Sunday, October 19, 2014

Women's Initiatives

Participation of women with the development process has been constrained by their inability to influence policy making and planning, plus by their inability to change the patriarchal ideology which continues to legitimize their subordinate level in society.

The majority of women have been participating in the economy as marginal actors with the agricultural sector, where they till land they do not own with the crudest tools and produce crops it doesn't control.

Others have opted to participate in the informal sector, where there is no state support and where at worst they are really victims of state repression because most of their activities; such as street vending or localized beer brewing; are considered illegal. The fraction employed in the formal sector participates as semi-skilled, not skilled or low-paid wage earners. They have been victims of the retrenchment measures which governments are pursuing with the name of Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs).

Women have taken various initiatives in order to overcome the various constraints which limit their effective participation in the development process. A few have organized commercial groups and cooperative ventures. During the 1980s and 1990s, most African states witnessed a spreading of women's income-generating projects. Most of these groups, however, are small in nature and have been completely confined to the informal sector. Most of these women-only projects, as Diane Elson noted, typically are not economically viable and, in the majority of cases, tend to be welfare oriented. Most are small and lack sufficient official support as well as have therefore remained outside mainstream plans.

Women's income-generating activities however, are enabling the majority of Africa states to weather a severe socio-economic crisis with minimal social upheavals, as women absorb the shocks belonging to the crisis. 6 And yet, such activities can only be sustained if; and only if; they are system of the mainstream plans, in other words, planned for, budgeted for and supported. With present trends in economic liberalization, however, these income-generating activities will not survive the competition from external and indoor companies. Less state intervention in the economy might be a death knoll to women's commercial activities.

Women on this continent have been implementing projects and plans which have been imposed upon them by their governments additionally, the donor community. The marginalized position of women in Africa has been used by African states and donor governments to inject funds into issues except those directed towards empowering women. African women have to fight for greater participation in decision making organs and will demand that governments be more accountable to them. Women will contribute more effectively if they perform the decisions which affect them and society at large.

This has forced some women's sets, such as the Zambian women's lobby group, to organize for political influence. Women can only create the sustainable development process if they are part of those who design plans and produce policies. This means they have to play a more aggressive role in the management on their societies.

African states have to recognize that unless men and women participate in designing development programmes and formulating policies in the development process, sustainable development will remain a distant dream.

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