Gender Analysis: Guidelines for Project
Land ownership and control of natural resources are among the
most important issues for women farmers. Agricultural development
projects that address women's needs may find that the women they
work with have neither ownership nor control of resources. Projects
that do not address gender in their design and implementation
may consequently be less effective than intended. Identifying
and including all potential participants and target populations
in agricultural development projects will improve project design
and implementation and ensure that projects do not adversely affect
a significant portion of the population.
Begin at the Beginning
The following guidelines for incorporating gender analysis into
agricultural projects concentrate on the design phase. Incorporating
gender at later stages is difficult and often ineffective. Including
women on the project design team often facilitates gender incorporation,
especially when the women are from the project area.
When designing a project that deals with land and other resource
tenure issues, it is tempting to start with an analysis of who
has access to and control over resources. Tenure relations, however,
are often not visible. The activities people engage in, particularly
work activities, are easier to observe. Analyzing these activities
shows how resources are allocated and managed. This approach is
justified because there is a close relationship between resource
use and labor; in many cases tenure relations are used to control
Project designers should analyze women's work both in the fields
and at home, by asking three questions about activities of household
members: who (gender and age), when (time needed/seasonal or daily)
and where (at home, around the house, in the field, in the village,
away from the village).
Dividing work activities into six categories facilitates analysis.
These categories are agriculture, livestock, household production,
gathering of natural resources, off-farm work and community work.
After analyzing these activities project designers should ask
themselves: How will the project affect these activities and the
Rights and Rules
Next, project designers should ask the following questions about
the interactions between the project population and resources.
What rights do different households have to land, water, trees
and other resources?
What rights do individual women and men in the household have
to these resources?
What rights do specific community groups (single women, junior
males, etc.) have to different resources?
Are these communal, household or individual rights?
Are these use or ownership rights, temporary or permanent access
rights, seasonal or year-round rights?
Are these rights dependent on someone else, and whom?
How are resources obtained? Are they purchased, exchanged for
goods and services, or free for the taking?
How do these rights affect project implementation and impact on
the target population?
Other resources affecting a household's production ability that
are as important as natural resources include inputs for agricultural
production (e.g. seeds, tools and draught animals), capital and/or
credit, extension services and technical assistance.
External political, socioeconomic and cultural factors influence
labor allocation and resources access. These factors cannot be
ignored. If they are, projects that include gender analysis and
attempt to improve women's access to resources may remain unsuccessful.
There are several reasons for this.
Women may not have time for project activities due to time-consuming
Even though a project may help women to acquire resources, women
may not be able to maintain this control; they may face family
pressure to sell, lease or lend land to a male relative.
Women may find it difficult to cultivate resources if men control
productive factors, such as labor and tools.
Women may not be able to initiate or maintain contact with public
agencies, markets or other outside entities due to restrictions
on travel outside the home or community.
Local officials may not support new legislation or programs that
In areas where a European language is widely spoken, rural women
who speak only the local language will have difficulties acquiring
education, skills and contacts with governmental and non-governmental
In many areas women have a lower status than men, making them
even more reluctant to engage in contacts with outside persons
One way to avoid some of these pitfalls, or to minimize their
impact, is to work with women's groups. Women's groups may be
groups gathered around particular resources, labor groups, cooperatives,
or educational/skill improvement groups. Working with women's
groups allows project planners and implementors to identify the
limitatitions that women face and to design programs that address
Susana Lastarria-Cornhiel. 1993. Incorporating Gender in Natural
Resource Tenure Projects. Unpublished Paper.
Land Tenure Center
University of Wisconsin
1357 University Ave
Madison, WI 53715
Tel: (608) 262-3657
Fax: (608) 262-2141