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 Thursday, May 05, 2011

The FAO-Dimitra Project, a participatory information and communication initiative whose goal is to improve the visibility of rural men and women, recently launched “Communicating Gender for Rural Development: Integrating Gender in Communication for Development.” This handbook is designed for all development practitioners (not only communication/ information specialists) and was born out of the observation that all too often, gender is overlooked in the design of communication initiatives for development in rural areas and that rural populations, women particularly, are rarely viewed as primary sources of information. This has an impact on the action of communication with consequences that vary from reduced efficiency to adverse results.

The publication reviews the concepts and approaches of gender and communication and the reasons for including gender in communication for development initiatives in rural areas; it also provides practical guidance on achieving this successfully.

Unlike conventional communication initiatives that often deliver top-down messages to a sometimes passive audience, communication for development initiatives are based on a dialogue process that aims to achieve sustainable changes within a community. They are implemented on the premise that change will take hold only if the community takes ownership. Therefore, this type of initiative promotes a participatory process that involves all the members of the target population from the start and empowers them to shape the project as it unfolds.

Rural populations face serious challenges in accessing information and means of communication: they are geographically isolated with very limited access to services and infrastructure, have low rates of literacy and no possibility to seek out information, and their knowledge and skills are for the most part undervalued and unsolicited. Rural women, particularly, are disadvantaged. Customary practices often prevent them from accessing education and participating in public life, farmers’ organizations, and decision-making authorities such as village councils.

(Source: FAO - Gender)

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