Promoting equality between men and women is an integral part of rural and agricultural development. Iram has acquired considerable experience in this field since the 1970s, working to ensure that development projects take account of and empower women, especially in Africa.

Women are key actors in rural development

Women in rural and agricultural settings are often at a disadvantage to men, even though they account for at least half of the actors concerned (sometimes more where male migration is high) and make an invaluable contribution at many levels. They constitute a considerable agricultural and artisanal workforce – producing, processing and selling produce in rural and urban markets; and women in West Africa are also expected to cover the household’s health and educational costs and provide the ingredients for their daily meals.

Yet little value is placed on women’s work or their economic and domestic responsibilities. Their low social status excludes them from most local decision-making bodies and prevents them from accessing resources, information or training, and many development projects further marginalize women by only working with men. In this context, strengthening women’s capacities will be a determining factor in the economic, social and political future of societies in developing countries.

Iram’s approach

Iram works to promote equal rights and the equitable division of resources and responsibilities between men and women. The institute takes a cross-cutting approach to gender issues in its interventions on micro-finance, natural resource management, local development and support for rural organisations, by:

  • Analysing the roles and constraints that are specific to women in each intervention context from an economic, social, cultural and political perspective, to ensure that proposed intervention strategies are appropriate and effective.
  • Involving women at every stage of projects and programmes from their design and implementation to monitoring and evaluation.
  • Undertaking specific actions, such as setting up credit systems exclusively for women.

Iram designs and implements specific tools to address gender issues at every stage of its projects or programmes:

  • Identification: diagnostics, type of production system, etc.
  • Overall approach: defining specific gender-related objectives, log frames, etc.
  • Implementation, monitoring and evaluation: planning activities, identifying indicators, etc.
  • Evaluation: assessing the social, economic and other impacts of the project or programme.