investing in skills development for socio-economic empowerment of rural women skills development is key to improving rural productivity,

Investing in skills development
for socio-economic empowerment of rural women
Skills development is key to improving rural productivity,
employability and income-earning opportunities, enhancing food
security and promoting environmentally sustainable rural development
and livelihoods. Despite rural women’s major role in agriculture and
other rural activities, higher barriers in education and training
limit their opportunities and capacities to engage in more productive
and remunerative work, perform managerial and leadership roles and
participate fully in the development of their communities, and demand
targeted action to dismantle them.
Did you know?
*
Education and training are powerful weapons against poverty and
hunger, and for women’s empowerment. Educated women are more
likely to be healthier, have higher earnings and exercise greater
decision-making power within the household. They are also more
likely to ensure that their own children are educated, thus
breaking the cycle of poverty and hunger.1
*
Over two-thirds of the world’s 860 million illiterate persons are
women2 – many of whom live in rural areas. In Cambodia, 48% of
rural women and 14% of rural men are unable to read or write.3 In
Burkina Faso, the illiteracy rate for women is 89% compared to 70%
for men, with even higher rates in rural areas.4 The global
secondary school attendance rate of rural girls is 39% as opposed
to 45% for rural boys (compared to 59% and 60% of urban girls and
boys respectively).5
*
Farmers’ education has a positive impact on their productivity.
Agricultural productivity is 7.4% higher on average for a farmer
with four years of elementary education, compared to a farmer
without any.6
*
When women receive the same levels of education, experience and
farm inputs as men, there are no significant differences in male
and female farmers’ productivity.7
*
Evidence from Asia suggests that better education enables rural
workers to find high-paying non-farm employment, whereas a lack of
education tends to limit their choices to agricultural and
low-wage non-farm employment.8
*
From a developmental perspective, investing in the education of
females has the highest rate of return of any possible investment
in developing countries9: educated mothers, having fewer children,
invest more in the health and education of each child, thereby
raising the productivity of future generations, increasing their
income, and generating sustainable growth.
Why is action needed?
Education and training are essential components of any strategy to
improve agricultural and non-farm productivity and rural incomes.
Learning about improved production technologies and methods, new
products and markets, business skills, as well as life skills (such as
health management, decision-making, self confidence, or conflict
management) can make a big difference for many of the rural poor.10
Women often have different training needs than men since they are more
likely to work as contributing family workers, subsistence farmers,
home-based micro-entrepreneurs, or low-paid seasonal labourers, in
addition to handling their domestic work and care responsibilities.11
Even within agriculture, the gender division of labour for managing or
undertaking specific tasks in crop, livestock or fish production and
processing, generates different technical and managerial training
needs for men and women.
1.
Gender biases in education and training start from early childhood
*
Although primary and secondary school enrolment12 has improved
significantly for rural girls in many countries, they generally
continue to suffer disadvantages in access that tend to accumulate
throughout their lives as basic education is often a prerequisite
for further skills development; and women receive less vocational
training than men.13
*
Women are less likely than men to be reached by agricultural
extension workers.14
*
Women make less use of formal or informal apprenticeship systems,15
which often operate in male-dominated trades.
*
Self-employed women are not regarded as entrepreneurs in many
rural communities and thus have difficulty accessing
entrepreneurship development training and services.
2.
Social, cultural and economic factors constrain rural girls’ and
women’s opportunities for education and training
These include:16
*
Social norms and attitudes
*
Negative attitudes towards the benefits of educating girls and
lower priority for girls' education especially if women’s
remuneration is lower than men’s (gender discrimination in the
labour market) and employment opportunities are scarce. In
addition, girls are seen as relatively ‘’transitory assets’’ -
not worthy of long-term investment - as they leave their
parents’ household upon marriaqe. Often believed to be less
worthy of education, girls tend to receive less and miss out on
opportunities to socialize, acquire knowledge, gain skills and
autonomy, perpetuating the vicious circle in which they are
trapped.
*
Higher opportunity costs for girls’ education in most cultures
as families tend to rely significantly on girls to help with
household chores such as cooking, cleaning and caring for
younger siblings while both boys and girls often help with farm
work. 17
*
Women’s triple work burden
*
Women’s reproductive responsibilities restrict their time for
training and economic activities.
*
Fixed training hours and durations are often incompatible with
household and care responsibilities and/or farming cycles.
*
Gender-insensitive facilities, curricula and attitudes
*
Long distances to schools/training institutions and lack of
public transport
*
Lack of safe and accessible boarding, and sanitary facilities in
schools/training institutions.
*
Fear of sexual harassment and insecurity in attending schools
and training institutions.
*
High education and training fees, while women generally have
little cash of their own and limited bargaining power to access
household money for training.
*
Education and training curricula and delivery ill-adapted to
women’s learning needs.
*
Trainers and educators often have discriminatory attitudes
towards girls and women.
*
Lack of female teachers and trainers, especially in rural areas.
3.
Confined to lower status work with few training opportunities,
rural women are trapped in a vicious circle with limited
development perspectives
*
Rural women’s more limited access to land and other productive
resources than men and their lower educational levels, reinforced
by social norms about appropriate work for women, tend to confine
them to lower paid, lower status work where opportunities for
skills training and thus advancement are often limited, thus
perpetuating their inferior status.
*
Widespread patterns of insecure employment relations and
contractual arrangements in many rural enterprises, such as
temporary, precarious jobs in modern agricultural value chains
where women often predominate, do not favour women’s training
although this could lead to more responsible and better paid work.
*
Vocational education and training for rural women are often
limited to a narrow range of female-dominated fields that
reinforce their traditional roles and responsibilities. While this
may improve their income-generating opportunities, it will not
give them the chance to benefit from newer, non-traditional
fields, such as information and communication technologies (ICT)
or renewable energy that can provide higher earnings or obtain
more skilled technical or managerial jobs in Non-Traditional
Agricultural Export (NTAE) industries.18
4.
New challenges require more creative, gender-balanced approaches
*
Environmental degradation and climate change pose threats to
subsistence farming and call for new technologies, alternative
crops or growing processes – which demand new skills.19 Evidence
suggests that climate change affects women and men differently and
their skills needs may thus also differ.20
What are the policy options?
Skills development for rural women and men often requires a
combination of training in formal settings (such as schools and
training institutions), non-formal settings (such as community groups
and NGOs) and informal ones (such as learning from family or peers).
It can comprise basic education, vocational training, life skills
training, entrepreneurship training, and agricultural extension
services. Policy makers should aim at designing and implementing a
package of complementary measures to address the specific needs of
each category of rural individuals. These include the following policy
options:
1.
Ensure a targeted education and training strategy
*
Develop a gender-responsive strategy for education, training and
entrepreneurship development that responds to the needs of rural
girls and women (following the ILO’s Recommendation concerning
Human Resources Development: Education, Training and Lifelong
Learning No. 195 - 2004)
*
Set clear objectives, use indicators and establish evaluation
mechanisms to plan and assess the education and training
programmes for rural people21.
*
Collect sex-disaggregated statistics and qualitative data on rural
and urban women and men in education and skills training in order
to improve programme design and evaluate progress.
2.
Stimulate participation in basic education22 with gender-sensitive
approaches
Extend girls’ participation in free, quality basic education on an
equal basis with boys by promoting a gender-responsive learning
environment, 23 which includes:
*
Safe school facilities, separate sanitation facilities, safe and
gender-friendly transport to schools and/or building of schools
in strategic locations near underserved areas.
*
School times and hours that allow for seasonal agricultural or
household work.
*
Incentives for teachers to work in rural areas, including female
teachers.
*
Legislation and/or school rules against sexual harassment24, and
gender-awareness training for teachers.
*
Improved curricula that respond to rural realities, such as
combining agricultural training with conventional subjects. The
Junior Farmer Field and Life School in Mozambique has its own
learning field where pupils grow vegetables. This “local
curriculum” activity improves diets by introducing new
vegetables to the community and teaches children practical
skills.25
*
Information to raise parents’ awareness of the importance of
educating girls and financial incentives (such as vouchers)
and/or non-financial incentives (such as meals at school,
take-home rations) for families of school children.
*
Involvement of all parents and communities in planning and
managing local education and schooling so they better meet the
needs of the boys and girls, their families and their
communities.
*
Reduced gender stereotyping in curricula to improve the
classroom environment and particularly to “dismantle”
stereotyped profiles of rural women and men that reinforce
inequality and inequity in the household and the world of work.
*
Encouragement to girls to study technical subjects, for example,
through scholarships.
BOX 1: Girl-friendly schools see enrolments soar in Burkina Faso
In Burkina Faso, where 73 percent of all girls never finish primary
school, the BRIGHT project (Burkinabé Response to Improve Girls
Chances to Succeed) implemented by Plan International in 2005-2008,
increased enrolment, retention and graduation rates among girls
through supportive learning environments and child-friendly
classrooms. BRIGHT worked closely with local communities, that were
able to acquire school furniture and textbooks, build houses for
teachers that helped recruit and retain good teachers, dig wells to
provide safe drinking water in schools, construct separate male and
female latrine blocks and hand washing facilities; students and
communities were also taught sanitation and personal hygiene. Students
received a midday meal or a take-home food ration. Some schools
provided child care centres where mothers could leave their youngest
so their older daughters could go to school while they worked in the
fields. Enrolment often far exceeded original estimates and some
classrooms now have more girls than boys.
Source: FAO.2009.(http://plan-international.org/what-we-do/education/girl-friendly-schools-see-enrolment-rates-soar).
BOX 2: In Cambodia, home counselling helps keep girls in school
In Cambodia, where only around 30 percent of boys and 10 percent of
girls attend secondary education, many rural parents do not see
economic benefits from schooling, preferring their daughters to help
with household or farm work , or work in garment factories. In the mid
2000s, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, supported by
UNICEF, launched the ‘Child-Friendly Schools Initiative’. One of its
key components involves community research to identify gender-related
barriers to education and determine how to increase awareness about
gender equality; and provides home counselling to girls in grades 5
and 6 at risk of dropping out of school and to their families. Female
teachers and/or volunteer mothers serve as “girl counsellors”.
Teachers inform a counsellor when a female student misses more than
three days of school, and the counsellor visits the student to
identify with her and her parents the causes and appropriate
solutions. Many girls return to school after this counselling support,
although more is needed as some girls do not and others drop out
again.
Source: FAO. 2009. (http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/cambodia_39364.html).
3.
Increase participation in gender-adapted technical and vocational
education and training
*
Increase the quality and quantity of gender-responsive vocational
education and training institutions in rural areas.
*
Support, design and deliver gender-responsive community-based
training initiatives, including skills training in
employment-intensive infrastructure programmes, especially in
areas lacking formal educational institutions.
*
Conduct gender-sensitive analyses of economic opportunities and
assessments of the related skills needed, and ensure that rural
skills development activities take into account the local
socio-economic context.
*
Develop targeted strategies to allow rural women to access formal
and non-formal vocational education and training. These include:
*
Reducing financial barriers for rural women to access skills
training (for example, through stipends), considering issues of
timing and location of training, and developing flexible
curricula that fit rural women’s needs.
*
Increasing the number of women trainers and agricultural
extension workers, and providing gender awareness training to
trainers and other staff of training institutions (including on
issues related to sexual harassment and to gender stereotypes in
households and in the world of work).
*
Providing infrastructure support and facilities, including
accommodation, safe and female-friendly transport facilities,
childcare services and tool kits.
*
Developing curricula that address rural women’s and men’s
different skill needs (for example, in the field of climate
change or sustainable agricultural practices). Take into account
the different kinds of indigenous knowledge and skills they
have, and complement them with up-to-date knowledge and
technology.
*
Raising awareness among rural women and their
families/communities, and training institutions, of the benefit
of training women with targeted programmes in non-traditional
trades, in using new technologies, and in traditionally male
occupations. .
*
Developing gender-sensitive delivery mechanisms that match rural
women’s and men’s different needs, such as mobile training
units, extension schemes and distance learning using mobile
phones, radio and internet. Within those mechanisms, the most
disadvantaged (such as women with disabilities, from ethnic
minorities, or associated with armed forces or ex-combatants)
should be guaranteed access to specifically designed trainings..
*
Expand rural women’s access to science and technical education and
ICT, such as mobile phones and computers, to facilitate their
access to quality education and training, such as distance
learning.
*
Complement vocational and technical training with numeracy and
literacy training for the rural women who need it. Women,
particularly the most disadvantaged, may also need training on
gender issues and life skills, such as health and nutrition,
confidence building, negotiation and leadership skills.
*
Link women with mentors/masters via apprenticeship systems.
Upgrade traditional and informal apprenticeship systems by
improving working conditions or combining apprenticeship with
formal vocational training or links with business associations.
BOX 3: The Education for Rural People Partnership (ERP) Toolkit
The ERP Toolkit provides education and training materials for
extension staff, farmers, teachers, trainers and learners –children,
youth and adults - involved in formal and non formal rural education.
It contains children’s books and cartoons; skill manuals; learners;
planning guides for extension workers, teachers and trainers.
Materials are divided by topics such as agriculture (including plants,
water, soil and land rights, animals and pastoralism, biodiversity,
rural finance and book-keeping); food and nutrition and school
gardening, fisheries and aquaculture, sustainable development
including education and training planning tools, HIV/AIDS, gender,
peace education/training, and communication. They are also organized
by education and training level and type, including primary,
secondary, vocational and higher education, non formal education,
literacy and skills for life.
Source: FAO website / Teaching and learning materials available at:
http://www.fao.org/erp/en/
4.
Support women’s self-employment
*
Combine technical and entrepreneurship training, for example,
through community-based initiatives, as many rural women make a
living through self-employment in the informal economy.
*
Strengthen the capacity of entrepreneurship service providers to
better address the needs and issues of rural female entrepreneurs.
*
Provide post-training services such as access to credit or savings
programmes, business development services, training in product
design and marketing and linkages to new markets. New markets,
especially value chains, can also provide opportunities to adopt
new technologies and production practices.
*
Support rural women’s networks and groups, such as cooperatives.
Groups can lead to informal learning of skills and provide
collective power that may be required to reach new markets.
BOX 4 : Solar Systems Training in Rural Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, where 70 per cent of the population lack electricity,
women are most affected as they need energy for cooking and other
household tasks. Grameen Shakti microloans financed the installation
of over 100,000 solar home systems in rural areas and trained local
youth and women as certified technicians and in repair and
maintenance. This provided women employment opportunities and improved
their daily lives, while solar systems are facilitating business start
ups such as mobile phone centres, repair shops and handicrafts.
Source: UNEP (2008): Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable,
Low-Carbon World. UNEP, Nairobi.
BOX 5: Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (TREE)
TREE is an ILO community-based training programme implemented in Asia
and Africa. It promotes income generation and employment opportunities
for disadvantaged women and men by providing them with skills and
knowledge they can use in their communities. Its strategy involves
planning with local partner institutions; careful identification of
economic opportunities and training needs assessment in the community;
designing and delivering relevant skills training; and post-training
support to facilitate trainees’ access to wage or self employment.
In Bangladesh, TREE encouraged women to enter non-traditional trades
such as repair of appliances and computers. The approach combined
technical and business training with training in gender issues and
gender sensitization sessions for trainees’ families, communities and
partner organizations. In rural Pakistan, where social norms
restricted women’s participation in training outside their homes,
female resource persons went to villages and trained rural women at
home. Trainees’ increased income-generating activities also generated
greater respect for women in the community, and many experienced
increased mobility, self-esteem and socioeconomic empowerment.
Source: ILO: Rural Skills Training: A Generic Manual on Training for
Rural Economic Empowerment (TREE).
Contacts:
Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Lavinia Gasperini:
[email protected]
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Maria Hartl:
[email protected]
International Labour Office (ILO) James Windell: [email protected]
This policy brief was prepared by Tiina Eskola (ILO consultant) and
Lavinia Gasperini (FAO).
Endnotes
1 ILO. 2009. Report VI: Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work.,
Geneva / Burchi, F. and De Muro, P. 2009.: Reducing Children’s Food
Insecurity through Primary Education for Rural Mothers: The case of
Mozambique. FAO, Rome.
2 ILO. 2009.Report VI: Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work.
Geneva.
3 UNESCO. 2005. Technology-based training for marginalized girls.
Paris.
4 ILO. Skills for Youth Employment and Rural Development in Western
and Southern Africa, project document, unpublished.
5 UN. 2009. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2009. New York.
6 Hartl,M. 2009. Technical and vocational education and training
(TVET) and skills development for poverty reduction – do rural women
benefit? Paper submitted to FAO-IFAD-ILO Workshop on ‘Gaps, Trends and
Current Research in Gender Dimensions of Agricultural and Rural
Employment: Differentiated Pathways out of Poverty’, Rome, 31 March -
2 April 2009.
7 Quisumbing, A. 1996. Male-female differences in agricultural
productivity.; Methodological issues and empirical evidence. World
Development, 24 (10):1579-1595.
8 ILO. 2008. Report IV: Promotion of rural employment for poverty
reduction. Geneva.
9 FAO, 1997. Higher agricultural education and opportunities in rural
development for women, by M. Karl. Rome.
10 ILO . 2008. Report V. Skills for improved productivity, employment
growth and development. Geneva / and FAO http://www.fao.org/erp/en/ ,
Rome.
11 Jutting, J. and Morrisson C. 2009. Women, bad jobs, rural area:
what can "SIGI" tell us?. FAO-IFAD-ILO Workshop Op.Cit.
12 UN. 2009. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2009. New York.
13 Jutting, J. and Morrisson, C. 2009. Op. cit.
14 FAO, 2006. . Gender: the missing component of the response to
climate change, by Y. Lambrou and G. Piana. Rome.
15 ILO. Skills and Employability Department: Introductory guidebook on
upgrading informal apprenticeship in Africa. Geneva forthcoming.
16 Murray, U. (unpublished): Gender and Skills Development: Practical
experiences and ways forward. Report prepared for the ILO.
17 FAO. 2009. . Education for Rural People. The role of education,
training and capacity development in poverty reduction and food
security, by D. Acker and L.Gasperini.. Rome.
18 ILO. 2009. Give girls a chance. Tackling child labour, a key to the
future. Geneva.
19 ILO. 2008. Report V. Skills for improved productivity, employment
growth and development.Geneva.
20 ILO. 2009. Green jobs: Improving the climate for gender equality
too!
http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---gender/documents/publication/wcms_101505.pdf.
21 FAO UNESCO/ IEEP. 2005. Using indicators in planning education for
rural people: a practical guide ", Paris.
http://www.fao.org/erp/erp-publications-en/en/
22 FAO and UNESCO/IIEP. 2003.” Increasing the school enrolment of
girls” in Education for Rural Development, Toward new policy
responses. Rome and Paris
23 FAO. 2009. Op. cit..
24 FAO. 2009. Op. cit.
25 M. Hartl, 2009. Op. cit.

©ILO: Training on new equipment in Côte d’Ivoire ©ILO: Training in a
cooperative in India

© FAO : Health class at a Peru rural health centre © Lavinia Gasperini
: Mozambican woman attending school

©ILO: Training for conflict affected youth in DRC
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