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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The women-in-development efficiency approach : a case study of programming income generation in a Chinese village Tyler, Diane

Abstract

In the 1970s, international development planners began to recognize women's important roles in their communities. A variety of approaches to include women have since evolved, and their merits are debated. They have been described in the literature as "welfare," "Women-in-Development" (WID), and "Gender and Development" (GAD). The welfare approach focuses on basic needs while strengthening women's homemaker and reproductive roles. The WID approach is based on increasing women's incomes as a means toward empowerment. The Gender and Development (GAD) addresses systemic gender discrimination. There is need for research in development planning. Development programs track results during the project, but seldom look at long term impacts and sustainability. This thesis reports the results of research on a 1991 WID efficiency approach, women's income generation project in Shaanxi Province, China, by examining the impact seven years later. My methodology involved interviews with twenty-one women project participants, eight husbands, village leaders and informal lunch-hour focus group discussions with villagers. The project involved transition from grain to orchards. The orchards dramatically increased women's incomes and improved the quality of village life. The women took full control of orchard management, pushing men out of the orchards saying that they were "incapable" of the monotonous orchard tasks. Most husbands found off-farm jobs, diversifying household incomes. Women gained marketing skills, self-confidence, and financial independence, but remained vulnerable as primary producers to income fluctuations. Most women stayed outside village politics, and traditional gender role socialization was maintained. The project fulfilled women's needs and interests, however, long term results for women are mixed. The Shaanxi field project was one of sixty-six field projects under the Canada- China Women-in-Development Project (1990-1995) implemented in partnership by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the All-China Women's Federation. The project had two components: poverty reduction and institutional strengthening of the Women's Federation. I was the Canadian co-manager of the Canada-China WID Project, and have since completed more than thirty contracts (fifteen projects) plus a two-year contract as co-manager of the Canada-China Women's Law Project (one year of which was full-time in China). My research is intended to assist and improve my future work in the development field, and to inform those interested in women's development program planning and gender equality policy. Good planning was key to the strength of the Canada-China WID Project. Partners shared a common goal. CIDA's efficiency approach supported the Women's Federation policy to bring women into production as a means of achieving equality. Participatory planning and decision-making involved Federation project officers across China. Delegation in management and clear, commonly set guidelines increased partners' involvement and accountability. Power in planning gradually, and tacitly, transferred to the Women's Federation as they assumed ownership and responsibility for results. Strong donor/recipient partnership and participatory planning processes strengthen potential for sustainable results. Suggestions to improve women's development planning include: increasing gender awareness, strengthening women's interest and capacity in political participation, developing risk mitigation strategies to lessen income insecurity, blending WID/GAD projects, and further research on project impacts.

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