of girls (UNICEF
We left and my brother went to Morogoro
1999b; Barnett and Whiteside 2002). The
and I came here. [...] At home, there were
rights of children are closely linked to those problems, but not that we had to go without
of the surviving parent. Thus, in Tanzania, food or school fees. But when my parents
as in other African countries, the customary died, then we went without food a lot and
laws which deny widows the right to school fees.'
inherit their deceased husband's land, can
have devastating consequences for children (Simon, aged 14, living on the street at
after their father's death (UNICEF 1999b). time of interview, 11/06/00).4
According to Dr. Karlenza, Director of Simon's story shows how the rights of
CREDO, a Tanzanian NGO working with children from some AIDS-affected
AIDS survivors (orphans, the elderly and households are denied, with the extended
children in distress): family effectively disowning them. It also
'Many orphaned children are traumatised, demonstrates the economic exploitation
poorly socialised, lack emotional support, faced by child domestic workers seeking a
Poverty, HIV and education in Tanzania 55

living independently, once they have left and live with your brother, the relative
home for the street. of your father'. And I went and lived
For Amina,3 a 14-year-old girl living on there in Singida. My brother was a
the streets at the time of the interview, fisherman, he went off fishing. I stayed
'home' also offered no possibility of with my sister-in-law, she harassed me
support after her mother's death: and beat me again and again.
RE: At home, who would you go RE: If you did something wrong?
to/where would you go if you are ill? A: I mean, she harassed me, she didn't
A: At home, in Singida? In Singida, want me to stay there. [] So I went
there's only grandma, and she can't look back to grandma's. At grandma's, I met
after herself, even if she's ill, there's no someone who offered to send me to
one to help her. She doesn't work at all. school, and I went to live at boarding
The year before last, her shamba [plot of school.
land for cultivating] was grabbed from RE: Someone paid your school fees?
her and they are building a school there. A: Yes, for three years. Then at school
She just lives there by herself. My one day, we were told that they'd run
younger brother has already died. out of food. All the children had to be
Grandma is there with another relative sent back home. So I stayed with my
of mine, my brother - we have the same grandmother until mama came back.
mother but different fathers. He lives When she came, she was ill and I helped
with his father and goes to school. My with the work at home, fetching water,
mama died last year. (Amina, aged 14, for example, cooking, boiling water for
UCSC shelter, 09/06/00.)4 mama, or relieving the pain with a cold
Amina's experiences testify to the rejection press in the places she hurt. When she
of orphans after the parent's death of AIDS: made it to the third month, yes, in the
third month she died.
A: When my younger brother died, my
mama left and went to Dar es Salaam, RE: I'm very sorry. What illness was it?
and my father left for Mwanza. And me, A: I don't know, she was just ill, with
I stayed with my grandmother. malaria, coughing, being sick, passing
diarrhoea and blood. Once she was
RE: Why did mama go to Dar es Salaam?
buried by my relatives, they hated me,
A: Because of the famine. She went to because mama had died and there was
find food and work. She got work as a no one to look after me. I had to go to
bar-maid. I stayed with my grand- my brother's and I lived there for about
mother; when grandma's land was taken three months with my father's relatives.
away from her, then I left. I was harassed as I had been before and I
RE: Why did they take her land? said to myself, 'I can't be harassed like
A: The land belonged to the govern- this again', I'll have to start out on the
streets (Amina, UCSC shelter,
ment, grandma just got a place and
cultivated there, she didn't know whose
land it was, she just grew crops. We Amina's story not only illustrates the
carried on living there, but grandma impact of AIDS on orphans and the elderly,
didn't have any food, not even a little, but also highlights the linkages between
and we went hungry, we just picked poverty, gender inequalities and education.
fruit or vegetables, say, spinach, we It reveals the increasing domestic burden
picked it, boiled it, ate it and went to Amina and her grandmother had to cope
sleep. Then, grandma said to me, 'Go with in caring for and nursing her dying

mother and the rejection and harassment are also vulnerable to exploitation of their
Amina faced from her extended family as labour and harassment as domestic
an 'AIDS orphan'. It also shows the workers.
impoverishment her elderly grandmother The exploitation of girls as domestic
and her mother faced due to underlying workers is linked to the smaller proportion
gender inequalities, such as the lack of of girls living independently in the street
independent access to land and lack of environment. Studies on street children in
employment opportunities, leaving urban Tanzania suggest that girls only represent
migration as the only alternative for poor an estimated 20-30 per cent of the total
female-headed households in rural areas. numbers of 'street youth' due to the fact
In response to the fear, harassment and that traditional cultural values restrict girls'
rejection they sometimes face due to the freedom of movement compared to boys,
AIDS stigma, some orphaned children, like thus girls are discouraged from migrating
Amina and Simon, try to survive independ- to urban areas; girls who are found on the
ently on the streets. However, orphaned streets are likely to be recruited into
children's emotional vulnerability and wealthier households as domestic servants;
financial desperation living on the streets and female children represent a source of
make them particularly vulnerable to revenue for the family in the form of bride
sexual exploitation, abuse and survival sex. price when they get married, leading to
Thus, these young people are at a far forced early marriages (Mwakyanjala
greater risk of becoming infected with HIV 1996). This reinforces the idea that girls'
themselves, thereby tragically perpetuating presence on the street subverts cultural
the cycle of poverty, HIV and AIDS which norms and gender relations more than
claimed one or both of their parents. boys', since girls are responsible for
Simon and Amina's experiences also reproductive duties within the home, while
reveal the vulnerable situation of child boys have more freedom to explore public
domestic workers, where they are often space and engage in income-generation
subjected to exploitation, harassment, and activities in urban areas (Koda 2000). Thus
physical or sexual abuse, representing a girls who do not conform to this conven-
hidden violation of children's rights. The tional gender role, such as street girls,
tradition of child fosterage in Tanzania subvert norms of 'gender' as well as norms
leads to the recruitment of young children of 'childhood', and are sanctioned by
by relatives or non-related adults, society. This is also reflected in the lack of
particularly from rural areas, for domestic service provision for street girls - the
work in the homes of wealthier families. majority of the twenty or so street children
In Tanzania, a typical domestic servant is a projects in Tanzania (most of which are
young girl of between nine and eighteen located in Dar es Salaam) cater almost
years of age who may have been brought to exclusively for boys.
her employer by a relative or a friend or a While only two of the children partici-
village-mate, or who has migrated to the pating in the study had clearly been
urban area on her own (Koda 2000, 251). orphaned by AIDS, seven others had lost
House girls work for long hours in house- one parent due to illness, and according to
keeping, cooking and child care, and UCSC records of children at the Residential
are often vulnerable to patronisation, Centre, a quarter of the former street
exploitation and sexual harassment from children staying at the centre had lost one
either the employer or his/her relatives, or both parents (UCSC, February 2000).
children and friends (ibid). As the It is likely that some of these parental
experience of Simon shows, however, boys deaths were due to AIDS; however, as
Poverty, HIV and education in Tanzania 57

Karlenza notes, experience from other when the household encounters economic
countries suggests that it is important not pressures (Kuleana 1999). Thus, engaging
to label children orphaned by AIDS as in a sexual relationship with an older man
'AIDS orphans', or single them out for may represent the only way for a girl to
development assistance, due to the stigma continue her education. Several of the girls
associated with AIDS and the fact that interviewed as part of my research had
other children in poor communities suffer never attended school, while many of the
many of the same disadvantages (Karlenza, girls and boys had suffered corporal
1998,4). punishment and dropped out of primary
Indeed, my research with street children school due to their parents' inability to pay
has revealed that children whom UNICEF school fees (UCSC shelter, 31/03/00).
defines as 'social' orphans (whose parents As Amina's story implied earlier in this
are not available to care for them) are just article, it is common for teenage girls to
as vulnerable as 'biological' orphans (one find a 'sugar daddy'- an older man who is
or both parents have died). Parents in a often married - who can afford to sponsor
discussion group conducted in Arusha as her through school, in return for her sexual
part of the UNICEF study 'Children in favours (ActionAid et al. 1997). This is
Need of Special Protection Measures: a reinforced by men's preference for younger
Tanzanian Study' (1999a) suggested an all- girls, believing they are less likely to be
inclusive definition: 'An orphan is a person HIV positive. Furthermore, in West and
[child] who does not have people to take Southern Africa, some men believe that sex
care of him or her, or one who has lost with a virgin will cure AIDS (Garcia-
his/her father or mother, or whose father Moreno 1991). It has also been noted that
and mother are unknown' (UNICEF 1999a, within school settings in Tanzania, and in
116). Most of the young participants in my some other African countries, some male
research are thus included in this definition teachers sexually harass female students,
of an orphan. and a girl's refusal to have sex can lead to
public humiliation, unfairly low marks,
exclusion from class or corporal punish-
Barriers to girls' education ment (Kuleana 1999, 56). Indeed, in focus
and vulnerability to HIV groups with street children, the girls
Within an environment of poverty, gender confirmed the issues raised in the literature
discrimination, and harassment at school, on girls' education in Tanzania that schools
teenage girls are particularly vulnerable to provide a 'girl-unfriendly learning environ-
HIV infection. Indeed, UNICEF notes that ment'(ibid), commenting that they were
girls often become infected at a younger sometimes insulted, teased, beaten and
age than boys because they are biologically, discriminated against at school.
socially and economically more vulnerable A study conducted amongst schoolgirls
both to infection and to unprotected or in Mwanza found that the most commonly
coercive sex. Recent studies in Africa show cited problems experienced by schoolgirls
that girls aged 15-19 are around eight times were pregnancy (50 per cent), followed by
more likely to be HIV-positive than are sexual harassment by boys (37 per cent)
boys their own age, and between the ages (Kuleana 1999, 57). The official practice is to
of 20 to 24, women are still three times expel all school girls who are found to be
more likely to be infected than men their pregnant, and Kuleana estimated that the
age (UNICEF 1999b, 6). number of expulsions due to school
Girls are often the first to be withdrawn pregnancies may be as much as 39,000 per
from school (particularly secondary school) year, that is, thirteen times the official

record (Kuleana 1999, 58). While the girls customers' (Ennew 1995, 206), or to
in the focus groups did not mention negotiate condom use to protect themselves
pregnancy as a problem preventing their from STDs and HIV infection. Girls on the
continued attendance at school, Sophia, the streets were perceived by street boys and
17-year-old former street girl participating girls to be at greater risk of sexual coercion,
in the discussion group with her baby, had rape, survival sex, pregnancy and infection
not been able to continue at the vocational from sexually transmitted diseases, as one
training school she had been attending former street girl explained:
(sponsored by UCSC) due to her pregnancy, 'A street girl is in a lot more danger than a
and in my later visit six months later, boy. Many, many women at the bus stand
I found that her 14-year-old sister, Halima, are raped. You hear the older boys saying,
(who participated in the discussion and in "there are girls sleeping in a certain place,
an interview), had also stopped attending let's go and find them". But a boy can sleep
the vocational training school during her anywhere, he doesn't have any problem
pregnancy. The discrimination and harass- because he's a boy.'
ment girls experience at school is clearly a
violation of girls' right to education, which, The perception that street girls face a
though not recognised in the gender-blind higher level of vulnerability and risk than
language of the UN Convention on the Rights boys is also found in studies conducted in
of the Child, is addressed explicitly in the Latin America and the Caribbean (Green
1998), and Tanzanian studies on street
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare
children perceived this to be the case
of the Child (ANPPCAN 1999, Article 11:6).
because commercial sex work seemed to be
the only means of income for street girls
Children's vulnerability to (Yamamoto 1996). Indeed, my research
HIV on the street showed that boys had more options
available to them to earn money through
My research with street children suggests casual work in the informal sector, and
that young people - both girls and boys - working in the mining industry, in addition
living on the streets are particularly to the survival strategies used by girls:
vulnerable to HIV infection since they are begging, domestic work, commercial sex
often sexually exploited and abused, may work and stealing. This is linked to the idea
engage in survival sex with adults in return discussed earlier that girls' presence on the
for minimal payment, goods or security, or street subverts gender norms, and young
for intimacy amongst themselves. Male women are forced into commercial sex
clients of sex workers often prefer young work through a lack of alternatives and
women, girls and boys, due to the belief societal sanctions.
mentioned earlier that they are less likely In response to the question, 'What are
to be infected with the HIV virus, and due you afraid of?' a group of former street
to the myth that sex with a virgin can cure girls unanimously expressed their fears
AIDS. Paradoxically, however, young about suffering from AIDS and other
people are more biologically vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, which
becoming infected and their low social and groups of boys did not mention, demons-
economic status places them in a weak trating the girls' retrospective awareness
bargaining position to insist on safer sex. that they were particularly at risk on the
The power imbalance governing relations street. However, the cases of boys treated
between child commercial sex workers and for STDs at the centre where I worked
their clients means that 'children have no show that street boys are also vulnerable to
power to ask for a high fee from adult HIV infection. On one occasion (noted in
Poverty, HIV and education in Tanzania 59

street life. Both boys and girls drew violent

images of figures being attacked and
sexually abused, as illustrated in Figure 2.
However, the young people also drew
positive images of street life, showing
themselves employing survival strategies
to earn money, with humorous captions.
This reveals their resiliency and suggests
that although they are exposed to violence
and hardship on the street, they are not
helpless victims and are able to often
negotiate successfully for food and other
In addition to facing considerable risks
of violence and sexual exploitation in the
street, the young people identified their
lack of access to health care as a major
problem of life on the street. They associated
this with their inability to pay for medical
treatment, demonstrating that the so-called
'cost-sharing' measures in the Tanzanian
Figure 2: Amina's (aged 14) drawing of herself public health service, introduced as part of
on the streets. Top: 'I was begging from this the IMF's structural adjustment policies,
bus'; below left: 'A boy was beating me'; below have devastating consequences for the
right: 'You whore, give me the money you were poorest people at the grass-roots level.
given by that man' (Amina, UCSC shelter, Ennew, however, suggests that street
31/03/00). children's difficulty in accessing medical
care may also be associated with their
my fieldwork diary), an older youth was appearance and the stigma surrounding
attacked when he was found raping a their existence, which can mean that they
younger boy at the bus stand. Many of the are chased away from hospitals and clinics
boys at the centre knew of him, saying 'he (Ennew 1995).
does bad things to us' [phrase used to In response to the question, 'Who would
imply sexual abuse], and 'he persecutes us', you go to/where would you go, if you
testifying that he was a known child were ill?' 40 per cent of the participants
abuser, thus younger boys' vulnerability said that there was no one/nowhere to go,
should not be overlooked. while 27 per cent said they would go to the
Many of the street children interviewed hospital and 13 per cent mentioned a 'street
perceived life on the streets as 'bad' children' project. Some children felt that the
because of the violence, harassment and hospital might treat them, even though
sexual abuse they suffered. In response to they were unable to pay for their treatment:
the question, 'When do you feel safest?'
63 per cent of the participants said that they 7 just go to hospital and ask for help, if they
did not feel safe on the street, and in give me help, yes, if they don't, I just leave.
response to the question, 'When do you feel (Devi, aged 15, UCSC residential centre,
lonely?' 70 per cent said that they were 16/07/00)
lonely in town. Many of the young people's Others felt that there was no point going to
drawings of life on the streets depicted the hospital since they would be refused
violence and other negative aspects of treatment:

7 couldn't go to anyone. There's no one. You employment opportunities were limited to

can go [to the hospital] but they would say domestic work as servants in wealthier
'Pay the money first', or maybe you're households and commercial sex work,
seriously ill and they tell you, 'you should be which both expose them to a high risk of
admitted', when you've got no money for the sexual exploitation and violence. Young
bed.' boys were, however, also vulnerable to
(Amina, aged 14, UCSC shelter, sexual abuse and exploitation within the
09/06/00) street environment. My research suggests
that poverty, HIV/AIDS, gender inequalities
On a later visit, I learned that Amina had and barriers to education are all inter-
initially been refused hospital treatment linked, and severely constrain the ability of
following a dangerous abortion attempt, young people from poor communities to
but had sought help from the UCSC mitigate the risks and impacts of HIV/
project in paying the medical fees for her AIDS.
The children's responses suggest that Policy measures aimed at assisting
there were some options open to them to 'AIDS orphans' should be based on a wider
seek assistance if they became ill or injured definition of 'social orphans', that is,
on the street, although the street environ- children whose parents and guardians are
ment was not conducive to a speedy unable to provide for them, which includes
recovery. Street children's lack of access to other vulnerable children from poor
health care, combined with the fact that communities. This would avoid labelling
they have often missed out on sexual children orphaned by AIDS as 'AIDS orphans'
health education at school, and often suffer due to the stigma and because many other
from other sexually transmitted diseases poor children suffer the same hardships. It
which facilitate HIV transmission, all is generally recognised that compared to
further constrain their ability to protect institutionalisation, community-based care
themselves from HIV infection. for orphans is cost-effective, builds on local
communities' own coping strategies and,
because it keeps children in a familiar
Conclusion social, cultural and ethnic environment,
Parents' and guardians' inability to provide reduces their distress (UNICEF 1999b).
for their children, both economically and Whilst such community-based initiatives
emotionally, has a major influence on are proving the most successful way of
children's decision to leave home, and it is coping with the orphan crisis, they are still
usually compounded by other factors in their infancy and need to be significantly
which trigger the transition to life on the scaled up and replicated in other sub-
street. Children whose parent(s) died from Saharan African countries in order to deal
AIDS, are vulnerable to rejection by with the crisis effectively (UNICEF 1999b).
relatives, due to the AIDS stigma, and are This requires political will and the
susceptible to exploitation and harassment mobilisation of far more resources than are
as domestic servants within the extended currently available.
family or in wealthier households in Non-governmental organisations
urban areas. Young people living on the working with street children should
streets, especially girls and young women, develop services to provide for girls and
are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection young women, integrate gender analysis
themselves, due partly to the fact that their into their work, and remain sensitive to the
presence on the street subverts gender gendered experiences, vulnerabilities and
norms as well as norms of 'childhood', and needs of street girls and boys as identified
Poverty, HIV and education in Tanzania 61

by young people themselves. As well as children. Home visits to some of the

addressing the 'practical' needs of street children's families in the region were
children to mitigate the impacts and also combined with participant obser-
vulnerabilities to HIV/ AIDS, young people's vation and participatory techniques with
'strategic' needs must be addressed in the children, such as drawings and
order to challenge the structural inequalities photographic representation of their
facing them. This includes advocacy to lives on the street.
protect children's, particularly girls', rights 3 In the interests of confidentiality, the
to education, health care, protection from names of the children have been changed.
exploitation, violence and abuse, and rights 4 Translated from Swahili transcripts of
to participate in all decisions affecting tape-recorded semi-structured interviews
them, within the family, community and and focus groups conducted with street
street environment. girls and boys, as part of the fieldwork
detailed above (note 2) (June 2000).
Ruth Evans has worked as a fieldwork
researcher with young people in the UK for the
Social Policy department at the University of
Hull and is continuing her fieldwork with street
ActionAid, ACORD and Save the Children
children in Tanzania for her doctoral thesis in (1997) 'Gender and HIV/AIDS', London:
Gender Studies. Contact: Gender Studies, Save the Children
University of Hull, Hull HU6 2RX. African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and
Neglect (ANPPCAN) (1999) 'African
Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the
Notes Child', Nairobi
1 The term 'street children' is in itself Appleton, J. (2000) '"At my age I should be
problematic, since it sets up a dichotomy sitting under that tree": the impact of
between children who use the street to AIDS on Tanzanian lakeshore communities',
live and work, and 'normal' children Gender and Development, 8 (2): 19-28
who live at home. However, the term is Barnett, T. (1998) 'The epidemic in rural
used here to discuss the particular communities: the relevance of the
situation of children and young people African experience for India', in P. Godwin
who live independently on the street in (ed.) The Looming Epidemic: The Impact of
urban areas, supporting themselves, HIV and AIDS in India, London: Hurst
largely without adult supervision and and Company, 150-70
with little or no family contact. Barnett, T. and A. Whiteside (2002) AIDS in
2 Based on findings from ethnographic the Twenty-First Century: Disease and
research I conducted with street Globalization, Basingstoke: Palgrave
children, whilst working as a volunteer Macmillan
at a centre for street children in northern Bendera, S. (1999) 'Promoting education for
Tanzania during 1999-2000. A child- girls in Tanzania', in C. Heward and
focused participatory methodology was S. Bunwaree (eds.) Gender, Education and
undertaken, paying attention to gender Development: Beyond Access to Empower-
and age differentials. Semi-structured ment, London: Zed Books: 117-32
interviews and focus group discussions Ennew, J. (1995) 'Outside childhood: street
were conducted in Swahili with girls children's rights', in B. Franklin (ed.) The
and boys on the streets and at the centre, Handbook of Children's Rights: Comparative
and with staff at local non-governmental Policy and Practice, London: Routledge:
organisations working with street 201-15

Garcia-Moreno, C. (1991) 'AIDS: women Kuleana Center for Children's Rights (1999)
are not just transmitters', in T. Wallace The State of Education in Tanzania - Crisis
and C. March, Changing Perceptions: and Opportunity, Mwanza
Writings on Gender and Development, Mwakyanjala, T.E. (1996) 'Alcohol and
Oxford: Oxfam Drug Abuse among Street Children in
Godwin, P. (1998) 'Another social develop- Tanzania: the case of Dar es Salaam
ment crisis?', in Godwin (ed.) The Looming region', Alcohol and Drug Information
Epidemic: The Impact of HIV and AIDS in Centre, Tanzania
India: 1-9 Taylor, D.R.F and F. Mackenzie (eds.)
Green, D. (1998) Hidden Lives: Voices of (1992) Development from Within: Survival
Children in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Rural Africa, London: Routledge
London: Save the Children Fund UNICEF (1999a) 'Children in Need of
Karlenza, X.M. (1998) 'Confronting the Special Protection Measures: a Tanzanian
social consequences of AIDS', in Child Case Study', Dar es Salaam: UNICEF
and Youth Care, 16(10), 4-6 UNICEF (1999b) 'Children Orphaned by
Koda, B.O. (1995) 'The economic organisation AIDS: Frontline Responses from Eastern
of the household in contemporary and Southern Africa',
Tanzania', in C. Creighton and C.K. (last checked by author: August 2002)
Omari (eds.) Gender, Family and Yamamoto, R. (1996) 'Street Girls in
Household in Tanzania, Aldershot: Dar es Salaam: a Situation Analysis',
Avebury: 139-55 Dar es Salaam: Africa Education Fund
Koda, B.O. (2000) 'Democratisation of International
social relations at the household level:
the participation of children and youth
in Tanzania', in C. Creighton and
C.K. Omari (eds.) Gender, Family and
Work in Tanzania, Ashgate: 237-65

Gender, poverty, and

vulnerability to HIV/AIDS
Mohga Kamal Smith
This article examines how poverty and inequality increase girls' vulnerability to HIV, and affect the
ability of older women to care for AIDS sufferers. It outlines the responses of health providers and
development organisations to the crisis, and recommends that gender and age analysis be integrated
into health and development policy and practice.

'Poverty is the major assault on humanity.' It briefly outlines institutional responses,

Nelson Mandela, closing speech, and concludes with recommendations for
International Conference on HIV/AIDS, development planners to combine gender
Barcelona 2002 and age analysis in any development or
humanitarian work.
'After the death of her husband, the wife now Women's limited economic options, and
has the problem of looking after the family: relative powerlessness, may force them into
looking for food, paying school fees, and sex work in order to cope with household
finding money for treatment when children economic crisis. This exposes them to HIV
fall sick. A lot of money was spent in infection and they in turn will transmit HIV
treating him. The wife even had to borrow to their clients. Young girls are particularly
money. Now they are in debt.' vulnerable to HIV infection, because of
A woman speaker from Kibaale, Uganda intergenerational sexual relationships,
(Oxfam 1998) violence, and limited access to information.
Migration caused by poverty, as people
HIV /AIDS is one of the major obstacles to leave their homes to find work, can also be
achieving the 2015 development targets in a factor in increased HIV transmission. In
Africa, where it is now the leading cause of some contexts, such as in Southern Africa,
death. This article looks at HIV/AIDS, it is men who migrate, while in others, such
poverty, and gender, and focuses on young as Central America and Nepal, it is women.
girls and old women. It starts with some Migration increases the risk of infection to
basic facts about HIV/AIDS, and then both the partner who leaves, and the
provides a framework for analysing partner who stays behind.
vulnerability to the infection and to its
impact, in relation to gender and age.
against women in the area of human health,
Box 1: HIV/AIDS, gender, and age: basic facts1
and the consequent effects on the socio-
Worldwide, 40 million women, men, and economic structure of society.
children are currently infected with HIV/AIDS
99% of infected people live in developing Vulnerability: girls and older women
countries New studies reveal extremely high levels of
55% of infection in sub-Saharan Africa is infections among young girls, which are
among women higher than those for boys. This is mainly
Infection rate in teenage girls is five times because of the fact that at a young age, boys
higher than in boys in some countries have sex with girls of a similar age, while
AIDS is the largest cause of maternal girls have relations with older men, who
mortality in South Africa (Sidley 2000) are more likely to be infected (Gregson et al.
There are 14 million orphaned girls and boys 2002). Sexual harassment of schoolgirls by
as a result of HIV/AIDS older men contributes to the fact that HIV
Most of the world's poor are women infection in South Africa starts, and AIDS
Poverty is forcing women and girls into peaks, five years earlier in young women
behaviour which increases their risk of
than in young men (Jewkes 1999). Poverty
drives many girls to accept relationships
Caring for the sick is mainly a function of
with 'sugar daddies' (older men who are
prepared to give money, goods or favours
Older women are the main providers for AIDS
orphans in return for sex).
The unequal power relations reflected in
HIV/AIDS, gender, and age such relationships affect adolescent girls'
ability to refuse unsafe sex, and expose
Traditionally, development programmes them to sexually transmitted infections,
have tended to focus on men and women of including HIV/AIDS. Fear of sexual
reproductive age as the prime target for harassment by teachers, which may result
community projects, since, at this age, in unwanted pregnancy, was cited as one of
people are at their peak of economic the factors that induce parents to stop girls'
productivity. However, HIV/AIDS is education (Oxfam GB 1998).
leading to demographic changes as well as In order to avoid infection, some men
changes in the traditional roles and want to have sex with young girls because
responsibilities of different age groups. As as virgins they are free from the infection.
a result, development planners are having The age at which a young girl is likely to be
to re-think their response to poverty and its a virgin is decreasing, resulting in girl
relation to gender inequality. children being subjected to sexual violence.
Gender analysis, in relation to HIV/ There is a prevailing myth in some South
AIDS, has tended to focus on women of African cultures and elsewhere that sex
reproductive age, and occasionally on with a virgin cures HIV /AIDS. It is worth
young girls, because of their role as remembering that in the Dark Ages of
mothers for future generations. The medieval Europe, a similar myth prevailed
HIV/AIDS epidemic has been fuelled by in relation to syphilis and gonorrhoea.
gender inequality. Unequal power relations, Violence against girls has recently been
sexual coercion and violence are wide- recognised as a widespread phenomenon
spread phenomena faced by women of all worldwide. UN agencies such as WHO,
age-groups, and have an array of negative together with NGOs concerned with
effects on female sexual, physical and women's rights and the research
mental health. HIV/AIDS infection reveals community, have been prominent in raising
the disastrous effects of discrimination concerns about this issue (WHO 2000,
Gender and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS 65

Jewkes 2002, Watts and Zimmerman 2002). Older parents of AIDS sufferers are
Violence against women seems to increase sometimes too frightened of the reaction of
in times of conflict and wars. Conflict can their neighbours to disclose that their
cause rapid social change, resulting in large children were sick or died because of
numbers of refugees and displaced women HIV/AIDS.
and men, and the breakdown of social The sexual health needs of young girls,
norms. Rates of coercive sex, sexual as well as older women, are generally
violence, and HIV and STD infection are ignored, since they fall beyond the realm of
magnified and accelerated by conflict. The maternal health and family planning.
scale of violence against young girls during Access to information, and treatment for
conflict situations is not known, but as a other infections which facilitate the
social group they are at particular risk, and transmission of HIV and onset of AIDS,
face not only rape and sexual violence, but including sexually transmitted infections,
also the social rejection and punishment are limited because of weak public health
which often follow. services, health workers' negative attitudes,
There are almost no statistics on the and the high cost of treatment.
prevalence of HIV/AIDS among elderly In many places, people from groups
women and men (UN 2002). This neglect associated with high incidences of HIV
reflects the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, infection - including injecting drug users,
and the denial of the sexual health needs of men who have sex with men, and
older people by the research community, commercial sex workers - are subject to a
including funders and policy makers. The culture of fear and punishment when their
vulnerability of older women with regard HIV status is suspected. In some societies,
to their relative inability to make decisions it is most commonly women who are
about the kind of sex they have (in blamed for transmitting HIV to men. Even
particular, whether condoms are used) has if the husband gets sick and dies first, the
not been widely studied. Neither has the widow could be forced to abandon her
prevalence of sexual violence against older house and land because she is held to be
women. In developing countries, the sexual responsible. The very young and the very
health of older women has been largely old among these groups are particularly
ignored, because reproductive health vulnerable to the impact of stigma and
professionals have historically focused on abuse, since their age means they have less
the maternal role of women, rather than the power to resist.
sexual and reproductive health of women Given the stigma of sexual violence,
who are not of child-bearing age. There is which can be very severe for survivors, and
also an implicit denial of sexual activities women's generally low status and lack of
and hence sexual health needs of older voice in society, it can be difficult for
women in many societies, as if they have women who fear having contracted HIV
finished their reproductive functions once through sexual violence to access
their child-bearing years are at an end. information, let alone demand treatment. It
is possible to reduce the transmission of the
Stigma and its impact on vulnerability HIV virus after exposure to it, by means of
HIV/AIDS still carries with it a huge short-term treatment with antiretroviral
stigma and discrimination. Fear and denial medicines which inhibit the reproduction
are common, particularly in developing of the virus at the early stage of infection.
countries where treatment cannot be Access to the medicines for rape survivors
accessed without huge expense, and testing is not guaranteed in most developing
positive is tantamount to a death sentence. countries. The drugs are very expensive,

even if used for the short period necessary health care, and the ones who care for sick
after exposure to HIV, because of the members of the family who have often
patent rights in many countries. This makes been failed by the health system. Oxfam's
them beyond the means of anyone in research in Uganda showed that men used
poverty. There is strong public pressure in private clinics to treat sexually-transmitted
some countries, for example in South diseases, while women used traditional
Africa, for the government to provide such healers, who may not provide effective
medicines free to rape survivors. treatment (Oxfam 1998).
Developing countries' governments can Growing poverty in many developing
and should use mechanisms to override countries, particularly in sub-Saharan
patent laws and make cheap generic Africa, is exacerbated by the impact of HIV-
medicines available free, or at an affordable related illness on young and middle-aged
cost, for rape survivors as well as others adults in the household, who are normally
infected with HIV. the breadwinners. AIDS-related illnesses
Stigma and vulnerability affects have enormous negative impact on the
particular groups of men as well as women. socio-economic structure of households,
Although men generally have more access communities and societies in general.
to information on sexual issues than Existing gender inequalities are also
women, and more decision-making power exacerbated. The sickness of the main
regarding sexual behaviour, young men breadwinner adds the burden of care to the
may not be able to access information on workload of women. Sooner or later, they
same-sex sex, or have enough power to are likely to become sick themselves.
resist or negotiate sexual relationships with Frequent and long episodes of sickness
older men. This may be the case with deprive the family of their means of
young boys who assist truck drivers on production - for example, they are unable
long journeys, or young offenders in prison. to tend the land. Lack of money because of
At a national level, whole communities inability to work further limits people's
and even political leaders may go to access to health services, and a vicious
great lengths to deny the existence or circle of illness and poverty develops, in
significance of HIV, in order to avoid the which families sell their assets, borrow money
necessity of facing its terrible consequences, and go further down the hill of poverty.
or the costs of mitigation, prevention and Lack of access to health services and
treatment. under-funding of these services prohibit
poor people from accessing other medicines
Vulnerability to the impact which treat infections associated with HIV.
of HIV at household level Treatment of TB, and other opportunistic
infections that occur in the earlier stages of
'I spend most of the time in hospital, HIV infection, can prolong and improve
I cannot do my garden because I have to the quality of life in the absence of costly
attend to the sick patient so we end up antiretrovirals. In order to earn income for
harvesting a little.' the family to pay for treatment, as well as
(Oxfam 1998) to help with the household work and care
Discrimination inhibits people, especially for ill members of the family, children,
women, from revealing their status and especially girls, are pulled out of school. As
taking action to stop further transmission. a last resort to bring in much-needed
The cost of health care deters poor women income, they may adopt risky behaviour,
from treating infections. Young girls and for example exchanging sex for money or
older women are often the last to seek resources.
Gender and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS 67

Figure 1: Impact on the whole household when the male head is infected

Reduced income +
Increased cost Man dies

Girts and boys become earners

Girls become carers
Street children
Girls and boys Grandmothers: caring for sick,
Infected Selling
leave school orphans, Isolated, stigmatised
man assets Poor nutrition

\ t
Women caring Woman sick
Reduced Income and dies
Falling sick New Infections
Increased poverty

Figure 1 summarises the chain of impacts face social stigma if they are suspected of
on a household when a male individual is looking after an HIV-infected person. As
infected. the disease takes hold of their children,
their own social networks may break down,
Looking after the orphans leading to more isolation and begging the
'The orphans are helpless - nobody takes care question 'Who cares for the carers?'
of them.' In some cases, orphaned children do not
(Participant in Oxfam research in Uganda, have relatives to look after them, and have
Oxfam 1998) to fend for themselves or look after each
other. It is not uncommon in epidemic
A major challenge for both the very young areas to have households headed by
and the very old is the huge problem of children. The girl tends to take on the
caring for the orphans left behind after their traditional woman's role of producing food
parents die of AIDS. UNICEF estimates (earning income, or working on the land)
that there are currently 14 million children and caring for other children within the
who have lost their mother and/or father to household. The premature death of their
the epidemic. parents leaves many children without the
Grandmothers often become the primary knowledge or skills they need to make a
carers for these children. Traditionally livelihood. They face the future without
supported by their children, grandmothers education or work training, or the many
are instead becoming burdened with new critical skills they would learn from their
roles including caring for their sick children parents themselves. Many children,
and grandchildren, and bringing up grand- including migrants from rural areas, end
children who are orphaned. This necessitates up in the street, where they are exposed to
that they earn income, and /or work on the risk including drug abuse, sexual abuse,
land to produce food for the family. Often violence and commercial sex. In turn, this
ill-equipped to take on the extra physical way of life makes them susceptible to HIV
burdens of work, older women also have to infection, and increases their poverty.

Institutional responses A solution would be for health and

education sectors to work together to
To date, government and NGO responses develop prevention programmes in schools
to HIV/AIDS have focused mainly on three which enhance awareness of gender
types of work: community mobilisation for inequality among boys and school staff, as
prevention through the promotion of well as girls themselves. Such programmes
fidelity, condom-use and abstinence; need to expand beyond the school
advocacy on access to affordable treat- boundaries, to reach girls and boys who do
ments, targeted at medicine producers and not attend school. This could reduce girls'
international trade bodies; and work to continuing vulnerability to violence,
'mainstream' support to AIDS-affected coercive sex and HIV infection.
individuals and communities into poverty
alleviation work. The link between poverty, Access to affordable treatments
gender inequality and HIV/AIDS has led The health sector in all HIV-affected
institutions of many different kinds - countries, and its donors, needs to acknow-
including government, NGOs of different ledge that access to treatment is a crucial
sizes, United Nations bodies, and develop- element in responding to HIV/AIDS.
ment donors - to talk about mainstreaming Access to affordable treatments provides
gender and HIV/AIDS into development 'hope for the future', as stated by Nelson
and poverty-reduction strategies. Mandela in his closing speech to the
Barcelona conference. As stated earlier,
Strategies for prevention most poor people in developing countries
Campaigns to raise awareness on HIV and are denied treatment because of the high
AIDS have to go beyond the simple prices of medicines and the under-funding
message of using condoms, and address of health services.
deep-rooted gender inequality (Doyal 2001) Advocacy to ensure affordable access to
which exposes women to risks which are antiretrovirals for all pregnant women, to
beyond their control. prevent mother-to-child transmission, has
In prevention strategies, young girls do prompted a number of national programmes
appear as a target group. The education to supply these drugs, for example, in
sector, and schools in particular, are often a Thailand and Botswana. However, beyond
prime target for HIV/AIDS prevention stopping transmission, treatment for
programmes, via sex education and know- mothers does not seem to be on the global
ledge of condom use. However, this policy agenda. Yet such treatment can
approach is defective because of the fact prolong life. Moreover, access to treatment
that many young girls are often not in for mothers would decrease the number of
school. In addition, health education orphans, and enable children to grow up
programmes which aim to empower with parental care. The example of Brazil,
women and girls to use condoms often fail which provides three treatments to those
to tackle the real problems with unequal who need it, demonstrates the cost-
power relations (Kuo et al. 2002). effectiveness of this approach in improving
Significantly, the desired changes in the quality of life and productivity of infected
behaviour of young girls and boys cannot people. In addition to halving the mortality
take place without a programme emphasis from HIV and AIDS, the government has
on the empowerment of girls, so that they managed to decrease the cost of health care
feel able to say no to sexual relations; and a by cutting down on hospitalisation. The net
focus on the obligation of boys, teachers result has been economic gain, as well as
and other adults to respect the human adherence to human rights in terms of access
rights of girls. to medicines and health-care.
Gender and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS 69

Publicising the fact that treatment can development of new methods of agriculture,
prolong life might induce men and women as well as new methods of community
to submit to voluntary testing and outreach. For example, shifting to labour-
counselling, and might change their saving techniques would enable the old
behaviour to reduce the risk for themselves and the young to farm.
and for others. For example, awareness/ The education sector needs to respond
prevention programmes, which include to the fact that children, particularly girls,
treatment, may stop older men from sexual are even less likely than before the HIV/
violence against young virgin girls and AIDS epidemic to be able to stay in school
infants as they will know they can get long enough to acquire skills for the future.
properly treated. The Barcelona conference Flexibility within schools can allow for
emphasised beyond doubt that prevention girls to combine their education with
and treatment are crucial elements of one looking after younger siblings, and other
strategy in the response to HIV/AIDS. reproductive activities. Schools could also
Prevention efforts without treatment cause provide skills training in addition to
death, increase stigma, and hence increase conventional education to help alleviate the
transmission. On the other hand, treatment impact of HIV/AIDS.
without emphasis on prevention can lead Development organisations also have to
to risky behaviour; evidence for this is look at the impact of HIV/AIDS on their
emerging in some developed countries. own sustainability and survival. Whether
UNAIDS and other concerned groups the institution is a government department
working on HIV/AIDS, including many at the district or national level, or an NGO,
NGOs, are advocating for a continuum of or a donor agency, it faces HIV/AIDS as an
care approach which covers prevention, employer. Organisations must address staff
treatment, care and support for those problems such as sickness, absenteeism,
infected and affected by the epidemic. Such high cost of treatment, low production, and
an approach provides a coherent and effective the impact of stigma and ostracism on staff,
response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. which may be worse for women.

'Mainstreaming' support to HIV-affected

people Conclusion
Mainstreaming is a process by which the In many developing countries, poverty,
institutional capacity to deal with HIV/ and inequality between women and men
AIDS epidemic is enhanced, so that the are both strongly linked to the spread of
impact of the epidemic on the populations HIV/AIDS. Gender and age analysis shows
with whom they work can be mitigated. the ways in which women and girls of
Institutional policies and programmes various ages are vulnerable to the infection,
have to develop responses to the impact of and in need of support to overcome the
HIV/AIDS on the development process, economic and social effects of the epidemic.
bearing in mind the demographic changes More females than males are newly
which result from AIDS-related sickness infected every day, and are likely to
and death. For example, agricultural contract HIV and fall sick with AIDS at a
extension programmes have traditionally younger age than men. Factors such as
trained men or women farmers of repro- poverty and violence are responsible, with
ductive age. In the era of HIV and AIDS, poverty leading women into unsafe sexual
these programmes have to go out of their encounters, and sexual violence against
way to encourage the participation of the women and girls being aggravated in
very young and the very old, and respond societies where high instability or conflict
to their needs. This may necessitate the exists. In responding to HIV/AIDS,

poverty alleviation strategies must take Notes

into account these interrelated factors that
contribute to the epidemic, and health and 1 Except where indicated, all figures in
development workers need to work on this box are from 2001 UNAIDS report.
holistic policies and programmes.
At the other end of the age spectrum, References
the burden of caring for the sick and
orphans is gradually falling on grand- Doyal, L. (2001) 'Sex, gender, and health:
mothers, who are not socially supported to need for a new approach', British Medical
carry this load. Many of them are not Journal, 322: 685-6
physically fit enough to care for themselves Gregson, S., C.A. Nyamukapa, G. Garnett,
and their young dependants, and some of P. Mason, T. Zhuwau, M. Carael,
them will have HIV themselves. Neither S.K. Chandiwana, R. Anderson (2002)
the sexual health of older women, nor their 'Sexual mixing patterns and six differentials
socio-economic needs as family carers, tend in teenage exporter to HIV infection in
to figure in HIV prevention or poverty- rural Zimbabwe', The Lancet, 359:1896-1903
alleviation programmes. Jewkes, R. (1999) 'The Impact of Violence
Development agencies and policy- against Women on Sexual and
makers have not yet fully taken into Reproductive Health',
account the demographic changes of HIV resource / gbv / chogm99 /jewkes.html
and AIDS, although there is a growing (last checked by author 26 July 2001)
awareness of the critical need to do this. Jewkes, R. (2002) 'Intimate partner violence:
Combined gender and age analysis is a causes and prevention', The Lancet, 359:
necessary step to help development agencies 1423-9
and institutions to design policies and Kuo, N., T. Lindsay, P. Rai, P. Reddy (2002)
programmes which decrease vulnerability 'Evaluating Information, Education and
to the epidemic, and mitigate its impact on Communication Approaches and
health and livelihoods. Reviewing Knowledge, Attitudes and
The Barcelona conference mobilised Beliefs on AIDS', Joint LSE and Oxfam
political commitment at a high level to project. Forthcoming on Oxfam website:
tackle HIV/AIDS in a comprehensive way. / aids
The continuum of care approach needs
Oxfam GB (1998) 'Access to Basic Health
commitment and enough funds to provide
and Education Research in Uganda'.
prevention, treatment and care for infected
Unpublished policy paper
and affected people. Strategies to decrease
gender inequality and to address the different Sidley, P. (2000) 'AIDS is largest cause of
needs of the diverse groups infected and maternal deaths in South Africa', British
affected by HIV/AIDS are urgently needed. Medical Journal, 321:1434
The donor community is urged to provide Watts, C. and C. Zimmerman (2002)
the massive funding needed to address 'Violence against women: global scope
HIV/AIDS. Governments of developing and magnitude', The Lancet, 359:1232-7
countries are also urged to make political WHO (2000)
and funding commitments to mobilise a .html (last checked by author 10/09/02)
wide response to the epidemic. United Nations (2002) 'Ethiopia: Focus on
AIDS and the Elderly', UN Office for the
Dr Mohga Kamal Smith is Health Policy Adviser Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs,
for Oxfam. Policy Department, 274 Banbury Integrated Regional Information
Road, Oxford OX2 7DZ. Network (IRIN), (last checked by author 23/01/02)

Resisting austerity:
a gendered perspective on neo-liberal
restructuring in Peru
Maureen Hays-Mitchell
Since the early 1980s, development in Latin America has been defined by neo-liberal restructuring in
response to the region's precarious debt. This paper examines the distinctly gendered impact of
structural adjustment by analysing, first, the changing status of women's lives under neo-liberal
reform and, second, their efforts to mitigate the deteriorating status of their households.
The formation of community kitchens and village banks by women in shanty towns surrounding
Lima offer examples of grassroots organisation to ensure collective survival and development.
Such efforts constitute acts of resistance to neo-liberal restructuring and, hence, are part of a broader
movement of resistance to neo-liberalism as a prescription for economic recovery and development.

indeed resist - the deteriorating status of

eru's economy is considered by some
to be a structural adjustment success their households.
story. Since regaining status within To understand how vulnerable popu-
the international development community lations in Peru manage poverty, it is
by adopting a stringent program of necessary to appreciate the relationship
stabilisation and structural adjustment in between structural adjustment and the
late 1990, its economy has expanded and feminisation of poverty and community
political violence has diminished. In 1994, management. I analyse two distinct examples
Peru's was the most rapidly growing of women's collective, grassroots efforts
economy in the world. Despite this, more within their communities in Lima, Peru,
than half its national population was living to confront the effects of poverty caused by
- and continues to live - in a state of restructuring. One example, the formation
poverty. of community kitchens, embodies a coping
Although neo-liberal reform has exacted strategy for collective survival. The other,
a heavy toll on broad swathes of Peruvian the establishment of community banks,
society, no segment of society has been as constitutes a coping strategy for collective
severely affected as that of low-income development. Women's collective organi-
women. Moreover, low-income women sation is interesting for two reasons. As we
are often credited with offsetting the will see, the most vulnerable populations of
debilitating effects of structural adjustment Peru frequently converge in the lives - and
through their collective survival strategies. homes - of low-income women, as their
Hence, in this paper I will examine not only households commonly include elderly and
the changing status of women's lives under youthful dependants. Moreover, the coping
neo-liberal restructuring, but their diverse strategies of low-income women do much
responses and efforts to ameliorate - to mitigate the impact of neo-liberal reform

on Peru's other 'vulnerables'; that is, their Neo-liberal restructuring in

activities provide sustenance - nutritional Peru: 1980 to present
and/or financial - for large segments of the
urban poor. Since 1980, structural adjustment has
This analysis builds on an emerging passed through three distinct phases in
body of feminist scholarship whose method- Peru. Although this article focuses on the
ologies provide a more gender-aware impact of the third phase (that is, 1990 to
economics, while they reveal broader the present), it is important to understand
dimensions of women's resistance to their the context from which it emerged.
subordinate status than previously Each programme has proved increasingly
recognised (Bakker 1994; Elson 1995). For far-reaching, severe, and debilitating in
instance, Aptheker contends that since its impact. The first was initiated in 1980
much resistance is based on the need to by the right-wing government of Victor
Belaunde Terry, as part of an agreement
survive, the act of survival itself is a form of
made under international pressure to
resistance and '[t]o see women's resistance
service foreign debt and control inflation.
is to also see the accumulated effects of
Its results were unimpressive. When
daily, arduous, creative, sometimes ingenious
Belaunde left office in 1985, economic
labours, performed over time, sometimes
conditions had deteriorated further. In 1985,
over generations' (Aptheker 1989, 173-4).
populist president Alan Garcia Perez
It is possible to see how the daily 'survival' launched an alternative structural adjust-
activities of poor urban women represent, ment program, known as 'unorthodox
in the words of Eckstein, 'different traditions adjustment'. Because it imposed a ceiling
of protest' to the market and state forces on foreign debt service, Peru was ostracised
that have made their lives increasingly from the international financial community
difficult (Eckstein 1986,10-11). for deviating from IMF-prescribed
Accordingly, I suggest that the collective restructuring policies. By mid-1987, the
struggles of low-income urban women in programme proved unsustainable as the
Peru contribute to a growing social move- economy collapsed. By 1990, the eve of the
ment - that is, a broad-based and increasingly third phase of structural adjustment, Peru
heterogeneous movement of resistance to had experienced one of the 'most rapid and
neo-liberal restructuring. As such, low- severe peace-time deteriorations of living
income women of Peru join other groups standards ever recorded' (Glewwe and Hall
throughout Latin American civil society 1992, 7).
who are actively calling into question the Despite campaign promises not to
presumption of a 'neo-liberal consolidation' institute IMF-style structural adjustments,
as well as exposing the fallacy of the neo- newly elected president Alberto Fujimori
liberal philosophy and prescription of did precisely that within two weeks of his
economic recovery (Petras 1997). This inauguration. Ostensibly, the programme's
discussion represents one component of an immediate goals were to stabilise the
ongoing investigation into the gendered Peruvian economy and halt inflation, as
dimensions of capitalist development and well as to 'reinsert' Peru into the
economic restructuring in Latin America. international financial community. On
The article is based on fieldwork that I August 8 1990, the Peruvian populace
conducted in 1993, 1994, 1997 and 2001, awakened to what has become known as
which itself is the outgrowth of a national- 'Fujishock'. Overnight, the price of critical
level investigation of urban poverty and goods and services soared. Gasoline prices
informal sector employment that I rose by 3,000 per cent; water and telephone
conducted between 1985 and 1988. by 1,300 per cent; electricity by 5,300
Neo-liberal restructuring in Peru 73

per cent (Webb and Ferndndez-Baca 1993, state of expansion; inflation and unemploy-
473). Food subsidies were withdrawn, and ment were low; political violence had
the price of bread increased by more than diminished dramatically. However, this
4,000 per cent (Webb and Ferndndez-Baca proved to be only a respite, as the windfall
1993, 471). Sales taxes increased signifi- from the privatisation of state entities came
cantly. The initial impact was devastating, to an end.
for the poor and middle classes alike. In the Currently, the Peruvian economy is in
month of August alone, inflation rose by deep recession. Debt and debt service
400 per cent, and real wages declined by remain high, underemployment exceeds
more than 50 per cent (Webb and Ferndndez- 40 per cent of the economically active
Baca 1993, 149). In 1990 in general, real population, the distribution of income is
wages were less than a third of what they highly skewed, and more than half the
had been in 1980; real GDP per capita national population subsists in poverty
dropped to 1960 levels; underemployment (World Bank 2001). Although political
exceeded 80 per cent, with only 10 per cent violence has abated significantly, much of
of the labour force considered adequately the population fears its imminent return.
employed (Webb and Ferndndez-Baca 1993, Growing disillusionment with President
176). Fujimori and growing anxiety in general
Severe economic recession and endemic climaxed in November 2000, with the
poverty has ensued. By 1994, 59 per cent of sudden resignation and flight of Fujimori
the national population was living in amid mounting evidence of corruption.
poverty; poverty among women was even
higher (Webb 1997, 64). The incidence of
serious disease was on the rise, and
The impact of neo-liberal
diseases of poverty (that is, related to poor restructuring on women
living conditions and inadequate nutrition), The austerity measures and ongoing
such as typhoid fever and hepatitis, were political violence that accompanied the
endemic. Tuberculosis, malaria and yellow most recent and stringent structural
fever were escalating. The most serious adjustment programme have yielded
outbreak of cholera to occur in the debilitating consequences not only for low-
hemisphere in this century began in a income and middle-income families in
shanty town outside Lima in 1991. Mean- general, but also particularly for women in
while, political violence was escalating disproportionate, gender-specific and
rapidly. Peru had been embroiled in a civil multi-dimensional ways. The majority of
war since 1984. By the early 1990s it had those affected by poverty and violence in
turned excessively brutal. By 1993, more Peru are women and their dependent
than 27,000 lives had been lost - the children (Tanski 1994).
majority among poor civilians (IPEDEHP Peru's economic collapse, and political
1999). Forty per cent of national territory near-collapse, set off a new wave of
was designated as an emergency zone, and migration from the rural highlands to the
parts of Lima were under siege. Life urban coast. In contrast to earlier migrants,
everywhere assumed a heightened sense of these were poorly-educated, highly
insecurity. traumatised, and more impoverished.
When assessed in macro-economic Many were monolingual Quechua speakers
terms, Fujimori's structural adjustment who held, at best, a minimal command of
programme is considered a success within Spanish. Women, children and elderly
international financial policy circles. By the persons predominated among this
mid-1990s, the Peruvian economy was in a population of internally displaced people.

Most sought refuge in the shanty towns feminist analysis suggests that it is the
(asentimientos humanos) surrounding Lima - outcome of gender bias inherent in the
which nearly doubled in size from the mid- planning and implementation of structural
1980s to mid-1990s (from seven million adjustment policies. The reductions in
people to approximately twelve million) - social expenditures and the gendered
and other major cities. There, they were inequities in both the labour market and
stigmatised as cholos/as (indigenous persons the distribution of development resources,
of rural origin) and, with few resources which are both results of neo-liberal
upon which to draw, they encountered reform, work together to affect poor
significant difficulty not only in finding women in disproportionate and
employment but, in many cases, in simply debilitating ways (Stahl 1996). Under
meeting their own basic needs. structural adjustment policies, the
The prevailing economic and social economic sectors in which poor women
policies aggravated conditions of mal- predominate tend to be bypassed for
nutrition, disease, hostility and danger for development, at once depressing their
displaced, as well as newly-impoverished, income-earning capacity while increasing
families seeking shelter in the crowded, the time expended and activities
under-serviced, and insecure shanty towns undertaken to meet basic needs. Further-
surrounding cities such as Lima. Poor more, structural adjustment policies fail to
urban women, whether single-heads or co- consider women's unpaid work (and the
heads of households, have seen their resources required to discharge that work)
purchasing power as food providers as well as the correlation between women's
deteriorate as adjustment policies have occupational subordination and gender
reduced wages, eliminated food subsidies, relations within societies such as Peru
and inflated prices. Cutbacks in public (Elson 1995; Moser 1989).
expenditures in health care and education In essence, neo-liberal restructuring is
have led to diminished care and training premised on women's unpaid labour as
for poor women and their families, while well as the existing unequal division of
increasing their burden as the primary roles, responsibilities, and rights between
health-care providers and educators within men and women within underdeveloped
families and communities. When attempting societies (Bakker 1994; O'Connell 1996).
to fill the vacuum created by state retrench- Not only does neo-liberal restructuring
ment from the provision of critical perpetuate and exacerbate such conditions,
social-services, women's community groups it also presumes that the time and effort
frequently found themselves trapped that women expend in unwaged work
between competing forces, as both state- within the home, community, and work-
military and rebel bands pressured, intimi- place are unproblematically available and
dated, attacked, and even assassinated inexhaustible (Moser 1989). The implications
leaders of community-based associations. are complex and far-reaching. By minimising
As women have been increasingly forced to the value of tasks necessary for social
balance greater amounts of wage work reproduction, a pattern of production
with higher levels of domestic production based on the exploitation of the socio-
and community management in order to economic vulnerabilities of low-income
meet household needs, not only has their women is promoted, ultimately leading to
triple burden intensified, but they have increased levels of poverty (Moser 1989).
brought heightened levels of risk into their And, by constraining the economic
daily lives. opportunities available to poor urban
Seeking to explain women's gender- women while expanding the reproductive
specific experience of neo-liberal restructuring, tasks for which they are responsible,
Neo-liberal restructuring in Peru 75

structural adjustment limits the contribution transfer of welfare responsibilities to the

of poor women to the process of develop- community level at a time of extreme fiscal
ment. As suggested by Kuenyehia, women austerity and civil upheaval.
in a country such as Peru suffer a double
injury. As citizens of the South, they suffer Los comedores populates (communal
structural adjustment; as women, they kitchens)
suffer the structural discrimination inherent Peru's social crisis has assumed many
in structural adjustment (Kuenyehia 1994). forms, perhaps none more compelling than
Because of women's unique social role, that of food consumption and distribution.
however, the double injury of neo-liberal The economic crisis of the early 1980s,
reform extends insidiously to all of society. associated with Peru's early structural
adjustment programs, brought a rise in the
incidence of malnutrition and hunger,
Women's responses to neo- especially within the poorest neighbour-
liberal reform: examples of hoods of Lima where significant numbers
collective activism of rural migrants resided. In reaction to
this, a network of communal kitchens
Women throughout Latin America, and (comedores populares), organised and
especially Peru, share a rich heritage, operated by local women who pooled their
grounded in pre-colonial practices, of human and material resources to feed their
addressing a wide range of interests and families, began to take shape. The majority
needs through collective organisation. The of participants were middle-aged women
past two decades have witnessed the migrants, most escaping poverty and
proliferation of women's collective organi- violence in their rural communities.
sation, both across the political spectrum However, the intense economic reforms
and independent of it. Most recently, in and unprecedented levels of violence that
response to political crisis and economic followed the 'Fujishock' of August 1990
restructuring, poor urban women have infused new forms of poverty into Lima.
mobilised in community activism - often Thousands of younger and newly impover-
framed as protest against state inadequacies ished Limenos turned to the comedores for
- as a strategy for family and household sustenance. By the mid-1990s, approximately
survival. In this way, women's organi- two thousand comedores populares, each run
sations often take the lead in pointing out by 20 to 30 local women, were operating in
the inequitable impacts of state develop- metropolitan Lima, and approximately two
ment policies on local political, economic hundred thousand people were being fed
and family structures, as well as in making daily (Lind and Farmelo 1996, 17-18). The
connections between global development numbers continue to rise. The character of
and everyday life (Benerfa 1989). Under the comedores has changed apace with the
neo-liberal reform, support for social economic and political circumstances of
services and community organisations has Peru. Today, younger women, many of
disappeared at a time when economic whom have spent their lifetime in Lima,
circumstances are more difficult than ever. have established comedores in their own
Rather than demand non-existent social communities. Regardless, the mission has
benefits from the state, women have remained the same - to ensure minimal
designed independent solutions based on nutritional sustenance for the families of
their own meagre resources. Throughout local people.
Peru, women's grassroots organisations The rise and proliferation of comedores
provide examples of how women have populares provides an example of how poor
responded collectively to the hidden urban women in Peru have developed a

strong activist network to ensure collective grounded, but also the gendered inequities
survival. While the struggle for survival is that underpin both structural adjustment
a key motivating factor for many women to and their own society.
establish comedores populares, the institutions In engaging and mobilising poor urban
themselves play a broader role within women, such as these, into collective
many poor neighbourhoods. For example, activism, neo-liberalism may have achieved
comedores populares have become an acceptedthe unanticipated result of institutional-
venue to raise awareness about other ising what were once viewed as isolated
community issues. For example, community and temporary strategies to cope with
organisations such as those that monitor momentary crisis (Alvarez 1996). As the
domestic violence and violations of civil crucial role that comedores populares play in
liberties, as well as those designed to foster community survival becomes more visible,
occupational skills, political literacy and they become vulnerable to political
family health, typically meet in comedores exploitation. The concerted resolve and
populares. Clearly, they provide an important determination of members to maintain the
political and social base for members to political autonomy of the comedores - in the
debate community and national issues. In face of extreme fiscal austerity - is
speaking with women activists affiliated testimony to the degree of resistance that
with the comedores, it is clear that they are their efforts entail, and highlights the need
aware of the relevance to their lives of for more adequate, equitable, and non-
national and global economic processes. partisan distribution of social welfare in
They demonstrate a striking awareness of general.
their roles in social reproduction as well as Irrespective of this, the mere survival of
in community and civic action. Their the comedores is premised on volunteer
activism has transformed members' participation which, in addition to an
understandings of the value of domestic already strenuous workload, impinges
labour, as well as the understanding within enormously on the time that women are
the broader community of the shared costs able to expend on jobs and family. More-
of reproduction. Even the poorest members, over, policies and projects that support
once collectively organised, tend to comedores often exacerbate the problem.
question the basic social relations and They expand the reproductive tasks for
structural inequities (e.g. class, gender, which women are responsible, assume that
neo-liberal austerity, political violence) that women have expendable time and energy
shape and constrain their daily lives (Barrig to participate in social reproduction, and
1996; Lind and Farmelo 1996). Hence, this leave unexamined women's unequal
experience of collective survival demonstrates burdens in community food provision.
Aptheker's point that the act of survival They (like neo-liberalism in general) are
itself can become a form of resistance premised on the socio-economic vulner-
(Aptheker 1989). abilities of poor urban women.
The efforts of low-income women to It is important to note that, while neo-
address issues of poverty associated with liberal development frameworks either do
food consumption and distribution, expose not account for gender relations, or assume
the inadequacies of the Peruvian state to that women have indefinite time to
provide for its most vulnerable members as participate in volunteer-based community
well as the contradictions that neo-liberal groups, some policymakers express
reform places upon the lives of the poor. concern that economic recession results in
The experience further prods participating an extended workday for women. Notwith-
women not only to challenge the basic standing, as Moser's research with poor
beliefs on which neo-liberal reform is women in Guayaquil illustrates, the true
Neo-liberal restructuring in Peru 77

problem is not necessarily the length of is measured in neo-liberal terms of capital

time that women work, but rather, how accumulation and employment creation.
women balance their time between repro- Criteria for acceptance into most
ductive, productive, and community- programmes correspond to a 'male
management roles (i.e., their 'triple shift') template'. Typically, participants are
(Moser 1989). Moser identifies three types expected to be involved in relatively
of poor women: those coping, those lucrative lines of work, employ non-family
hanging on, and those burnt out. And she workers, hold the potential to expand and
cautions, 'Not all women can cope under be profitable, and have previous business
crisis and it is vital that the romantic myth experience.
of their infinite capacity to do so be The majority of women informal
debunked' (Moser 1989, 153). As long as workers, especially the poorest, do not
neo-liberal restructuring is premised on typically fit these criteria. When admin-
women's unpaid labour, especially in istrators of micro-enterprise development
community management activities such as programmes are asked why they neglect
the comedores populares of Peru, Moser's the types of activities in which low-income
admonition is prescient; 'burn out' among women predominate, despite compelling
poor women is a very real possibility - international data that support the 'credit-
or inevitability. worthiness' of poor women (e.g. Grameen
Bank and similar projects), their responses
Los bancos comtnunitarios betray the gender bias inherent in neo-
As the economic and social crisis has liberal development. They explain that the
progressed, women's participation within purpose of their programs is to foster
the paid workforce (in both the formal and business development not poverty
informal sectors) has increased more alleviation, implying not only that the work
rapidly than men's participation. It is of low-income women is limited to
characterised by employment relations and immediate survival, but that it is devoid of
work conditions that place them at the potential to contribute meaningfully to the
bottom of the occupational hierarchy. Their development of society.
occupations tend to be gender-segregated Accordingly, throughout the asenimientos
and poorly remunerated, as they pre- humanos of Peru's major cities, some
dominate in such activities as street- women are creating their own business-
vending, domestic service, industrial home- development programmes, in the form of
working, food preparation, and repetitious community or village banks. Typically, a
manual production. Most occupations fall village bank coalesces around a pre-
within the informal sector. Not only do existing collective of women, such as a dub
women comprise approximately 40 per cent de madres (mothers' club), a comedor popular,
of the informal sector in Peru (Webb 1998), a street vendors' union, or an informal
but their occupations - whether considered credit co-operative. Once formed, its
informal or formal - are among the least members seek sponsorship from a local or
well supplied with financial capital. Most intermediate NGO that is cognisant not
credit-extension programmes that are only of the biases low-income women
designed to support small-scale, informal encounter in accessing finance capital but
businesses exclude women. Under neo- also of the high potential for success -
liberal capitalism, development programmes measured in both economic and social
operate in an environment of diminishing terms - that women's small-scale
financial support and heightened demand businesses possess.
for accountability. They are pressured to The relatively few gender-informed
target 'credit-worthy' clients whose success micro-enterprise development programmes

that exist use feminist methods. To communities through collective organi-

overcome resistance from male members of sation. They also acquire a mutual support
the family, most include the entire family system that allows them to establish
in training sessions. They address the need relationships outside the family, to
to access working capital on non- recognise that their problems extend
exploitative terms, while also imparting the beyond their own households, and to seek
resources and skills that enable poor solutions collectively. Fourth, capital
women to enter the job market, leave formation among working women can
unfavourable employment arrangements, affect the physical appearance of com-
develop existing businesses, and/or switch munities as homes are upgraded, new
to more lucrative lines of work. In short, businesses opened, and community
they offer poor urban women the oppor- facilities improved. Since development
tunity to exert greater control over their resources are commonly channelled
own labour, which translates into greater through established organisations, such as
control over their own lives. women's village banks, community-based
The experiences of six micro-enterprise activities and projects often spring from the
development programmes that cater to collective organisations. And women who
poor urban women suggest not only that participate in village banks commonly
they have enabled women to develop assume leadership roles within their
viable business endeavours, but also that communities, thereby bringing an alter-
their gendered methodologies have opened native perspective to community affairs.
a space for women to nurture the skills Despite the successes of this example of
necessary to challenge and resist the collective development, we must ask why
difficulties associated with structural should poor urban women, such as these,
adjustment.1 The benefit of supporting the be forced to take development into their
small-scale business ventures of poor own hands? In other words, why are they
women in Peru can be measured in four denied equal access to development
interrelated ways: the physical well-being resources when the benefits are so obvious?
of individual women and their families, The answer, of course, lies in the gender
women's self-perception, the collective bias inherent in neo-liberal restructuring
consciousness of women, and community that is identified earlier in the discussion.
welfare (Hays-Mitchell 2000). Development is conceptualised in narrowly
First, improving a woman's income- defined economistic terms and measured
earning capacity enhances her ability to according to masculinist criteria. The
make short and long-term investments in economic opportunities available to women
her professional and personal lives. It in general are constrained, women's access
allows for improved nutrition, clothing and to productive resources in particular is
education for herself and her children, limited, and the opportunity of women to
investment in upgraded housing conditions, participate fully in the process of develop-
and reinvestment in her own (and often her ment is denied. Neo-liberal restructuring
spouse's) business. Second, a woman's not only limits the contribution of poor
changing self-perception enables her to women to the process of development
exert greater control over decisions within their own societies, but, as I have
affecting fertility and income expenditure, argued elsewhere, it also constitutes a
to bring pressure to bear more ably within violation of the basic human right of
the household and at the workplace, and to women to development as set forth in the
acquire a clearer sense of her rights. Third, 1986 United Nations Declaration of the
women claim they can accomplish more for Right to Development (Hays-Mitchell
themselves, their families, and their 2000).
Neo-liberal restructuring in Peru 79

Making the decision to participate in a In this vein, the various and diverse
micro-enterprise development programme collective struggles of women throughout
constitutes a strategy of defiance and/or Peru's poorest communities underscore the
resistance that is rooted in the everyday inequitable burden of state development
experience of poor urban women. The policies as well as the connection between
experiences of women who participate in global economic processes and everyday
such programmes indicate that the few life.
programmes that respond to the needs and As much as comedores populares and
aspirations of participating women help bancos communitarios provide a powerful
them confront and cope with the debili- example of women's community action,
tating effects of neo-liberal restructuring they also constitute an important part of a
(Hays-Mitchell 1999 and 2002). The broader popular women's movement in
experience of poor urban women taking Peru, and ultimately of a growing move-
collective development into their own ment of resistance to the neo-liberal
hands, together with the particular economic order throughout the region.
methodologies of gender-informed micro- Women's collective organisation should
enterprise development programmes, not be interpreted as a solution to, but
allows women to nurture the skills and rather as a symptom of, a powerful systemic
strategies necessary to challenge their crisis that is rooted in the unsustainability
exclusion from the benefits of neo-liberal of the neo-liberal order. It is the inherent
reform. In this way, their experience in contradiction of neo-liberal restructuring
collective development further illustrates that has made necessary the collective
the point that the act of survival itself can activism of poor urban women in Peru, just
become a form of resistance. Similar to the as it has set in motion the heterogeneous,
experience of their sisters struggling to broad-based movement of resistance to
ensure collective survival through which their collective activism contributes.
comedores populares, this experience in
The architects and advocates of neo-
collective development illustrates that poor
liberal reform anticipated that poverty
urban women in Peru are developing
would worsen as a consequence of
strong activist networks that challenge,
structural adjustment (Ramos 1997). It was
resist, and undermine the very premise of
not anticipated that the experience would
neo-liberal reform.
embolden the collective consciousness of
those most negatively affected by it. It is
tempting to seek solace, even inspiration, in
Conclusion the struggles of poor urban women to
The experiences of poor urban women in ensure collective survival and development
Peru illustrate, first, that the impact of neo- within their beleaguered communities, as
liberal restructuring has been decidedly well as in the optimism generated by such
negative for the most vulnerable sectors of unifying events as international conferences
Peruvian society and, second, that these in celebration of the efforts of poor women.
sectors have managed their changing We must, however, not lose sight of the
circumstances in ways that are at once issue at hand: How is it that such actions
innovative, exhausting, precarious, and and events have become necessary, even
even empowering. Chandra Mohanty has institutionalised? At the heart of this
argued that the collective efforts of women question is a challenge about what we, as a
to resist, challenge, and subvert repressive global society, value and the direction in
practices reveal that they are not passive which our world is evolving. As the narrow
victims of structural forces but rather benefits, inherent contradictions, and sheer
active agents of change (Mohanty 1991). fallacy of neo-liberal development are

brought into focus, we encounter the Bakker, I. (ed.) (1994) The Strategic Silence:
opportunity to conceive of an alternative Gender and Economic Policy, Ottawa:
model of development. Clearly, problems North-South Institute
associated with the type of poverty Barrig, M. (1986) 'Democracia emergente y
addressed in this analysis - problems of movimiento de mujeres', in E. Ballon
nutrition, health, education, housing, (ed.) Movimientos Sociales y Democracia:
employment, personal security, civil La Fundacion de un Nuevo Orden, Lima:
liberties, and human rights - are not DESCO
exclusively women's problems. Therefore, Barrig, M. (1996) 'Women, collective
invoking women's collective organisation kitchens and the crisis of the state in
as a solution is disingenuous. Instead, these Peru', in J. Friedmann et al. (eds.)
poverty-related problems are structural Emergences: Women's Struggles for
problems that, if not caused by neo- Livelihood in Latin America
liberalism, have been exacerbated by its Benerfa, L. (1989) 'Gender and the global
social, economic and political failures. economy', in A. MacEwen and W. Tabb
As we struggle to conceive of an alternative (eds.) Instability and Change in the World
socio-economic model of development, we Economy, New York: Monthly Review
must remain mindful not only of this, Press
but of the imperative to place at its core the Eckstein, S. (1986) Power and Popular Protest:
needs and interests of ordinary people, as Latin American Social Movements,
well as the human dignity and self-worth Berkeley: University of California Press
of society's most vulnerable. Elson, D. (ed.) (1995) Male Bias in the
Development Process, second edition,
Maureen Hays-Mitchell works at the Manchester: Manchester University
Department of Geography, Colgate University,Press
Hamilton, Neiv York 13346, USA. Glewwe, P., and G. Hall (1992) Poverty and
Tel: 315/228-7521; fax 315/228-7726. Inequality during Unorthodox Adjustment: The Case of Peru, 1985-1990, New York:
World Bank
Notes Hays-Mitchell, M (1999) 'From survivor to
entrepreneur: gendered dimensions of
1 This analysis is drawn from case studies micro enterprise development in Peru',
of micro-enterprise development Environment and Planning A: International
projects sponsored by Care-Peru; Finca- Journal of Urban and Regional Research 31:
Peru; Catholic Relief Services, Peru; 251-71
Acci6n Communitaria; Peru-Mujer; and Hays-Mitchell, M. (2000) 'Gender, informal
La Casa de Manuela Ramos. employment and the right to productive
resources: the human rights implications
References of micro enterprise development in
Latin America', in T. Fenster (ed.)
Alvarez, S. (1996) '"Redrawing" the Gender, Planning and Human Rights:
parameters of gender struggle', in The Fragilities of Equality and Difference in
}. Friedmann et al. (eds.) Emergences: Planning and Development for Multi-
Women's Struggles for Livelihood in Latin Cultured Societies, London: Routledge
America, Los Angeles: University of Hays-Mitchell, M. (2002) 'Globalization at
California at Los Angeles, Latin American the urban margin: gender and resistance
Studies Center in the informal sector of Peru', in J. Short
Aptheker, B. (1989) Tapestries of Life, Amherst, and R. Grant (eds.) Globalization at the
MA: University of Massachusetts Press Margin, New York: Macmillan
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'Weaving Ties of Trust and Commitment reforms in Latin America: the current
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in Peru', Lima: IPEDEHP Stahl, K. (1996) 'Anti-poverty programs:
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Urban Social Movements: Women's Cucinto
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liberalism in Latin America', Latin

Gender budget
what's in It for NGOs?
Debbie Budlender
Over the last seven years, there has been increasing interest in gender budget work worldiuide.
Over 50 countries have had gender budget initiatives of one sort or another. There are, hoivever, big
differences between the initiatives in different countries. In particular, in some cases the initiatives
have been located inside government; in other cases in Parliament; and in yet others within civil
society. This article discusses what gender budgets entail, and why non-governmental organisations
(NGOs) might be interested in engaging in them.

What is gender budget the service offered to each group as

work? described in the first step.
Third, you examine the budget to see
Gender budget work focuses on the impact
whether sufficient money has been
of government budgets on women and men,
allocated to implement effectively the
girls and boys, and different sub-groups of
gender-sensitive policies and pro-
women and men, girls and boys - for
grammes identified in step two.
example, rich and poor, black and white,
rural and urban, young and old. The work Fourth, you need to monitor whether
is a special type of policy work. The 'added the allocated money has been spent.
value' of focusing on the budget is that the You also need to monitor who benefited
budget is the most important tool of policy from the money - for example, whether
of any government. Stated simply, no other funding for health services reached
policy tool of government will work unless women or men through clinics, hospitals
money is allocated to implement it. and extension services, and whether
Gender budget work involves five steps: these women and men were rich or
poor, urban or rural, etc.
First, you need to describe the situation
of women and men, girls and boys, who Fifth, you need to go back to the first
are served by a particular sector or step and re-examine the situation, to see
ministry, such as agriculture or health. whether the budget and its associated
programme has improved on what was
Second, you need to examine govern-
initially described.
ment policies and programmes in the
sector, to see whether they address the Anyone who has engaged in policy analysis
'gender gaps' - that is, inequalities in will recognise many of these steps.
Gender budgets and NGOs 83

The 'added value' of the gender budget allocated in a gender-sensitive way. It also
approach begins at step three, where we aims to ensure that governments report on
move beyond wish lists of what is desirable, their allocations and budget implementation
to see whether programmes and policies in a transparent and gender-specific way.
are being implemented. Believing that the only useful location
for gender budget work is within govern-
ment is, however, limited. Gender budget
What gender budget work work carried out within Parliament and
is not civil society can also bring many benefits.
Gender budget work is not about advocating This work involves research and advocacy
for the establishment of a separate budget to understand what governments are doing
for women, or a separate budget for the with their money, and to try to influence
eradication of gender inequality. It is also the allocations. In virtually any country,
not about calculating what percentage of performing gender budget work outside
the budget is allocated to projects which government can contribute to broad
address gender inequality, the resources objectives such as democratic governance,
(for example, staffing and associated costs) transparency, accountability and civic
of institutions which work on inequality, or participation. Depending on the politics of
women's projects. Instead, it is about a particular country at a particular time,
ensuring that all parts of the government working from outside government can
budget take account of the different needs sometimes bring more benefits than
and interests of different groups of citizens. working within it. Perhaps a good example
Nor is gender budget work about of this is the case of Tanzania, where the
requesting a 50/50 share of budgets to go government is working together with the
to female and male citizens. Rather, it is Tanzania Gender Networking Programme,
about understanding the needs and interests Tanzania's gender budget NGO. (For more
of female and male citizens, and seeing that information about TGNP, see the web page
the available resources are allocated equitably.
In health, for example, more than 50 per Even if an NGO carries out gender
cent of the budget must be allocated for budget work in isolation from government,
female citizens, because women bear which results in minimal shifts in budget
children as well as suffer from non-sex- allocations, such work can make a differ-
specific conditions like malaria, HIV/AIDS ence in other ways. In addition to
or influenza. undertaking gender budget work as a
stand-alone activity, NGOs can also
incorporate gender budget analysis and
Why should NGOs get advocacy as a tool in their existing
involved? programmes. For example, a South African
Because gender budget work focuses on NGO, the Centre for the Study of Violence
government budgets, it might seem that the and Reconciliation (CSVR), which has
natural location for the work is within extensive experience in researching,
government. Many of the multilateral training police, and advocacy on gender-
institutions and bilateral donors have based violence, has added the gender
adopted this standpoint, and targeted their budget approach to its tool-kit. First,
energy and resources on government in CSVR conducted a survey to find out what
their advocacy work. Gender budget work financial and other assistance was being
within government aims to ensure that given by government to national and
policies are planned and budgets are provincial NGOs who were providing
services to survivors of gender-based In Uganda, it is the NGO founded by
violence, in areas where government was female parliamentarians, Forum for Women
not providing these services. Secondly, it in Democracy (FOWODE), that is leading the
interviewed national and provincial govern- initiative. In South Africa, female parlia-
ment officials to find out what allocations mentarians in the national Parliament
for gender-based violence exist in their collaborated with two policy research NGOs
budgets. Thirdly, it conducted case studies to launch the Women's Budget Initiative.
of women who have been subjected to
violence to find out the financial costs they Limit the scale
incurred. The potential scope of gender budget work
is enormous. It is therefore important to
choose a manageable focus to begin with.
Where to start? What that initial focus is depends on the
Decide the focus particular country and the actors leading
The description of the five steps of the the initiative.
gender budget process which I gave above In South Africa after the first democratic
will have revealed to an alert reader that elections, there was an opportunity to do a
gender budget work is about an analysis of broad policy review, as there was wide-
sectoral budgets rather than the budget of spread interest in initiating major changes.
the Ministry of Finance. In most countries, In the first three years, the gender budget
the Ministry of Finance is the main decision- initiative, therefore, reviewed the budgets
maker in determining the overall amount of of all 27 national ministries. In Mexico, the
money available, how this is raised, and NGO specialising in budget research, and
how much each ministry gets. However, the women's organisation which led gender
the individual ministries make most of the budget work, decided to focus on budgets
decisions about how they allocate and for reproductive health. This approach
spend the money. helped them to build on their previous
A focus on the Ministry of Finance can, involvement in the International Conference
however, also be useful. In particular, it on Population and Development (ICPD) in
reveals who the key decision-makers are. Cairo in 1994.1 In Tanzania and Uganda,
It can also lead to looking at the budget NGOs have focused on health and
process in more detail, and seeing where education spending, as these were major
there are opportunities for influence. concerns at the community level after
Unfortunately, in most countries the structural adjustment programmes had
opportunities for influence are very few. reduced spending on social sectors.
One important part of gender budget work By restricting the initial focus of your
taking place outside government is about gender budget work, you can increase your
trying to increase the number and scope of understanding, expertise and confidence.
such opportunities. Many people think Then, in subsequent years, you can build
that Parliament presents a 'window of on that foundation and develop the work.
opportunity'. In fact, in most countries Further, in many countries, gender budget
parliamentarians have very few powers in workers have found that there are
relation to budgets. Further, in many unanticipated opportunities (and sometimes
countries even female parliamentarians obstacles!) that they could not have
have shown limited interest in gender foreseen when planning the project at the
budget work. But there are exceptions, such beginning. Starting small allows you to
as in Uganda and South Africa, where expand in the direction of the opportunities
female parliamentarians have played a and avoid the obstacles. It is also necessary
key role in gender budget initiatives. for funders to allow you this flexibility.
Gender budgets and NGOs 85

Who does the work? One aspect of gender budget work,

which often discourages gender activists
Many people think that it is only economists from attempting it, is the need to engage
who can do gender budget work. But some with numbers. At an ideological level,
countries have successfully relied on non- some women activists see numbers and
economists to do gender budget work. quantitative research in general as part of a
Others think that it is only researchers or male plot to ignore the subtle differences in
academics who can do gender budget women's and men's experiences. For
research. But again, there are exciting others, fear of numbers acts as a barrier to
examples of people without prior experience prevent them from taking part.
in research successfully doing, enjoying, When activists face their aversion to
and benefiting from engaging in gender numbers and overcome this, the results are
budget analysis. often exciting. Firstly, you only need very
Involving a wide range of people in simple arithmetic for gender budget work.
gender budget work spreads understanding The numbers are very large, but the
of the issues and arguments. It provides for operations are simple addition, subtraction
a wider range of activists using these and calculating percentages. Secondly -
arguments convincingly in their advocacy. as stated before - the activists are better
It also avoids a split between the 'experts' able to put forward the arguments if they
and the activists. In South Africa, the core have learnt to read the budget documents
of NGOs leading this work drew on people and done the calculations themselves.
in sectoral NGOs to analyse relevant
sectoral budgets. For example, the health
budget was analysed by a staff member of How to be taken seriously
the Women's Health Project. In Mexico, a In engaging with government on something
policy research organisation did the analysis, as 'serious' as the budget, we need to find
but it worked in close collaboration with a strategies that assist in ensuring that our
broad-based, feminist women's organisation. work is taken seriously.
In Bacolod City in the Philippines, members One strategy is to make it clear that you
of a women's organisation working on are not asking for more money to be
women's political advancement decided to allocated to the budget, as asking for more
do the research into their local government will label you as unrealistic. Instead, when-
budget themselves. Those involved did not ever suggesting that more be allocated to a
have prior experience of research. But they particular gender-sensitive programme,
did have experience and knowledge of you can point out where the money for this
local government. In fact, one was a city can be found - that is, where less can be
councillor, and another had become the city spent.
administrator by the time the first round of When gender budget work begins,
research was published. These activists are many people turn first to military expend-
now using the knowledge they gained in iture as a source of money. In South Africa,
trying to implement gender-sensitive the gender budget initiative decided not to
policies in their own city. They are also do this. Firstly, military expenditure had
training their fellow activists and councillors already decreased during the last years of
in the region to undertake similar work. apartheid, once negotiations had started.
The experience and results of the first Secondly, too many other advocates had
round of research are reported in Gender already made suggestions as to what
Budget Trail: the Philippine Experience military expenditure could be used for.
(Budlender et al. 2001), alongside reports Thirdly, the gender budget initiative felt it
for two other local governments. would be taken more seriously if it focused

on intra-ministry shifts in spending until for gender at local government level.

the budgets of all ministries had been However, the danger with this approach is
examined. The initiative thus argued, for that focus is placed on the sidelines, while
example, for a shift from promoting tertiary 99 per cent of the budget remains gender-
education to adult basic education. neutral or, even worse, is gender-biased.
The issue of how to be taken seriously The second danger is that analysis gets
also relates to using the right language, and stuck on the earlier of the steps described
going into the appropriate amount of detail above. Getting stuck at step two is a
in your advocacy. To convince government particular danger for women's organi-
officers, you need to prove that you can sations and experienced gender analysts.
engage with them in their own jargon. You The danger in having too elaborate a policy
also need to show that you understand the analysis is that readers of the work will lose
subtleties of their work. This understanding interest before they get to the added value
is necessary because it avoids their fobbing of the focus on budget.
you off with sidetracking arguments. But it Getting stuck at step three is also a
is also important, because some of the danger. Information on allocations is
subtleties are significant. usually much easier to obtain than infor-
The above paragraphs are concerned mation on actual expenditure. However, in
with being taken seriously by government. many developing countries there is a large
But an NGO will also want to be taken difference between allocations and what is
seriously by fellow activists, members of actually spent. Alternatively, the money is
other organisations, and the general public. spent, but goes into someone's back pocket
Most people in wider society, and even rather than being spent on the intended
parliamentarians, will not read a 30-page purpose. Ideally, we want to know both
report. They also will not understand whether the allocated money was spent,
technical jargon. To address this challenge, and whom it reached.
gender budget workers in South Africa, The third danger is that focus may be
Tanzania and Uganda developed popular misplaced on groups that are relatively less
versions of their research, using simpler disadvantaged. All governments have less
language. In Tanzania, the NGO illustrated money than they need to meet all the
the popular version with cartoons. In South interests of all the different groups. Gender
Africa, the initiative developed workshop budget work argues that governments
materials to use with non-reading audiences. should prioritise their expenditure on those
These materials have recently been adapted who need it most. To put it differently, they
for use in Botswana and Zimbabwe. should focus expenditure on those who are
most disadvantaged and those whose
contributions to society are often invisible.
Common dangers Gender is, however, not the only axis of
There are several common dangers which disadvantage. Alongside gender, there is
can confront those who get involved in disadvantage on lines of race, location, age,
gender budget work. and class.
The first danger is that one focuses only One way in which this third danger
on women, or gender-targeted expenditures. manifests is where gender budgeters
This approach can be useful in particular focus attention on government grants to
circumstances. For example, WomenLink in women's organisations, without asking
Korea adopted it to monitor the country's what these organisations do and whether
newly introduced gender policy requirement the money could be better spent. Another
that all local governments make allocation way it manifests itself is when the analysis
Gender budgets and NGOs 87

and advocacy concentrate on middle-class you begin to know the facts and figures
issues. For example, you might focus that you can make the unconvinced sit up
attention on the duties imposed on sanitary and take notice. When you present the
pads, without acknowledging that the factual arguments, the other side has to
majority of women use rags or newspapers. make the choice to refute your arguments,
Or you might focus on the needs of women or find good reasons why they do not act
entrepreneurs without paying attention to on your suggestions.
women employees and those who are
unemployed. Or you could focus on the Debbie Budlender has been the Co-ordinator of
interests of women civil servants rather the South African Women's Budget Initiative
than most of female civic society. since it was started in 1995. Since 1995, she has
The fourth danger is to focus solely on worked on gender budget initiatives in about 20
participation. For example, you might countries, sometimes working with govern-
advocate strongly for more of the top ments, sometimes with non-governmental
decision-makers in government to be organisations, and sometimes with Parliament.
women, for more female parliamentarians, 20 Alfred Street, Observatory, 7925 Cape Town,
and for women's participation in public SOUTH AFRICA,
hearings. However, participation of
women, either in decision-making or
elsewhere, does not ensure sensitivity to Notes
gender equality. High-level women are not 1 Previously, around 80 women's organi-
necessarily gender-sensitive, nor are they sations from around the country came
necessarily more interested than their male together to form the network Foro
colleagues in poverty issues. They might, Nacional de Mujeres y Polfticas de Poblacidn
though, be more inclined to be aware of (Foro). The main objective of Foro is to
issues of unpaid labour. ensure that the agreements and
More generally, providing women with benchmarks of Cairo become reality.
opportunities to participate in public fora
does not always ensure either that women
attend, or that their voices are heard. In Bibliography
literature and speeches, there is often a Budlender D., M. Buenaobra, S. Rood, and
conflation of 'gender-sensitive', 'pro-poor' M.S. Sadorra (2001) Gender Budget Trail:
and 'participatory' budgets. These aspects The Philippine Experience, The Asia
sometimes go together, but they do not do Foundation: Makati City
so automatically. Each of the aspects needs A review of over 40 country experiences in
to be fought for and monitored separately. gender budget work can be found in
D. Budlender, D. Elson, G. Hewitt, and
T. Mukhopadhyay (2002), Make Cents:
Conclusion Understanding Gender Responsive Budgets,
Gender budget work can be exciting. But it Commonwealth Secretariat: London
is also hard work. Without detailed work, Information about budget policy work in
gender budget projects can end up making general, and links to some organisations
broad generalised statements that only working from a gender budget perspective,
convince the converted. They can begin can be found at
and end with sensitisation workshops
without any follow-up activity. It is only UNIFEM has established a webpage
when you engage with the facts and figures specifically on gender budget work at
that the added value of looking at the / gender_budgets /
budget becomes apparent. It is only when

'Engendering' Poverty
Reduction Strategy Papers
the issues and the challenges
Elaine Zuckerman
This paper discusses the 'engendering' of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), and the role
of organisations such as Oxfam in supporting this process, at the country level and internationally.1
It is based on an evaluation assessing the extent to which Oxfam Great Britain's (GB's) work on
PRSPs has been mainstreaming perspectives on gender and diversity. The evaluation was part of a
larger gender mainstreaming evaluation, demonstrating Oxfam's strong commitment to promoting
gender equality in its development work.

These voices are supposed to feed into

RSPs had their birth in 1999 as a
result of advocacy efforts of NGOs PRSP preparation. So far, payoff from the
including Oxfam. Initially, the World efforts of Oxfam and its local partner
Bank and IMF introduced PRSPs as a organisations to ensure PRSP processes are
prerequisite for countries in the Highly genuinely participatory has been mixed.
Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative to Oxfam's considerable investment in these
have their national debts reduced. Now, activities has precipitated increased
PRSPs are being introduced in non-HIPC involvement from community organi-
countries too. PRSPs are de facto national sations. However, while Oxfam's efforts
economic plans directed at reducing poverty. have improved the participatory process,
Bilateral aid agencies like the UK Depart- civil society inputs into the process have
ment for International Development (DFID) hardly fed into the content of most PRSPs.
are underwriting PRSP preparation. Many Oxfam intends to expand its PRSP advocacy
PRSPs are still in draft, many others have to trying to influence PRSP content, budgets
yet to be formulated, and existing PRSPs and implementation monitoring (Oxfam
will be reformulated periodically to reflect International 2001).
changing needs. Oxfam's PRSP advocacy, like all Oxfam
Oxfam has prioritised advocacy around work, is supposed to mainstream gender
PRSP preparation and implementation as analysis and promote gender equality. In a
an important poverty reduction strategy. few countries like Uganda, where Oxfam
Oxfam's main PRSP advocacy strategy to influenced PRSP participatory processes,
date has been to influence participatory women have participated actively and
processes that solicit PRSP inputs from a participatory outputs were engendered.
broad spectrum of civil society voices. However, as in most advocacy activities,
Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) 89

Oxfam cannot claim sole credit for this implementation and impact of PRSPs
success (Derbyshire 2002a). Even in countries fail to reflect government policy
like Uganda where the participatory commitments to gender equality.
process mainstreamed gender, inputs from Widespread conceptual confusion
this process have hardly fed into PRSP between Women in Development (WID)
content. Among the PRSPs reviewed as part approaches and gender mainstreaming,
of the Oxfam evaluation, only Rwanda's which hampers policy and practice.3
mainstreamed gender issues, but Oxfam
Inequalities between women and men
was not involved in the Rwandan PRSP.2
in the staffing and culture of develop-
ment organisations, which inhibit
PRSPs, gender equality, and effective implementation of gender
participation equality policy commitments.
PRSPs are supposed to express not only Policy evaporation
government interests, but also the interests One reason so few PRSPs have integrated
of civil society groups. Women, and women's gender issues effectively is because of the
gender interests, remain marginalised from widespread stakeholder assumption that
government decision-making; therefore, 'engendered' participatory processes would
participatory processes provide their main feed into PRSPs.
opportunity for input. However, partici- Based on this assumption, civil society
patory processes in most countries have groups, governments, and NGOs (including
hardly been either participatory or gender- Oxfam), have made considerable efforts to
sensitive. Input from civil society is often ensure participatory processes include
organised ad hoc, with information about women and participatory analyses raise
opportunities for input circulated either key gender issues. Oxfam's advocacy on
late or not at all. Women face particular integrating gender concerns into PRSPs has
problems in participating. On little or short entailed working with local CSOs and other
notice, women not only have little or no stakeholders to build their capacity around
time to prepare for meetings, but they face women's participation and gender analysis.
the additional problems of having to Oxfam has undertaken such capacity-
arrange home care and safe transport building in several countries, including
(Bamberger et al. 2001; Derbyshire 2002a; Uganda and Vietnam. However, 'policy
Zuckerman 2001). Even where women's evaporation' after Oxfam's capacity-
groups have been integrated into building has been a serious problem.
participatory exercises, women generally The Ugandan experience described below
remain marginalised from government, provides a good example.
civil society and grassroots decision-
making and women's organisations feel Ugandan women's groups played a key
removed from macroeconomic debates role in the national PRSP participatory
central to PRSPs (Derbyshire 2002a). process, called the Participatory Poverty
Assessment Programme (UPPAP). This was
In a study for this evaluation of the partly owing to Uganda's strong women's
extent to which Oxfam GB's PRSP work groups, and partly owing to Oxfam's
has been mainstreaming gender, Helen organisational role. From 1998 to 2002,
Derbyshire pinpointed three sets of issues Uganda conducted the extensive and
which have hampered these attempts gender-aware UPPAP. This assessment
(Derbyshire 2002a): consulted the poor, including women, to
A significant problem of 'policy ensure their voices would be integrated
evaporation' in all contexts, as the into the PRSP (Uganda 2002). UPPAP

included gender training on what gender and females and proposes programmes to
means, how gender issues influence eliminate these inequalities. A GAD approach
people's vulnerability to poverty, and how would mainstream gender by analysing
to collect sex-disaggregated data. As part of women's and men's roles sector by sector
UPPAP, women's focus groups were and issue by issue. This is the approach that
convened to overcome women's reluctance is essential for reducing poverty.
to speak publicly. Despite these measures, The only PRSP to date that mainstreams
the subsequent national participatory gender into its analysis of poverty, with
'synthesis workshop' diminished gender few missed opportunities, is Rwanda's
issues (Debyshire 2002a). Previously (Government of Rwanda 2002).4 The
disaggregated data were aggregated, Rwandan PRSP process provides some
obscuring gender differences and inequalities. valuable lessons (Zuckerman 2001). Box 1
This obscuring process was eventually on page 91 provides details.
reflected in the Ugandan PRSP, which takes
a WID approach, scattering a few references Staff capacity-building and
relating to women's problems or gender organisational culture
inequalities here and there rather than Strong organisational capacity of staff -
systematically mainstreaming gender staff knowledge, skills and commitment to
(Uganda 2000). In preparation for its next address gender issues in their work and
PRSP, Ugandan stakeholders are under- work culture - is one of the essential
taking another participatory effort that is elements identified by Helen Derbyshire
even stronger on gender issues than was for gender mainstreaming. Therefore, this
the first. Efforts are being made to ensure evaluation of the extent to which Oxfam's
the gender analysis and sex-disaggregated PRSP advocacy work has mainstreamed
data remain intact. Oxfam is financing this gender assessed staff capacity. To do so,
initiative, but is appropriately leaving the author interviewed Oxfam GB staff in
its organisation to local stakeholders Oxford and in several Oxfam GB country
(Bell 2002). offices, Oxfam GB partner agency staff,
and Oxfam International (OI) staff in
Conceptual confusion about WID versus Washington DC, USA. Country office and
GAD approaches to poverty OI staff cited insufficient capacity on
Most PRSPs produced to date weakly apply gender mainstreaming as one of the key
an obsolete Women in Development (WID) elements contributing to weak work on
approach, mentioning a few female problems gender and PRSPs. None of the country
in isolation from an analysis of the under- offices whose staff were interviewed had
lying power relations which give rise to the gender experts on the staff. Some had gender
problems. Examples are girls not attending focal points, but said they needed gender
school, women experiencing reproductive experts to better understand how to main-
stream gender into the PRSP, especially
health problems, and domestic violence.
when it comes to complex macro-economic
A literature analysis carried out for the
issues. Country office staff interviewed also
Oxfam evaluation corroborated this finding attributed weak work on integrating gender
(Derbyshire 2002a). The important gender into PRSPs to insufficient support from
themes addressed by PRSPs tend to be Oxfam headquarters. Several country offices
mentioned in isolated, free-standing requested greater guidance from head-
paragraphs or sentences. But most PRSPs quarters around gender issues, and PRSP
fail to mainstream gender by applying a macro-economic policy issues, and stated
gender and development (GAD) approach, they would welcome relevant training.
which analyses inequalities between males
Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) 91

Box 1: An example of good practice: the Rwandan PRSP

Rwanda succeeded in 'engendering' its PRSP because it initiated a series of deliberate steps, backed
by strong moral and financial commitment, described below:
1. The Ministry of Gender and the Promotion of Women (MIGEPROFE) hired an external gender expert to
facilitate the process. The expert analysed the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper's (IPRSP's)
failure to mainstream gender issues in detail and suggested how this could have been done.
2. The consultant held meetings with the PRSP writing team at the Ministry of Economics and Finance
(MINECOFIN) to ensure its members were committed to mainstreaming gender into the PRSP.
3. PRSP stakeholders including MIGEPROFE, community organisations and PRSP writing team members
tried to persuade the participatory exercise facilitators (also headed by an external consultant) of the
importance of ensuring that women's as well as men's views were solicited.
4. MIGEPROFE and MINECOFIN co-sponsored a gender mainstreaming workshop. 50 representatives
from a broad range of sectors participated. Two dynamic civil society activists co-facilitated it.
The MIGEPROFE and MINECOFIN ministers opened and closed the workshop, giving it a high profile.
The gender consultant made a presentation highlighting the importance of integrating gender into the
PRSP in order to achieve poverty reduction, and of providing tools to do this. Participants practised
using the tools in teams by integrating gender issues into the IPRSP text sector by sector.
Teams formulated and shared recommendations on how best to engender the PRSP using the
tools provided.
5. An inter-agency PRSP Engendering Committee was established at the consultant's suggestion to
promote PRSP gender mainstreaming. Committee members consisted of the Director of the PRSP
writing team, the MIGEPROFE Gender and Development Department Director, and a representative
of Pro-Femmes (Rwanda's women's civil society groups' umbrella organisation).

In the Rwanda example, it helped that the PRSP writing team director was previously the MIGEPROFE
Director of Administration. Although the IPRSP neglected gender, he readily agreed to promote gender
equality in the PRSP. It was also critical to convince other PRSP writing team members of the importance
of mainstreaming gender to achieve poverty reduction goals, through individual meetings and especially
through the workshop training practice in mainstreaming gender.

A good example of these issues is the Forces in Vietnam that participate in PRSP
case of Oxfam GB in Vietnam. consultations. Oxfam reviews PRSP drafts,
Because civil society organisations have and tries to ensure they address gender and
difficulty registering and getting recognised diversity issues faced by marginalised
in Vietnam, Oxfam has been working groups and ethnic minorities. Oxfam GB is
mainly in its own right, engaging the also promoting the creation of a ministry-
government in direct advocacy on PRSPs, by-ministry gender budget analysis,
rather than through partner organisations. incorporating available sex-disaggregated
At the same time, Oxfam supports the data. However, since existing sex-
development of Vietnamese civil society disaggregated data tend be sparse, it would
organisations. Oxfam GB is the only Oxfam also be very helpful if Oxfam could support
office with this kind of involvement in the its collection.
formulation of the PRSP, and staff wonder As elsewhere, Oxfam GB staff in Vietnam
if it should be involved in what should be a believe the Participatory Poverty Assessments
'country-owned' process.5 Moreover, many (PPAs) are a good starting point for
government officials feel cynical about the influencing the PRSP. Oxfam GB led the
PRSP, since it is perceived as donor- Mekong district PPA, one of four held in
imposed. the country. Oxfam selected researchers
Oxfam is represented on the World from diverse backgrounds, including
Bank-organised Gender and Poverty Task women from ethnic minorities, and helped

train them on gender and diversity issues. lack of sex-disaggregated data. However,
The Mekong PPA addressed contentious recent gender analyses provide considerable
gender issues like violence against women qualitative data and some quantitative data
(40 per cent of women suffer from domestic which have not been adequately analysed
violence) and HIV /AIDS. It also introduced and used. Oxfam staff expect the PRSP
diversity by interviewing illiterate people, budget will be gender-blind.
ethnic minorities, and other groups. The Other constraints and challenges facing
PPA has paid off by getting the govern- advocates working to mainstream gender
ment to acknowledge these problems, into the Vietnam PRSP include the existence
which it formerly denied, and incorporate of laws on equality between men and
them into the draft IPRSP. However, women, and party-based mass women's
Oxfam Vietnam staff pointed out that this organisations. Their existence leads many,
success cannot be attributed solely to including some Oxfam staff, to think
Oxfam. gender issues have already been addressed.
The Vietnamese IPRSP only mentioned However, the laws on equality between the
issues facing women in a few instances, sexes are often flouted in practice, and the
and did not mainstream gender perspectives party women's organisations lack power
although it raised the needs of ethnic and address women's issues without
minorities and specific regions several analysing gender inequalities. A key area of
times. Repeated IPRSP discussions about work in which Oxfam could become
poverty, macro-economic issues including involved further is mainstreaming a gender
trade liberalisation, and SOE equitisation (a perspective within the government and
euphemism for privatisation) neglected women's party organisations. Oxfam could
gender ramifications. An IPRSP 'wish-list' work on convincing the government of the
included care for the environment and virtues of gender equality in terms of
addressing the problems faced by the poverty reduction - a goal the government
urban poor, but was gender-blind except is keenly promoting.
for promoting women's equality in Oxfam staff in Vietnam face other
leadership positions (GSRV 2001). internal challenges in their work on gender
Recently Oxfam returned to the Mekong and PRSPs. They volunteered that they are
district for PPA consultations about the confused by the concept of gender, and this
PRSP, to ensure it addresses gender and hinders the ability of staff to incorporate
diversity issues. gender perspectives into work. For example,
Despite Oxfam's participation in the staff feel fuzzy about the differences
PPA and in the World Bank-supported between equity and equality. Staff also feel
Gender Task Force consultations with the they do not know how to mainstream
objective of mainstreaming gender into the gender and need more analytical tools for
PRSP, the PRSP is not expected to address doing so. Despite using gender manuals,
gender inequalities systematically. Although organising gender training and introducing
the PRSP will not be strong on gender, gender-related performance objectives for
Oxfam staff expect that it will address staff, promoting gender equality is not a
gender better than other official documents priority for all Oxfam Vietnam staff. The SE
do. Oxfam staff believe their advocacy has Asia Regional Office is recruiting a gender
contributed to this progress. A key reason adviser, but there is no specialist in the
for expecting the PRSP to be weak on country office.
gender issues is that gender-unaware young Country office staff from several other
male government officials predominate in Oxfam offices also expressed lack of
the drafting team. Another reason is the confidence in mainstreaming gender.
Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) 93

One said 'mainstreaming gender is a PRSP experiences suggest that making

"mysterious" process', and asked for help everyone responsible for gender remains a
in 'mainstreaming techniques'. Staff in challenge needing special and continuous
other countries undergoing democratic interventions. Mainstreaming gender
transitions, for example those in Armenia, requires deep, broad and continuous
like those in Vietnam, expressed concern nurturing among staff throughout organi-
about special problems they confront such sations.
as local staff believing that gender Oxfam GB's decision to analyse the
inequality is not a problem because their extent to which gender equality has been
countries have gender equality laws and mainstreamed into its advocacy work
mass women's organisations (Bell 2002). around PRSPs is in itself an encouraging
To facilitate addressing these problems, process. Other commendable initiatives
Oxfam country offices would benefit from include:
adding gender experts to their staff. Current Oxfam GB PRSP case studies
Managers, usually already overburdened, include assessments of mainstreaming
do not have sufficient time personally to gender and diversity perspectives;
ensure that PRSP work is 'engendered' Oxfam GB and OA have initiated a
properly. Even gender focal points may PRSP e-mail support mailing list, and
not have the time and skills needed for are considering developing a PRSP list-
such work. Encouragingly, Oxfam's nine serve which could address gender
regional offices have begun hiring gender mainstreaming issues, amongst other
experts. Hopefully, other countries will things. Oxfam should consider installing
follow. a dedicated online gender advisory list-
At the other end of the spectrum from serve to respond to queries and provide
country-level work, Oxfam International 'just-in-time' support modelled on the
(OI) based in Washington DC, USA, World Bank's stellar Education Advisory
conducts advocacy work with the Service, which provides multiple, rich
Washington-based international financial and usually rapid responses to queries
institutions. OI staff told the author that from all corners of the world.
they too need gender training in gender
analysis techniques and on how to
mainstream gender into PRSP, trade, and Conclusion
broader macro-economic advocacy work. Currently, the need to integrate the
Training is just one of various interests and needs of diverse groups into
complementary change strategies that analyses of poverty and development is
development organisations including being increasingly recognised by
Oxfam need to implement. One lesson in development organisations, including
organisational experience is that 'engendering' Oxfam. Like gender, diversity needs to
organisations requires sustained nurturing. become a more integral part of the PRSP
It is an on-going process that needs advocacy agenda. A few PRSPs pay
continuous work (Rao, Stuart and Kelleher attention to ethnic minority and other
1999). This lesson has been learned at diverse groups, but in an inconsistent,
Oxfam GB headquarters where gender 'add-on' way, reminiscent of WID
awareness has long been promoted, and approaches, rather than through main-
gender mainstreaming has been policy for streaming. Oxfam needs to deepen both
the last several years. However, even at gender and diversity mainstreaming into
Oxfam GB headquarters, not all staff its PRSP advocacy work.
practise gender equality advocacy. Oxfam's

Elaine Zuckerman is the President of Gender Derbyshire, H. (2002a) 'Evaluation of

Action, a new non-profit organisation dedicated Gender Mainstreaming in Oxfam's
to ensuring that women and men equally Advocacy Work on Poverty Reduction
participate in and benefit from multilateral Strategy Papers', (Stage 1: Briefing Paper
investments in developing countries. for Country Case Studies), Oxford: Oxfam
Derbyshire, H. (2002b) Gender Manual:
A Practical Guide for Development Policy
Notes Makers and Practitioners, London: Social
1 'Engendering' is used here in the sense Development Division, DFID
of 'integrating of gender into'. Government of Socialist Republic of
2 The author was privileged to contribute Vietnam (GSRV) (2001) 'Vietnam:
technical assistance to Rwanda on Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy
engendering the PRSP. Paper (I-PRSP)', 14 March 2001
3 Derbyshire defines a Women in / files / viet
Development (WID) approach as namiprsp.pdf
'...small and separate projects and Oxfam International (2001) 'Are PRSPs
project components run by women for Working? Oxfam's Contribution to the
women, typified by women's income World Bank/IMF PRSP Review Process',
generation projects'. In contrast, she Oxford: Oxfam GB
believes that 'Gender mainstreaming Rao, A., R. Stuart and D. Kelleher (1999)
changes the focus of interventions from Gender at Work: Organizational Change for
women as a target group to gender Equality. Bloomfield, CT.: Kumarian
analysis of women's and men's roles and Press
relations as part of the planning process
Rwanda Ministry of Finance and Economic
of all development interventions, and to Planning National Poverty Reduction
gender equality as a goal' (Derbyshire Programme (2002) 'The Government of
2002a). Rwanda: Poverty Reduction Strategy
4 Kenya's PRSP, soon to be published, is Paper'
also reported to mainstream gender. Uganda Participatory Poverty Assessment
5 Vietnam hosts five Oxfam offices Process (2002)
including that of Oxfam GB. Uganda Ministry of Finance, Planning
and Economic Development (2000)
'Uganda's Poverty Eradication Action
References Plan: Summary and Main Objectives'
Bamberger, M., M. Blackden, V. Manoukian Zuckerman, E. (2001) 'Why Engendering
and L. Fort (2001) 'Integrating gender PRSPs Reduces Poverty, and the Case of
into poverty reduction strategies', Rwanda', World Institute for Develop-
in World Bank (2001b) The PRSP ment Economics Research Discussion
Sourcebook. Paper, 2001/
topics /gender publications / publications.htm
Bell, E. (2002) 'Oxfam GB Evaluation of
Gender Mainstreaming in Oxfam's
Advocacy Work on Poverty Reduction
Strategy Papers (PRSPs)', (Case Study
Phase), Oxford: Oxfam.

Compiled by Ruth Evans

Publications women living in poverty is rising. Covering

issues such as addressing poverty and
gender inequality, female-headed house-
Gender and Poverty (1998) N. Cagatay, holds, labour force participation, changes in
UNDP Social Development and Poverty how poverty is understood and policy
Elimination Division, Working Paper Series implications, it argues that what makes
No.5, UNDP. Available on-line at: men or women more vulnerable and the different ways they are able to move out of
wkpaper / wp5 / wp5-nilufer.PDF poverty need to be explored further, and
This working paper discusses the relation- calls for more attention to gender-
ship between poverty and gender inequalities, disaggregated data collection and research.
from the earlier approach to 'women and
poverty', which focused mainly on female- Gender and Poverty: An analysis for Action
headed households, to new concepts of (1996), Lourdes Beneria and Savitri Bisnath,
poverty and their relevance for under- UNDP. Available on-line at:
standing the linkages between gender and / gender / resources / mono2.
poverty. The paper explores the policy html
implications, with case studies of UNDP's This UNDP report explores the gendered
approach to tackling women's poverty in dimensions of poverty, poverty producing
their anti-poverty programmes. processes and methods of formulating
poverty alleviation measures within the
Briefing Paper on the 'Feminisation of Poverty' context of development. It examines the
(2001), BRIDGE Report No.59, Institute of ways in which traditional concepts and
Development Studies, University of Sussex, interpretations obscure the gendered
Brighton BN1 9RE, UK. Available on-line at: dimensions of poverty and often result in / bridge / reports_gend_pov. the formulation and implementation of
htm policies that fail to improve the lives of poor
This paper, commissioned by the Swedish women and their families. Several practical
International Development Co-operation policy recommendations are offered to help
Agency (Sida), explores the basis of the identify and alleviate poverty, and in
term, the 'feminisation of poverty' and particular, its gendered dimensions.
shows that because of consistent use of
gender-blind statistics, it is difficult to
substantiate the claim that the number of

Feminist Visions of Development - Gender, Development as Freedom (1999), Amartya

Analysis and Policy (1998), C. Jackson and R. Sen, Oxford University Press, Great
Pearson (eds.) Routledge, 11 New Fetter Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK
Lane, London EC4P 4EE / 29 West 35th In this classic, Sen draws together the most
Street, New York, NY 10001 important strands of his recent thinking on
This volume, inspired by feminist theoretical economic development, social justice and
work, interrogates development concepts human rights, and argues that development
and policy from a feminist perspective and can be seen as a process of expanding the
offers some useful insights into the linkages real freedoms that people enjoy. While
between concepts of gender and poverty. growth of Gross National Product (GNP) or
In particular, Cecile Jackson's paper, individual incomes can be seen as a means
'Rescuing Gender from the Poverty Trap', to expand people's freedoms, Sen asserts
argues that the concept of poverty cannot that equality is crucial for poverty
serve as a proxy for the subordination of eradication, since freedom is dependent on
women, interrogates the assumption that social and economic factors, such as access
anti-poverty policies will necessarily to education and health care, as well as
improve the position of women and political and civil rights to participation.
emphasises the importance of a gender
analysis, as distinct from poverty analyses. Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in
Naila Kabeer's paper, 'Jumping to Conclusions? Development Thought (1994), Naila Kabeer,
Struggles over Meaning and Method in the Verso, 6 Meard Street, London W1V 3HR,
Study of Household Economics' critiques UK / 29 West 35th Street, New York NY
the concept of the unified household from a 10001-2291
feminist perspective and offers alternative In her work, Naila Kabeer traces the
approaches to the household which are emergence of 'women' as a specific cate-
more able to take account of the diverse gory in development thought and examines
and complex nature of household relations alternative frameworks for analysing
and resource allocation. development policy from a gender
perspective. Of particular relevance are the
'Tactics and trade-offs: revisiting the links chapters focusing on gender and household
between gender and poverty' (1997), economics, 'Benevolent Dictators, Maternal
Naila Kabeer (ed.) IDS Bulletin, 28(3) Altruists and Patriarchal Contracts', and the
This issue of the Bulletin of the Institute for inadequacies of the poverty line as a
Development Studies focuses on the links measuring tool, ' Beyond the Poverty Line:
between gender inequality and poverty, Measuring Poverty and Impoverishing
and challenges some of the common Measures'. Here, Kabeer proposes an
assumptions. The Bulletin includes both alternative approach to conceptualising and
overview articles on issues such as measuring poverty, which takes account of
household models and the limits of gender biases of the state and the process of
economism, woman-headed households, poverty.
and post-poverty, gender and develop-
ment, as well as regional perspectives A Home Divided: Women and Income in the
exploring gender, poverty and education, Third World (1988), Daisy Dwyer and Judith
reproduction, land rights, and changing Bruce (eds.) Stanford University Press,
labour relations. Abstracts available on line California, USA
This classic book shows that in the Third World, the household is an arena of conflict
bull283.html marked by inequality and negotiation over
Resources 97

income and expenditure decisions. The Development with Women (1999), Deborah
contributors offer differing perspectives on Eade (ed.) Oxfam, 274 Banbury Road,
the functioning of households and the role Oxford OX2 7DZ
income plays in confirming or altering Part of the Development in Practice Readers
household arrangements in Asia, Africa, the series, this book brings together a diverse
Middle East and Latin America. range of papers on issues such as
'mainstreaming' gender versus special-
Engendering Development through Gender isation, methodologies for incorporating
Equality in Rights, Resources and Voice (2001), gender analysis into planning and evalu-
King et al., World Bank, Oxford University ation, the limitations of gender training, the
Press. Available on-line at: unintended impacts of women-focused credit programmes, and how institutional
This extensive report presents the World policies to promote gender equity are often
Bank's perspective on gender inequality tacitly undermined by patriarchal interests.
and argues for a three-part strategy for Of particular relevance is Naila Kabeer's
promoting gender equality: reform paper, 'Targeting Women or Transforming
institutions to establish equal rights and Institutions? Policy Lessons from NGO
opportunities for women and men; foster Anti-Poverty Efforts'.
economic development to strengthen
incentives for more equal resources and 'Women's and Gender Budgets: An
participation; take active measures to Annotated Resource List' (1999), Hazel
redress persistent disparities in command Reeves and Heike Wach, BRIDGE Institute
over resources and political voice. While of Development Studies, Brighton, UK.
the language and evidence used reflect the This annotated resource list gives details of
neo-liberal economic approach, the report publications and other resources on
nevertheless gives insight into the current women's or gender budgets at national,
thinking and strategy of the World Bank provincial, and local levels and within
towards gender inequality and develop- institutions. It also provides references that
ment. give an overview of the budget process
from a gender perspective and of conceptual
Women in the Third World: Gender Issues inissues in gender budget analysis.
Rural and Urban Areas (1989), L. Brydon and
S. Chant, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., Gender Budgets Make Cents (2002),
Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, D. Budlender, D. Elson, G. Hewitt and
Hants. GU11 3HR, UK T. Mukhpadhyay, Commonwealth Secretariat,
This classic provides a useful introductory Customer Services, York Publishing
account and review of research on the roles Services , 64 Hallfield Road, Layerthorpe,
and status of women in low- and middle- YorkYO317ZQ,UK
income societies, providing insight into the /
links between gender, poverty and Gender Budgets Make Cents reviews over
development. These issues are illustrated 40 country experiences in gender budget
with material from rural and urban areas, work, giving a comprehensive under-
drawing out key findings and the main standing of gender responsive budgets.
differences among regions. The book explains what is meant by gender
responsive budgets, provides a conceptual
framework, traces the evolution of work in
this area, assesses the role of different
stakeholders and highlights lessons learned
to date.

Women and Credit: Researching the Past, variety of informal financial services that
Refiguring the Future (2002), B. Lemire, poor people make use of in different contexts.
R. Pearson and G. Campbell (eds.), Berg The elements involved in designing a
Publishers, 150 Cowley Road, Oxford OX41JJ, micro-finance scheme are discussed and
UK/ 838 Broadway, Third Floor, New York, emphasis is put on finding ways of
NY 10003-4812, USA sustaining the provision of financial
Providing examples of credit agencies and services in the long term.
initiatives in the North and South, this
book takes a historical perspective on the AIDS in the Twenty-First Century: Disease
relationship between women and credit and Globalisation (2002), Tony Barnett and
and raises important policy issues. It also Alan Whiteside, Palgrave Macmillan,
addresses important questions about Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21
women and credit, which have previously 6XS, UK / 175 Fifth Avenue, New York,
been neglected, such as: what contribution NY 10010, USA
did women make to the development of This book examines the social and
industrial capitalism? How does women's economic impacts of HIV/ AIDS to date,
access to credit vary across time and linking the growth of the epidemic to
cultures? How has the development of national and global inequalities. After
micro-credit initiatives affected women's examining some of the forces driving the
economic position and what role will such pandemic, the book focuses on a detailed
initiatives play in the future? analysis of the impact of the disease on
households, communities, economic sectors
'"Money can't buy me love"? Re-evaluating and business, as well as policy responses
Gender, Credit and Empowerment in Rural and government interventions.
Bangladesh' (1998), Naila Kabeer, IDS
Discussion Paper 363, Institute of Develop- Gender, Education and Development: Beyond
ment Studies, Brighton, UK Access to Empowerment (1999), Christine
This discussion paper examines the Heward and Sheila Bunwaree (eds.)
conflicting conclusions drawn by evalu- Zed Books, London
ations of the effectiveness of credit in The chapters in this book examine the
addressing the needs of poor rural women impacts of structural adjustment on
and the goal of women's empowerment in education throughout Latin America and
Bangladesh. Kabeer analyses the empower- Africa, examining the links between
ment impact of loans to women from the poverty, development and education from
perspective of the women themselves, a gender perspective. The book also
rather than from the perspective of the presents a critical theoretical analysis of the
credit organisations, and questions the World Bank's view of women's education,
concept of 'empowerment'. taking issue with the view that education
for girls and women is important primarily
Microfinance and Poverty Reduction (1997), as a cost-effective mechanism for making
Susan Johnson and Ben Rogaly, Oxfam, women more economically productive, and
Oxford and ActionAid, Hamlyn House, asking why the gender gap remains as
Macdonald Road, Archway, London N19 wide as ever, despite significant improve-
5PG, UK ments in access to education.
This Oxfam Development Guidelines book
sets out the main debates surrounding
interventions to provide financial services,
as background to exploring the wide
Resources 99

Feminist Economics Journal, Taylor and WomenWatch is a joint UN project to
create a website dedicated to global
Francis, Available on-line at:
women's issues. It was created to monitor
the results of the Fourth World Conference
Feminist Economics is an academic journal on Women, held in Beijing in 1995 and
that attempts to develop an interdisciplinary founded in 1997 by the Division for the
discourse on feminist perspective on Advancement of Women (DAW), the
economics and the economy. Articles of United Nations Development Fund for
particular relevance include 'Making Women (UNIFEM) and the International
visible the hidden economy: the case for Research and Training Institute for the
gender-impact analysis of economic policy' Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).
(2002), Susan Himmelweit, 8(1): 49-,70 and Contains country and region-specific data
'Poverty within households: measuring about women, regional plans of action for
gender differences using non-monetary women's advancement and empowerment,
indicators' (2001) Sara Cantillon and Brian reports and news updates.
Nola, 7(1): 5-23.
UNDP Gender:
[fe|feci:rpnic'resources. , The UNDP Gender web pages contain an
Gender Information Network (GENIE):
extensive range of on-line resources
including a paper by Sally Baden (1999),
'Gender Governance and the "Feminisation
This website, hosted by the Institute of of Poverty"', which summarises current
Development Studies, UK, provides links thinking on the theoretical and empirical
to and information about gender main- relationships between gender inequality
streaming resources produced and/or and poverty, including reflection on how
funded by donor agencies. It aims to these relationships have been articulated in
support the gender mainstreaming efforts development policy discourse. UNDP
of gender and non-gender specialists in Gender also contains a link to the Gender
donor agencies, other development organi- Policy Briefing Kit, developed by UNDP
sations and partners by providing gender and Women's Environment and Develop-
information and facilitating the exchange of ment Organization (WEDO). This tool kit
gender resources - research, tools, method- brings together advocacy materials on
ologies, experiences and good practice. 'Gender and Financing for Development'
(FfD), background on macroeconomic
'In Whose Interest?' (2002), Helen Pankhurst, research, policy initiatives such as gender
Womankind Worldwide, available on-line budgets, and available data on women in
under the 'Money Literacy' publications: finance ministries, to further promote a gender perspective on economic issues at
This paper analyses the impact of credit the national level. The Gender Policy
and savings schemes on women and argues Briefing Kit is available on-line at:
for a more realistic assessment of their / ffd / kit.htm
impact. Pankhurst develops the Womankind
concept of 'money literacy' as a tool to Women in Development Network (WIDNET):
analyse the impact of micro-finance
initiatives at different levels, focusing on Women in Development Network (WIDNET)
women's economic rights and structural is a bilingual English/ French website
inequalities. hosted by Focus International, containing a

database of gender and development Development Alternatives with Women for a

resources and organisations concerned New Era (DAWN)
with women and development around the Dawn Secretariat, PO Box 13124, Suva, Fiji
world. Tel/Fax: (679) 314 770
GREAT Development-Gender Network: DAWN is a network of Southern feminists
The Gender Research and Training (GREAT) and activists working for economic and
network aims to bridge the divides between gender justice and political transformation
gender and development researchers and at the global level. DAWN's research
development practitioners, and between themes provide the focus for the network's
individuals at dispersed institutions, by global advocacy efforts: political economy
disseminating research results to develop- of globalisation, sexual and reproductive
ment agencies and academics, informing health and rights, political restructuring
subscribers of relevant debates and inform- and social transformation and sustainable
ation on the web, managing topical debates, livelihoods. Advocacy work is aimed at
and keeping members up-to-date with job influencing mainstream development
advertisements, journal and conferences calls. thinking and policy, securing the gains
made through the UN conferences, working
for greater accountability and radical
j0rgamsatiot|s," - .. -J restructuring of international financial
Association for Women's Rights in institutions, and mainstreaming gender
Development (AWID) analysis in progressive development
96 Spadina Ave., Suite 401, Toronto, Ont., organisations.
Canada M5V 2J6
Tel: (416) 594-3773; Fax: (416) 594-0330 ABANTUfor Development 1 Winchester House, 11 Cranmer Road, London SW9 6EJ, UK
The Association for Women's Rights in Tel: 44 207 8200066 Fax: 44 207 8200088
Development (AWID) is an international
membership organisation connecting, Mbaazi Avenue, P O Box 56241,00200 City
informing and mobilising people and Square, Nairobi, Kenya
organisations committed to achieving Tel: 254 2 570343/574876 Fax: 254 2 570668
gender equality, sustainable development
and women's human rights. AWID's goal is
to cause policy, institutional and individual ABANTU for Development, an inter-
change that will improve the lives of national NGO, focuses its work on training,
women and girls everywhere by facilitating providing information and advice on
ongoing debates on key issues as well as by mobilising resources towards sustainable
building the individual and organisational development in Africa. It aims to empower
capacities of those working for women's African people, particularly women, to
empowerment and social justice. Under the participate at local, national, regional and
project theme of 'Women's Rights and international levels in making decisions
Economic Change', there are a number of that affect their lives, enabling action for
documents by the Women's Consultation change. Achievements include the develop-
(UNIFEM/WEDO) to the 2002 UN Financing ment and trial-run of a manual on engen-
for Development (FfD) Conference, dering budgets in Africa, and through the
available on-line. advocacy, public awareness and networking
Resources 101

programme in Africa, ABANTU was able Womankind Worldwide

to run a series of Gender and Poverty Viking House, 3rd Floor, 5-11 Worship
Hearings, facilitating public scrutiny of Street, London EC2A 2BH, UK
government policies in the Eastern and Tel: 00 44 (0)20 7588 6096; Fax: 00 44 (0)20
Southern Africa region. 7588 6101
International Center for Research on Women
(ICRW) Womankind Worldwide is a UK-based
1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite charity dedicated to women's development
302, Washington, DC 20036, USA and women's human rights globally.
Tel: (202) 797-0007; Fax: (202) 797-0020 Supports local women's groups in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe and campaigns on international women's
ICRW's mission is to improve the lives of human rights. 'Money Literacy', one of the
women in poverty, advance women's four 'Literacies' guiding Womankind's
equality and human rights and contribute work, focuses on women's economic rights
to their economic and social well-being and improved livelihoods.
through research, capacity building and
advocacy. The poverty and economic rights
research project includes publications on
poverty reduction and economic growth, Windows of Hope, Volumes I and n, Lutheran
strengthening women's economic capacities, World Relief, Lutheran Visuals, 10466
employment and globalisation, micro- Piano Road, Dallas, TX 75238, USA
credit and micro-enterprise. This film series of five-minute segments
shows how programmes of sustainable
Women Working Worldwide development enable those trapped by
Angela Hale, Room 4.12, Dept of Sociology, poverty to meet their basic needs and
Manton Building, Rosamond Street West, participate in their communities. Discussion
Manchester M15 6LL, UK guides are included, and segments
Tel: 0161 2471760; Fax: 0161 247 6333 particularly appropriate for gender and
women-ww@mcrl development discussions focus on projects in India, Latin America, Burkina Faso, Kenya.
This UK-based non-governmental organi-
sation works with a global network of Credit Where Credit is Due (2000), Ashley
women worker organisations. It aims to Bruce, Televisions Trust for the Environ-
support the rights of women workers in the ment. Available from Bullfrog Films,
global economy, focusing on industries PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547.
which have relocated to the developing
world, particularly the textile and garment This film recounts the success of the
and electronics industries. Women Working Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee
Worldwide also co-ordinates the Labour in providing micro-credit loans to poor
Behind the Label network which campaigns rural women, which not only increased
for improved conditions in the inter- their incomes, but also helped to improve
national garment industry. The website their own health as well as that of their
contains a range of information, working children.
papers, and bulletins available in English
and Spanish.

Because they're worth it (2000), John Liu, .Conferences

Television Trust for the Environment.
Available from Bullfrog Films. International Conference on Staying Poor:
Chronic Poverty and Development Policy,
This film looks at a scheme which is 7-9 April 2003, Chronic Poverty Research
helping poor people, especially women, in Centre, Institute for Development Policy
China break out of the cycle of poverty by and Management, University of Manchester,
providing them with small loans, basic UK
health information, education and hope.
Educating Lucia (2000), Charlotte Metcalf, This conference is aimed at researchers,
Television Trust for the Environment. policy analysts and development practi-
Available from Bullfrog Films. tioners who seek to make poverty
reduction policies and actions (especially
This film highlights the situation of girls those to assist the chronic poor) more
and young women's access to education in effective. The conference aims to raise
Africa, where the odds are stacked against awareness about the chronically poor, to
girls getting an education. A case study of deepen the understanding and analysis of
three sisters who are AIDS orphans being chronic poverty, and to contribute to the
brought up by their grandmother in identification of policies and actions that
Zimbabwe illustrates how poverty and will help to reduce levels of poverty and
gender intersect to constrain young chronic poverty. Call for papers deadline
women's opportunities for education. for abstracts: 2 December 2002.
The books in Oxfam's Focus on Gender series were originally published as single issues of the
journal Gender and Development, which is published by Oxfam three times a year. It is the only
European journal to focus specifically on gender and development issues internationally, to
explore the links between gender and development initiatives, and to make the links between
theoretical and practical work in this field. For information about subscription rates, please apply
to Routledge Publishing, T & F Informa UK Ltd., Sheepen Place, Colchester, Essex, OC3 3LP, UK.
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The views expressed in this book are those of the individual contributors, and not necessarily those of the Editor or the

Front cover: Woman holding newly picked seedlings at a rice nursery, Haiti
Photo: Toby Adamson, Oxfam

First published by Oxfam GB in 2002. Reprinted 2005

This edition transferred to print-on-demand in 2007
Oxfam GB 2002
ISBN 0 85598 480 5
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