Rural Women at Work: Strategies for Development in South Asia

By Ruth B. Dixon | Go to book overview

2
CREATING NONAGRICULTURAL EMPLOYMENT FOR RURAL WOMEN

If they are to serve as authentic channels for social change, strategies for integrating women into the development process must be sensitive to differences in social and economic structures as well as in cultural values and beliefs. The strategy outlined in this chapter has a particular thrust in contending that one must begin with the creation of employment for rural women, and that this employment should produce income over which women have some control. In addition, it should be located in small towns and villages; create jobs outside agriculture in small-scale, labor-intensive light industries; draw women out of their homes into a central workplace; organize production cooperatively; and offer additional services and incentives.

This particular combination of elements derives from observations of four countries ( India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal) that share certain characteristics such as their extreme poverty, relatively high rates of population growth, early and universal marriage patterns among women, and cultural systems valuing female seclusion. But structural and cultural conditions differ widely within these countries both by geographical region and by religion, caste, and class. Thus, the several parts of the model will have to be adapted to local situations, even in the South Asian context. The model is certainly not designed to be transplanted intact to other settings, although in some parts of Africa, Latin America, or elsewhere in Asia or the Middle East, conditions may resemble those described here more than one would initially suspect.

Before determining which projects are feasible, it is necessary to obtain information on the current productive activities of rural women. It is amazing how little we know, in general, about how rural women in most parts of the world spend their time. A few valiant attempts have been made to compile comparative international data on women's access to schooling, employment in the formal and informal sectors, income, political power, and other resources, or to explore in diverse settings their decision-making roles in agriculture, small rural industries, marketing,

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Rural Women at Work: Strategies for Development in South Asia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xv
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Creating Nonagricultural Employment for Rural Women 12
  • Conclusions 40
  • 3 - Employment for Rural Women-- Five Programs 42
  • Conclusions 71
  • 4 - Product Selection and Funding 75
  • Conclusions 103
  • 5 - Overcoming Cultural and Structural Obstacles in the Recruitment of Women Workers 105
  • Conclusions 134
  • 6 - The Social Structure of the Workplace 138
  • Conclusions 164
  • 7 - Policy Conclusions 167
  • Appendix: Research Issues in Female Employment 178
  • References 210
  • Index 223
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