'United she stand, divided she fall'
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CTA. 2000. 'United she stand, divided she fall'. Spore 87. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/46785
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There are many steps for ACP women to climb on the stairway to empowerment or, put simply, to enabling them to run their own lives. They include access to education and finance, and grasping the use of new information and communication...
There are many steps for ACP women to climb on the stairway to empowerment or, put simply, to enabling them to run their own lives. They include access to education and finance, and grasping the use of new information and communication technologies. Many women have already opened up the traditional mindsets which have denied even the principle of gender equality and have thus condemned women to a secondary position in society. Others are following suit, and more will join them. There s nothing new in women entrepreneurs, but there s more to genderisation than income-generation Illustration: J. Florentin Across the ACP countries, women are coming out of their enforced invisibility . Through a tide of conference resolutions, commissions and fora over the decades, an awareness has grown of their economic and social role. Gender is now mentioned in all the speeches about development, and the notion of gender, which embraces a strategy to integrate women in development, is sowing its seeds just about everywhere. The Year of the Woman in 1975 triggered off a movement which the international women s conference in Beijing in 1995 transformed into an unstoppable force. Women are, literally, on the march. True, they are not all marching to the same drum, and although many are lagging behind, more and more women are coming out of isolation and holding hands behind slogans, in the belief that power comes through unity. Or so, at least, it would appear. There are still flagrant differences between urban and rural women, between wives and widows, between secretaries in the office and the self-effacing just housewives in the village, and between women in Africa and their sisters in the Caribbean or the Pacific. These disparities are pinned down by the weight of traditions, often with the complicity of women, and of history, religion and culture. Even the terminology used to discuss women in the context of development or power says a lot about the different mentalities and the degree of dynamism at play in gender issues. In the English-speaking world, the favoured term seems to be Women in development whereas French-speaking stakeholders talk more of Femmes et développement (women and development). Some talk of empowerment, others of access to power. It is more than a question of the subtleties of language: are women really in power or do they just skirt around it, stuck in governmental bodies which are usually seen as mere coordination mechanisms? There has been, it must be said, a blossoming of ministries for Women s Affairs, and for the Family, or Social action or National solidarity in some ACP countries. They are headed by women, of course, but surely women, and rural women above all, should be present, or at least represented, in all ministries and all areas of economic and political decision-making. Clearly, progress has to be made. Training is the key to empowerment Illustration: J. Florentin Spreading the word Whether they are farmers, traders or food processors, we know that ACP women are rightly seen as one of the essential levers of development; and yet they are, paradoxically, faced with major barriers such as access to credit and land. Take the case of Honduras and Costa Rica, where 28% of women s applications for land rights have been granted, compared with 61% for men. In Jamaica only 5% of loans made by the agricultural bank go to women, although in fairness private credit operations such as the Self-Start Fund and Solidarity are more responsive to women s requests. In Suriname, women do not have the right to receive loans directly, and transactions have to pass through their husband or a relation. In Africa, women are still often regarded as an item to be inherited: like the land they toil, they are passed down from the hands of a deceased husband to the hands of a brother-in-law. Not content with waiting for fundamental reforms, some women are already following another, parallel route alongside that of public bodies. These women have graduated from secondary school or higher education. They often come from well-placed families. They know their way around the world of NGOs and donor agencies, and have become journalists, company directors and heads of local radio stations. Their efforts are slowly spreading into the villages, where women are coming to appreciate the meaning of 'united we stand, divided we fall'. Contacts: ASAFE BP 5213 Douala Cameroon Fax: + 237 42 29 70 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Réseau Siggil Jigeen BP 10137 Dakar Senegal Fax: + 221 825 32 38 Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.famafrique.org/sjigee.html Association des femmes Pag-la-Yiri 09 BP 335 Ouagadougou Burkina Faso Fax: + 226 31 24 21 Famafrique is the network of online networks of (francophone) African women s groups: http://www.famafrique.%20org/ See also: Women s Information Services and Networks (book reviewed in Spore 84) S Cummings, H van Dam & M Valk, Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), 1999. 176 pp. ISBN 90 6832 711 9, NLG 35 E 15.90 KIT Press PO Box 95001 1090 HA Amsterdam, Netherlands Fax: +31 20 568 8286 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Who milks the cow? Gender and Development in Livestock Farming M Richter, CTA/GTZ, 1997. 202 pp. ISBN 3 88085 518 8 CTA number 824. 20 credit p
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