This publication is the result of a project jointly funded by the International Development Research Centre and the Rockefeller Foundation

This publication is the result of a project jointly funded by the International Development Research Centre and the Rockefeller Foundation.

II existe également une édition française de cette publication.

Technology, Gender, and Power in Africa

Patricia Stamp

First edition 1989

© International Development Research Centre 1989

PO Box 8500, Ottawa, OnL, Canada K1G 3H9

Reprinted 1990, 1993

Stamp, P.

                                                                                                                          IDRC-TS63e

Technology, gender, and power in Africa. Ottawa, Ont, IDRC, 1990. x + 185 p. (Technical study / IDRC)

/Women’s role/, /technology transfer/, /social change/, /Africa/— /women’s rights/, /decision making/, /self-help/, /economics/, /research needs/, /organization of research/, /references/.

UDC: 396:001.92(6)                                                                                                 ISBN: 0-88936-538-5

Technical Editor: W.M. Carman

A microfiche edition is available.

The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the International Development Research Centre or the Rockefeller Foundation. Mention of proprietary names does not constitute endorsement of the product and is given only for information.

Abstract / Résumé / Resumen

Abstract — This book demonstrates that the study of gender relations and the power of women is central to an evaluation of development efforts in Africa. The interactive relationship between technology transfer and gender factors is explored using case studies and examples from the development literature on agriculture, health, and nutrition, as well as from feminist scholarship on Africa. Faulty approaches to the topic and biases at all levels of policy-making have led to ineffective or even harmful projects. Insights about the significance of gender factors do not easily cross the boundaries between different fields of inquiry. Part I presents the different conceptual frameworks within which the topic has been considered. The fields of African studies, women’s studies, and development studies are critiqued, and useful approaches are identified. The invisibility of gender in development studies and aid practice is explored at length. Part II examines the research findings of African women to identify the factors that either render women powerless and disadvantaged or create the conditions for their authoritative participation in development. Part III identifies issues and interrelations that have not been addressed in previous research and suggests promising ways to frame future research on women and technology in Africa. The social, economic, and technical empowerment of women at the community level is seen as vital to effective development efforts.

Résumé — L’auteure montre que l’étude des rapports des sexes et le pouvoir de la femme sont au coeur de l’évaluation des efforts de développement en Afrique. Elle explore l’interaction du transfert technologique et des facteurs liés au sexe à l’aide d’études de cas et d’exemples tirés de la littérature du développement en agriculture, santé et nutrition et de l’ensemble de connaissances sur le féminisme en Afrique. De fausses approches du sujet et les préjugés dont sont empreintes les politiques à tous les niveaux ont entraîné la réalisation de projets inefficaces, voire nocifs. Les idées sur la signification des facteurs liés au sexe ne franchissent pas facilement les frontières entre les disciplines. Dans la partie I, l’auteure présente les différentes perspectives dans lesquelles le sujet a été étudié. Elle fait la critique des perspectives études africaines, études des femmes et études sur le développement et indique des perspectives utiles. L’auteure s’étend longuement sur le fait que le rôle des sexes soit passé sous silence dans les études sur le développement et dans l’aide au développement. Dans la partie II, elle se penche sur les résultats de la recherche sur la femme africaine pour déterminer les facteurs qui la rendent impuissante et la défavorisent ou créent les conditions favorables à sa participation autoritaire au développement. Dans la partie III, l’auteure s’arrête sur les questions et les interrelations qui n’ont pas encore été étudiées et suggère des perspectives intéressantes dans lesquelles placer les futures études sur la femme et la technologie en Afrique. L’auteure estime que l’acquisition d’un pouvoir social, économique et technique par la femme au niveau communautaire est essentielle à l’efficacité des efforts de développement.

Resumen — Este libro demuestra que el estudio de las relaciones entre los sexos y el poder de las mujeres es fundamental para evaluar los esfuerzos que se hacen con el fin de desarrollar a Africa. En sus páginas se explora la interacción entre la transferencia tecnológica y los factores relacionados con ambos sexos utilizando estudios y ejemplos extraídos de la bibliografía del desarrollo sobre agricultura, salud y nutrición, así como del conocimiento feminista sobre Africa. Enfoques erróneos sobre el tema y prejuicios en todos los niveles de formulación de políticas han conducido a proyectos inefectivos o incluso dañinos. Los conocimientos acerca de la importancia de factores relacionados con el hecho de pertenecer al sexo masculino o femenino no se transmiten fácilmente entre diferentes campos de estudio. En la Parte I se presentan los diferentes marcos concetuales de trabajo dentro de los cuales se ha considerado el tópico. Se hace una evaluación critica de los campos de estudios sobre Africa, las mujeres y el desarrollo y se identifican enfoques provenchosos. Se explora extensamente el papel invisible que ha desempeñado el sexo en los estudios sobre el desarrollo y en las prácticas de prestacion de ayuda. En la Parte n se examinan los resultados de la investigation realizada sobre las mujeres africanas con el fin de identificar los factores que las despojan del poder y las dejan en situation de desventaja o bien crean las condiciones para que participen con pleno derecho en el proceso de desarrollo. En la Parte III se identifican cuestiones e interrelaciones no tratadas en investigaciones anteriores y se sugieren maneras promisorias para enmarcar investigaciones futuras sobre las mujeres y la tecnología en Africa. La concesión de autoridad a las mujeres en los niveles social, económico y técnico de la comunidad se considera como vital para que sean efectivos los esfuerzos en la esfera del desarrollo.

Contents

Foreword

vii

Preface

ix

Acknowledgments

x

Introduction

1

Part I: Conceptual Frameworks

7

1. The Fields of Knowledge

8

Women’s studies and Africa: a history

11

Feminist theories: a classification

14

Feminist political economy and the study of African women

19

2. Conceptualizing Technology, Gender, and Development

25

The continuing invisibility of gender

26

Gender, health, and nutrition: conceptual approaches

30

Women and gender issues in research/action loci

37

Part II: Technology Transfer: Gender and Power in the Village and Family

45

3. Technology, Gender, and Development in Africa: the Findings

46

African women and technology

46

The politics of technology and gender

51

Technology transfer and the decline of women’s power

63

The importance of women’s grass-roots organizations

70

4. Feminist Political Economy

74

Gender relations and women’s self-help groups

75

Cases in feminist political economy

85

Part III: New Approaches

93

5. New Issues in Technology, Gender, and Development

94

Introduction

94

The six categories

95

Toward a new synthesis

97

Women’s associations and sex-gender systems

100

Neglected focal points for social transformation

103

The boundary problem

109

Who does the research?

109

6. Conceptual Problems in the Study of Women in Development

111

Introduction

111

The public/private dichotomy

113

“Family” and the “domestic realm”

116

The economic as the socially determining level of society

119

The “traditional”

121

The nature of “nature”

124

Liberating subjugated knowledges

129

7. Framing Future Research

134

Classifying sex-gender systems

134

Overcoming the boundary problem

138

Organizing for the dissemination of technology

139

Inventory of successful initiatives

140

Transforming the aid expert-aid recipient relationship146

References

159

Acronyms and Abbreviations

177

Subject and Author Index

179

Foreword

It is only in recent years that researchers have started to examine the relationship between technology and gender. This report was originally prepared for a meeting entitled “Gender, Technology, and Development A Diagnosis of Available Literature,” which was held in New York, 26–27 February 1989. Jointly sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Health Sciences Division of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the meeting brought together a small group of developing- and industrialized-country researchers and specialists to discuss the gaps in the literature on the connections between health, agriculture, gender, and development.

One of the key findings of this meeting was that, for most women in the developing world, technology has failed. Attention was focused on health-related technologies aimed at nutrition, control of reproduction, and improvement of child care, and on agriculture-related technologies including mechanization, higher yielding seed varieties, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, food processing, plant breeding, and genetic engineering. It was recognized that most of the technologies that have been developed have not served effectively. Frequently, they are not being used, are being used sporadically, or are being used incorrectly. For the most part, these technologies have been developed on the basis of Western models and Western notions of what people in developing countries want and need. Technologies are not neutral — they are value-laden from beginning to end.

This book explores the relationship between technology, power, and gender. It provides an extensive review of the literature and makes many thoughtful suggestions for more effective and appropriate technology development and use. This book will undoubtedly be a valuable teaching and research tool for scholars, planners, and students involved in development.

Eva M. Rathgeber
Coordinator, Women in Development Unit
International Development Research Centre

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Preface

This book emerged from a joint project of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1986, the two organizations commissioned a number of studies on gender, technology, and development in the Third World: this publication, in its first version, was one of them. The study was to focus on the ways in which different types of community organizations in Africa, both indigenous and externally imposed, influence the introduction and sustained use of agriculture-, health-, and nutrition-related technologies. The report of the study was to cover the following four areas: existing conceptual approaches to the subject, major research findings highlighting areas of consensus and disagreement, issues and interrelations that have not been addressed in previous research, and promising ways to approach the topic for future research.

The work expanded considerably during substantial revisions in 1987 and 1988, developing certain lines of inquiry and including more references. While adhering to the original structure shaped by the four areas outlined above, this book has a wider focus, covering everything from technology transfer to a wider array of questions about the women in development (WID) enterprise. It is hoped, therefore, that this publication will be of use not only to those specializing in technology transfer but also to a more general audience of scholars and practitioners concerned with gender and development and, indeed, with Third World political economy.

Acknowledgments

I owe special thanks to several people at IDRC. Richard Wilson, Director of the Health Sciences Division, and Eva Rathgeber, Coordinator of the Women in Development Unit, supported and encouraged me at different stages of the endeavour. Margo Hawley, Reference Specialist in the IDRC Library, entered the literature search with enthusiasm, imagination, and efficiency, ensuring me access to a wide variety of material. In Toronto, my Research Assistant, Vuyiswa Keyi, provided valuable assistance in tracking down sources and in shaping the questions to be asked of the literature. My deepest appreciation goes to my husband, Stephen Katz, for his perceptive suggestions, tactical assistance, and his support of the intensive electronic cottage industry that writing of this kind has become.

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