The United States is reshaping the agricultural training programs it supports in developing countries because they are not geared to women.
These programs cost up to $18 million a year.
John J. Gilligan, who heads the Agency for International Development, noted in a recent speech that "women are responsible for 40 to 20 per cent of all agricultural production in the less developed countries" and that about 30 per cent of rural families in the Third World are headed by women.
"But what is being done to improve their position or give them the training that would increase agricultural productivity?" he asked. "Not much."
Gilligan added that "if agricultural production and productivity are to increase, development planning in the Third World must give an equal place to the women - particularly rural women."
In an interview after his speech last week, Gilligan acknowledged that AID's current agricultural training programs are "inadequate" because for the most part they do not include women. He noted that they were designed a couple of years ago.
"We are making an intensive effort to see that programs now being designed take into account the role of women," he said.
AID's Office of Women in Development, headed by Arvonne Fraser, has been moved into the Policy and Planning Coordination Bureau "so it will be in a position to review all programs coming in from the field," he added.
Gilligan said he decided to change the programs because "[WORLD ILLEGIBLE] and until women are given the education and technical training to increase food production there is little hope of improving productivity levels of the whole society in these developing nations."
Coralie Turbitt, president of the International Center for Research on Women here, said she saw examples of what she called AID's lack of concern for rural women when she toured several countries as a government consultant last summer.
"In Morocco one of the biggest AID projects is a nutrition program for women," she said. "It teaches them how to prepare nutritious meals. But AID has no agricultural or vocational training program for women."
An AID staffer said the agency's only agricultural project in Morocco is one that is developing a faculty of agriculture for a college. There are no women in the project, he said.
Turbitt said, and an AID official confirmed, that Mauritania had no women in its anti-drought projects. "The women have just been over looked," the official said. "But we're now starting a program to increase crop and livestock yields, and women will be included," he said.
While she was in Mauritania, Turbitt said, she visited a women's craft center where the sewing machines had been supplied by AID funds. "But when AID decided to train people to repair the machines, it sent two Mauritania men to Dokar, Senegal, for the training."
In Chad, where women do three fourths of the agricultural work and market all the dairy products, there is no program of agricultural instruction for women, Turbitt said. One AID official, who confirmed Turbitt's observation, said U.S. projects in Chad are designed to increase irrigated crop production and improve livestock.
Turbitt said one reason women in poor countries are ignored by AID planners is a feeling within the bureaucracy that "the mark of a developed [WORD ILLEGIBLE] is the removal of women from agriculture."
AID's Arvonne Fraser said she also believe such a feeling exists among some AID officials. "But that's the view that exists within the agricultural establishment in the United States," she said.