Women’s Social and Economic Empowerment and its Impact at Different Levels


Where does the experience take place?

The experience takes place in rural areas in El Salvador, in 96 municipalities in the following departments: Ahuachapán, Santa Ana, Sonsonate, La Libertad and Chalatenango. The experience involves men, women and young people over 14 living in poor rural areas. 2. What do we learn from this experience? adopted by PREMODER and its

Identify and analyze gender the approach adoption/application by the technical team.

Recognize strategic actions undertaken by the program for the empowerment of women within the organization and the business. Get to know the main features of gender gap for rural women in El Salvador and the distribution of roles associated to it. Critically analyze impacts and outcomes of the program on women’s lives. 3. What are the milestones and key moments of the experience?

Disadvantaged position of women in the initial stage of the program When the gender intervention of PREMODER’s program started, it identified the disadvantaged of women in relation to men, in terms of their participation in incomegenerating activities, as well as in organizations. It was also noted that culturally women were not involved in activities outside the private space of the house. Some women took part in organizations, but without any real participation or activity in said organizations. They were not involved in decision-making or in business plans. They were confined to the domestic sphere, as it is an activity culturally assigned to women. Definition of gender strategy and approach Starting from this identified initial situation, the Gender and Associativity Unit designed a strategy in order to promote gender equity in the area of intervention. It is important to note that the proposal was based on the real context, and thus assuring its application. Gender and Associativity Unit The organizational structure of the program included an Associativity and Gender Unit; the person in charge of the unit had the knowledge and experience required, the team was engaged in achieving proposed objectives and goals, very important aspect that assured the implementation and monitoring of gender approach in the field.


Learning Route: Tools to mainstream gender equity and women’s empowerment in IFAD’s projects: the experience of Central America
Methodology of family approach The methodology promoted the integration and participation of men, women and youth in productive activities with business vision, based on knowledge of cultural aspects prevalent in the population, enabling better acceptance by users. Awareness and training for PREMODER’s technical team, Services Enterprises and Beneficiaries The process of gender awareness constituted a key element to sensitize various stakeholders involved in the experience, facilitating its application and the definition of strategic lines and actions consistent with the reality of the country. Gender approach cannot be implemented if there are not sensible teams, convinced and engaged with the generation of structural changes in attitude, in order to overcome disadvantaged situations suffered by women in rural areas. Developing a plan for the creation and strengthening of capacities in rural women The Associativity and Gender Unit was engaged in creating and developing women’s skills and capacities for them to join rural organizations, take part in decision-making and be protagonists of their own development. Design and implementation of a monitoring, following up and assessment system on gender aspects With a clear definition of responsibilities and actions by individual members of the staff, it was possible to monitor and follow up the strategies implemented in the field, in order to measure progress, miscalculations and propose improvements for development processes. 4. What results and achievements have been obtained in terms of management and women’s empowerment? At personal level Women with full knowledge of their rights, self-assured, without fear of expressing themselves. Women with skills developed in processing and marketing of profitable productive activities. The participation of women in activities outside the house was promoted through training, meetings, visits and commercialization activities; in this way, they contacted people and experiences and, above all, contribute to their own development. With women administrating economic resources there are meaningful changes in life conditions of rural families supported by PREMODER, for instance, in education, health, diet, incomes to improve women’s health, improved houses and assets acquisition.


Women’s Social and Economic Empowerment and its Impact at Different Levels
Women have strengthened and developed both their technical and human capacities, in order to exercise influence in their families and organizations with innovative proposals and projects. Women have generated economic resources, and thus their capacity to decide on the use and purpose of said resources has increased; which can be noticed in improvements at personal, familiar and communal levels. Women with greater autonomy and freedom to decide how to allocate the resources obtained from the income-generating activities, this is translated in better gender relations. Women able to leave their homes and communities, with some skills to negotiate and market their products. At organizational level Women are accepted in the organizational structure due to their shown capacity, in decision-making positions, acting as presidents and administrating resources.  Young women are performing as managers, which are privileged positions in the organizations due to the responsibility and leading skills required.  Women have developed some capacities, such as public speaking, technical abilities to defend projects at PREMODER’s technical committee. Beyond their organizations, some women have been able to participate and influence in municipal offices. More women leading profitable businesses. Women’s participation in productive projects has contributed to generate incomes, employment opportunities and acquisition of assets for the benefit of their families. As consequence of men’s recognition and acknowledgment of women’s contribution to productive initiatives, women’s self-esteem has increased. Men and women are empowered with their projects, demonstrating negotiating skills with self-sustainable approach and transparency in funds management. The organizational structures have identified equity gaps in their organizations, implementing actions to reduce them and increase their management capacity. At familiar level Men and women with literacy skills and analysis of the organization’s environment; through their projects’ management they know, assess and monitor members’ learning processes. Men, women, boys and girls receive social benefits generated by their management capacity with NGOs and GOs. Women with full knowledge of sexual and reproductive health, as a fundamental right to advance their lives.


Learning Route: Tools to mainstream gender equity and women’s empowerment in IFAD’s projects: the experience of Central America
Success factors and difficulties in the implementation The program stands out for having committed and sensitized staff in the implementation of gender equity, which favored the implementation of the strategy and planned actions. It is important to emphasize PREMODER’s commitment of having mixed teams in the program and in service providers. Having a person responsible for gender from the very beginning, with capacity and experience in the topic to achieve its implementation by the program and by poor rural families. The permanence and continuity of the field technical team was promoted, to guarantee complementarily of different areas, increase the organization’s historical memory and construct a unified and coherent vision along the process. Main difficulties The program didn’t have resources to implement the strategies. Challenges Ensure implementation and monitoring of affirmative action, dissemination campaigns and communication defined by the closing gaps analysis. Systematize and apply lessons learned to other projects. The implementation of gender approach is not a recipe, there is room for innovation. 5. What tools and good practices implemented by PREMODER have contributed to these achievements? Train and educate the team on gender issues We developed an internal process of gender training for the team, in this way the team was sensitized on the issues and was aware of the tools and prepared to monitor in the field. The most outstanding of these processes is the Gender Diploma, process developed in 8-month-period aimed at technical staff and service providers. Other important aspect is the team’s interest in self-education on gender issues. Implementation of PROFOR tool This is an organizational strengthening tool that contributed to the development of women, identifying their strengths and weakness. Awareness and training on gender and leadership An awareness and training process on gender and leadership was designed, aimed at men and women belonging to organizations, as a strategy to include women and youth in income-generating productive activities. Handbooks and brochures were designed as awareness tools.


Women’s Social and Economic Empowerment and its Impact at Different Levels

Empowering women to become active members of the organization Women were supported with the required documentation and paperwork to become member of organizations and have access to services and resources provided by PREMODER, and not to appear merely as housewives. Definition of affirmative action in favor of women Among these affirmative actions, it is worth mentioning the training programs aimed at women to create and strengthen capacities and skills and generate familiar, organizational and communal incidence; among them: literacy, reproductive health, domestic violence, leadership. These actions are a priority to favor women’s participation. Definition of guidelines to favor the inclusion of women in productive activities Work plans were defined, in order to identify women’s practical needs and strategic interests; offer technical assistance and training to women in same conditions than to men; promote involvement of women in different organizational structures, including the production and marketing committee, as well as their participation in shift work and schedules according to their productive activity. Actions for women’s empowerment in decision-making in the organization and in the business a) Election of women in governing bodies; b) development of required capacities for their participation in key decisions, and thus the educational level of women has been improved to get involved in matters related to accounting, costs, sales and profits; and c) guaranty fair distribution of profits and benefits; d) training in the use of by-laws, internal regulations, rights and duties of the different positions and women’s leadership; e) generational replacement at directive boards. Implementation of Closing Gaps tool 148 members of mixed organizations were trained in the implementation of the tool Closing Gaps: the tool allows measuring equity levels in the organization; as well as defining actions to reduce gender gaps for the active participation of men and women, as well as access to resources and benefits in the organization. Through the methodology, gender constrains in the organizations were identified. The results were used to formulate integral plans and develop a program of affirmative action for each organization (focused on: health, training on different topics, reducing domestic workload, generational replacement, among others); which meaningfully improved life conditions of women and men.


Learning Route: Tools to mainstream gender equity and women’s empowerment in IFAD’s projects: the experience of Central America
Good practices Defining participation and membership quota of women in directive positions Compliance with the requirement of a minimum level of women’s membership in the organization was guaranteed (35% of women). Membership has to take into consideration not only gender, but also age, including young men and women. Generational replacement was promoted, in order to assure business sustainability, as well as capacity building. 6. Who are the relevant stakeholders (public and private, inside and outside the territory) in the experience? The Government of El Salvador through the Agriculture and Livestock Office (Secretaria de Agricultura y Ganadería) SAG. PREMODER: that supports investments and training processes, in order to promote access to and control over benefits for poor rural families in the area of influence. Inter-institutional relations and municipal political incidence were promoted; in this way, different organizations could have access to complementary productive resources. For example, access to credits with low interest rate, new markets, purchase of supplies on a larger scale, management of poverty alleviation projects, generation of additional incomes, given its seasonal nature and/or time required for business takeoff. 7. Lessons learned  Capacity building processes contribute to include women in decision-making structures.  It is more successful to implement gender equity with the integration and participation of men, women and youth in productive activities as members of the family with business vision.  The cross-cutting gender approach needs to be internalized in work teams, in order to replicate it in the field with rural population and achieve expected effects and impacts on the life of rural families.  Gender equity means a change of mentality, in which all stakeholder of Rural Development have to be involved and contribute.  To implement gender equity in IFAD’s Development projects, there has to be enough resources to favor inclusion conditions, application of affirmative actions, in order to benefit the most disadvantaged sectors, as well as resources to be invested in productive and profitable initiatives.  The active inclusion and participation of young people assures sustainability of gender equity in rural organizations, as they are interested and willing to put into practice new aspects and topics.  Business plans have to be developed in a participative way, including gender equity at each stage and development moment.  It is necessary to visualize women’s achievements and leadership in rural areas, as motivation for other women and for them to develop themselves in other areas outside the household.


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