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Since the UN Decade for Women (1980–1990), women’s multiple roles in development have been much more widely appreciated. Women used to be seen primarily as beneficiaries, especially of social services such as maternal and child health and domestic water supplies; today their role as actors, both in terms of their contribution to the household and community economy, and as domestic and community managers, is also appreciated. In the past, women’s development activities were seen as separate from the mainstream. Once it was recognised that they are actors in all development activities, a word was needed which would enable development planners to take into account special issues arising from women’s and men’s different social as compared to biological roles; hence the use of ‘gender’ for this purpose. A ‘gendered’ approach is one in which the different roles and viewpoints of women and men have been identified. The impact of any intervention on men as well as on women has to be assessed, but the reality is that women generally have less access than men to land, training, education, employment, leisure opportunities, and political power. Gender analysis allows planners to identify existing disparities, with a view to helping correct them or at least to avoid reinforcing them. (See also Gender Analysis in Chapter13.)


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