«Women-only focus group discussion in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. 17 August 2011 i Version 1 – August 2011 Contents Abbreviations and Acronyms Executive ...»
In Guatemala, and more so in indigenous communities, it was access to land that was raised as a problem. Indigenous communities have been historically and systematically discriminated against, and in this process geographically confined to areas of poor soil quality. Land concentration in Guatemala contributes to the difficult access to and scarcity of land in the country. Women in indigenous communities were very worried about household access to land, rather than women’s access to land. Many families did not own land at all, and they had to rent. Others owned very small plots and also had to rent to top up their production. Some women noted that competition for renting land was such that some families were not able to rent from one year to the next.
2.3.2 Financial capital (income and financial services) Women’s access to financial capital is key for both household well-being (Kennedy in Quisumbing et al 1995; Haddad 1992) and for agricultural development (e.g. for buying input to support productive activities).
Although women may be consulted in a number of different capacities within the household, they often lack decision-making powers when it comes to spending, and lack control over their own income. For instance, research in Ghana shows that even where women may disproportionately (in comparison to men) control the production, processing and marketing of certain crops (onions and eggplant in this case), women very rarely control the income from those crops. This also holds for FHHs28 (Doss 2002).
Additionally, women may lack access to financial services, such as credit, savings, pensions and insurance, or at least the type of financial services that are suited to their needs. In Africa, it is estimated that women receive less than 10 per cent of all the credit going to small farmers29. Women in Africa have traditionally relied largely on informal sources of credit, such as microcredit or money lenders (Perry 2002; Kimuyu 1995). Some regional differences can be identified, although the situation is rapidly changing as financial services, particularly credit, are prioritised by governments and development agencies.
In East Africa, in comparison to West Africa, there is a near-complete absence of traditional forms of money lending, which could benefit women as there is less requirement for collateral. Less formal networks have benefited women through rotating savings and credit associations (or ‘merry-go rounds’), and friends and relatives, which provide loans for both production and consumption (Kimuyu 1995). Fieldwork showed that in Ethiopia government policy is to promote women-only savings groups.
The control that FHHs have over their income may be mitigated by male relatives. This research in Ghana did not investigate the reasons for the lack of control.
Introductory remarks by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, at the Ministerial Breakfast on Economic Opportunities for the Empowerment of Women in Africa and the Least Developed Countries: Access to Land, Credit, and Markets, 2 July 2010 This is becoming increasingly institutionalised and these groups function on a revolvingfund basis, sometimes of assets (i.e. cattle fattening, two goats per women; if more goats are born, these are given to new members). Although this approach takes time, because women do not have access to a lot of surplus income, this type of financial service can ensure that women are not driven into debt. In comparison, in Tanzania the trend is to ‘push’ women into savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) (in this process dismantling women-only savings groups). The loans are provided through the SACCOs, but originate from commercial financial institutions. It is clear that access to credit is not a problem for women in Tanzania, but rather that the interest rates are very high and women (and men) are not privy to information about the rates and alternatives. Women are much more careful in their approach to credit, although they are being pressured into getting loans. This is a clear finding from the limited field work conducted by ALINe, but subsequent feedback from P4P in Tanzania suggests that this may need further investigation, particularly around the forces encouraging involvement in SACCOs and how they are formed and financed. P4P in Tanzania is particularly looking to support the strengthening of FOs to encourage alternative participation in groups, by both men and women.
Traditionally, there are well-functioning informal savings and loan associations in nearly all West African countries. Here, the combination of credit cooperatives with individual credit use has proved relatively successful (Günther 1998; Jalloh 2003). In Mali, women’s access to bank loans has improved since a law was passed in 1994 to strengthen microcredit programmes. Similar progress has been made in other countries, mainly thanks to grassroots organisations. A result of the focus on microcredit has been the growth of money lenders, and particularly women money lenders that have recycled NGO loans as high-interest loans to other farmers (Perry 2002). Similarly, in Burkina Faso women are particularly at a disadvantage in regard to access to bank loans in that formal financial institutions are rarely prepared to lend them money. Thus, their only option is to borrow from microcredit or other informal institutions which have been introduced
by public agencies and NGOs over the past 20 years. These schemes are quite successful:
to date, tens of thousands of Burkinabe women have received microcredit (SIGI 2009).
However, there is less evidence about the effect these loans have on women’s debt.
In Southern Africa access to financial services varies across the region, with Malawi and Mozambique in a better position than DRC and Zambia. For instance, Congolese wives cannot sign any legal acts without the authorisation of their husbands, and they have virtually no access to bank loans and bank accounts. There is a similar situation in Zambia (SIGI 2009).
Similarly, in Latin America land titles facilitate smallholder farmers’ access to credit and other benefits. In principle, both men and women are eligible for financial support in the region. In practice, however, women generally have no land or smaller plots of land than men, and their lack of financial resources means that banks offer them smaller loans.
Besides lack of property rights, limited information on credit opportunities and procedures further limit women’s ability to access financial services. This often applies also in the case of co-property as the man is still considered the prime legal representative.
The fieldwork has raised the fact that the provision of credit in many countries is fairly unregulated. That is, both private and microcredit lending institutions operate against weak regulatory frameworks. In some cases, such as Tanzania, it is evident that lending to farmers is being promoted, and because agricultural credit is high-risk, the interest rates are too high30. In all FGDs organised in Tanzania, debt came up as one of the major concerns of both men and women. But it was clear that women were much more worried and anxious about this given that women are made responsible for managing the payment of the loan. Also (and if families default), the burden of repossessions seems to fall more heavily on women.31 In some cases, women were being pressured into getting loans, either by the community or their husbands. Overall, farmers lived in a constant cycle of debt, and loans were not used to make structural improvements to productions, and so have more efficient producers. Instead, they were used to cover for more urgent and mundane needs. Also of note is the level of poor information and misinformation about credit.
2.3.3 Physical capital (agricultural machinery, tools, buildings, inputs) Technological resources (fertilisers, insecticides, improved varieties and tools) are less available to women (FAO 1994; Evenson and Siegel 1999). There are a host of reasons that hinder women’s access to agricultural inputs: literacy levels, time constraints, restrictions to women’s movements, lack of access to collateral, affordability and limited availability to credit or savings, coupled with low levels of awareness (Peterman et al 2010).
Women have had less access to technologies in SSA, particularly as those that are introduced are rarely developed with women’s needs and priorities in mind (Saito 1994;
Meinzen-Dick et al 2010).
Although women’s access to improved technologies is lacking in all of Africa, research has identified specific gender disparities in West Africa (Ghana and Nigeria). In Ghana, for example, only 39 per cent of women farmers adopted improved crop varieties compared to 59 per cent of male colleagues because women had less access to land, family labour and extension services (FAO 2011a). In Burkina Faso the productivity on female-managed plots was 30 per cent lower than on male-managed plots within the same household because labour and fertiliser were more intensively applied on men’s plots (Udry 1996).
2.3.4 Human capital (education, extension, and health and nutrition) Mothers and wives are not necessarily encouraged to read and write. Illiteracy (or functional illiteracy) may prevent women from accessing and understanding information such as, education, extension and market information (Kacharo 2007). Illiterate women may have lower levels of self-esteem and confidence, and exclude themselves from bureaucratic processes. They may also be less able to engage in financial transactions or participate actively in FOs and other community organisations (FAO 2011a; Tembon and Fort 2008). Yet another problem associated with women’s lower literacy levels is the way this is used by men as an argument to exclude women from participating in FOs, and/or taking on leadership positions.
Table 3 gives common education indicators for P4P countries. Note that illiteracy rates tend to be higher in rural areas in comparison to the rates in cities (Tembon and Fort 2008).
In Africa, access to education varies across the region, although efforts to improve girls’ access to primary education seem to have a positive effect (Tembon and Fort 2008, Geisler 2007).
The majority of gender disparities are currently in secondary and tertiary education, important for the development of women agricultural scientists and extension workers (Johanson et al 2008):
In East Africa many countries have been making considerable efforts to increase the numbers of those in the formal education system and literacy rates among young adult females are relatively high, with the exception of Ethiopia. Policy-makers and cooperative leaders in Ethiopia saw women’s lack of literacy as a key barrier to participation. However, women themselves do not necessarily consider their illiteracy a major constraint. Fieldwork in both Ethiopia and Tanzania did not yield women’s concern with their literacy and numeracy skills. Men tended to connect women’s lower literacy levels to women’s ‘inability’ or ‘unpreparedness’ to be active members of FOs, or to take on leadership positions. Yet women did not consider their lower literacy levels as a hindering factor. Particularly, whenever questions around the need for training were approached, in no situation did women mention the need for literacy and/or numeracy. In Ethiopia, for instance, women connected training with purpose, and purpose would have to come first. Women would suggest having training tied to whatever activities would be most appropriate for them to engage in and in the context of a plethora of diverse livelihood strategies. In terms of self-confidence, women did seem confident in their capacity to succeed – with the sense of purpose, the right guidance and training. Both in Ethiopia and in Tanzania, women’s confidence and selfesteem did not seem belied by their potential lower levels of literacy. Particularly in Tanzania, women were extremely confident that if men would let them have a much more active economic role, and if they could take decisions without going through their husbands, then they would be much more successful than men in running the household.
In West Africa, cultural marginalisation has severely limited women's educational opportunities, resulting in high illiteracy levels and a lack of qualifications and skills.
Illiteracy is a major problem, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali and Sierra Leone, more so than in the rest of Africa.
In Southern Africa, literacy rates are relatively high, with Malawi doing better than the other three countries considered.
Literacy rates in Latin America are high, although among the indigenous it tends to be lower than national averages (World Bank undated). Considering that P4P targets indigenous women farmers, an assessment of their literacy is still needed, particularly if they are required to conduct their interactions with WFP in Spanish. The key here is their lack of Spanish skills rather than their illiteracy.
Another important dimension of human capital is agricultural extension. Access to extension services by women is often limited, and services are not likely to be gender-sensitive or adapted to women’s specific needs (Mogues et al 2009; Peterman et al 2010; Mapila et al 2010; FAO 2011a). Similarly, agricultural and market information is rarely adapted to the specific needs and priorities of women (Quisumbing and Pandolfelli 2010).
Women farmers received only around 5 per cent of extension services in SSA in 1995 (Udry et al 1995). Some individual successes exist, but women are still disadvantaged (FAO 2011a).
Fewer women than men are in contact with agricultural extension agents, and even fewer are the extension agents’ contact point, responsible for passing information on to other
farmers (Saito 1994). Variations exist: